Strengths: Carbon frame made in the USA, sweet brakes, top shelf components, super light for full suspension, scary fast down hill, climbs like at goat with better than OE tires.
Weaknesses: OEM tires, seat and grips are a joke. Pricey MSRP. Brake rotors are bent easy and need constant tuning.
This review is for the 2008 fuel 9.5 EX model. Picked up from a local bike shop for half off MSRP. This is the best shifting, handling, braking and riding bike I have ever owned. The bike is LIGHT for FS setup only 24 lbs. It's a rocket down hill, and rolls over single track stuff with ease. The original tires were to skinny and not up for serious traction situations. Switched for Maxxis High roller and Advantage tires. No regrets.
This review is a little different than other because I didn't buy buy this bike as a stock setup. I purchased the frame used on eBay and it was stripped down but still had the RP-23 rear sups. I then built it upnwith the components I wanted, which consisted of a full XT drivetrane, a 2012 Fox Talas Fit RLC 140 mm fork (15 QR) Avid Elixir CR break system (185 mm front, 160 mm back), FSA headset, Easton EA70 handlebars, Easton Havoc seat post, DT Swiss M1800 wheels, and Panaracer Fire XC pro wheels.....this setup may not be the XTR, etc that came on it but let me say it is fast, and will respond like no other bike I have ever owned..even under my 225 lbs of weight...this is an awesome set up.....oh and the total weight of my bike is a mere 26 lbs...not to shabby!!
a Cross Country Rider
from Steamboat Springs, Co,/Green Valley, Az.
Date Reviewed: December 28, 2010
Strengths: Great turning in tight situations (ie Aspens and Cactus), sucks up everything that is nasty (rocks, babyheads, roots etc), outclimbs anything else around(no pogo),gobbles up rocks and uneven terrain on downhill sections. Durable except for Bontrager Race Lite rims. Fellow Riders (DR's& BMW&M)* always want to borrow the bike. *Desert Rats and Burly Mountain Women & Men. Recommend bike to x-c and climbing addicts. Not meant for flatlanders below 7000 feet.
Weaknesses: Rims were destroyed within 3 years, TREK replaced them no questions. I now ride Swiss DT's.
Will replace this bike with another identical model when it's time comes, in........2020 or so.
Strengths: The Bike is a climbing machine, it just pops right over rocks and roots with no problem. I was also surprised that you could stand and climb without the back tire spinning out. The bike performed great when the hills pointed down. I'm going over wet roots, rocks and and logs like there not even there. If I was on my old hardtail it would feel like I was going at warped speed and fearing for my life but the Trek Fuel 9.5 is a blast. At first the Fox Float was pretty mushy but I pumped it up to 150 lbs which is a little stiff but coming from a hard tail this feels good and works really good on the climbs. I wish there was 3 different setting on the Fox Float rear shock instead of just 2. My old bike had XTR V Brakes so the new disc brakes are like going from a Model T to a Hummer.
Weaknesses: I'm getting a bunch of squeaking in the rear suspension I put a few drops of tri flow on all the linkages but still get the squeaks. I think I have narrowed it down to the Carbon Fiber seat post. It's hard to not get chips and scratches on the carbon frame. Have had a few issues getting the front deraileuer dialed in.
The Trek Fuel 9.5EX is a great bike and a lot of fun to ride. You can really push your skills to the limit and still feel like your in control. I need to get rid of that squeaking sound.
a Weekend Warrior
from Boyne City,MI
Date Reviewed: December 13, 2008
Strengths: Components; light overall; can tune the suspension for custom ride; climbs well
Weaknesses: Creaky Frame/pivot points -need constant attention. Grips are light but very uncomfortable. Tread is not aggressive enough. Swapped out stock seat
Once you get the suspension tuned this bike is a great ride. The stock tires were converted to tubeless but the tread is not good unless riding hardpack. The suspension pivot points started "creaking" after a short time of use and it was difficult to find the problem. NCCS shop took care of the problem. Components are the best I've used -SRAM shift is fast & reliable. Overall bike is good/best for long rides in varying terrain. I was primarily riding my road bike but now its a 50/50 split because of this bike I'm enjoying the trails again.
Bike Setup: ergo grips, tubeless setup XL Frame w/ 110mm stem, crank bros sl pedals
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: November 11, 2008
Strengths: Weight, ride, components, wheel set
Weaknesses: Grips, Tires
This is a very light cross country ride with pretty good manners on the downhill and a great ride uphill. I have a standard 5 mile loop I do, and with this new bike, the time on the loop is down about 25%, due to quicker climbs. The Talas shock and the RP23 on the rear combine to make it feel like a hard tail, and with the carbon frame, the weight is very light. The down hill is nice as well, especially the 130 mm travel on the front. After several rides, however, I will be keeping the downhill rig. It is not a big hit bike, but it is not sold as one either. The frame is very rigid, with minimal flex, and the pedal bob is minimal with the propedal off and zero with it on.
The Sram shifters take a little getting used to (I have been riding Shimano for about 20 years, yes I am that friggin' old) , but are infinitely adjustable, and after a few rides I got the hang of it. The components are close to top of the line, and after a few rides and a couple of falls, I have confidence that I will get good service from them. All the other parts look good (if you like the carbon look), but a little fancy if you are looking for a basic ride. A few guys have made fun of it at the trail head, the highest form of flattery in my mind.
Two things bug me about the bike. The grip feel like styrofoam and will be replaced VERY soon, and the tires are too narrow and without much in the way of tread. They will also be going on the scrap heap. These are small points , but for a top line bike I would have expected better.
I bought this bike as a replacement for a Rocky Mountain element, and I was in the unique position of not having to worry too much about price. Combine that with a great deal at the end of the year, and I am riding more bike than I need, but one of the nicest bikes I have ever even seen.
