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.
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.
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!
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.
WHO’S IT FOR?
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)