Trek Top Fuel 9 review

Race-light whippet

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
£2,600.00 RRP

Our review

Not one for beginners or the clumsy, the Top Fuel 9 makes no concessions to pilot error in its quest for speed
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For skilled, time-hardened riders willing to put in the effort to show it who’s boss, Trek’s aluminium race whippet is capable of stunning cross-country speed – a purist racer’s racer. But a laid-back all-rounder the Top Fuel 9 most certainly isn’t, so for trail use there are better options out there.

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Ride & handling: Race-light whippet that’s a capable but demanding ride at speed

From the moment you wheel the Trek out of the front door, it imparts a sense of straining at the leash. Its slender tube profiles, light wheels and a compact cockpit with no-nonsense straight bars are all so racy. Throw in a steep seat angle and a low weight, and it’s no wonder that it feels as though it’s going to rocket towards the horizon at the first turn of the pedals.

There’s no doubt that Trek’s rear suspension setup works extremely well. The rear axle pivot point and ‘full floater’ setup – which puts the Fox Float RP23 shock between the one-piece rocker and the swingarm – combines with a well thought out shock leverage ratio to create one of the most supple rear ends we’ve ridden. Switch the shock’s ProPedal compression damping off, point the Top Fuel up a rooty climb and marvel at the way the rear wheel sticks to the ground.

There’s no fuss, no squishiness and no unwanted bobbing. Invisible suspension is our favourite kind, and Trek have got it sussed (pun intended). The Top Fuel is a climber’s dream – all the speed and light weight of a hardtail with all the ground-sucking potential of a full-susser. If you thought suspension was a hindrance uphill, Trek’s engineers are out to prove that exactly the opposite is the case – they’ve pulled that off convincingly here.

Trek Top Fuel 9
Trek top fuel 9: trek top fuel 9
Seb Rogers

Cashing in those gravity credits isn’t quite so much fun though, thanks to the Top Fuel’s nervy, attention-seeking geometry and the very light build. It’s certainly possible to pilot it down rocky descents at speed, but you’ll need well-honed reflexes and a deft touch to hold it to a chosen line. If its climbing performance is defined by an uncanny ability to keep the rear wheel planted, that’s not as true at speed. While the suspension continues to work well, svelte wheels and tube profiles make it difficult to avoid bouncing off course. It’s fast, sure – but only in the right hands.

Equipment: Great spec with light build and supple-but-responsive suspension to boot

Despite being overshadowed by its £3,750, carbon-framed big brother, the Top Fuel 9’s clearly been on a racer’s diet. Comfortably below the 25lb mark for a 100mm-travel bike at this price is pretty respectable. When you’re pounding out the miles in search of a better race result, that kind of difference can matter – psychologically, if not strictly physiologically.

There’s no one single reason to attribute for Trek’s svelte build, although details such as the magnesium rocker link, aluminium spoke nipples, carbon seatpost and full Shimano XT kit undoubtedly help. Yes, you did read that right – the Top Fuel 9 boasts a complete XT group, right down to the brakes. Wheels, tyres and finishing kit are all high-end, in-house Bontrager.

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On the suspension front, the Trek has a characteristically active rear end. Up front, RockShox’s evergreen SID race fork takes care of its duties with typical aplomb, and can be locked out in a second from the bar-mounted lever. There’s nothing here that needs changing, although the plain rubber grips do look a tad stingy next to the fancy lock-ons sported by most of the competition.

Trek Active Braking Pivot technology
Trek active braking pivot technology: trek active braking pivot technology
Seb Rogers

Product Specifications

Product

Name Top Fuel 9 (10)
Brand Trek Bikes

Available Sizes 15.5 Inches 17.5" 17.5" 18.5 Inches 19.5 Inches 21.5 Inches
Seatpost Bontrager RXL carbon
Front Wheel Bontrager RXL rim on Bontrager RXL hub
Tyres Bontrager Jones XR, 2.2in
Wheelbase (in) 43.3
Top Tube (in) 22.8
Standover Height (in) 30
Seat Tube (in) 17.5
Chainstays (in) 16.9
Bottom Bracket Height (in) 13
Weight (lb) 24.8
Weight (kg) 11.2
Stem Bontrager RXL, 100mm
Shifters Deore XT
Seat Angle 73.5
Brakes Deore XT
Saddle Bontrager RL
Rear Shock Float RP-2 Pro Pedal
Rear Derailleur Deore XT Shadow
Headset Type Cane Creek
Head Angle 70
Handlebar Bontrager RL alu fl at, 600mm
Front Derailleur Deore XT
Frame Material Alpha Red Aluminum w/ABP Race
Fork SID Race w/remote Pop Loc lever
Cranks Deore XT
Chain SRAM PG970 9spd, 11-32T
Cassette SRAM PG970 9spd, 11-32T
Rear Wheel Bontrager RXL rim on Bontrager RXL hub