It’s taken a while, but Trek has finally updated its popular Fuel EX and Remedy models with wagon wheels. Many of you must be wondering, with 650b all the rage these days, why not go with that wheel size? It’s simple, really: they don’t offer much advantage over 26-inch wheels. There are still a lot of 29er haters out there; I was one until recently as well, which is why I’m convinced that anyone who is still hating on 29ers hasn’t ridden one, or hasn’t ridden one recently.
They’ve gotten really good.
Fuel EX 9.8 29
With its sandstone climbs riddle with shelves, chunky descents and tight, loose corners, Sedona is a perfect place to test out the 120-millimeter travel Fuel EX 29. The new bike is leagues more capable than the 26er version, without compromising maneuverability. The 452-millimeter (17.8-inch) chainstays are a pretty good length; they’re short enough to manual or stuff the bike into a corner, yet long enough to keep the front wheel planted on climbs. At 69.5 degrees, the head tube angle may be slightly steep on paper, yet the 51-millimeter offset G2 geometry fork makes up the difference, while a reasonable wheelbase is maintained.
Despite the fact that I was battling strep throat, complete with a raging fever- in 95-degree heat, I felt comfortable on the Fuel EX 29. The bike gobbled up everything in its path and cornered really well – that is, after I got used to the G2 offset fork. I realized quickly, that in order to maintain front wheel traction I needed to focus more on keeping my weight forward, over the front end of the bike. If I didn’t do so, the front end would wash around a bit.
While I hear a lot of people complaining that the Fox 32 forks are noodly and imprecise, I’ve never had much of a problem getting them to go where I want them to, especially at just 120 millimeters. When ridden back to back with the Remedy, the Fuel has more noticeable flex, however I never felt out of control on the bike. Overall, the Fuel EX 29 is a very good bike, and a much needed addition to the Fuel EX family.
At $5,250 the Fuel EX 9.8 29 will come spec’d with Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes, Bontrager wheels and cockpit, and Rockshox Reverb Stealth internally routed seat post. While our test bike had a Fox CTD Trail adjust fork, Trek’s website suggests that the bike comes stock with a Fox Performance Series CTD fork, which loses the Kashima coat and trail-adjust feature. Designed by Trek at its California suspension lab and manufactured by Fox, the DRCV shock will come on all models.
Remedy 9 29
At 140-millimeters of travel, the Remedy is Fuel EX’s bigger, more aggressive brother. Although it would have been nice to see it in carbon, the aluminum frame is sleek and stylish, and I love the raw polish finish. Using flip chips, the Remedy can be run in either low or high, which changes the head tube angle from 67.5 to 69 degrees, and bottom bracket from 350 to 359 millimeters (13.8 inches to 14.1 inches). I ran the Remedy in the low position. I think if you wanted to run the bike in its high position, you’d be better off with the Fuel EX anyway.
The ride that we took the Remedy 29 on was, as to be expected, much more technically challenging and steep than the Fuel EX loop, and the bike did just fine. Again, I much preferred the 29er Remedy over the 26er ones I’ve ridden in the past. When encountering extremely steep and ledgy trail, the Remedy inspired confidence. Not once did I pucker up when faced with daunting rock rolls and loose, exposed corners. Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Remedy, but this bike definitely changed my mind.
The Remedy 29 9 comes spec’d similarly to the Fuel EX 9.8, with Shimano XT and Stealth Reverb post, however you do get a Kashima coated Fox 34 CTD Trail Adjust fork, all for $4,730.