08.09.2017 Revised 2 Years plus Review: 2014 Trek Fuel EX7 29er

I really needed a full suspension bike, at minimum 120 mm travel, I got the the best bike, I could as fast as I could.but I knew I might need to change few things, but I test ridden the bike around the store, but that was not good enough test.

It was a lot better to ride than the 2010 Trek 6300.

This is my first full suspension bike, and my first 29er, I have never ridden other full suspension bikes, so can’t compare it to others.

Don’t let others decide for you if 29er is the right choice for you.The ride quality not only depend on the bike, but the person sitting on it and the correct size, but for me it climbs well and turns well even in gnarly sections.

The ride:

I and I felt at home straight away, I noticed the smooth and easy controllable steering straight away, But 800mm handle bars would fit my arms better, but this is will depend on your body measurements.

I think this bike is easy to ride, much better compared to my 6300(100mm stem & 720 bars) even its heavier it goes much faster, no matter if its downhill steep up hills, even doing a wheelie.

The bike does not accelerate as fast as a 26er would do, but it maintains the speed longer, but the bike is fast & stable in corners.

Technical climbs is not an issue with this bike, but with most trail bikes there is not.

Get a Dropper post

the lack of dropper post hides the capabilities of this bike.

with a dropper post I can get my body in the correct position for going downhill.

Even the dropper post adds more weight, it get you in the correct pedalling position when its up, and for technical sections you just lower it, and the capabilities of the bike increases, the dropper post made me alto faster in descents and on technical climbs.

The frame supports both internal and external dropper post routing.

the cable should go alongside the brake hose, For the Race Face Turbine 440mm 150mmdrop dropper pos.

 

if you use 1x drivetrain, you can use the front dérailleur routing for the external dropper post.

The suspension:

do not have every adjustment there is, but the CTD (climb,trail,descend)

My setup:

work pretty well for me I am bit more than I am somewhere close to 75 kg with gear on.So I ride with 210 in the shock and 120 psi in the fork, 6 clicks rebound both front and rear, which work pretty well for me I am bit more than I am somewhere close to 75 kg with gear on.

I am ca 182 cm high,the 18,5 frame and the 29 wheel is perfect for me

The bike is 13,600 Grams in size 18,5 so it could be too heavy for you if you really need a light bike, but for me it’s not that heavy I can ride pretty fast with it anyway in fact it’s a huge upgrade from my 26 inch 6300.

Drivetrain

the 10 spd 11-36 x3: I don’t need the 42 tooth ring at the front where I live,  but if you have long roads or steep 40 degrees downhill(where you can run out of gears with 36T) its nice with a 42T ring.I have upgraded to 11-46T cassette and 36T Race Face Narrow Wide ring, I will test it out without chain-guide.

You can watch  Seth’s Bike Hacks review to see how the narrow wide chaining performs

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Saddle: Bontrager Evoke 2

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Pros:

  • The saddle grips well.
  • it flexes and got cushioning
  • I don’t feel the rail inserts
  • the foam cushioning does not work that well, my weight compress it all the way down(  I am somewhere between 170 and 180 KG + gear)
  • I can feel folded synthetic leather where the fabric and the synthetic leather is stitched

Cons:

  • the wheels: way too flexy,get untrue way too fast
  • I experienced some knocking, clicking sound from the spokes grinding, in turns or when the temperature was way over 20 deg Celsius.
  • Weight
  • the rims had alloy machining residue, on the inside of the rim, it came out of the spoke holes.
  • trek should have done a better job with selection of components.
  • front resin brake pads got worn out in ca. 2 months,I upgraded to Shimano J02A IceTech
  • the saddle is not so comfortable as it should be,I can feel the sides of the saddle.(I notice it if i use the climb mode on the rear shock)

    26156162020_97a7da149b_h
    I can feel the bump where the fabric and pleather is,I can feel the side of the saddle
  • The screws on the seat post are too long for mounting lower saddles with shorter rails,the Bontrager saddle got the rails higher s other is more space between the saddle and the screws.if you are using a carbon saddle with higher rail profile,instead of round rails, it’s nice to have long screws,but not that if you plan to upgrade saddle to  a lower profile saddle, like i did, you might need to cut the screws,

I upgraded to Fabric Scoop Shallow Race, which is more comfortable for me, but the screws on the seat post hit the plastic underneath the saddle.

