Updated 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.

with 720 mm handlebars you get easy and controlled steering,720 mm bars, the 18,5 frame and the 29 wheel is just perfect for me.

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.

Routing a dropper post on this frame:

internal:

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

External:

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)
work pretty well for me I am bit more than I am somewhere close to 75 kg with gear on.

So I ride with 180 in the shock and 80 psi in the fork.

I did not want to bottom out the fork so I ran 110 psi for doing drops and jumps, but I later reduced it to 80 psi because the fork was but it too harsh on the roots.
The recommended psi for my weight(with gear of course) is 80 psi.

I am ca 180 cm high,the 18,5 frame and the 29 wheel is perfect for me

I experienced some knocking, clicking sound from the spokes grinding, in turns or when the temperature was way over 20 deg Celsius.

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,lighter bikes are more expensive and have to break these parts is expensive to replace.

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 11-42T 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
  • 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:

  • The 2014 Shimano Deore BL-M615 brake got good modulation, feels perfect to me. it’s a excellent brake set for a excellent price( as long as it works) but of course at a weight penalty.
  • 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 any 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.
  • 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 downtube,.I could use bit ziptie all over but the one spot.
  • Noticeably Flexy down tube & chain stays:

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.

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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.
  • The chain stays near the bottom bracket could be made stiffer,but the flex is not I did not notice the flex when riding relaxed on flat surface,unless your tyre or wheel is untrue,the design should be improved.
  • 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

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Upgrades I did:

gallery of the upgraded bike upgraded-2016

  • Shimano M8000
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    Shimano Deore XT M8000 I spec B shifter on Deore M615 I spec B brake(the rbake is too steep in this picture,I don’t use them like this any more.

     

  • TRP Spyke Dual piston mechanical brakes
  • Race Face Atlas Ø35 50mm
  • Race FaceSixc Ø35 800mm

Flickr albums of the 2 bikes:

Upgraded Fuel ex 7 29er Ved skansehytta _20170529_170745
2017 upgraded XT m8000 2014 Fuel EX 7 29er checkmate _20170411_183811_1

Verdict/Conclusion:

Disappointing build, too flexible BB area.

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.

The frame:

I think the frame will be too flexy in the left chain stay for  average riders.

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.

buy new rear tyres,

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

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:

REVIEW: 2010 trek 3900 disc & Bontrager LT-3, 26×2.0″

MSRP (new) $529.99

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2010/archive/trek/3900disc/#/us/en/archive-model/details?url=us/en/bikes/2010/archive/trek/3900disc

http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeSpecs.aspx?year=2010&brand=Trek&model=3900

this bike is made for commuting I have it in size 18,and in orange

the geometry so, not good for Mtb, for me, but for people with short armed and short back, this is not a bad thing, but I am about 180 cm high and i am average sized  everywhere,so  I get a very upright position, But when I was a teen i was not as big as I am now so it was ok.

which is too small of mountain biking  but for commuting its OK, you will sit upright.

the bike is no real mountain bike, frame is way too short and the handlebar is too short too, this make the bike too responsive.

ignore the sticker that say trek mountain bikes, it just refers to the standard for mountain bike frames. it’s not a mountain bike,but it can be with some upgrades.

the frame can withstand mountain biking, but the geometry is horrible for mountain biking.

cons:

  • fork : the SR Suntour SF9 XCT V2, 100mm travel  does not have the promised 100mm travel, but more like 20mm, the fork had play and it got even more play so when i was braking hard i felt like the fork would snap or fall apart. lack of adjustablity.
  • ( I upgraded to RockShox Tora sl 2010 from my 6300)
  • Shifters/triggers: the stock are v brake lever and shifters, shifters are horrible you need to swing the lever way too long to change gear.
  • Brakes: the mechanical brakes don’t work well you need to press very hard to brake. these brake are so bad that V-brakes actually are better for braking wise,not wear wise of course.so i upgraded  to hydraulic  & shifters/triggers,
  • Saddle– saddle is way too big for a fit guy like me, it wears out fast because of flex in the saddle the plastic under  it that  have screws in it will flex too so the screws will pop out.
  • tyres/tires:
  • The Bontrager LT-3, 26×2.0″ got horrible grip in the wet they are a death trap. on wet asphalt they slip and you will crash.
  • i upgraded to Bontrager XR1 Team Issue witch roll very well but have the necessary grip when you turn. http://www.bontrager.com/model/11869
  • grips- best to upgrade to silicone og lock on grips
  • pedals – pedals made of plastic is silly,the will break if you crash into something,they wear out very fast, plus no grip, and in the wet they are useless and dangerous , I recommendd straightlines defacto pedals.
  • i have defacto’s on all my bikes.
  • Handlebar–  i out crown the handle bars but they should still be wider.
  • Saddle:  the plastic plate holding it in to the rails wear out fast.screw jump out.
  • Acera rear Rear derailleur: unpractical nut on the wire clamping,and its not as durable as the Deore an up wards.
  • the headset: the plastic cover does not help much, so dirt and water qill coem in and dirt water with grease will come out,so you have to re grease it often.25221077486_cf268d17c3

my upgraded 3900 :

winter ready & upgraded 2010 Trek 3900 Disc

conclusion:

waste of money, unless you need a bike fast and it’s the only bike you can then at the point you are i the store.

I only use the 3900 as winter bike,I will run 1×9 drive train, don’t need all the gears, plus the front dérailleur does not work in  below -2 degrees.