Trek’s Fuel EX 7 is an aluminum 29er trail bike with 130mm travel on both ends. Despite being loaded with modern technology, it reminded me of bikes from not long ago. As such, the Fuel EX 7 is an excellent bridge between old, outdated technology and all the new, modern, fun stuff we have now.
Trek Fuel EX 7 29 features
- Frame: Aluminum, 130mm travel, ABP and Full Floater suspension
- Fork: RockShox Reba RL, Solo Air, 51mm offset, 130mm
- Shock: Fox Performance Float Evol
- Drivetrain: SRAM NX 11-speed
- Wheels/tires: Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels / XR4 Team Issue 29x2.4in tires
Base level is previous year’s top tier
This Fuel EX 7 sits one up from the starting point in Trek’s robust 13-model Fuel EX line up. Yet, you’d never know it. Trek has done a remarkable job on the aesthetics. Every part looks perfectly matched for a seamless appearance overall. That’s the beauty of having a giant house brand like Bontrager, Trek controls every aspect and detail.
It’s more than just the looks though. It’s loaded with the same technology as the brand’s expensive rigs. It uses the same Active Braking Pivot and Full Floater rear suspension designs, and is outfitted with wide 29in rims laced to Boost hubs, and even has an internally routed dropper post.
The frame is stiff front to back, has adjustable geometry, and remained creak-free. Trek’s turn-reducing, down tube-saving Knock Block headset felt odd when dorking around in parking lots but stayed largely unnoticeable on the trail.
Time travel back 10 or more years and this bike would’ve blown minds. It’s a lot of bike for the money and the parts are totally functional as is, and compatible with nicer components if and when needed.
Rear end overshadows the front
Trek’s Active Braking Pivot and Full Floater technologies make up the 130mm travel rear suspension. As one of the largest bike companies, Trek is able to work with Fox and RockShox and get the exact rear shock tune it wants for its bikes. It shows. The Fuel EX 7’s rear suspension comes closer to that mythical floating feeling than most.
On climbs, both traction and bump isolation were superb. And even though the Fox Performance Float damper had a lockout lever, I never needed or even wanted to flip it.
Descending saw much of the same with excellent support and tracking through rough trail sections. Throughout the 130mm of travel, it was smoothly consistent with zero hiccups or spiking. Trek has employed its ABP rear end for years and has really nailed its rear suspension leverage ratios: supple off the top, supportive in the middle, and good at resisting bottom out.
As good as the rear end was, the Reba RL fork up front wasn’t. RockShox Solo Air spring and Motion Control damping are outclassed compared to its own Charger damper and Fox’s Fit, Grip or Rhythm internals. The chassis was also too thin for a 29erwheel with 130mm of travel. Both of those things made for a long fork and the 32mm stanchions weren’t up to the task with noticeable flexing when whipping through turns.
The bike to bring riders into the new generation
Riding the Fuel EX 7 reminded me of bikes from a few years back. Thankfully, I’m not talking high-post hardtails with V-brakes and 600mm bars, but rather bikes of the mid 2000s.
A lot of this nostalgia came from the flat 750mm bar and 60mm stem. The geometry, too, nods at XC and light trail ripping with a 67.7 degree head angle which keeps the front end responsive. Trek also tilted the seat angle up at a pedal-friendly 74.7 degrees and the reach is a tad shorter than other 130mm travel 29ers.
Granted those numbers are close to today’s standards, but the riding position provided sits the rider forward, similar to how bikes felt years ago before everything got laid back and low.
That silhouette creates a trail rig that leans a bit towards the XC side, which for a bike in this sub $3,000 price range likely works very well for its intended audience. All told it felt more similar to bikes before the all-consuming long, low, slack phenomenon took over.
Bottom line: modern tech with a familiar feel
This bike is perfect for riders who prefer bikes a little more like they used to be, or for folks getting back into the sport after some time away. It’s brilliant for what it is as much as what it’s not.
It’s not super long, low, or slack. It’s not going to feel completely foreign to someone who was into riding in the past like some of today’s mega-stretched out rigs could.
Yet, it’s still loaded with all of the modern day tech. Boost hubs, single-ring drivetrain, and a dialed rear end all contribute to making a ride that is light years better than a bike from a few years back. All together it makes the Fuel EX 7 an excellent first ride or re-introduction into trail riding.
The Fuel EX 7 29 retails at £2,250 / $2,499.99 / AU$3,299 and can be purchased at Trek Bikes and local Trek bike shops.