Strengths: Climbs like a monkey on crack, makes you feel like you're cheating compared to all the other riders.
Weaknesses: g/f gets angry when it sleeps in bed with me.
Honestly, an amazing bike. First month I owned it, I felt like I was cheating compared to the other riders. Friends sometimes demo it... and never get back off. The bike climbs great, descends much better than I expected, and is super light. I wasn't in love with the grips, but an easy fix. Not loving the bars, but haven't changed those yet (soon). Demo'd several 29er xc bikes, and they just felt lazy turning, a little slow. This feels energetic, lively, makes me want to ride every day. If other bikes you've demod haven't felt right, do yourself a favor and at least demo one of these. Just don't bring your wallet with you... or you'll "accidentally" end up with a new bike.
Trek declined to warrenty an obvious defect. The aluminum chainstay is a repeat offender for failure and poor design. I love the way the bike rides and it is super fast, but...should last more than six months for the money. My cost to replace just the chainstay... a kool $1K. I do understand why Trek denied the warrenty claim (bought at a discount online) okay I read the fine print...but this is suppossed to be their flagship bicycle.Very disappointed
from Boulder, CO, USA
Date Reviewed: April 26, 2010
Strengths: The Trek 9.9 SSL is an absolutely incredible bike. I have ridden other carbon superlight XC rockets but this bike takes the cake. I never felt such quick acceleration and nimbleness in climbs. You really feel like you are cheating, scolded monkeys got nothing on this rig. On descents the bike is buttery smooth, it feels like there is much more travel then there actually is.
Weaknesses: So fast it makes me think im actually in shape
If you want to shave minutes off your lap times, this bike will do it. Its expensive but worth it.
Strengths: Light, confidence, it reads your mind. You can trade it for a good car or truck.
Weaknesses: Frame, linkage, or bottom bracket had a loud click the first stroke after downhill coasting. Unbelievable high price for this top of the line ride.
Rode this demo bike for a 8 mile lap after riding 12 miles on my 27.5lb Ellsworth Joker. I did not really think much about grabbing this bike. The carbon fiber frame/full suspension and the fact that the Superfly was not avail at the time, is what motivated me to select this bike for a demo ride. I was already warmed up and ready. First instant impression was the suspension seemed a bit squishy. After 1/2 mile I was riding this bike like I owned it for a year. Conditions were tight, off cambers, crumbly dry hard pack dirt. I was fighting to stay on the line with my ellsworth. And if I was off that line by 1" it was correction time, on the previous lap I believe I lost traction on 4-5 corners. With the Top Fuel it simply stuck, I could not believe the difference. The line was now 1' instead of 4" with my previous lap. And I did not have to think about where the bike needed to be in order to maintain traction. So I frikin hammered this bike like a $10 crack ho (i dont know where that came from). Anyway I had to exchange this bike back to my reality bike. Then this is when I noticed another thing. My bike is a Sherman tank. Seriously I could not believe how much more energy is used to pedal my bike vs the Top Fuel. I will never own on of these bikes. And believe there is some price gouging going on in the MTB market. Hell, I could buy a bad ass CR450F for the price they want for this bike. I find that to be a bit ridiculous, but maybe I am missing something here. 4 Chilis for price.
Similar Products Used: Low to medium end Aluminum and cromolly frames. Diamond Back, Amp Research, Ellsworth, etc.
Bike Setup: Factory setup 9.9EX
a Cross Country Rider
from Appalachia USA
Date Reviewed: October 10, 2009
Strengths: This ride is billed in all the reviews as a race specific XC bike. I bought it March 09 before I saw many reviews on it. I think the reviews are accurate. This bike accels when it is pushed to its limits at speed on a closed course. Its strengths are it's weight (or lack of it), it's turning prowess (extremely nimble), it's rigidity, and it's overall component group is very good quality.
Weaknesses: Overall the only weakness so far is that I had front derailluer issue with it but Trek Tech Dept. came up with a fix by replacing the XTR front derailluer (a triple) with a Dura Ace road (CN7800 double). Trek fabricated a special bracket that attaches to cable fixing bolt on the Dura Ace and this works beautifully on the FSA 2x9 system. Opinions vary but the 2x9 drivetrain has its learning curve and requires some adjustment in riding style. The flat bar was too much for me so I went to the riser bar as did some of the other reviewers. This bikes target as a racing bike makes it less comfy (if you will) as a regular ole' cross country trail riding bike. It's a little unforgiving and will probably dissappoint someone who buys it to beat around on long trail rides with the fellas. The grips are pretty much for show and to get the production weight down. They are easily replaced. One slight dissapointment was that the Bonty X-Lite Wheels did not come with rim tape to seal the spoke holes rendering the stock tubeless tire setup useless and creating more work for me but I suspect this was bad luck on my part.
