5 Years Review: 2014 Trek Fuel EX7 29er

I revised it this review many times, so here it is 5 years review.

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, but at the time it was the best bike I could get fast & easy.

My Fuel EX at Askim Museum
bike march 2019
how the bike looked like may 2018

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 depends on the bike but the person sitting on it and the correct size.

The first rides:

I noticed the bike was also easier to ride, the steering was easier, I also noticed the bike is more stable than my 6300, pulling wheelies was easier to control,  the front was heavier so it helped to make wheelies more stable.

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.

Handling & geometry

The steering and handling was a huge improvement going from Trek 6300 with very steep head angle, but I want even more stable steering & handling bike.

The Fuel EX struggles at tight switchback climbs, the steering is not stable enough,  it’s easy to ”lock” the front wheel, it requires very precise mode movement, good balance to be able to tun and go up smoothly.
also at straight climbs the is a struggle, you have to shift the upper body position to get grip, it’s a balancing act,
I can climb most of the steep climbs on my local trails, but does not mean the bike is doing a great job, it could be better.
there are something about the geometry that are not to my liking: the reach is too short, the wheelbase short, the bike is very easy too wheelie, and manual, it’s very agile, and ”flickable” as reviewers wants to call it, but most bikes will be for me, unless they are a tandem.

The video below  by Pole, does a good job at explaining & showing the issue with the geometry old bikes have and even some current bikes, it’s the same issue I got, on the Trek 6300 the problem was very noticeable, and steering was unstable, but the Fuel ex, was much more stable, but on tight switchbacks and doing precise trails moves I really notice the flaw.

I got 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 for my 17.5/18.5 frame.

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

My setup for summer 2018:

Worked ok, 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 110 psi in the fork, 5-6 clicks rebound both front and rear, which work pretty well for me, I am somewhere close between 70 & 80kg kg with gear on I guess.

I installed Cush Core which greatly improved the ride:
Installation of Cush Core tyre inserts greatly improved the ride comfort, the tyres where tracking well I noticed I was faster, I dropped the air pressure for suspension by 20psi, and 4psi tyre pressure.

The bike is 13,600 Grams(I did not measure it) 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.

after 2 seasons the original bearing in the chainstay 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 no 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, but I  replaced the original bearings with Enduro bearings, and I regularly maintained them so they lasted alto longer.I have been riding with the second bike in -11 degrees, and on wet rainy days, and all kinds 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 check the bearings more often.

PROS:

handlebar got stripes to help you with brake and gear lever alignment.

Shimano Deore SL-M610 Shifter triggers give 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, but they don’t fit me well, and lack necessary adjustments to fit me.

  • holes for internal cable routing for a dropper post
  • external top tube routing support for shock remote or a mechanical dropper post.
  • the bike is stable in the descend and climb
  • the frame got SCG-05 chain guide mount
  • decent clearance for my feet and legs

CONS:

  • I experienced some knocking, clicking sound from the spokes grinding, in turns or when the temperature was way over 20 deg Celsius, but upgrading to a proper wheel set fixed the issue.
  • The headset bearings failed after few months:
  • Top bearings were the first to fail. This is 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. Some bearing 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 bike lasted for longer, but they wore out quite fast, But I switched to Cane Creek bearings, the type with the seal on top and bottom, they lasted for much longer.
    • the rims had alloy machining residue, on the inside of the rim, it came out of the spoke holes.
    • bad selection of components
    • front resin brake pads got worn out in ca. 2 months, I upgraded to Shimano J02A IceTech, but this worn out the Resin only rotors, which wore out the rotors in about 4 months, I had to upgrade, so I went for Hope Tech Floating rotors, which was a great improvement.
    • The suspension:

      do not have every adjustment there is, but the CTD (climb, trail, descend), But I need more adjustment.

