Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

2010 Trek Fuel EX 8 review

Posted by Tony | September 8, 2009 | 26 comments so far

2010 Trek Fuel EX 8 in white
As a owner of a 2009 Trek Fuel EX 8 I was very interested to see the details of the new 2010 Fuel EX 8 and to see if there had been any great leaps in technology or if it was a case of gradual evolution over the 2009 model. Well checking out the 2010 model there have been some changes but not all for good for us mountain bikers.

Looking at the 2010 Fuel EX 8 the main changes for this year appear to be tweaks in the suspension technology. Trickle down of technology from higher up in last years Fuel range have brought the 1.125 to 1.5 tapered steerer to the EX 8 for the first time and the even larger air volume rear shock, seen mainly in the Fisher Roscoe range last year.

These changes should give a slightly stiffer front end and an even plusher rear (Roscoe’s rear suspension got rave reviews last year), all good stuff, but it was surprising to see the front suspension drop from 130mm to 120mm. The new larger can rear ends would surely be better matched to a 130-140mm fork like with the Roscoes since it will be seriously plush. You have to go up to the EX 9 to get a 15mm bolt through fork, but with the tapered steerer and only 120mm the front shock should be plenty stiff enough.

Other parts of the 2010 bike are much the same as the 2009 bike. Same overall suspension, same gears, same geometry, same finishing kit. Last years SLX chainset has been upgraded to XT but wheels seem to have been downgraded from last year’s Rhythm to this year’s Dusters. This years colour of choice – all white—the choice of fast bikers!—is available but this years paint scheme is much toned down.

All good you might think, so where are the downsides. Well it’s mainly price. The 2009 bike retailed at £1750 and the 2010 bike will retail at £2000. That’s quite a price hike for the minimal number of changes on this year’s bike. Currently there are a number of 2009 bikes available on-line for around £1550-1600 which makes these seem like a bargain. Grab one while you can!

Given the price increase for the 2010 Fuel EX 8 it makes sense to also consider the EX 6. If you can live with the RockShox Recon rather Fox fork then at £1600 is seems to be possibly closer to the sweet spot of the range.

The 2009 Fuel EX 8 is quite an exceptional handler as I have found over the last 7 months. With the changes here the 2010 is just going to build on this performance!

Filed under Bikes, Reviews in September 2009


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  1. Matt says:

    Tony I agree with your thoughts, it’s quite a lot of extra cash for not massive differences. But maybe last year’s model was simply a bargain resulting from unusual exchange rates? Who knows. I’d rather have better wheels and forks than drivetrain components that wear out anyway.

    In fairness, the 2010 model is a better bike with the ‘future proof’ tapered steerer which should make it noticeably stiffer up front. Plus that trick shock looks promising.

    I think the 120mm travel is for the carbon bikes? 130 on ally versions I believe but I may be wrong.

  2. tony says:

    Hi Matt

    Fair points. Maybe the 2009 was just a great deal.

    I agree that there have been some very good upgrades for 2010, but it would be a killer deal if it was closer to 2009 prices. Maybe we have just be spoiled in previous years seeing better and better spec/performance on bikes with no price increases.

    Just checked, the 2010 Ex8 is an 120mm Fox 32 F-series.

  3. Anders Lund says:

    I wish you had commented on the difference between the old Fox shock and the new one on the 2010 models.

    I find the review a bit lacking 🙂

  4. tony says:

    Hi Anders

    OK here goes

    Rear suspension is the same (geometry, pivots, size etc..) as 2009 with the addition of a Fox RP2 DRVC (dual rate control valve) compared to the large volume RP2 of last year. Essentially this aims to give the shock two actions in one. A supple pedalling smaller volume which then opens to a larger volume on big hits to give a more linear feel (like a coil fork) and less of the ramping up of shock rate sometimes seen with air shocks. These shocks were available on the Gary Fisher Roscoes last year and do provide excellent suspension performance. However the 2009 RP2 was no mean performer itself.

    Up from the 130mm Fox Float RL is replaced with the Fox 32 F-series RL. Essentially much the same fork but with the new steerer and the lighter, more responsive bladder based FIT damping – lighter suspended mass better suspension response. Although 10mm less travel. The FIT damper does give more compression tuning senitivity. Overall all good!

    These are excellent advances although incremental changes.

  5. Steven Dunn says:

    Good review. I have just taken delivery of an EX 6 2010 model – done 50 miles XC already on it this week, and now my legs hurt 🙂 .

    Like yourself I decided that the EX 6 hit the sweet spot; cost v spec. It is a shame that Trek have dropped the EX 7 in the UK but then that has just saved me some £££s 😉 . I decided £2K was just too much for my needs and skill level.

    fwiw; I am in my 50s and cycle mainly XC in the Chilterns twice a week, I just found my Trek hardtail a bit too scary down some of the trails and I am very pleased that I went FS. I am amazed at how much faster and controlled I am now going DH with rear suspension (it also does wonders for my back). I am really happy with the EX6 , though I am still bedding it in. Tip: put more air in the front fork than the manual says (that may be because of newness).


  6. Mark says:

    Hi, I am very interested in purchasing either the 2010 Trek Fuel EX 9 or the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert. Can you advise on what bike is best spec wise please as I am no expert ?



  7. tony says:

    Hi Mark

    Both have very similar specs. Fox now make the front and rear shocks on the Specialized so it shouldn’t have any of the previous in-house shock reliability isssues. I guess the biggest differences are travel (120mm Trek and Specialized 140mm) and cost (Trek £2000 and Specialized £2500). The extra £500 doesn’t seem worth the cost. You really need to ride them to see which one you feel most comfortable on.

