First Ride: 2020 Trek Top Fuel

Rating
/10

On the 23rd of May 2019, Trek Bicycles held a massive launch at Meerendal Wine Farm. There they unveiled something that riders have been anticipating greatly a brand spanking new Top Fuel! It’s got more shock travel, a dropper seat post, and wider tyres. Giving it a nerve for extra edgy descends, but still keeping things speedy on climbs.

We got our first taste of the new Top Fuel only moments before the launch. Here’s what you can expect.

The Frame:

Trek have standardized their frames. Only fully OCLV carbon or fully Alpha Platinum aluminium frame models are now available. There are no decals on the frames to distinguish the different models. It just says, ‘Top Fuel’. Apart from the Top Fuel 8 and below. This leads us to believe that Trek are moving more in the direction of levelling the quality of their frames, and then only offering different spec levels. What that means for more entry level buyers is that they will be getting a higher quality of frame even though they are not paying the premium bike price. The only thing that will distinguish the different bike models from Trek will be the components of each one.

The 2020 Top Fuel is still maintaining its ABP technology on the rear triangle but is now getting the Knock Block feature on the head-tube of the frame. In terms of frame integrity, Trek’s Carbon Armour is still the main defence on the down-tube of the bike. Trek’s Mino Link has also been added to the rocker arm link, on the pivot that attaches directly to the rear shock.

What’s New?!

What’s different from the previous model Top Fuel is prominently longer suspension travel. The bike now makes use of a 120mm fork and 115mm rear shock. As you can imagine it gives the bike an added plush feel on the downhills. Then every bike from the Top Fuel 8 comes standard with a dropper seat post.

At first glance the bike might seem slightly longer. And rightfully so, thanks to the updated longer and slightly, slacker geometry. You might also notice the wider tyres, namely the new Bontrager Team Issue XR3’s that are sporting that 2.4 inch wall, and low rolling resistance grip.

Fast Facts:

  • Head tube angle low: 67,50-degrees.
  • Head tube angle high: 68-degrees.
  • Top Fuel 9.9 comes with SRAM’s AXS wireless drivetrain.
  • Every from the Top Fuel 8 comes with a 12 speed gear set.

Bike Weight:

Pounds Kilograms
Top Fuel 8 30,42 13,8
Top Fuel 9.7 27,85 12,63
Top Fuel 9.8 26,11 11,84
Top Fuel 9.9 24,36 11,05

Pricing:

Top Fuel 8 R45,999
Top Fuel 9.7 R68,999
Top Fuel 9.8 R89,999
Top Fuel 9.9 R149,999
Top Fuel 9.9 AXS (P1 Now) – TBA No pricing– Will only be launched end Jul
Top Fuel AL Frameset R32,999
Top Fuel C Frameset R54,999

More specs here

The Ride:

Once we got the cranks turning and the wheels rolling over the first few obstacles, we immediately noticed an improvement from the previous Top Fuel models. There was intently less bopping effect on the rear suspension. Trek have also taken pride in themselves to be able to deliver a fast and pedalling efficient full suspension bike, and we must say that with the 2020 Top Fuel they’ve outdone themselves. In fact, the less bop on the suspension, could very well be due to the flipped rear shock, and more direct rocker arm.

The bike also climbs with much more stiffness along the down tube and on the rear triangle. The longer frame design has most probably allowed the engineers at Trek to improve the carbon layup slightly. Anither aspect that comes into play when climbing, are the two of exceptionally crafted stiffened and strengthened, Bontrager wheels. Whether made from aluminium or carbon this brand never disappoints with their fresh take on rim construction.  

Downhill was significantly different from the shorter travel Top Fuel. The dropper seat-post makes the bike feel a lot on looser and freed up on jumps and drops. Although we had some the riders saying that they hardly used it during their test run. Perhaps it’s not entirely necessary to have a dropper post on the new Top Fuel?! Other than that, the longer travel on the rear and front shocks gave us more confidence on the track. Even when it came to balance and cornering – the extra weight from the shocks and dropper post were not at all felt.

Trek have cleaned up the handlebars of the 2020 Top Fuel, by adding a twist grip, remote shock lockout, from the guys at RockShox. It’s now easy to grasp that brake lever, and not have to worry about your hand catching on the remote lockout. Especially when you’re in a hurry on your way downhill.

Verdict:

Need we say more?! The new 2020 Top Fuel is an unspoiled cross-country and race ready bike. Keeping it raw on single track but fast on straights. We can see it definitely making an impact on the South African bike market, with a lot of popularity amongst the dealers already.

Stay tuned for a more in depth test report!  

Joel Meintjes

Joel Meintjes

Joel's goal is to help you become an expert in the field of cycling. He has helped many riders decide on buying new bikes and coached a handful of young aspiring riders. He's been on the bike and on the roll since 2013, and has gained bucket's full of knowledge from his tinkering with bicycles.

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