PROS:

  • Shimano Deore SL-M610 Shifter triggers,gives smooth and very easy to shift, a lot better than the 2010 Deore, more ergonomic than the past model like the 2010 from my 6300 bike.
  • handle bar got stripes to help you with brake and gear lever alignment.

    Enter a caption
  • handles well on the rough downhills
  • holes for internal cable routing  for dropper post
  • external toptube routing support for shock remote or a mechanical dropper post.
  • the bike is stable in the descend and climb
  • Shimano Deore brakes work well and are not expensive brakes.
  • the frame got SCG-05 chainguide mount
  • no tools need to take off the wheels
  • fork: work well, even its not the top of the line fork from Fox it’s good in my opinion, i don’t notice much flex when riding.
  • the rear suspension works very well.
  • The EVO link is stiff  & light
  • feet & legs do not hit the swing-arms

 Updated 12.04.2017:

CONS:

  • Shock & fork compression goes out of adjustment when riding hard.
  • The rear bolts on the Evo Link are getting loose very fast, it takes few weeks for them to get loose, but the other bolts stay tight, I think this is caused by the flex in the chain stay and down tube,which then flexes the chain stay so the bolts get loose.

The Shimano Deore BL-M615 brake are awful as they flex causing the threads for the Torx screws to fail. On one the main bike/the bike with hamburger bell) the threads on the rear/right master cylinder failed, so the brake was leaking fluid,and NO I did not over tighten the Torx screws, first I tough the brake just needed a bleed, so I bled them, so there was no air but the next day I lost a lot of braking powers, there was air in the master cylinder, and oil was leaning,I checked the screws they were just spinning endlessly, I opened up the master cylinder and I saw the threads were polished away, I don’t thin kit was caused by a crash, at least not this particular brake, because I have never hit the brakes in a crash with this master cylinder.

  • one of the frames had uneven welding for the zipties the gap was too small for the big zipties on the upper cable guide on the down tube,.I could use bit zip tie all over but the one spot.

 

  • Noticeably Flexy down tube & chain stays, Which is causing several issues:

    Frame flexing in to the tyre is causing the inner tube I wrapped the chain stay to tear the rubber part sticks out and rubs against the tyre.

     

    This is due to the bearings moving due to too flexible 2014 Trek Fuel Ex 7 29er frame

     

    damaged paint due to slipping bearing,the left bearings were almost ruined, it was quite rough, so I installed new bearings.

    Ihere you can see the bearing is so far out that the arms were girding.

 

After upgrading to the much stiffer Race Face Turbine Cranks, I noticed that the frame is flexing on the right side in the chain stay when turning /leaning the bike to the left,and it hits the tyre 2.3 tyre,I have a tube wrapped around the chain stay , It’s  between 1-2 mm. So by upgrading to the stiffer cranks instead of the cranks flexing the chain stay is flexing, so the flex in the frame is more significantly more noticeable with a stiffer crank. But riding while seated on asphalt the flex is not as noticeable.

You can see the tyre is pretty close to the chainstay.

2014-trek-fuel-ex-76-29explain

  • I would not recommend using tyres wider than 2.3,the seat stay&chain stays are too close for bigger tyres.
  • SHIMANO RT56 RESIN ONLY rotors, After few months of use with Metal pads I worn out the rotors, the holes are rounded off, and I lost a lot of bite.
  • Noticeable flex in the Shimano Deore M552 crank arms, the cranks failed on both of the bikes, without any abuse,so faulty crank arms, or the they are just too weak for a track stand, flexy cranks like this should not be on a trail bike.
  • like any suspension bike there is some pedal-bob, but its minimal, I get about 10% of the travel.
  • no chain guide,the chain fell off more than 10 times the 2015 season,when jumping and riding ruff places hard, I jumped from 3 steps of stairs and if fell off)
  • 24173105230_3bcbca165c_c
    I will never use A plastic press fit shimano BB’s I had to use pliers to remove stuck parts.

