Since earlier this year, there has been fleeting glimpses and whispers surrounding something new and special from Trek. Riders from the Trek Factory Racing team had been seen on a series of prototype rides with one of them providing a modern twist on a theory encountered and forgotten many years ago.
Trek has been keeping these new bikes under a watchful eye and until now, the public have been fed minimal information around the new platforms. The lid has just been lifted on Trek's #bearwitness campaign and we’d like to give our thoughts on what this may mean to you, the rider.
The famous ‘Top Fuel’ name is now firmly back on the agenda and rediscovers its place as the top-of-the-range cross-country dual suspension platform. The ever-popular ‘Superfly’ has been replaced in the XC form but certainly not forgotten.
The Top Fuel remains dedicated to 100mm of travel at either end, however there’s a few nifty design quirks to make this bike more capable than previous iterations. The biggest change comes in the way of the suspension layout. Trek has moved to their well-regarded evo link system, which allows for a full floating shock position.
For many years we’ve seen a version of this design employed on bigger travel Trek bikes and it’s proven across the board. Managing to adapt the system to the lightweight racing frame must have been incredibly difficult, however Trek feel they have dramatically enhanced their ability to tune the riding characteristics of the bike.
At the pointy end of World Cup racing, minor percentages create the difference between winning races and watching the podium ceremony from afar. For the regular rider, this constant battle leads to a more flexible bike that can be tuned to suit your local trails or the demands of competitive racing.
Further enhancing the Top Fuel’s adaptability is the ‘Control Freak’ cable management system. This system cleverly allows your bike to run with the latest and greatest technology or your existing mechanical gear. You can internally route wires or hoses through the frame and there are mounts and ports for Di2 and also internal dropper post routing. It’s fantastic to see a frame that has been designed with the future in mind, but also doesn’t limit itself to the higher end build specs of some purpose built racing machines.
If you thought this is where the ability to tune your ride ended, think again. Trek have also borrowed the Mino Link technology from their bigger travel bikes to allow further tuning to ride characteristics for your personal needs.
The Mino Link can be configured in two different positions to allow a ½ degree difference in the head tube angle and 8mm each way in the bottom bracket height. It may not seem like such a minimal change would net any gains, but we can assure you there will be a difference in the handling of the bike at either end of the adjustments.
Last, but definitely not least, the Top Fuel has also adapted the ‘Boost’ hub spacing, which will come standard on a huge variety of bikes moving forward. The trend to wider wheels is here to stay and the Boost hubs allow wheels to be built stiffer for maximum efficiency.
There are gains to be made in acceleration with stiffer wheels, but cornering becomes more direct and also far more predictable. If you are concerned about after market support for your Boost equipped bike, the list of early adapters is nothing to sneeze at. DT Swiss, Shimano, FSA, Rockshox, Sram, Race Face, E-Thirteen, Easton, Hope and Industry Nine are all backing this standard.
Trek has maintained their commitment to the Smart Wheel Size, which adapts wheels to best fit the frame size of the rider. This is something we can’t agree with more. Squeezing small riders onto larger 29” wheels just for the sake of it is ridiculous. The smaller framed bikes feature 27.5” wheels to allow better handling and proportions, while the larger frames come with 29” wheels for the very same reasons. The new bikes still employ the famous G2 Geometry at the front end, so you’ll still enjoy that famous handling you’ve come to love.
With weight and durability being pushed to the limit, we feel there are still substantial gains to be made from ride quality and Trek seems to be leading the charge in this department. If you can maintain a similar weight to previous models but add this level of adjustment to the frame, people have to take notice. With a sleek and refined looking chassis, if this bike wasn’t already a leader in its class; we feel it certainly will be now.