06.11.2017 Revised 3 Years Review: 2014 Trek Fuel EX7 29er – flexible frame

I  needed a full suspension bike, at minimum 120 mm travel, I got the best bike, I could as fast as I could.but I knew I might need to change few things, but I test rode 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 handlebars 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 gets 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 post.

 

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), But I need more adjustment.

My setup:

work pretty well for me I am a 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 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 inches 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
  • Top bearings were the first to fail.

     

    This is from a from a bike rode few months. (bike Nr1) I was doing headset bearing service, and there was a lot of crushed metal in the grease, all over. the rest snapped when I touched it.
    the 2 balls fell out when I took the bearings out of the cup, the other is crushed or they were never there in the first place, but I don’t know. The bearings on the other biek lasted for longer, but they wore out quite fast, But I switched to Cane creek bearings, the type with seal on tom and bottom, they lasted for much longer.

     

  • 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.

 

 

 

 

  • handlebar 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 chain guide 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 16.10.2017:

CONS:

  • Shock & fork compression goes out of adjustment, if you ride fast down a hill and overkerbs, down technical trails,or riding fast over technical trails,this has happen quite often, I had to use zip ties to lock the dial on the for and shock, this also happens on Fit grip dial, which I have on one of the bikes because it got replaced under warranty on service.
  • 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 many issues:

I think the damage in the Evo link is caused by the flex in the frame, forcing the shock into the Evo link.

 

 

 

I noticed the bike was frame & the wheels were too flexible the first months I rode the bike, but when leaning the bike against something with rear wheel only I could see it flex, I upgraded to stiffer wheels, which greatly improved the almost constant tyre rub, upgraded cranks which improved the ride greatly, but this also affected the flex in the frame, which already was horrible, but I needed stronger & stiffer cranks, so that’s where the Turbine & Atlas came in.

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

 

Misaligned/pushed out/dislocated bearings:

The issues were worse over time, so in October 2017 it got to the point where I had to press in the bearings in the Evo link after every ride, even riding on pavement without any aggressive moves, or hard technical trails,  what did it that day was just riding on a bikepath, the rear end felt awkward, I could feel it happening, eventually I heard squeaking, which was the the seat stay rubbing against the Evo Link.

    • So I had to press the back in place, in this picture you the pressed in.

 

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.

 

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

 

  • Bent rear derailleur hanger caused by flex in the bb area, causing the hanger to bend under load, because the chain line changes too. Such extreme, and twisting the chain, this is why I am sure the time I bent a KMC x 11 silver, and crushed the threads in the axle on the Shimano m8000 rear derailleur cage, was caused by the flex in the frame. I have had to true the hanger after almost every long ride the past months, this is getting very annoying.
  • The bent cassette cogs happen on several cassettes I had to use a flat head screwdriver to get the cogs straight.

A Xt m8000 cassette was also bent due to the flex in the frame, which happens very often in September & October 2017

In september-October 2017 the chain wear got significantly worse. This is basically a new chain which will soon wear out, I did not decrease it, I just rode few times in a week, and did few minutes of mtb, I was sick so I could not do much riding because I was sick, but this is a new record in chain wear, the hanger had a significant bend, at least between 10-20 degrees.
The bike was always flexible, I felt it was too flexible for the first months I rode it, I had to upgrade many components, stiffer wheels with proper spoke nipples & hubs, stiffer cranks, wider bars, better drivetrain, but the frame was too flexible but the summer of 2017 I had so many problems with the drivetrain & bearings, that its really annoying

    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 wore 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 were way too flexible for me, the cranks failed on both of the bikes, without any abuse, so faulty crank arms, or 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 it’s 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)
  • Awful housing routing, the housing gets kinked in a twisted S shape, causing premature wire coating wear & housing wear.
  • (as you can see the paint got stripped off by the chain)
  • one Allen bolt, on the EVO link, was overtightened from the 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 chain guide.
  • Tyres: Bontrager XR3 Expert, is not a very lasting tyre, because of the soft rubber, l the rear tyre lasted me few weeks, so i upgraded the rear with SE4 Team Issue tyres, which 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, I am about 75 kg, There is noticeable twisting in the fork when riding over huge roots fast, or through potholes, or front wheel pivot, this is quite common for 32 mm stanchion forks, my Rock Shox 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
  • 3 chainrings 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 chainstay 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.
  • 24391495434_71c35e73f8_b
    Chain slap scratches
  • 24726582220_68fffd2f17_b
    Chain slap scratches
  • Bike nr1 got a bend in the headtube wall:
  • I have not received any answer why this happens or what could cause it, I will update you on that since I do.

