The Top Fuel is a quick, short-travel 29er trail bike that’s perfect for riders who like to stay pinned both up and down the trail. It’s lighter and snappier than a trail bike, but it’s a lot more forgiving on rowdy descents than a true cross-country bike. It’s the best of both worlds and a hell of a lot of fun in the dirt.
Words from Flow Mountain Bike
"The Trek Top Fuel has long been known as the American brand’s flagship full suspension XC race bike, purpose-built to to compete at the very highest level of the sport. In more recent years however, the Top Fuel has steered in a different direction. With the short-travel Supercaliber taking over duties for World Cup XCO racing, Trek has softened the Top Fuel’s serious, race-focused persona, adding travel and bulking it up in the process.
For 2022, the Trek Top Fuel makes its biggest move away from its XC racing roots. Equipped with a brand new frame, an updated suspension design and some thoroughly modern geometry, the Top Fuel aims to retain the pert pedalling performance of its predecessor while significantly boosting its all-round capability.
Despite being all-new, the Trek Top Fuel retains its position in between the Supercaliber (the 60mm travel XC race bike) and the Fuel EX (the 130mm travel trail bike).
It’s equipped with a 120mm travel fork just like its predecessor, but rear travel has actually lifted by 5mm up to 120mm. This increase has been achieved with a longer stroke shock (50mm vs 45mm), and Trek has also flipped the orientation of the trunnion-mount. The rocker link now drives the shock via two sealed cartridge bearings to improve sensitivity.
You’ll no longer find a dual remote lockout on the Top Fuel, which leads to a vastly cleaner bike with fewer cables occupying your view from the cockpit. Along with the bigger shock, slacker geometry and 2.4in wide tyres, it is without doubt the most trail-oriented Top Fuel we’ve seen yet.
A new, burlier chassis
Though it looks pretty similar, the Trek Top Fuel frame is all-new for 2022. It’s not so much a radical overhaul, but rather a collection of many small refinements that add up to a more practical package.
The chassis is notably beefier than its predecessor, with the seat tube diameter swelling to the new-school 34.9mm size. As well as increasing frame stiffness, the fatter seat tube is also shorter, allowing it to swallow a modern long-stroke dropper post.
The downtube is also larger, and it now features the integrated storage design we’ve seen employed on the latest Fuel EX and Slash. A latch underneath the bottle cage removes the trap door, providing you access within. A neat tool roll is included with the bike so you can carry a spare tube, levers and CO2. You could also fit a lightweight jacket in there along with some snacks.
Trek has updated the Knock Block headset, increasing the available turning radius from 58° to 72°. This provides you with greater freedom of movement on the trail, but still prevents the handlebar controls from smashing into the top tube. If you’re not into it though, the Knock Block is removable.
Also nice to see is a threaded bottom bracket shell for ease of maintenance, and the rear ABP pivot can now be tightened with a cassette tool. Also new for the Top Fuel is guided internal cable routing – poke the cable in at one end, and it’ll pop out the other, no fishing required.
Trek Top Fuel price & specs
We’ll see four Trek Top Fuel models coming into Australia this year – two with alloy frames and two with carbon. All Top Fuel models feature the same geometry, suspension design and travel. They’re all equipped with 29in wheels, and there are five frame sizes available from Small through to X-Large (the XS size with 27.5in wheels won’t be available in Australia).
Pricing kicks off at $3,499 AUD for the Top Fuel 5 and goes up to $8,299 AUD for the Top Fuel 9.8 XT that we have on test here. Additionally, Trek will offer a 9.9 spec via the Project One bike builder program.
You can check out the specs and prices for all those models down at the bottom of the page. Right now we’ll be diving straight into our experience of testing this bike here; the Top Fuel 9.8 XT."