Of course these are all opinions. I sort of apologize for this long review but anyone about to throw down this much money for a bike deserves at least an opin~. I find it interesting to see reviews and the difference in a few of the components that came with this bike during the production runs. For example mine came with the DT-Swiss Carbon Shock, others came with the Fox RP. Most importantly was the front derailluer which came production as an XTR triple. I had issues with this right away and my dealer contacted Trek found out their tech people came up with a better set-up using a road Dura-Ace 7800 double along with a special bracket that allows the fixing bolt to bring the cable in from the top (albeit at an angle)as it is designed. The Dura-Ace road derailluer fixed the quirky front shifting and solved the long lever throw issue beautifully. I highly recommend this fix if you have this problem.
Performance wise this bike is extremely nimble. It turns almost too quickly. A true mark of a racing bike. The riser bar helps relax this somewhat for regular trail riding and is more predictable and comfortable. The suspension offers a wide range of adjustment and will be familiar to anyone using this style of racing set-up so I won't digress. The SID is first rate and the DT Swiss carbon shock is dare I say a bit harsh until you get the rebound and air set-up to your sag weight and riding style. The shock pressure varies depending on where I ride this bike and I found myself using my shock pump more than ever before. The fork and shock lock-out work great. Especially the shock lock-out which I hope lasts. Its actually a pleasure to use versus other styles Ive used before. I rarely use the fork lock-out but if positioned just right on the bar it presents little engagement problem. The ABP braking isn't as noticable as I might have thought but that probably means its working well. Some chatter but not much. The overall frame ride is stiff and ridgid. This is something I think most riders will notice right away is that this bike is stiff and places power to the ground for a full susser. Others have commented it felt twitchy but my experience is that its more from the steering than from the frame flexing. This bike can be pushed at speeds my other bikes will not handle. Its not as comfortable as some bikes Ive had but there is no denying the business end of speed. Climbing is handled efficiently. This bike is light and although not exactly 21 lbs as advertised once you get it set-up you should still be at or about 22-23lbs with a good set of tires. Stan's wheels make this bike or any bike considerably quicker than any set of wheels I have ever ridden. The Bonty's aren't bad either though. The XTR braking is first rate all round. Bang for buck I just can't say enough about the reliability and predictability of Shimano. The FSA crank has little flex and the U-Q factors are tighter than other crank set-ups I've had. Depending on your cleat position you may have issues clipping your heels on the chainstays because this thing is close..frame to the crank arm. The rear skewer on this bike is really nice and makes a big difference as far as I'm concerned. Simple and straight forward it screws in and tightens down nicely after you learn the sweet spot in closing the lever on the ABP system. The 2x9 drive train takes a few rides to get used to if you are a triple banger. You typically find yourself in the big ring and its just riding style but you may notice a gap in the ratios moving from big ring to small. This bike made me think harder and pay more attention to my transitional shifts in going from fast terrain to a quick technical climb. There seems to be a gap there that you have to adjust to but I have also heard people say the exact opposite..that the transition was better/easier than a triple. All in all I can see the advantages of the 2x9 system. Its race specific and serves the purpose well. I haven't had this bike long but it does seem to take some set-up effort moreso than other point and shoot bikes I own. Overall this is a great bike and the best of the three Top Fuel versions I've owned. The FSA crank, although a BB30 bearing set-up, is still a BB90 Trek 90mm shell which should accept other style standard cranks and make adapting this set-up back possible since its not a 68mm spindle as in a BB30. Not certain at this point but since Trek is Shimano 70% rule this seems plausible. Other stuff: I've had a little bit of creak in the seat mast and the BB but not enough to merit anything but break in and re-tighten. The suss linkage is a far improvement from previous Trek Fuels and is more compliant and no non-sense. The cable guides left me wanting a little bit. They are simply popriveted into the carbon and a couple were somewhat crooked on my bike which likely due to the assembly guy coming off a bad lunch hour. The shifting is on par with all XTR in the rear although a 34T rear cassette would suit some eastern climbers better than the 32T. I do get a little bit of chain slap from the XTR carbon Shadow rear der~. This is noticeable to some extent but doesn't seem to degrade performance. The headset is net molded like the BB area and so the Cane Creek headset hopefully will last. No Chris King option here. This sucker is BIG and has no replacement option. So far this bike has ridden well and hasn't given me any "real" grief off the showroom floor. Its all business and a little on the stiff side of life but I personally like it and think its Trek's best stab yet at a racing XC bike. It climbs, corners, and burns up the single stuff like a rocket ship. Good luck.