 

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This is how the crank looked like before it eventually failed.

 

  • like any suspension bike, there is some pedal-bob, but it’s 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)
  • Awful housing routing, the housing gets kinked in a twisted S shape, causing premature wire coating wear & housing wear.
  • (as you can see the paint got stripped off by the chain)
  • one Allen bolt, on the EVO link, was overtightened from the 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 chain guide.
  • Tyres: Bontrager XR3 Expert, is not a very lasting tyre, because of the soft rubber, l the rear tyre lasted me few weeks, so i upgraded the rear with SE4 Team Issue tyres, which 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, I am about 75 kg, There is noticeable twisting in the fork when riding over huge roots fast, or through potholes, or front wheel pivot, this is quite common for 32 mm stanchion forks, my Rock Shox 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
  • 3 chainrings 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 chainstay 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.
  • 24391495434_71c35e73f8_b
    Chain slap scratches
  • 24726582220_68fffd2f17_b
    Chain slap scratches
  • Bike nr1 got a bend in the headtube wall:
  • I have not received any answer why this happens or what could cause it, I will update you on that since I do.

While working on my bike  I noticed  the frame protection I put on a while back, looked awkward, it looked like there was a dent in the frame,  So I  I took a closer look and indeed there was a dent

When I took the fork off to send it for service, I took pictures of it. But there was never an impact on the frame, to make such dent in the frame by impacting it I would have to land on a sharp object,  in that exact spot, which I didn’t. I of course never rode with the bearing outside of the frame with loose fork.

Upgrades I did:

  • 24173105230_3bcbca165c_c
  • the pressfit Shimano BB, is hard to remove without destroying it, but I had  to switch to BB30 press-fit,  I could have chosen 24 cranks,  I But I wanted 30mm spindle, direct chainring, So I went for Race Face Turbine cranks, but by doing So I had to switch the Shimano BB with to 30mmPressfit BB, So I went with the Race Face BB30, but  unlike the Shimano bb the race face BB has the has the bearings pressed directly in the BB shell, and has no plastic insert on the inner ring in the on the bearing, so the Shimano BB will not wear the spindle, but as the RaceFace has not, there will eventually be wear on the axle, but So far I have not seen any visible wear, I like how Chris King does it, the bearing play can be fine-tuned, adapters are used, the adapters keep the spindles from wearing & easily switch to other spindles/cranksets, the bearings are better sealed from contaminants and is easy to repack/regrease with special tool.  So that is what I wish for my next trail bike. So this is why I went for Chris King Threadfit BB for the 6300, I have seen a lot about Praxis BB lately, which I will look into further.

 

  • After upgrading to the much stiffer Race Face Turbine Cranks, I felt more of the flex in that the frame is flexing on the right side in the chainstay when turning /leaning the bike to the left, and it hits the tyre 2.3 tyre, I have a tube wrapped around the chainstay, 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.
This is how the Race Face BB30 looks like inside the bike. But I wish it had better protection against wet weather.

Some time in 2016 I uninstalled the bottom bracket, I was about to install the new BB when I noticed, there was crushed alloy there.

