Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Trek Fuel EX 7.9 Review

As I am so pleased
with my Trek Madone 4.7, I decided it was time to treat myself to a new mountain bike, and Trek was naturally high up on the list of options. This said, I did also consider the competition from Pierre, Giant, Specialised, etc. After researching the options the Trek Fuel EX 7.9 was the final choice. So the purchase was made in November 2011, and I have had my bike for two months now.

A bit of background info - I’m no Mountain Bike expert, I’m a big guy at 6 foot 3 inches and 14 stone (200lbs) and just the wrong side of 45! So this is a real world test for those wanting to know about the bikes suitability in the MAMIL (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) market!

Of course this is not a machine designed and aimed specifically at the MAMIL market - The bike is way more capable than I am, but this article explains what I find so great about it!

What was I looking for?

I was looking for a bike to cover some miles – I often mountain bike 30 miles or more in a day. The mountain biking in Spain is glorious, with endless empty trails through stunning scenery and a great year round climate. Here in the south, where I am based, it’s rarely wet or muddy, and most the of trails I ride are mountain trails through cork forests, on rough tracks, loose rocks and shale. A mix of rough roads and some single track.

Hence my requirements were light weight, strong, full suspension, good brakes, and of course great looks!

How has the Trek Fuel EX 7.9 met my needs?

Light Weight

Spot on, the Trek is my first carbon mountain bike, and as a result, to me it seems to weigh about the same as two cans of dog food with an unladen swallow on top (African swallow of course – see Monty Pythons Holy Grail if this seems puzzling!).

The bike's low weight is great and, as well as the advantages this gives you when climbing, turning, etc, it also makes it easier to lift in and out of the motor, over fences, etc!

Strong

It’s too early to say how it will stand up to ten years use, but looking at Trek's guarantees, and the quality of the finish, and the strength of the fame around the joints, I have no doubt it will live up to their claims!

I could go into deep technical details about the superb OCLV carbon technology, the frame protector, the E2 tapered head tube and the BB95 carbon bottom bracket but to be honest I’d soon get lost myself (I’m no techy!), and its all explained in great detail with user friendly multi-media on the Trek Bikes site! Take look and get the full tech spec.

Full Suspension

The Trek Fuel Ex 7.9 is of course compliant to my needs. There are forks at the front and full floating suspension at the rear! And superb quality kit it is too! See the above link to the Trek Bikes site for full technical details and videos of the machinery in action.

The best compliment I can give, is that on my first ride as I came across some pretty rough stuff (badly cut up slate with big steps and drops) the bike rode over it really well. It immediately reminded me of riding my KTM EXC400 – the market leading enduro motorbike which is fitted as standard with market leading Ohlins suspension with huge travel range. It really felt that good, the bike rode over the rough stuff without complaint, flattering my limited riding abilities.

Good Brakes

Pretty standard these days on all mountain bikes in this price range. The brakes, like the rest of the bike are great. Here in Spain I am regularly going downhill on
the brakes for 3km or more. There is good progressive braking action, with plenty of feel, and no signs of fade after prolonged use.

Great Looks

Always important! The bike looks great and merits the kind words of admiration from friends out on the trail. It looks as if it is giving you an unfair advantage (and it probably is). As I’m usually riding with younger fitter mates, so this helps psych out the competition!

What’s the Trek Fuel Ex 9.7 like to ride?

I’ve covered a few hundred miles on the bike since I got it, and I have been delighted with it. I’ve ridden a little on road (on the way up to the trails) and a mixture of single track and rough trails. No wet stuff (we have amazingly only had one day of rain in December and January so far this winter). The bike is a delight to ride, and smoothes out the rough stuff incredibly well (that’s probably the DRCV suspension – read the techy stuff on the Trek link above). And it climbs superb too, as mentioned above I’m a big lad, and a good bit older than the lads I ride with, but with ‘Trek Fuel Assistance’ I can generally get to the top of the climbs first – last Sundays ride was 41km and included 1085m of climbs! It ate them! Downhill I would win no awards for bravery but the bike inspires me with confidence, rides the bumps really well, and is good and stable on and off the brakes.

My above comparison of the Trek ride quality, to that of my KTM EXC400 Enduro bike, is a truly a top compliment. I was so delighted with the bike my youngest daughter received a Trek Sky mountain bike for Christmas!

Highly recommended - I’m a happy customer!

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