Strengths: This bike is extremely light and as such it climbs remarkably well. It also descends well, especially with pace. I have taken many 3 foot drops with this bike and had no issues whatsoever, however I wouldn't chance any drops larger than that, especially since I'm a heavier rider at 210lbs. You do get what you pay for, an outstanding frame with good components. This bike is also capable of handling very technical terrain as it turns on a dime.
Weaknesses: All that being said, this is a bike built with a purpose, and as such doesn't excel in all areas. Riding this bike for extending periods of time has been pretty hard on my back. I attribute this to the aggressive riding position that most XC bikes have. In addition, the turning is very sharp, which has been a problem for me when I'm riding slowly..normally downhill on trails I haven't ridden before where I don't wan t to ride recklessly off a cliff. Finally, the carbon fiber frame is prone to scratching quite easily. This doesn't compromise the frame strength (talking about light scratches, not gauges), however it sucks to have so much money invested in a bike and not be able to have it looking brand new when you clean it.
I love this bike, and would recommend it in a heartbeat to someone looking to buy it. At this price, there are A LOT of options, and I'm sure you could buy a bike with higher end components for the price. I didn't pay retail for mine however, so I think if you can find one at a discounted price, you should purchase this bike without hesitation. If you frequently ride in technical terrain, particularly with a lot of rocks and boulders around, I might reconsider buying a carbon frame, but if you decide to go carbon, this bike is up there with the best of them. It might not be the best bike for a 50+ mile outing either, but it is great for a day trip, just watch as your friends disappear in your dust trail as you ride off into the sunset.
Bike Setup: Stck components...primarily shimano deore xt.
Dr Dan Batchelor
from Roswell Georgia
Date Reviewed: June 10, 2010
Strengths: Quick, light, nimble, efficient
Weaknesses: Stock bike needs a few aftermarket changes to make it an awesome bike.
This bikes feels as though it skips over bumps. At 6'1", 160 poounds, the bike geometry feels as though it was made specifically for my body structure. I swapped out the stock Fox shocks for the slightly lighter and more efficient Fit cartridge Fox shocks(along with the handlebar lockout). The bike is around 22.5 pounds for a large frame with egg beaters, F1 rotors, carbon water bottle cage, Stans wheels and Stans tires. Up hill, down hill, into and coming out of corners this bike really excells.
Dr. Daniel C. Batchelor
Batchelor Chiropractic Sports Injuries
270 South Atlanta st
Roswell Georgia 30075
Strengths: Light, fast/efficient, suspension is awesome, versatile, sexy, and available in the magic 18.5 inch size
Weaknesses: Stock rear derailleur housing too short (caused ghost shifting), tires, tubeless rim strips cost extra, seatpost movement/adjustability, quick handling (watch out!)
This is a review of the 2009 Trek Top Fuel 9.8. This is a sick cross country bike and I've taken it on some burlier trails without a problem. It is light, telepathically responsive, surprisingly smooth, and simply goes uphill like a freaking missile. Trek did a great job engineering the frame design and suspension. The XT parts group is economical and solid all the way around (the brakes are particularly impressive). The 18.5 (finally!) fits me like it was custom made for me (at 5'10" I was always right in between a 17.5 and 19.5).
The only performance caveat is the quick handling nature. Things can get tense and sketchy on fast and rocky descents!
I did have a few minor complaints with the parts spec (other than preferential handlebar, grip, and saddle changes). Trek spec'd the rear derailleur cable housing a little too short and pesky ghost shifting problems surfaced. After a few frustrating days of troubleshooting, a simple replacement with housing +5mm remedied this problem. The seatpost was a nightmare to set-up but I eventually got it dialed-in. And on a bike like this, Trek should include the $20 tubeless rim strips gratis!
In short, this bike is awesome. All-in with XTR pedals and Bonty Race Lite bottle cage, mine tips the scales at 23.75 lb.
Bike Setup: Stock except for Bonty XR-1 Team Issue 2.2 tires with Bonty tubeless rim strips and Stan's, XXX riser bar, RXL foam grips, WTB Rocket V Stealth saddle, Fox F100 fork
a Cross Country Rider
from Lawrence, KS
Date Reviewed: April 17, 2010
Strengths: Climbs like a hardtail, very efficient pedaling, more comfortable fit than I expected.
Weaknesses: A loud and annoying click from the rear hub when coasting.
Wow. That's what I said after just a few seconds on this bike. One of the first things I noticed was the pedaling efficiency. I haven't ridden many bikes, but of the ones I have ridden, none of them even compared to the how this thing pedals. I would hammer it and it would respond immediately. In contrast, the Rumblefish I road felt sluggish in pedal response. I started off slow to get to know the bike, but within a the first 100 ft. I said screw it and just started hammering. This bike begs to be ridden fast. I felt like it read my mind or was an extension of me.