Similar Products Used: I have a garage full of bikes but similiarly I have had three other Top Fuels over a 7 year period. This one is the best installment of the three.
Bike Setup: I swapped the bar out to a riser. The wheels are Stan's XTR Race 7000 series although the Stock Bonty's do nicely too and are surprisingly light considering they don't spec this bike with the XXX Lites (which they should for this $). The shock mine came with was the DT-Swiss Carbon. I pitched the hard Bonty seat for a Fizik Alliante MTB model. Stock tires were tubeless Bonty's but I have used Nevegals and most recently Conti's with better results. Replaced grips with Oury's and ran XTR pedals. Everything else is stock.
a Weekend Warrior
from Jakarta, Indonesia
Date Reviewed: September 21, 2009
Strengths: Extremely light for a full suspension bike(10.1 Kg w/o pedals), fast and very responsive. When I mean fast, it is to ascending and descending. The ABP is great in supporting the hard breaking
Weaknesses: I guess...you never want to slow down even on descends, and body protector does not come with the bike. And perhaps it kills you for waiting to the next ride.
Even though I use this bike only on weekends and sometimes for nite-ride, I always couldn't stop myself from not racing it everytime. It is unbelievably light and fast. For anyone who likes going fast on an XC trail, this bike will not disappoint you in anyway. Give it a try...then you will know what I mean...by a superb full sus MTB race-bike
Bike Setup: A mix of XTR and Sram X-0, Fulcrum Red Metal Zero, Magura Marta SL Mag, DT Swiss fork and rear suspension, Bontrager Revolt X
a Cross Country Rider
from Portola Valley, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: July 16, 2009
Strengths: Light and responsive. Sets a benchmark that makes other comparisons difficult. Climbs like a mountain goat and descends faster than I have cared to fully test
Weaknesses: Continue to argue with my wife about keeping it in the living room on a full time basis. Stock handlebars...suck. Unless you plan on competing at a world cup level an extra few onces for a wider riser bar isn't going to hurt on the climbes and makes a world of difference on technical descents. After a month I upgraded to carbon ritcheys with an inch of rise and only wish that I'd done it sooner. If you are thinking of buying one I would work with bike shop to get new bars thrown in because the stocks ones are silly.
Also...I'm about 185 and burned through rear pads (and rotor!) in first 3 months....beware!
If you want a ultra fast world class mountain bike and have 6K lying around (or are fiscally irresponsible like me) Just Do It.
from Mpls Mn USA
Date Reviewed: April 11, 2009
Strengths: This bike climbs better than anything I have riden. At times I took my hands off the bars. It also turns razer sharp. Took a ride to get used to it. I set up the bike tubless and the tires seem to work great also.
Weaknesses: Have not riden it long enough to find any. This bike is fast.
Here in MN we have not had much time to ride so far. But so far this bike is great. I have riden many, to many high end bikes and so far this bike is the best. Climbing was great. Turning was also as great. There were times I thought I got myself in trouble in tech sections but this bike pulled me out.
Similar Products Used: Gary Fisher Hi Fi Carbon. Trek 9.8 and many others.
Bike Setup: I am running aprox 135 pounds air in the fork and the same in the rear. Good place to start at if you are at 185 pounds. Will be experminting over time.
from Montebello, CA, USA
Date Reviewed: June 9, 2008
Strengths: Light, nimble and comfortable. great race rig
Weaknesses: Color, black would not be my first choice, but it does look very cool
This bike is very fast, responsive and nimble. It handles great in tight situations, and the RP23 works like a dream. This is a great race bike for XC and a great improvement on the previous Top Fuel platform. Upgraded with bearings from bushings and better execution on the rocker, combined with the "virtual size" changes all add up to a great light bike.