    (as you can see the paint got stripped off by the chain)

  • one Allen bolt  on the EVO link was over tightened from factory ,but I managed to unscrew it by using warm water and Allen key in the freezer for few minutes & the big bolt on the chain stay and seat tube fell off,but the bike shop replaced it.
  • chain fall off when jumping sometimes, my plan is to get 11 speed and get a chainguide.
  • Tyres: Bontrager XR3 Expert, is not a very lasting tyre, because of the soft trubber, l the rear tyre lasted me few weeks,so i upgraded the rear with SE4 Team Issue tyres,witch has last me to the winter came.
  • the weight is 13,6 on 18,5(virtual)(real 17.5)
  • the Fox 32 has flex/twisting,from side to side, but not noticeable when riding, but this is quite common for 32 mm stanchion forks ,my RockShox tora sl 2010,Marzocchi Corsa 2012,the flex is a lot less than these forks, but when the wheel is on it can be flexed to about the same, but when wheel is off the fox 32 evo is clearly stiffer.
  • no dropper post.
  • Bontrager RL(Race Lite) lock on grips: they are way too hard for me,but got good grip,but they are too hard for me and give no dampening, so I replaced them with ESI Extra Chunky green grips in is a pretty good match.19525248243_5d21846fca_b
  • this bike really need a chain guide. If you ride hard or jump you will need a chain guide.
  • 3 chain rings for a trail bike is not optimal, the problem is over big roots or obstacles you can hit it some time times, and as bigger the chainring is as more chance there is for you to crash or damage the ring.
  • The chain-stay protector does not work well, the chain will hit the zip-ties, and they will snap so the protector will be loose and will scratch the paint,and because it does not cover the whole chain-stay the inside of the chain stay will get hit by the chain, i replaced the protector with a old inner-tube instead.
  • chain slap on the Front Dérailleur: which crapes of the pant and make visible scrapes on the puller arm.
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Chain slap scratches
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Chain slap scratches

 

Upgrades I did:

First I upgraded to StraightlineDeFacto pedals, But later I switched to Pedalling Catalyst pedals,which improved my riding greatly.

Shimano XT M8000 Shadow+ GS(medium cage) Rear Derailleur

Shimano XT M8000 11-46 casette

I later Switched over the xt to the trek 6300 and upgraded to XTR M9000 shifter and Box One rear dérailleur,which greatly improved the shifting.

gallery of the upgraded bike upgraded-2016

TRP Spyke Dual piston mechanical brakes

  • Race Face Atlas Ø35 50mm & Race FaceSixc Ø35 800mm which are perfect fit for me,but switching to 50 mm stem made the steering roe aggressive/twitchy, not more than I can handle, but the fit was perfect.
  • Timber bell( or similar) is a must.

Flickr albums of the 2 bikes:

Nr 2 bike 2014  Fuel ex 7 29er_3284
Upgraded 2014 Trek fuel ex 7 29er Skanshytta tur 15.08.2017_0414

The frame:

after 2 seasons the bearing in the chain stay worn out,(by worn out I mean they did not turn smoothly and they made noise even when I repacked them with grease,but they had not noticeable play in them) so I had to change them,So I did,but even though I have had repacked them with grease once, I think I should have done it sooner.

I have been riding with the second bike in -11 degrees, and on wet rainy days, and al lkinds of weather, I had to repack the bearings after few weeks of winter riding, but the bearings were running smooth, So I guess I will just have to cheek the bearings more often.