Regarding the suspension, I felt no pedal bob, even out of the saddle and going up hill. It road like my hardtail climbing and on flats, but worked nicely when hitting logs, roots, and 3 in. drops-offs. However, it was not plush by any means, but hey, it's a full-blown race bike. However, the geometry and suspension was more comfortable than I figured. The seat wasn't great, but hopefully you won't be seated too much to notice.
The bike was very twitchy, but I think that's an issue with any race bike. It did pose a challenge descending, as I had a hard time keeping a good line and felt like I was on the edge of losing control. Fortunately , the suspension did help. The steering is unforgiving and easy to over-correct. I'm sure after owning this bike for awhile, you could get used to this.
Also, shifting into high gears on the cassette was delayed, but I'm sure that issue could be fixed with adjustments.
The bottom line is, this is a pure-bred race bike. Would I like to own this? Yes. Will I ever own it? No. At least not new. It's an awesome bike, but meant for serious racers, not casual riders who want to race every now and then.
Similar Products Used: Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc (not similar, but is another bike), demoed a GF Rumblefish.
Bike Setup: Stock demo.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: December 1, 2009
Strengths: Super light, fast, ABP works great, Super parts spec right out of the box.
Weaknesses: The handling is sub par, the worst seat post/mast I've ever dealt with period. Rear end flexes.
I really like this bike but I have a few issues with it. First the seat post would not quit sliding down now matter how hard I tightened the clamp. Second thing I did not like is the handling. This is a personal thing so you might not feel the same I did. I feel like this bike is all over the place and cannot hold a line with it, this is the first bike I put several hundred miles on and cold not get the handling right. Other than those things the bike will make you a faster rider up and down the hill! The rear end seams to flex quite a bit with out of the saddle sprinting but doesn't seam to lose any moment with it. I would only purchase another one if they changed the seat post design.
Similar Products Used: older top fuels, 2009 epic marathon
Bike Setup: stock
from Bloomington, Minnesota, USA
Date Reviewed: June 17, 2007
Strengths: Everything works like a cross country racing bike should. Maneuverable, shifts & brakes great, rear triangle super stiff, remote rear lockout, puts my old 2005 Fuel 110 to shame. Racing nirvana. I love this bike!
Weaknesses: Bontrager Revolt 2.1 inch tires a bit skinny; 2.2's are better. Wheelset weighs 1850 not 1550 grams like Race X-Lite. Carbon cranks; would rather have XT. X9 shifters; would rather have X0; SRAM cassette weighs 330 grams; would rather have XT, which weighs 265 grams. Avid Juicy Carbon brakes chatter a bit but I'm still working on it. I'm nitpicking here.
Trek has shortened the seat tube to 19.3 inches on size XL, from 21.5 inches, for 2007. All other frame specs are the same as size XL always has been on a Fuel. The rear triangle is now aluminum, rather than carbon as on earlier year models, and the stays are reshaped. The suspension pivots are actual sealed bearings rather than sleeve bearings as before. The bike now comes with a Fox Terralogic fork, which is absolutely fantastic. No, you don't notice the "first hit" with Terralogic as some others have said. For racing, I now can't imagine not using this great fork.
Trek has done something magic to the Top Fuel with the new rear triangle, pivot bearings, Manitou shock, and Fox "brain" fork. It is unlike my other two earlier model Fuels. I'm a 45 year old, 190 lb., top 25 percent of the pack Sport racer, triathlete, sometime road racer, but mainly I race MTB. I can't believe I'm saying this but SRAM all-thumb shifting is so much better than Shimano I could never go back to it ever. I can keep all fingers but one wrapped around the bars now, all the time, shifting, braking, going over logs, down steep chutes, my hands never change position on the bars. This greatly increases control. Tracks much straighter through turns and turns quicker than my older Fuels. Locked out or not, it climbs like a hardtail. Highly pleased with this racing bike.
Similar Products Used: 2003 Fuel 100, 2005 Top Fuel 110.
Bike Setup: Size XL. Weighs 26 lbs. but that will come down as things wear out and get replaced. All stock except Thomson seatpost and 2.2 inch Revolt tires. This is a Project One bike painted Red Carbon w/gold lettering. Most beautiful paint job I've ever seen. I'm told that only Project One bikes, and those sold in Europe, come with Manitou's remote rear shock lockout, and my experience seeing other riders on the trail, riding 2007 Trek Top Fuels, bears this out. They all wonder where I got the remote lockout.