Verdict/Conclusion:

  • I need a much stiffer & stronger frame & stiffer fork.
  • replacing the tyre is the first thing you have to do.
  • 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 rode 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 chainrings 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.
  • Bad selection of components and too flexible frame make this a bad choice.
  • A trail bike should handle major abuse, a proper bicycle should handle an average weight rider to a heavier muscular or slightly overweight rider,  this bike can clearly not,  I am 182 and weight weighed about 74kg with gear on last time I weigh my self, but I am sure I ma heavier due to more muscle mass & heavier gear.
  • a trail bike should handle a rider commuting or sprinting, which this bike does not, the increasing issues might be to fatigue, so basically, the frame wearing out, and becoming more & more flexible.
  • Trek has been contacted: I translated it to English:
  • The bearing in the Closed Convert link at the rear wheel has moved out of the chainstay. This happens when the chain has expanded, so the bearing is no longer sit securely. This can also contribute to the wheel rubbing the frame.
  • Even If this is the case, there is downtube Flex so much it takes the chainstays with it, so it will still be too flexible, So I basically need the whole frame that is much stiffer & stronger, that can withstand my weight, but of course frames eventually wear out, but this bike is just 3 years.

 

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Review: Hope Tech Enduro – Pro 4 29er conventional 32spoked

 

After 1 meter drop with too low tyre pressure: we all make mistakes

Good thing is that I learn from my mistakes and never do them again.

one of the rear wheels,got a small dent,I ridden with studded Suomi WXC 300 tyres,  30 psi was too low in turns because of squirming,but I later added 10 psi.

If can, of course, bend it back.

Winter riding:

AS the temperature decreases seals shrink, wheels go out of true faster, but this will happen on any wheel set.

So far I have been riding down to -11 Celsius.

I have been riding below freezing temperatures, few weeks, I noticed the sound coming from the rear hub was dampened, and sounded like there was water inside, because there was water inside, the plastic seal shrinks when its so cold, which allows water/melting show to come inside, which happen on a -6 Celsius ride.but if you it’s not possible to make a tighter fitting seal, so I recommend to put grease between the seal and the hub freehub body, which will give more protection after I have applied grease to the seal, I have not ad any more issues with water in the freehub.

I also put grease in the rim holes and on the spoke nipples, providesTo prevent corrosion.

Pros:

  • 33providea true wheel for longer than 28 like Bontrager duster.
  • Hope made a noticeably stiffer wheelset than Bontrager duster 29er when going  fast in berms or landing jumps, or in general hard riding, it really makes a huge difference
  • High quality brass spoke nipples, accurate size,s o easy to work with, unlike the nipples on Bontrager Duster wheel set. There is no twisting or bending or crushing or cracking of the nipples when truing the wheel.
  • The hub is one of the best hubs on the market, it’s got idiot proof design, it’s very easy to take apart, I love the freehub system, there is no too required to take off the freehub.
  • 10 & 11 speed compatible, hope provides a spacer for 10 to 11 speed cassettes, and the freehub body is wider than a 10 speed freehub boy, so the cassette is further to the right/closer to the frame, which  result in a better chain line, for 11 speed,and no chain drop when backpedalling, unless you backpedal using your hands at unrealistic speed/rpm, I have been doing backward 180’s without any issues.
  • The wheels stayed true for a long time & no damage to the rim was done, after 3 weeks of hard trail riding, and some hard street riding, but after those 3 months it needed a quick retention, but it was a piece of cake.
  • the freehub is not too loud.
  • end caps for skewer or 12mm & 15mm axles
  • very easy to do maintenance/service no springs jumping out or tools needed(not counting the cassette tool)
  • Sealed cartridge bearings

I managed to get a small dent in 2 spoke nipples, but it did not effect the threads, might have been a big stone that hit them, the dent was only one one side so I could get the spoke tool on.

Cons: None

Verdict:

I Recommend this wheelset, if you want wheelset that works and is easy to work on, then this is a good choice.

I have put it trough harsh riding in all different weather and temperatures.

Good wheelset to a good price, good reliability.

http://www.hopetech.com/product/hope-tech-enduro-pro-4/

Hope has also made a 35mm version  http://www.hopetech.com/product/hope-tech-35w-pro-4/ which I have not Tried.

Unboxing:

Some pictures:

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You can buy it here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N5B9Y0R/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487380214&sr=8-1&keywords=hope%2Btech%2Bpro%2B4%2Benduro&th=1&psc=1

different hub sizes and colors:

https://www.bike24.com/1.php?menu=1000%2C2%2C140%2C209;mid%5B222%5D=1;content=7

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.