Trek Fuel EX 6 review

Entry level version of popular full-sus bike

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
£1,650.00 RRP

Our review

The EX6 is light, balanced and neutral, but it still has a pleasing sense of fun
Skip to view product specifications

The EX 6 is the second cheapest in Trek’s Fuel lineup, and the whole line’s had a travel bump to 130mm front and rear – bar the cheaper EX 5, which makes do with a 120mm fork.

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Ride & handling: Confidence inspiring, balanced handling

Without the two-stage DRCV shock there isn’t quite the sensation of having more than the actual travel, although the fact the EX does now have more helps. Even with the simpler Monarch shock, the Fuel is untroubled by most conditions. The extra 10mm hasn’t transformed this into an entirely different kind of bike, however – it handles the same and hasn’t put on weight.  

The Fuel’s geometry has been gradually slackening over the years, although Trek’s goal is to deliver a great all-rounder so it’s not quite as laid back as some of the bikes here. The 68-degree head angle is still good for high-speed stability and poise, and the big 720mm bars give plenty of leverage to push it into corners, where it proves a vice-free and balanced handler.

On climbs the Fuel’s relatively low weight pays dividends. Trek haven’t gone for the extra-steep seat angle of some of the competition, but the cockpit layout works well for sustained pedalling. The back end is stable under power and unobtrusive over steppy, square-edge bumps.

Trek Fuel EX 6
Trek fuel ex 6:
Russell Burton/Future Publishing

Frame & equipment: Light for the price but Octalink seems low rent

While the Fuel EX frame looks the same across the range (except the carbon fibre models) there are some variations. The cheapest three (including this EX 6) get a conventional threaded bottom bracket, a band-on front mech and IS rear brake mount – by the time you get to the EX 8 you find a more up-to-the-minute press-fit bottom bracket shell, a direct-mount front mech and a post mount for the rear brake. 

All Fuel EXs have a tapered head tube now, though the 130mm Sektor fork fitted here is a regular straight-steerer model. Nevertheless, the futureproofing is welcome.

The Fuel offers the expected Trek fundamentals, with the ABP concentric rear axle/pivot design and the floating shock – it’s mounted between the magnesium rocker and the swingarm, so it’s driven from both ends. You don’t get the clever twin-chamber DRCV shock found higher up the range, as it’s fitted with a RockShox Monarch RL instead. 

There are no great surprises elsewhere, with a 3×10 Shimano mostly-Deore transmission – the rear mech gets an upgrade to SLX, although it’s not an anti-slap Shadow Plus unit. 

The inclusion of an Octalink splined bottom bracket and chainset looks a bit penny-pinching (although in fairness the Trek is relatively cheap for its niche) – an HTII setup is easier to work on, but there’s nothing in it when it comes to shifting. While it may look slightly ‘budget,’ the fact the Fuel is light shows that Trek know what they’re doing with spec. 

The high-end Fuels have always been great bikes, but we’ve sometimes found the cheaper models obviously compromised to hit a price. The EX 6 is entirely convincing. You get what you need from its pricier stablemates, and it’s a well-rounded ride.

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This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Fuel EX 6 (13)
Brand Trek

Description 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5 sizes
Seat Angle 73
Front Wheel Bontrager AT-850 rim, Formula DC51 hub
Tyres Bontrager XR3, 2.2in
Wheelbase (in) 44.5
Top Tube (in) 23.8
Standover Height (in) 28.7
Seat Tube (in) 17.5
Chainstays (in) 16.7
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 13.3
Weight (lb) 28.7
Weight (kg) 13
Stem Bontrager Race Lite, 80mm
Shifters Shimano Deore
Seatpost Bontrager SSR
Saddle Bontrager Evoke 1
Bottom Bracket Shimano Octalink
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch RL, 130mm
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX
Headset Type FSA 57
Head Angle 68
Handlebar Bontrager Low Riser, 720mm
Grips/Tape Bontrager Race
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
Frame Material Trek Alpha aluminium
Fork RockShox Sektor, air, 130mm
Cranks Shimano M522, 42/32/24T
Chain KMC X10
Cassette Shimano HG62, 11-36T, 10spd
Brakes Avid Elixir 3, 180/160mm rotors
Rear Wheel Bontrager AT-850 rim, Formula DC51 hub