If you can afford one, go for it. I don't regret the outlay one bit. Shop around as Trek has changed the '09 a bit and there are deals to be had on the '08. As the ad says, ".... you're worth it." At full retail, I would give it four chilis for value but at the price I paid, definitely top value.
Bike Setup: Trek Fuel EX 9.0 full carbon and full XT Tubeless
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: May 12, 2008
Strengths: It's light and looks good.
Weaknesses: Flexy rear end Weak paintjob. Picks up scratches so easily Frame cracked from one foot drop.
This bike is only for smooth terrain. Don't buy if you intend to do anything other than light cross country. I cracked the frame at the usual spot on the seat tube. I've heard of this numerous times with these frames.
from Crested Butte, CO
Date Reviewed: August 30, 2007
Strengths: Weight, Looks, performance
It's a trek. They have been doing carbon for a long time and have it figured out.
This bike rocks. It climbs every bit as good as my other bike and has 2X the travel. Sure it bobs a bit, but every suspension bike does. If you want less bob you can choose what ever level of pro pedal you want. I use 2 on smoother road climbs. Everywhere else I use full plush.
I can climb EVERY LUNG BUSTING GRANNY GRANNY CLIMB that I could EVER climb on a hard tail with this bike, and I have NO arm fatigue at the bottom of big downhills.
Similar Products Used: Specialized, Rocky Mountain, Moots.
Bike Setup: XTR everything.
a Cross Country Rider
from Kalamazoo, MI, USA
Date Reviewed: August 14, 2007
Strengths: Almost unbelievably light, yet rugged as anything out there. The shifting is the smoothest I've ever seen on ANY bike, ever. Some harder-core guys will tease you over the suspension lockout lever, but I have found it very useful for technical climbing and the flats. The suspension, even when not locked out, is pretty stable and I haven't yet detected "pedal bob" to any significant degree.
Weaknesses: I would probably like to have another inch or so of travel on the rear. I disagree with those who have written that they'd like more up front, but then I like it bumpy. I'm a 240-lb. rider and I keep my suspension fairly stiff.
Great bike for a big guy who doesn't mind a little bumpiness in the ride.
Similar Products Used: Had a Trek Y-11 until last year.
Bike Setup: Stock, have added only a Polar 720i cyclocomputer
a Cross Country Rider
from Cleveland, TN
Date Reviewed: July 26, 2007
Weaknesses: Weak rear end design, I am VERY disappointed! Terrible design, with my weight at 270lbs this rear looses climbing ability due to sideways movement.
Big disapointment! Try others before you buy. I have ridden Trek for years 9800, 9900 hardtails. I am going back to a hardtail from Specialized (Marathon Carbon). My next full suspension will be a specialized with the brain and not such of a gap in the suspension arm. This is the problem! Look at the 2007 arm take the back tire of a used 2007 Trek and look at the play in the rear wheel.
Similar Products Used: Did not try others, bad mistake... Took the word that it was a good FS bike.
Bike Setup: Stock
a Cross Country Rider
from medford, or
Date Reviewed: January 30, 2007
Strengths: Sram shifting, very responsive stearing on the decents, and due to the longer top tube easier to keep front end on the ground with steep ascents. Very nice to be able to lock out suspension at the handle bar while on the fly. The bike feels comfortable with speed and makes you a more confident rider. Awesome braking power and they don't squeek like shimano products when heated up.
Weaknesses: Looks,...I would recommend a 2.3-2.4 on the front to help roll over the larger obsticles and smooth out the ride. I came from a 5 inch travel bike to this four inch travel and a 2.4 front tire would make this ride just as smooth. A little heavy for that much carbon and that much money...
First, coming from Shimano all my mountain bike riding life (25 years plus) it is refreshing to use the SRAM. Very clean shifting and you KNOW when you have shifted, and they look cool. Still waiting for a front deraileur X.0...Second, perhaps the best climbing bike I have ever ridden especially with the lock out, and aggresive geometery. Third, I would recommend a 2.4 or greater front tire for a smoother ride. Once the bike is set up correctly for you, a minimum of seven rides, you will totally love this bike and with TREK you know you're buying quality.
Similar Products Used: Santa Cruz Blur-XTR, Specialized Stumpjumper 120 Pro-XTR
Bike Setup: All cool stuff, Avid Jucy 7 carbon, Bontrager everything (carbon), SRAM front X.9, rear X.0, Bontrager race lite X wheelset and stock otherwise.
from Atlanta, GA
Date Reviewed: January 7, 2007
Strengths: Weight, Fox Talas, new XTR setup, extraordinary suspension efficiency, comfort from carbon frame.
Weaknesses: None at all.
This is the most amazing bike I've ever set my rear upon. It climbs like a mountain goat, and descends like a speed demon. I have a friend who rides a Titus Racer-x I was once jealous of, but not any longer!!!!!! The new XTR brakes make my old Hayes HFX-9's seem outdated. All the new XTR stuff kills the competition-look out SRAM, I've turned to the dark side.
Rode several times at 2 different trails and cannot stop talking about how awesome this bike is. So light, VERY FAST, awesome suspension which leads to great cornering. I rode it plush and with Propedal and Lockout set. The blowoff works great, but the propedal is a little less accurate getting it to work when I wanted it to without sacrificing the rigidity over the flat sections. I am still playing with settings on the shock, so this may get better. Riding it plush is just to nice! I love this bike. It has single handedly re-energized my training routine.
I was winning races before, but now I am really going to fly - picked up 2 minutes on my training course over my old 30 pounder with tubes in the tires and heavy pedals! Can't wait to lighten it up even more. GREAT BIKE!!