    • Shock & fork compression goes out of adjustment, if you ride fast down a hill and over kerbs, down technical trails, or riding fast over technical trails, this has happened 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 got on both the bikes because it got replaced under warranty on service due to the stock damper failing, but what happen exactly I don’t know I did not even notice a difference.
    • Saddle: Bontrager Evoke 2 choice is not no great.
      19697882404_e5dc9fd34c_b


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 70 and 80 KG + gear)
  • I can feel folded synthetic leather where the fabric and the synthetic leather is stitched
  • 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)

I can feel the bump where the fabric and pleather is, I can feel the side of the saddle

Bontrager Evoke 2 Lime green

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. But 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, so I had to replace them, but later I upgraded to dropper post so the issue was gone anyway.

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

  • The rear bolts on the the rocker link (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 is 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.

The brake felt nice and worked for a short while, but they are just too weak.

  • one of the frames had uneven welding for the zip ties the gap was too small for the big zip ties on the upper cable guide on the down tube,.I could use bit zip tie all over but the one spot.
The first months the bolts did not show any signs of wear, after a lot of maintenance work, but after that, they showed signs of wear and got very worn, the hex slot measured at 40.70mm.

<p>they have tight tolerances, so the park tool Allen/Hex bits & keys fit in tight, but of course, bolts wear out, but these bolts wore out quite fast in my opinion, few bearing services and they were worn out.

from the left, the original worn out bolt & to the right the replacement bolt, which does not have the Hex all the way through, but it starts from the middle.

I replaced the bolts in the rear of the Evo link

This bolt rounded off very easily, I barely turned the Allen key it just shredded the bolt.
I had to make the hole a bit bigger to remove the already damaged material, then I hammered a bigger Torx bit into the bolt as hard as I could, until I felt it sat firmly in, I then carefully took it out and used Torx key to remove the bolt.

Noticeably flexible chain stays & seat stays fast wearing chainstay & rocker link Which are 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. the Evo link is also quite stiff, but not everything on the frame is so lack of stiffness in other palaces makes this frame horrible.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 tyre rub_3608

The flexes in the chain stay is causing the chain stay to rub into the tyre is causing the inner tube I wrapped the chain stay to tear the rubber part sticks out and rubs against the tyre. of course the wheel flexes some too, but both combined is not great, but The hope wheels are stiff, but will flex some when pushed hard, but in my case it’s mostly the frame, but with original wheels both the wheels and frame set were an issue.

  • Mis-aligned/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 bike path, the rear end felt awkward, I could feel it happening, eventually I heard squeaking, which was the seat stay rubbing against the Evo Link.

This picture shows the bearings dislocated.
So I had to press the back in place, in this picture they’re 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 dérailleur 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 dérailleur 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.
  • I would not recommend using tyres wider than 2.3, the seat stay & chain stay are too close for bigger tyres.
Horrible Tyre clearance_3998
Non driveside clearance_4007

  • 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 fast wear of wire coating wear & housing.
77 Designz guide - Housing rubbing eliminated_5077
Internal cable rou_5082
  • (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: got good grip, but they are too hard a or me and give no dampening.
    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 chain stay will get hit by the chain, I replaced the protector with an old inner-tube instead.
  • chain slap on the Front Dérailleur: which crapes of the pant and make visible scrapes on the puller arm.
chain slap 2014 Shimano SLX FD-M671A
chain slap 2014 Shimano SLX FD-M671A --
Chain slap scratches

have not received any answer why this happens or what could cause it, I will update you on that since I do

2014 Trek fuel ex 7-upgraded to 1x11 11-42Tx36T Race Face Narrow Wide

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.
I have not received any answer why this happens or what could cause it, I will update you on that since I do

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

  • 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/

    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.

    After replaced Evo Link & chainstay:

    The bearings in that came with the frame parts were crunchy, they had little grease, I had to grease them.

    After I had replaced the chainstay and rocker link, the bearing dislocation issues were gone, for a while at least, but the bolts back in the rocker link kept loosening up, which I heard and read about, apparently loose bolts are still an issue on the newer bikes.
    The bent cassette cogs were still happening, but the premature chain wear was gone, the chain wore at the normal rate.
    The gear hanger was getting out of true, but nowhere near as bad as when the worn out chainstay was there.

    Worn crownrace December 17, 2017

    December 2017 I noticed wear on the crown race on bike nr1:
    https://flic.kr/s/aHsmaUB1Xb

    (Click on image to see all pictures in The album)

    I got the forks back fro service, but I put on the fork that the less worn crown race, but after few weeks it also showed signs of wear.

