I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Fit Werx is not just a road and triathlon bicycle shop. We carry mountain bikes, Fat bikes, electric bikes… Today, I’m going to overview the ‘15 Trek Fuel EX8 – one of the most popular moderate travel trail based full suspension bike designs on the market today.
Trek offers a wide selection of bikes in the Fuel line, both Boost 29’ers and 27.5″ bikes, across a wide variety of prices. The MSRP $2899 ’15 Trek Fuel EX8 being reviewed has 27.5” wheels, but there is a 29″ wheel option as well. For some of our tighter northeast trails, 27.5″ wheels can be easier to handle and quicker in the technical stuff than 29” while still preserving a good deal of the rolling benefits.
The Trek Fuel EX8 frame is constructed of cold extruded butted, hydroformed aluminum. The fork headtube is standard mountain tapered, meaning 1 1/8″ top and 1.5″ bottom. The 27.5” wheel equipped Fuel EX8 is designed around a front fork with 120mm of travel. While this means that the bike is not necessarily suitable for all-out downhill runs, it is versatile enough to tackle anything most of us would encounter on an average singletrack exploration. The rear triangle of the bike is designed around a standard 142mm wide 12mm thru axle and derailleur cables are routed inside the main frame triangle, so they will stay cleaner, shifting better as a result, and will last longer.
The bike was painted in a subtle black metal flake finish that looks good and I could not find fault in the quality.
The front fork on the ’15 Trek Fuel EX8 is a Fox Evolution 32 Float CTD with a 15mm thru axle. CTD stands for “climb, trail, descend”. The Fox Evolution 32 CTD has a three-position lever on the top of the fork leg you can use to select the appropriate setting for whatever terrain faces you. As far as adjustability is concerned, in this price range, the Evolution provides us with the ability to get you good baseline settings on the fork. The Fox Evolution 32 Float CTD is a good value fork, with the understanding that any 32 fork is going to be a little out of its element if you try to turn it into a DH fork…
The frame is constructed so that the rear triangle is attached to moving Full Floater linkages top and bottom via Trek’s EVO Link rocker. The Trek EVO Link rocker is designed to improve ride stiffness while minimizing weight while the Full Floater linkage allows the suspension to be more active and smooth across all conditions. The linkages and rocker are all bolted to the Fox Evolution Float CTD, with a similar three position lever for choosing your settings as the fork. Fox makes some of the very best shocks and forks on the market, and while the Evolution line found on the Trek Fuel EX8 are the first level of Fox’s offerings, they still share a lot of the DNA with Fox’s Performance and Factory shocks. While not being as light, stiff or tunable as higher end product, they offer solid value at this price point and more adjustment to help us dial you in initially than high-end product from not that long ago…
The 10-speed 2X drivetrain found on the ’15 Trek Fuel EX8 is a combination of Shimano and SRAM components. The front derailleur is a SRAM X7, the rear derailleur is a Shimano XT Shadow Plus and the crankset is a SRAM 1010, with a 36/22 chainset. The shifters, brake levers, and hydraulic brake calipers are Shimano SLX and the cassette is a Shimano 11-36 10 speed cassette. Why the eclectic mix? Price and performance.
Even though the components are a blend of Shimano and SRAM’s middle level parts, they all meshed together quite well. Shifting both front and rear is crisp and precise, and the brakes work very well indeed, once the pads are bedded, in of course. Again, not super light cutting edge product, but high value product that is dependable and solid for the money.
TUBELESS READY WHEELS
The wheels on the ’15 Trek Fuel EX8 are tubeless ready Bontrager Duster Elite and the Bontrager XR3 Expert tires can be used tubeless. Why go tubeless on your mountain bike? Eliminating that tube saves heavy rubber rotating weight. This makes it is easier to spin the wheels to speed. Second, tubeless tires offer a superior quality of ride. Third, tubeless tires will not “pinch” flat under very low tire pressures. Fourth, tubeless tires are usually installed with a sealant inside the tire which helps seal the tire bead to the rim while also sealing some small punctures before they create a flat on the trail.
How do the Bontrager XR3 Expert tires perform? They roll pretty fast, but you may want to make a tire spec change if top level traction in loose climbing conditions is at the top of your list. The Duster Elite wheels are a nice upgrade from the standard Duster and have proven more durable overall while offering quicker engagement. You can spend thousands on performance mountain bike wheels on their own, so the wheels on the ’15 Trek Fuel EX8 are not a high-end, but they are well suited to the package of parts on the bike and will work quite well for anyone using the bike as it was intended. If you want to huck 10 foot drops all the time, you need to be looking at a different bike and wheels… If you want to explore the trails on a nice riding bike that is well spec’d for under $3K, now we’re in the Trek Fuel EX8’s wheel house.
The finished weight for this bike was 28 lbs 13 ounces. For a full-suspension aluminum alloy mountain bike in this price range, that is good. The MSRP for the ’15 Trek Fuel EX8 is $2,940.00 and, all in all, this is a well equipped bike that provides relatively low priced access to similar technology found on higher end models. If you are looking for a bike to push the limits of the most challenging trails in the area, you may be better suited in a bike with longer travel and stouter suspension. For the rest of us who are looking for a dependable and smooth riding bike to explore on at a low price, the Trek EX8 is a very good option.
Trek is revamping the Fuel EX line for 2016. So why am I writing a description of a bike that is going to be revised for 2016? Simple. Right now, Trek is having a close-out on its 2015 models. Very good deals are available to you on 2015 left-over Fuels. For example, 2015 EX8’s is on sale for $2,400.00, or a savings of $540.00. A notch down Fuel EX7, listing for $2,629, is on sale for $2,150. So, good deals are available for those who act quickly!
Got questions or want to get on a new Trek Fuel EX8 or other MTB soon? Contact Us at Fit Werx and we can help you find a great mountain bike for your needs and budget and we’ll take the time to fit the bike to you properly and get the suspension dialed in. Just like any bike from Fit Werx, the Trek Fuel EX8 includes the full Fit Werx Pro Build by a career based professional technician at no additional charge. Details matter.
-Jim, Service Manager, Fit Werx
Fit Werx, voted “America’s Best Bike Shop”, is an authorized dealer of Trek Bicycles with bike shop and fitting locations outside of NYC in Ridgefield Park, NJ, in Peabody and Lexington, MA and near Burlington, VT and Stowe, VT in Waitsfield. Fit Werx is changing the way people buy bicycles through their Rider First Bike Fittings and Rider Matched approach to bike sales. Don’t gamble on your next bike or your fit! Contact us for more information.