 

Full Specs:http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Trek/Fuel-EX-7-29,12595

Other reviews:

http://reviews.mtbr.com/review-trek-fuel-ex-7-29

http://www.bikerumor.com/2013/05/22/first-look-2014-trek-fuel-ex-29er-weights-details-ride-impressions/

http://www.pinkbike.com/v/embed/458872/?colors=c80000

Videos of me riding:

Some street/Urban mountain biking:

 

Verdict/Conclusion:

Bad selection of components and too flexible frame make this a bad choice.

buy new rear tyres,

If you ride very steep downhills a, A dropper post will definitely be the next upgrade.

the bad choices of components, and flexy frame, is Disappointing, the must be some flex in a frame or it will snap, but this is too much in one place.

the bike rides well, very stable no matter how I ridden it,but ,trek did not do a good job on selecting all the components, the drive train is outdated, The wheels are too flexible and get out of true way too easily, triple chain rings is outdated,and the crank arms have too much flex. In my opinion most riders do not need triple chainring setup,wider range cassette just replaces the Front RD so there is no point in having a front Rd.

 

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2 season Review: Bontrager Duster 29 wheelset

This wheelset is a perfect example of why you should know or read long term reviews.

The Bontrager hubs using in this wheelset are manufactured by Formula Hubs.

the type of riding I have done is the most normal trail/enduro/singletrack

The highest I ever jumped with these wheels was 1 meter.

This is the stock wheelset on my 2014 trek fuel ex 29ers.

The front wheel wheels were fine, but the primary bike had a noisy front wheel, its most likely the spokes, or the rings in the rim, on the rear rims many of them were loose.

Brushed & black

Maxis high roller 2 are quite hard to take on and off on this rim, a good tyre lever is needed.

Tiny tent in the left sidewall, I think this if from hitting a stair step edge, I have punctured quite many times and lost air too much air when I was riding down stairs, but this dent can probably by fixed.

The wheels get out of true way too fast.
I managed to make it true sideways but not radially.
after few km on my spare bike, the rear tyre was hitting the inner tube wrapped on the chainstay, I took off the tyre and tried to true the wheel, it was impossible to radially true it.
even at max tension & loosening the and loosening the other spokes above to make it true)the spokes could not pull the rim inwards.
the primary bike had a flat spot, but it also was untrue very fast, and the tyre hit the frame on it too, but it was fixed with truing.
but the flat spot was impossible to fix, I managed to get it better but still was about half cm out of true radially.
this was after few months

the rim had drilling residue after spoke holes.The other had something black inside it, probably drilling residue with black paint-job.

Formula DC-51

The spoke nipples:

It’s Am not brutal or using the wrong tool for the job, I have never seen so soft spoke nipples, but some worked fine. so this might be faulty nipples, something wrong with the alloy on these spokes.

many of them were inaccurate so the spoke wrench did not fit properly unless forced,
almost half of the spoke nipples got rounded off,t he metal was like chocolate that began to melt, some nipples even cracked,t o take them off I need pliers, some nipples even snapped/cracked.
I used the correct size of a wrench, I will rebuild the wheels with new rims, spokes, and spoke nipples.

I have been puncturing a lot, even I go beefy tyres: Maxxis High roller 2 2.3, and I have been riding down stairs and rough terrain, and lost air pressure, and ridden down stairs until I hear a loud bang, But I did not get any big dents.
So upgrading to tubeless might be a good upgrade.

28 spokes are too few on a 29er trail/xc/enduro bike.these are the Moist flexible wheels I ever rode.

Bigger the wheel is more spokes it needs.

more spokes easier it is to true it, and longer they stay true.

The original rim tape, eventually will twist and bend, when you get punctures.

the freehub on the spare bike had no grease in the freehub bearings.
I had ridden the bike only 60km, at the time, but this resulted in play, and loud noises, I had to repack it with grease.
the front is almost idiot proof.
It’s so easy to service as long as you got the right tools for the job.

rear hub:

the rear bearings did not need any repacking, they have good, blue grease in them.

to take off the freehub you need an 11mm Allen/Umbraco key & an adjustable wrench, and use the long side of the Allen key.

because of the Park tool 11mm, Free-hub retrench is too short for this particular hub.

