Table Of Contents

  • Climbing Ability 100% 100%
  • Downhill Ability 70% 70%
  • Overall Fun 70% 70%

Travel: 115mm rear/ 120mm fork

Head Tube Angle: 68

Seat Tube Angle: 75

Reach: 470mm (large frame)

Weight: 26.08 lbs

Price: $8,999.99

What We Like: Super lightweight

What We Don’t: Knock Block in headset

The Trek Fuel is a “down country” machine. Made for clocking those bumpy 100 milers in no time. The short travel and lightweight frame keep the bike moving, and it responds very well to pedalling input. The bike also comes with a dual suspension lock out lever on all build options, showing that this bike was made to quickly transition from downs to ups and vice versa. The real suspension comes with Trek’s Active Braking Pivot to keep all tires on the ground while hitting rough stuff and allowing for controlled braking and handling. There is a Top Fuel for every budget, and some of the fancy wireless drivetrains are definitely worth a look as well!
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Wait for a second, isn’t there already a Trek Fuel article? WRONG! The Fuel EX and Top Fuel are only similar in name, but they’re quite different when it comes to performance and personality. The Trek Top Fuel is a cross country machine that has been given the “down-country” designation by some folks. It is a hard-hitting, elevation-crunching, long ride chewing machine. Professional rider Payson McElveen recently set a new fastest known time around the White Rim Trail on a Top Fuel, and with that moustache of his, he made it look good too. Trek has a lot of bikes, and there is a bike for every single niche of riding. So if you are looking for a missile-fast cross country bike that can handle itself on ribbony trail riding, look no further.
The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Top Fuel - Gear Hacker

The Bike

The Top Fuel is a spirited machine that comes in a price bracket for all riders. It has 115mm of rear travel paired with a 120mm fork to keep trails comfortable while demolishing miles. With an effective seat tube angle of 75 degrees, it is more slack than some of the other bikes on the list, and with a head tube angle of 68, it is also slack enough to help on the downhills without sacrificing climbing ability.

The top tube and downtube are both straight, allowing the frame to be lighter and stiffer. The trade off is the Knock Block to keep the top of the fork from smashing into the frame. Some riders like it and others aren’t fans. However, it does allow the bike to be lighter, so really, we don’t think anyone can complain too much.
The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Top Fuel - Gear Hacker

Climbing

The Trek Top Fuel is the only bike on the list that comes with a dual suspension lockout lever stock on the build. You are able to hit a lever on the handlebars that will firm up both suspensions, helping in the climbing and sprinting department. The same lever also works the dropper post, which is a bit slow in our opinion—but at least you won’t be needing a jockstrap while riding.

At 25.88lbs for the 9.8 GX (carbon frame), this bike is light, and you notice it on the climbs. The Top Fuel comes with 108 points of engagement in the hub, so you will never miss out on pedal power heading into steep climbs. This bike was built to climb, and it does that with no complaint or problem. You might even beat your friends taking the gondola to the top! I mean you won’t, but it feels that fast!
The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Top Fuel - Gear Hacker

Downhill

Trek also uses their patented Active Braking Pivot, which will keep your wheels on the ground when braking through choppy sections, keeping traction where it needs to be. The 115mm of travel keeps this bike super fast, but that can get you in trouble if you land in chunder. The Top Fuel does come with some larger tires, albeit with limited knob, but the 2.4s will keep traction and control as you get moving. The Fox 34 front fork is burly enough to handle a lot of what is thrown at it.

Certainly, it won’t be able to handle some of the terrain that a bike with more travel like the Orbea Occam, but it was not built for that. This bike will make you wish you packed more water, because it will keep going for miles and miles.
The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Top Fuel - Gear Hacker

Build Options

Where do we start? Trek is a large company, and they can produce a lot of options. It also helps that they have their in-house component company Bontrager. At the top of the component list are the wireless drivetrain options, especially the SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS drivetrain, and just about every component is either made of or brushed with carbon fiber for between $13,049.99 – $13,699.99. The Top Fuel 9.9 X01 is between $11,699.99-$12,349.99, and again it comes complete with high-end components and a lot of carbon fiber. From there, the Top Fuel comes in models ranging from $8,000 to the Top Fuel 7 SX with its aluminum frame that still comes with dual lockout and a dropper post for $3,499.99.

Trek also offers all three frame types for the Top Fuel for those looking to build their own set up. Carbon, $3.799.99 (on sale at time of writing for $2,879.99), Aluminum, $2,499.99, and Alloy for $2,349.99 are three options. This big company equals big options.

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Top Fuel - Gear Hacker

The Bottom Line

Are your local tracks velvety and cover miles of “down-country” terrain? Then this is absolutely the bike for you. The lightweight design and long distance geometry will keep you riding for days and days. There is a lot of technology cramped into the Top Fuel, and it all leads to a super efficient climbing bike that can handle some scrappy downhill terrain thanks to the Active Braking Pivot and dialled in suspension.
The dual suspension lockout lever is a nice touch that comes on all models of the bike to make the transition from downhill to uphill seamless. It will also help with the sprint to the cooler at the end of the ride. The dropper post could use some work, but that truly is a first world problem. Remember having to manually adjust the seat height? I do, and those were challenging days that I’d just as soon forget. With The Top Fuel, if fast climbing and cruising velvety trails are your kinds of riding, there is a build set up for your wallet size, and no reason to not hit the trails.

With a 7 year warranty, you’ll be able to trust this bike until “modern geo” standards change again, and we’re all riding on bikes with 5-meter chainstays and 42-degree head tubes looking like Fred Flintstone on his way to work.

The Best Short Travel Mountain Bikes: Trek Top Fuel - Gear Hacker

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!