    I also noticed the bearings sit skewed in the head tube, unless it’s the head tube that is skewed.

    there was also very noticeable signs of wear on the bearings:

    very noticeable scratches.
    The forks have been serviced by Ccyklon and the CSU has been replaced to the 2018 model.

    I have swapped the fork with the most wear on the crown race in March.

    February 2018 update on the frame issues:

    The seat stay becomes bent.

    Damage to the new chainstay:

    Just showing that there is a gap using a pick.

    I think this is caused by the axle unthreading and the bearing is getting pushed out as I ride.

    I had to install the seat stay from the other frame.

    In this period did not do any technical trail riding, but I rode some skitracks and rodeo n pavement, rode some stairs few times, did some bunny hops some wheelies, but nothing out of the ordinary, a trail frame should take this, but this frame, can barely take any commuting.

    the issues with the hanger continued:

    some more recent content from 2018 & 2019

    The hanger that cracked:

    ABP hanger_4824edit
    ABP hanger_4807Edit

    I checked the cassette the cogs were twisted and bent as were the teeth, I swapped cassette, There was also significant play in the Box One RD which I noticed a while, but it was worse, it definitely messed up the shifting. I suspected that there was something wrong with the hanger, with the park tool hanger tool it looked to be straight but after several checks it was out of true, I eventually heard a cracking sound, I took the hanger off there was a long crack, no wonder the gearing was messed up, So I suspect it failed on the last ride to Skansehytta, and the truing did not work due to there already being a crack. the barely used RD worked fine with that cassette, but that cassette is showing wear on the smallest cog so I could not continue to use the smallest cog, but I am quite sure this will happen over again.

    After a while the bolt was wearing a lot.

    Really worn bolt_4041
    Too close_3926

    I have tools to do the job, so it’s easy to do, but annoying having to do this after several days of riding or for example a 4 hour ride up to Skansehytta and on the trails there and back.

    Removal of bearing, and then I clean the rocker link, so I don’t get creacking from debris.

    Bearing removal w/ RRP tool _0676

    These two pictures showing the tool are from April 2018

    and pressing the bearings in.

    Bearing install_1294edit


    Too close_3919
    Too close_3916

    This is not result of a impact or crash. My Rear dérailleur hanger bent on the ride, I noticed the shifting was messed up, I could left & heard it happen at the steep climb at Holterveien, horrible noise, the shifting was not working properly, and I had to stop and bend it back enough using my hands to get it to a point where I could continue riding it, and I continued riding, but when I riding back down at Holterveien. Ridelog: https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/3184376/

    Bent hanger - Skansehytta ride_5332
    Bent hanger - Skansehytta ride_5335
    almost touching_5845
    almost touching_5849
    SunRace CS-MX8 & ABP_5065

    June 9, 2018 The bearings got pushed out at Skansehytta, here are the videos from this day:
    h

    Also here is the Ridelog:
    https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/3184376/

    ABP_5070

    The hanger that racked:

    and I could easily snap off, so it could easily snap during a ride, or on a light impact, so I had to swap it.

    2014 Fuel EX Snapped Hange_20181205_115356Edit
    2014 Fuel EX Snapped Hanger_20181205_115342Edit

    this hanger had cracked, and I could move it, I was pretty sure it would fail, I used the DAG2 tool It snapped fast, it might have snapped on a ride, if it did that it could have resulted in a crash, but I installed my last spare hanger.

    hanger failure_20181205_094941Edit
    hanger failure_20181205_095028Edit
    hanger failure_20181205_094919edit
    hanger failure_20181205_094913edit
    hanger failure_20181205_093353Edit

    The last hanger I had for 12×142 bent horribly, it bent many times, but hte last time it bent a a lot more, and when trying to true it it snapped off easily.

    Bent ABP Rd hanger
    Bent ABP hanger 2014 Fuel EX 29er
    Bent Trek ABP 301805 142X12mm hanger _20190306_084828
    IMG_20190319_165435

    This is how the hanger looked like after snapping it with the DAG 2.2 tool.

