Staff review: Dave, Bike Buying Manager
2020 was certainly a year of change, and for many people, the way they have been riding their bikes has changed too. For me throwing my bike on the back of the car and driving to a trail centre feels like a distant memory, yet I’ve managed to get more miles under my belt this year than I have done for a long time, and the Trek Top Fuel has been the bike that’s proved the best match for my new riding regime. Rather than getting in the car I’ve been setting off from my front door and exploring local tracks and trails and linking together local riding spots which have led to some pretty epic days out and big smiles on the way.
The Top Fuel was historically Trek’s premier XC race full suspension bike, but the recent addition of the Supercaliber has allowed them re-position the Top Fuel as a single track slayer that screams ‘pedal’ in your ears on every climb. Trek has completely redesigned the Top Fuel, boosting suspension travel to 120mm front and 115mm rear with revised confidence-inspiring geometry, yet they’ve still maintained the low weight and great climbing characteristics. Don’t let those relatively short travel numbers fool you though as the 29×2.4 Bontrager tyres add even more cushioning and grip without sacrificing the lively acceleration. The Top Fuel range comes in both alloy and carbon frames, with the carbon-framed models saving weight and adding increased stiffness to the bike’s chassis for improved handling and bigger smiles.
My pick of the range is the Trek Top Fuel 9.8 GX which offers a full OCLV Carbon frameset combined with Rockshox’s latest SID front fork and shock combo. They are their first ultra-lightweight shocks that utilize damping and chassis design features found on their gnarlier trail products to give a true all-mountain performance with no weight penalty. The drive train is provided by SRAM with the all-new GX Eagle groupset featuring the latest 520% range cassette to conquer all hills and the G2 RS brakes to slow you down again. Bontrager’s 30mm wide carbon rims support the XR3 tyres keeping the handling direct and lively but without jarring the rider. The rider contact points are top quality too with Bontrager’s Montrose saddle being slim but comfy with a pressure-relieving channel so you can ride all day and the Bontrager Carbon handlebar with trail grips made using recycled fishing nets give great grip and cushioning.
The Trek Top Fuel is my pick for the ultimate lockdown mountain bike combining on-trail performance and handling with the efficiency to ride from your door and access your local trails. Don’t pigeonhole it as a bike that’s only for XC racing and full lycra riding gear, the Top Fuel is more fun on 95% of my local trails than my Enduro race bike and I know that when we start getting back to normal it’ll be the bike I reach for most weekends!