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New Trek Fuel EX 8 inaugural ride: 33.1 glorious miles.
Posted By John Stone On July 26, 2011 @ 8:55 am In Daily Blog | 10 Comments
The first thing I should mention is how comfortable the bike felt. The 18.5″ frame fits me perfectly, and I love the wide Bontrager (690mm) handlebars with a slight (25mm) rise.
Shifting was a joy. The shifters (3×10) and both derailleurs are Shimano SLX; the cassette (11-36) and crank (42/32/24) are also both made by Shimano. The shifters are perfectly positioned, and I love that they work in either direction. Shifting was quiet, crisp and ultra-fast. I ride with my index fingers resting on the brake levers, and I was able to shift up or down using my thumbs without changing my grip on the bars or removing my fingers from the brakes. Shifting felt natural and was second-nature. The shifters have removable optical gear displays, so if you’re a weight weenie those can come off.
I can’t say enough good things about the Avid Elixir 5 hydraulic disc brakes. Even though I quickly discovered how powerful these hydraulic disc brakes are, old habits die hard. Quite a few times on yesterday’s ride I braked using the same amount of pressure that I’ve grown used to using to stop or slow my old Trek 4300; thankfully I didn’t crash, but there were a few times (especially during the first few miles) that the sudden stops almost sent me over the bars. Once I got used to using a lighter touch things were fine. The brakes were totally quiet and never once squealed.
As for the full suspension, I can sum up my feelings with one word: “WOW!” This bike gobbles up roots and rocks like they are not even there. I can’t describe how comfortable the ride was compared to my old bike. I experienced absolutely no back, butt or ankle pain; not only that, even after 33 miles I felt considerably less fatigued than I usually would after a ride of that length.
Oh, and if you think the lack of fatigue was because I was loafing, I should mention that my average moving speed was a little over 2 MPH faster than usual. This bike is fast.
The stock Bontrager Evoke 2 chromoly saddle is very comfortable, but part of the reason it felt so comfortable may be due to the full suspension. I don’t really care why, all I know is that riding in comfort and without pain is very enjoyable.
My only complaint about the bike is the terrible stock tires. I was going to swap them out with a set of WTB Velociraptors (which I really love), but I decided to leave the stock tires on for my first ride. I wish I hadn’t. The stock tires really struggled to grip in the sand, they slipped on wet roots and they can’t corner worth a damn. I nearly washed out several times while taking corners at speeds my Velociraptors can handle without a problem. Needless to say the stock tires are coming off this morning and going straight in the garbage.
So, apart from the minor issue of the stock tires, I’m blown away by the Trek Fuel EX 8. I’m not feeling even the slightest tinge of regret over this purchase. The worst part of having this bike is the constant, irrepressible desire to ride.
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