    IMG_20190319_165505

    I suspected it would snap when I tried to true it, it was just too abused by the bike very bent the Rear dérailleur was pointing out to the front.

    I had hangers crack at the same spot there too, so this would eventually snap anyway. I installed the original think qr axle drop outs. only got one spare now.

    ABP Convert QR drop outs & Hope Pro4 QR adapters
    Frameset_2768c

    Upgrades I did:

    https://kit.com/mtbboy1993/2018-upgraded-2014-trek-fuel-ex-7-black-lime-green

    how the bike looked like may 2018
    • ESI Extra Chunky green grips
    • Fabric Scoop Shallow Race saddle
      26231866835_27c15ed217_b
    • 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 cassette
    • Hope bolt seat post clamp, as a quick release clamp just ads weight and is not necessary for me, it also looks great.
      I discovered the dropper post was horrible, But I need a dropper post, I eventually installed a E thirteen TRS Plus dropper post which was more reliable, but had its flaws.
    • Race Face Narrow Wide chainring 36T 104mm Later I switched to oval which was very beneficial to me.
    • BB:Race Face CINCH 41 x 92 x 30mm BB92 (PRESS FIT) which turned out to be junk.
    • Maxxis High Roller 2 2.3
    • Bottom bracket & Cranks:
    • Crank: Race Face Turbine Cinch 30mm axle 175mm, are noticeably stiffer, but on one of the bikes I switched to Atlas cranks, which were even stiffer.
    • 24173105230_3bcbca165c_c
    • the pressfit Shimano BB, is hard to remove or service 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.
    • with the flexy cranks, which felt horrible, the race face cranks were much more durable,stiffer, and I the flex in 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.
    This is how the Race Face BB30 looks like inside the bike. But I wish it had better protection against wet weather.

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

    https://static.bike24.com/i/p/5/1/154515_00_c.jpg
    Trek ABP Convert Dropout Set 12x142mm – 427343

    Renthal Apex 35 50mm stem

  • RevGrips

  • M6000 brakes which replaced the M615 under warranty, due to failure.
  • Verdict/Conclusion:

    The bike is horrible.

    • not good enough for me, due to the flaws.
    • I need a much stiffer & stronger frame & stiffer fork would be nice.
    • replacing the tyre is the one of the first things you have I had to do.
    • If you ride very steep downhills a, A dropper post will definitely be the next upgrade.
    • the bad choices of components, and chainstay & seat stay, 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 down tube Flex so much it takes the chain stays 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 bout 3 years.
    • Flickr album: 2014 Trek fuel ex 7- Issues

    https://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeSpecs.aspx?item=9258666

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

    THe 2018 bikes look like this:

    they increased the travel by 10mm, so its 130mm.

    https://flic.kr/s/aHsmgAaHec

    2018 Trek Fuel Ex 5  EVO link_1732edit

    the newer bikes have beefier chain stays, seat stays, the shapes are mroe of a rectangle shape, not oval like on 2014

    2018 Trek Fuel Ex 5_1818edit
    also the cable routing at chain stay has improved, but they bikes come with Race Face bottom bracket so it won’t last long, they have a bad reputation, I have also experienced the horrendous performance from Race face BB.

    they changed the name of the wheels, but I don’t know if they are junk as the wheels on my bike, but it would not surprise me, if it’s just the same weak alloy spoke nipples.
    2018 Trek Fuel Ex 5 EvoLink_1813Edit
    The same seat post clamp, but you can clearly see they have stiffened up the swing arm and rocker link.

    straight down tube, so they have knock block which many hate, but for some it’s not a problem, but some people do more technical riding, and turn the bar a lot, I haven’t tried the newer bikes.

    2018 Trek Fuel Ex 5_1805Edit
    2018 Trek Fuel Ex 9_1869Edit
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    Revised Review: Hope Tech Enduro – Pro 4 29er conventional 32spoked

    I bought them in 2016, Since February 2017 I added a lot of pictures and improved the review.

    I put the 3 wheel sets to more some more abuse, and a lot of hard riding, urban mtb and trail riding, and they survived.

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

    Rider weight:

    ca 75kg with all gear on.