Verdict:

Horrible wheelset.

Way too flexy get untrue too fast, the only good thing is the easy to service hubs

It’s best to read a lot of reviews, and see what your friends or the rest of the community are riding and what they think is good, before you order a wheelset. that what I am gonna do.

4 weeks review: 2014 Bontrager XR3 Expert 2.30 tyres

They came stock on my 2014 Trek fuel ex 7 29er.

The rear tyre worn out(1 mm knobs and I changed them out) after about 4 weeks of normal trail riding & commute. (I did not do any skidding)

the sticky and soft rubber gives good with the knob pattern gives good grip,but the durability is awful,unless you want to use it for races,but for everyday use,these tyres are not durable enough.

I upgraded to Bontrager SE4 Team Issue

they lasted the rest of the season + some more weeks.

With these tyres you actually need to follow the pressure recommendations.

Pros:

  • good grip

Cons:

  • Awful durability, I upgraded to Se team issue tyres,but currently(2016) run Maxxis High Roller 2,they have better grip, and don’t wear out as fast as the XR3 Expert.
  • the tyre is squirm at lower pressures. So you can’t use lower pressure than 30 psi I’m somewhere between 170 and 180 Kg  and I need to keep the pressure at 40 psi,30 psi still makes the a unstable steering.
  • the grip is not as good as on Maxxis’s 3C Maxx Terra Compound.

 

Conclusion: NOT Recommended.

Awful durability

These tyres are waste of money.

Review: 2015 Giro DND gloves

the durability, and wear resistance of these gloves are much better than then Remedy X gloves,because there is no horrible hook & loop strap that wears out.

I have used these gloves about the same time as the remedy x gloves but these gloves will last much longer.

my knuckle size is 21cm,  and i used size large.

Depending on your hand these might be a con or a pro: if you got abnormal big wrist bone and thick thumps these gloves are for you.

  • the thumb is bit too big for me
  • the wrist is too big for me.

 

Pros:

  • elastic part on side wrist to help with fit.
  • durable
  • very breathable
  • sweat wipe material on the side of the thumbs

Cons:

  • The seams inside,result in less comfort than Poc’s gloves,but nto so bad that I would not wear them.
  • no Velcro strap for the best fit
  • no touch screen support

Giro DND Mil Spec Olive / Highlight Yellow  2015 Gloves

2 month REVIEW: 2014 Giro remedy x- Lacks durability

flickr album

you will definitely feel the stitching,and and that you got the glove on but it its still a wearable glove

PROS:

  • these gloves do not have a knuckle protection even it might look like they do for you.
  • good padding.
  • the part of the glove that got camo on it wears fast, it will wear out when washed often,the colours will fade,the small venting holes will be bigger or rip apart.
  • Protection on the fingers and and padding on the palm and side, so you wont get scratched when you hit a tree,but if will not give you full protection its not like knee or elbow pads
  • The synthetic leather from the palm extends over the finger tips so the stitching won’t wear off or rip, and its  comfortable,not like on the Mavic’s or Shimano gloves where the stitching came upward and under my finger nails.
  • special stitching with touch screen support,and it works well.
  • good venting

CONS:

  • not very comfortable, but wear able, but if you want very comfy gloves these are not for you,You can clearly feel the seams
  • the hook and loop strap do wear out very fast, father Ca 2 month it worn out
  • the protection pads are bad, not like on the Poc Index DH Vpd 2.0, witch is my favourite glove so far.
  • the touch screen stitching began to wear.
  • the glued-on rubber is peeling off, but this is normal, you can’t glue rubber on fabric and expect to stay on.
  • the vent on the left long finger rip

Conclusion

I can’t recommend these gloves,the lack of comfort and durability makes this a Not recommend product.