Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup



Photos by Max Rhulen
Video by Brian Niles / Treeline Cinematic

We’ve had the Trek Fuel EXe on long-term review status since it was first released a year ago. At the time when Trek hit the market with their SL, lightweight eMTB offering, complete with the brand new and nearly silent TQ HPR 50 drive unit, it had many mountain bikers excited to see this niche of eMTBs progressing. Since we first got this bike for an in-depth Dissected feature last year we installed a 160mm fork, passed it around and have been logging miles and smiles aboard it ever since. So, how does the long-term review of the Trek Fuel Exe stack up in comparison to our first ride impressions, and how does it stack up to an increasingly competitive category of eBikes? See below for all the pros and cons.


• 140mm Linkage Driven Single Pivot Suspension With ABP
• 29” Wheels
• TQ HPR50 Motor
• 360Wh Battery
• 2-position Flip Chip
• HTA 64.8 (Low)
• STA 76.8 (effective)
• REACH 483 (Large, High)

Price: $6,499 – $13,999

2023 SL EMTB SHOOTOUT SERIES – The Trek Fuel EXe was one of the eight eMTBs we tested in our inaugural lightweight eBike group test. We’ve seen a rapid and impressive growth in this category and after fielding so many requests and comments in our well established, annual full-power EMTB SHOOTOUT series, it only seemed natural to give this category the attention it deserves.

This group review was made possible thanks to the amazing support of Schwalbe Tires and their brilliant new Tacky Chan tires, which we outfitted each and every bike with for a consistent test platform.

We’d also like to thank Ninja MTB and Glade Optics.

Our crew did plenty of testing around Central Oregon before heading down to one of our favorite places to ride, Klamath Falls, Oregon. Thanks for the hospitality Discover Klamath and the beautiful Running Y Resort.

2023 eMTB SL Group Review: Logo List


The Fuel EXe is Trek’s answer to the ultimate lightweight all mountain eBike, with a 140mm rear end, capable trail geometry and the TQ HPR 50 drive system to provide natural assistance to the rider.

DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS | Trek’s Fuel EXe is one of two bikes in this Group Review which use the TQ HPR50 drive system. TQ’s motor is the lightest on test at 4.07lbs (1.85kg), which produces 50Nm Torque and up to 300W power. The motor is named after the Harmonic Pin Ring system which replaces the usual cogs in a motor to produce a very quiet operation. The frame hosts a removable 360Wh battery, and there’s an optional 160Wh Range Extender that can bring total battery capacity up to 520Wh. Something we highly recommend customers tack onto their purchase for added range.

TQ’s integrated 2-inch top tube display shows basic information like battery life and speed, and allows you to access the on-the-go adjustments. You can connect the TQ App on your phone via Bluetooth or a cycle computer via ANT+ to get more information and make more adjustments. The bar mounted remote lets you easily toggle between each power mode (ECO, MID or HIGH) or to activate walk mode.

Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

FRAME AND FEATURES | Trek offers the EXe in both Alpha Platinum Aluminum or OCLV Carbon Fiber frame options, depending on the spec level selected. These share the same features throughout, but with a weight reduction on the carbon frame. There’s fully guided internal cable routing with clamped ports to minimize rattle, a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger, the Mino Link geometry adjusting flip chip, and a 34.9mm seat tube to increase dropper seatpost reliability. The front triangle has enough room to fit a large water bottle, and there’s a generous down tube protector which doubles as a quick release battery cover to facilitate easy removal. Inside the steerer tube Trek fits the Bontrager B.I.T.S system to offer easily accessible tools on the fly.

SUSPENSION | Trek continues to use their Linkage Driven Single Pivot suspension design, which features their Active Braking Pivot on the rear axle – a concentric pivot which allows for manipulation of the braking characteristics. Pedaling is tailored more on the side of traction than support with roughly 90% Anti Squat; there’s low braking influence with around 55% Anti Rise; and there’s a medium 16% progression to ensure riders will make use of all 140mm of travel.

Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

GEOMETRY | The Trek Fuel EXe shares a lot of geometry with the analogue Fuel EX, which is a very well-rounded machine. Compared with other similar bikes on test, the Fuel EXe is slightly more aggressive, though the shorter rear end can let the front wheel wander on the steepest climb pitches.

BUILD SPECS | Trek offers a wide range of builds from the aforementioned Alloy-framed EXe 5 to the Exe 9.9 in both XTR or the XX1 spec tested, spanning a $6,499 to $13,999 price range. There are also T-Type builds on offer for those looking for the latest SRAM drivetrain. Our 9.9 XX1 build features an ultra-high spec build befitting such a price tag, with some tech accessories sprinkled in to add some extra flair. A RockShox Lyrik Ultimate and Super Deluxe Ultimate suspension package offers high levels of adjustability and are fitted with SRAM’s AirWiz tech to monitor pressures and ensure they’re always in the sweet spot before a ride. As the name suggests, SRAM provides an XX1 Eagle 12-speed drivetrain, though Trek opted to equip an e*thirteen e*spec Race Carbon crank; and there’s a SRAM Code RSC brakeset stopping on a pair of 200mm rotors. Rounding out the SRAM family spec is the RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post, with a 170mm drop unit fitted to our size large.

The cockpit is a slightly contentious integrated unit – the Bontrager RSL – with a 45mm effective stem length and 27.5mm rise. As standard the Fuel EXe’s Bontrager Line Pro 30 carbon wheels are wrapped in a Bontrager SE5 team issue tire set, but for this year’s SL eMTB Shootout we equipped all bikes with the super grippy Schwalbe Tacky Chan tires to provide a more balanced traction component to all our test bikes.

Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup


SETUP | Getting the Trek Fuel EXe feeling good proved to be a pretty easy task. Although we would have much preferred a traditional two-piece bar and stem as we swapped out the one-piece unit for our yearlong test, but alas, it seems the bike industry is forcing us to ride more and more of these one-piece units. I digress.

Trek’s suspension platform has a pretty wide range that will allow it to feel good enough but can really come alive if you spend that extra time experimenting with PSI and compression settings little by little.

ELECTRONICS & INTEGRATION | Trek Central is the brand’s app which is an impressively robust application and can be used alongside the TQ app to get all the info you want, modify power delivery and customize assist levels and support to your liking.

Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

MOTOR POWER & RANGE | When the TQ HPR 50 came out it was an impressive drive unit in many ways, well it still is, however the Fazua Ride 60 and its 10Nm of extra power were appreciated on the hottest and longest days. The TQ unit sits nicely in the middle of the power range of our SL, lightweight eBikes, and is definitely on the quieter side, making only slightly more noise than the Fazua.

Our riders noticed the TQ was fast and peppy on the flatter trails and would result in tons of fun on lower gradient pedals, however in the factory configuration it would taper off a bit as the climbs got punchy and steeper. We slid the power assist up in the app and were willing to pay the price of increased battery consumption since we usually rode this bike with the range extender installed. If we didn’t have a range extender then we’d likely have a bit harder of a time finding the right spot for our particular riding style and assist preferences. From an efficiency perspective, the TQ is within a couple percent of other units, and means that variables like fitness, weight and terrain would have more to do with your mileage.

CLIMBING | We did not get along with the saddle on the Trek Fuel EXe, yet even still it was one of the most comfortable bikes to climb, so that’s saying something. The suspension platform is compliant and offers a lot of traction and suppleness for big days in the saddle. The geometry and climbing position was very neutral for our crew and it was just a good all-around climber.

Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

DESCENDING | Our crew really liked the Trek Fuel EXe when it came time to descend. We liked it a lot more when we had the 160mm fork installed, but even with the OE-spec’d 150mm Lyrik, the bike was capable, fun and ready to shred. It was confident, poised enough at speed and able to be thrown and moved around with minimal effort. If you’re running the suspension on the softer side, it could ride a bit heavy – to be fair it was one of the heavier bikes in the test – but if you’re regularly riding smoother flow trails a few extra PSI in the fork and shock yields a much lighter and poppier feeling ride.

Much like the climbing performance of the Fuel EXe, the Trek is well-rounded, comfortable, predictable and a lot of fun to ride.

FINISH AND VALUE | This is where the Trek Fuel EXe starts to slip a bit. Trek hasn’t been known for having very durable or great paint, but they have been stepping it up and we’ll give ‘em that. Even so, when you look at premium priced bikes like Pivot, Forestal and Scott’s Lumen, you can see a certain pride of craftsmanship in the details from hardware to the little points on the frame. Heck, even the Giant Trance X has beautiful oil slick hardware to tie into the purple and bluish hues of the marbled paint theme.

We wouldn’t place the Trek very high on the value scale, and it doesn’t quite have the same allure as some of the flashier bikes in this shootout, but as riders who place value on performance over component spec, there is no denying the Trek Fuel EXe rides!

Trek Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 Lightweight eMTB Review | 2023 eMTB SL Roundup

The Wolf’s Last Word

The Trek Fuel EXe is a very solid, crowd-pleasing SL category eBike. It’s incredibly versatile and for riders who want to shred a bit harder, a 160mm fork upgrade will make this bike even more fun. While we’d suggest spending a bit less on a bike that doesn’t come with the fancy (yet unnecessary) AirWiz technology, we think you can get into a pretty impressive and competitive Fuel EXe alloy for the mid $7,000s and a carbon XT model for the low $9,000s.

Overall, the Trek Fuel EXe is a bike that ranked consistently well across the board when it came to performance on the trail. It does everything pretty darn well and would be a great jack of all trades lightweight eBike for those looking to have a mid-power eMTB for trail shredding fun.


This bike is a great option for just about any rider, as long as you’re not looking for maximum drive unit power. The HPR50 is quiet, has great engagement and can be tuned, but we’d recommend a range extender as the TQ unit seems to drink battery bars. From a riding perspective, this bike is a great all around trail ripper and with a 160mm fork, it can be pushed hard into the aggressive shredder realm with ease!

Price: $13,999 (9.9 XX1)
Weight: 43.7lbs (large)


Frame: OCLV Carbon | 140mm
Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate | AirWiz | 150mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate | AirWiz | 205x60mm

Motor: TQ HPR50 | 300W | 50Nm | 1.8kg
Battery: TQ Internal | 360Wh | Integrated | 1.83kg
Display: TQ HPR
Remote: TQ System LED

Brakes: SRAM Code RSC | 200F/R rotors
Handlebar/Stem: Bontrager RSL Integrated Carbon | 27.5mm Rise | 800 W
Seatpost: Bontrager Line Elite Dropper | 200mm
Saddle: Bontrager Arvada Pro, Carbon rails

Wheels: Bontrager Line Pro 30 | OCLV Mountain Carbon
Front Tire: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue | 29×2.50″
Rear Tire: Bontrager SE5 Team Issue | 29×2.50″

Cassette: SRAM Eagle XG-1299 | 10-52T
Crankset: E*thirteen E*spec Race Carbon | 34T | 165mm
Shifter: SRAM Eagle AXS | 12spd
Derailleur: SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS | 12spd

We Dig

Well-rounded and versatile
Does everything

We Don’t

Not the best value
One-piece bar stem


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