    Winter riding:

    Aa the temperature decreases seals shrink, wheels go out of true faster, but this will happen on any wheelset.

    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 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 had any more issues with water in the freehub. but don’t make a mess, clean up the access to avoid attracting dirt.

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

    After a long time of riding the front hub did not need service.

    The wheel stays quite true, but when it it goes off center to the left both on front and rear, but I regurally check the wheels, so the tention is good and I keep them qutie true and centered, I have 3 sets in 29. I bought a set for my 6300 too.

    Pros:

    • provides a 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, so easy to work with, unlike the nipples on Bontrager Duster wheelset. There is no twisting or bending or crushing or cracking of the nipples when truing the wheel.
    • It has an almost 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 results 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)

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

    Cons:

    • not the highest engagement, there are other options on the market that provide better engagement, Industry Nine, Chris King, and the king of engagement Onyx due to the clutch, it provides infinite engagement, but they all cost a lot more. the engagement is ok, it does not feel awkward like the cheaper Shimano hubs do.
    • Cassettes with separate cogs Shew up the freehub body, So after some weeks or months, I have to file down the bumps to get the cassette on & off easily.
      The damage you can see on splines is caused by the cassette pitting into them, If you ignore this for too long you might struggle to get the cassette off, So I used 100 sandpaper to smoother the surface. I want a stronger Freehub body,  I haven’t tried Steel Freehub body or XD driver yet. Some other brands claim to have strong enough free hubs to not wear like this, but I haven’t tried any of them. but I used these since 2016 so that’s quite a long time, but they will probably last me few more years.

    on my 26er wheel-set: After few short rides Shimano XT  11-46T cassette:

    Unboxing:

    The Rim:

    Rock strikes
    Dent, I bent back with an adjustable wrench but there is still a lump.

    A closer look at the Pro 4 hub:

    The axle:

    The bearings & plastic seal.

    Springs eventually wear out:

    this is to be expected, it’s normal, springs eventually fail.

    Worn out leaf spring.
    Enter a caption
    Enter a caption

    Maintenance:

    Shewed up Freehub body:

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

    A 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, bends it back.

    The sumemr of 2018 I dented the rear wheel on wooden stairs, due to valve stem loosening up:

    I fixed the rim in few seconds, there was Loctite on the threads & tightened with pliers, but it still had to be regularly checked I should have done it earlier, that was my fault. I rode up wooden stairs, hit the staircase, and the tyre got a hole near the bead.
    which I managed to fix by letting the tyre stay still overnight with 20psi with the hole down.
    it sealed up. I had Orange seal, but I filled it up with more as it was spraying after the hit.

    Brake caliper alignment during ride
    Brake caliper alignment during ride

    Verdict:

    Hope offers a wheelset that can take major abuse, for a cost-effective price, But it’s not the ultimate package. the freehub body should be stronger.

    If you get this wheelset on sale it’s a good deal.

    But I want to try other hubs like Onyx with more engagement for my next bike.

    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.

    You can buy it here:

    different hub sizes and colors:

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

    Mudhugger Front Race & 29er Rear Mudhugger – 4 months review

    Maxxis Shorty 2.3

    I noticed when riding on very roucgh trails, the guard sometimes hits the knobs on the tyre,

    https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4522/24672904638_2912284886_o.jpg
    It probably happened when I was rolling the bile down steep stairs, I hit the fender on stair step.

     Pros:

    • easy to fit, the design on the guards allows it to fit on most full suspension bikes, but yet still allow great coverage.
    • The rear fender has great coverage and keeps your but dry from tyre spray.
    • The front guard trows the dirt back down in stead of forward.

    • The front of the fender is designed to keep dirt down and now flying up or forward as come fenders on the market will do.(Tyre Suomi Gazz Extreme 294)
    • many holes to fit most of the forks on the market.

     

    Cons:

    • the edges are sharp, so be careful to not cut your self.

    More reccomended accesories: https://kit.com/mtbboy1993/mountain-bike-accessories

     

     

    Check out Ben Cathro’s video: showing the mud guards in use:

     

    4 weeks review: 2014 Bontrager XR3 Expert 2.30 tyres

    Here are pic of barely used 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.