  8. Mark says:

    The EX8 2010 is fantastic. Had mine for 2 months and ridden 160 miles in muddy Surrey Hills. Put the power down and it goes – just takes off. Climbs faster than all other bikes in our group. Front end really stable, rear shock is smooth and takes big hits like nothing happened. 2010 is a real upgrade and worth the extra – full XT, tapered stem, full DVRC, Elixir brakes

  9. mark j says:

    An intersting read, as i too, am looking at an EX 8. Is the tapered headtube & DRCV worth the extra money, really, or just marketing. Progression is great, and i’m all for more stiffness and control with a plusher ride too, but does this mean i should skip a stumpy as it’s an old (but proven) design, not “future proof”? just wondering…

  10. Dave says:

    Hi Mark,

    “Progress” is great isn’t it!

    I ask myself the same question as I ride down trails on a rigid singlespeed, grinning from ear to ear.

    Also on Sunday’s ride James turned up on a old skool rigid, v braked, Raleigh and still seemed to have a blast.

    Send the skip away!

  11. tony says:

    Hi Mark J

    I’d guess that the law of deminishing returns is kicking in somwhat. Essentially the rear suspension is the same and although the shock is new how you set it up is probably more important. Similarly the front end will be more rigid however I’ve never thought – ooh this is a bit flexy when I’m riding my Fuel.

    Having said this – progress is good. It’s just not enough here to make me change…….yet!

  12. ian says:

    I had the 2009 Ex8 model. Have riden it for 15 months now. It has been a terrific ride, but there’s an annoying clicking sound when going up steeper hills. Anybody got same experience? wonder whether the 2010 model will be the same…. would be glad if someone could point me in the right direction to fix it. thanks

  13. TonyF says:

    After 18 months of Hardtail Carrera Kraken riding – the bug has bitten and I recently went straight “up” to a 2010 Trek Fuel Ex8. A tad extravagent – but I fancied a treat, and I haven’t been disappointed. One upgrade I haven’t quite got used to is the SPD pedals (and shoes). Although I am persevering my anxiety levels have gone through the roof about falling off…. should I be wearing SPD’s on tricky descents?

  14. StevenD says:

    Subject to what you mean by tricky, I say yes. I like being attached to my bike when the going gets rough or fast.

    Congrats on getting the EX8, I recommend that you buy some helicopter tape and cover the paintwork before it gets chipped or rubbed off. It also makes it easier to clean.

  15. StevenD says:

    To add: adjust your SPDs so that they are set on the loosest setting to enable you to unclip more easily. If you see an area that gives you concern, perhaps try unclipping one foot until you get used to using them.

    After a while you should prefer using cleats and appreciate their benefits. Although they are not for everyone I recommend you persevere before changing to flats.

  16. TonyF says:

    Just my piggin luck…. less than two weeks since I forked out 2 Grand, and the next bike shop down the road starts knocking out 2010 Fuel EX8s for £1750!!!

    Cheers for the SPD tips. It seems I’m not the only FNG who’s fell off in front of the beer garden.

  17. Cutbert says:

    Ian commented: “but there’s an annoying clicking sound when going up steeper hills”

    I have a 2010 EX9 with the same issue, the mechanics couldn’t find the source so I had to find it myself. We checked the BB, Rear ABP and all of the front pivots> I found the source to be the front swing arm pivot. No matter what torque you put on the bolt, it stays there. Heavy grease, still clicks. I believe it is a faulting machining process at the factory, just a hair off and you have clicks.

  18. Cutbert says:

    Ian, I thought the creaking was coming from the swing arm pivot bolt, I was wrong. I found it and here is a fix to the problem. Very easy, I used a teflon or plastic washer 24mm o.d. x 16mm i.d. x 1mm thick. See the photos in the url here:

  19. TonyF says:

    Hello again to the Trek Fuel Ex owners club…

    getting the hang of my Crank Brother clips… I swapped the clips around in my shoes – “dotted” cleat on the right foot means easier dismount – useful info I didn’t previously know.

    Need some advice on my suspension set up. I followed the TREK settings guide and YouTube SAG setting… Im 180 lbs, so the guide is – Rear 185psi, 4 Clicks Out Rebound, Front 75 psi, 9 Clicks Out Rebound. Adjusted slightly for SAG. All well and good. My problem is on steepish climbs over loose chunky stuff (tennis ball size flint pebbles for example) I can’t get any traction at all. If I lean forward, my back wheel kicks out and just spins, if I lean back slightly, my front forks bounce and lift. Is it my technique, or do I need to adjust the suspension? Or both? Any advice?

  20. tony says:

    Hi TonyF

    There are a couple of things I’d suggest.

    Firstly – bin the Bonty XDX tyres over loose stuff they are rubbish. Go for something a bit more chunky grip wise like a Maxxis or Conti.

    Secondly on steep stuff try to bend you arms to keep your torso low and edge as far forward as possible on the saddle. This position maximises grip and stops the front end wandering.

  21. marlon antonio garcia lopez says:

    tengo una trek fuel ex8 2010 que puedo hacer con ella tengo en frente una barra marzochi am3 2003 recorrido 150mm

    Translation *

    I have a 2010 Trek Fuel EX8, can I put a 2003 150mm travel Marzocchi AM3 on the front?

    * Matt’s edit via Google Translate!

  22. Tony says:

    Hi. Changing to a 150mm fork from a 130mm fork is quite a big change and although the frame will probably be fine you might find the steering a bit slow (or that’s what Google Translate tells me your question is!)

  23. Julian says:

    I am in South Korea, just like the UK they have dropped the EX7 out of the line up for Korea. I went with the EX8 and love it, but have swapped out the front forks for a Fox Talas 32 RLC 150mm(steering slowed but not bad). The bike is fantastic other than the bloody rubbish factory tires. I run flats, iv fallen off and buggered up my knees one too many times with clip-ins.

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