The Trek Top Fuel has been lengthened, made slacker, gained trail tech and gained travel. Does it race or rip?
Trek have just announced what many of us assumed was coming - an update to the highly popular and succesful Trek Top Fuel. We first spotted the current Top Fuel under Dan McConnell at Toowoomba during a National XCO race. Later that year, it was revealed that Trek was bringing the Top Fuel model back, and that bike has been highly successful around the globe, but especially here in Australia under riders on the Trek-Shimano Australia team, and a whole host of keen mountain bike racers.
But fresh out of Waterloo comes the news that Trek have updated the Top Fuel for 2020, notably the geometry and travel, to make a bike that's a little bit longer legged and a little bit more capable than the current generation.
The current Trek Top Fuel is one of two bikes at the disposal of Trek Factory Racing, the other being the Procaliber soft tail, which we saw their team racing in the opening XCO World Cup in Albstadt.
Trek claim that the new Top Fuel mixes the race pedigree of the current model, with the ability to rip trails as a light weight trail bike. The idea is it's something you can race on but still rip trails - something that plenty of us look for anyway.
A look at the numbers: More travel, more control
The current Trek Top Fuel sports 100mm of travel front and rear, but the 2020 model bumps up to 120mm up front and 115mm out the back. But it's not just a case of a longer fork and a shock with more stroke for greater stoke. The new Top Fuel models feature an overhauled frame with a slacker head angle and a longer reach for better control when things get a bit more wild. The seat angle is also steeper to help keep your weight forward when climbing, and aid in getting low and off the back if you're using the dropper and getting fully hectic.
Paired with a shorter stem and wider handlebar, each new Top Fuel has a dropper post and a TwistLoc dual remote lockout, so you can still have an under bar dropper lever and simultaneous lock out.
The Straight Shot downtube from the Trek Fuel EX, Remedy and Slash comes to the new Top Fuel, as does the Knock Block frame protector. Will it hamper handling in super tight trails? It seems unlikely, unless you've mastered the nose pivot turn and then it could be close.
The MinoLink geometry adjust remains, but it moves to the top shock mount, and the shock gets turned upside down attaching to a fixed lower mount, a move away from the Full Floater of the current model. The main pivot moves forward for less pedal feedback and the fixed mount creates a stiffer setup overall. The Active Braking Pivot remains at the drop out to do what the name implies - keeping the suspension active while braking.
Carbon and alloy options
We have four models coming into Australia, with three carbon models (the Top Fuel 9.9 seen above, Top Fuel 9.8, and Top Fuel 9.7) and an alloy Top Fuel 8. The carbon frames are full OCLV Mountain Carbon including swing arms.
Pricing starts at $4500 for the SRAM NX equipped Top Fuel 8, and pushes out to $11000 for the Top Fuel 9.9 XX1.
Our thoughts about the new Trek Top Fuel
We haven't had a chance to ride one, but the current Trek Top Fuel was an easy bike to recommend. It had an efficient suspension platform, a stiff frame, dropper compatibility, Boost hub spacing (that wasn't across all bikes when it was launched) and pretty good geometry.
But the move to a slacker head angle of 68 degrees (67.5 in the low position of the MinoLink chip) and a reach of 475mm in a large (470mm in the low position) combined with a steep seat angle and 435mm chain stay and the same low standover is a winning combination.
But we don't think this is what we will see the Trek Factory Team racing all the time.
While 120mm forks are all new-school XC, this bike looks like it will bridge the gap between a pure XC bike and the Fuel EX - something suiting riders like us who might want to race Port to Port or aim for The Pioneer, but not be stuck on a Formula 1 equivalent bike. We don't need the same bikes the World Cup riders use. It's cool we can buy them, but a bike like the new Trek Top Fuel is perfect for those of us who aren't chasing a National title, but want a bike that will rip trails and work with us when we put a number on the bars.
So as we see it, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics looming, Trek still have something up their sleeves.
Want to find out more about the Trek Top Fuel? Head to the Trek website and find your local dealer.