2024 Trek Fuel EXe 9.8 GX AXS T-Type E-Bike

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Free standard shipping on all bikes (continental U.S. only).
Flat rate shipping to Hawaii and Alaska.
Free standard shipping on all bikes (continental U.S. only).
Flat rate shipping to Hawaii and Alaska.
$9,999.99
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Vital's SL eMTB Test Sessions - Trek Fuel EXe Review
The Fuel EXe has been a staple in the lightweight category for a few years thanks to its sleek frame design and natural motor feel, but how do its abilities fair against the latest SL bikes?
Rating:
Vital Review
TrekA

Trek's Fuel EXe is part of the SL e-bike club that strives to strike the lowest bottom line when it comes to weight by utilizing a smaller battery and motor. Like Specialized's Levo SL or Orbea's Rise, the Fuel EXe aims to give riders enough juice to get up climbs with moderate input, matched with a riding experience that mirrors a regular mountain bike ride. And it manages to achieve this in a frame design that nearly hides the fact it's an e-bike. 

Highlights

  • OCLV Carbon frame
  • 29-inch wheels 
  • 140mm of rear wheel travel // 150mm fork travel
  • ABP suspension design
  • 50 Nm TQ HRP50 Motor 
  • 360 Wh removable battery (160 Wh range extender available)
  • Integrated top tube display
  • Wired assist switch
  • Mino Link geo adjustment
  • 64.8-degree head tube angle
  • 76.8-degree effective seat tube angle
  • 440mm chainstay length
  • 10 carbon builds // 3 aluminum builds
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Verified weight (size X-Large, no pedals): 43.12 lbs (19.5 kg)
  • MSRP: $13,999 USD as tested ($9,999 USD as tested, 9.8 GX AXS Build)
Photo

The Fuel EXe is designed off of Trek's Fuel EX, their ride-everything trail bike. The EXe shares many aesthetic and design similarities with the non-assisted Fuel and features only slightly more reserved geometry. The head angle is a tad steeper, sitting at 64.8 degrees; the chainstay is 5mm shorter, coming in at 440mm, and reach numbers are spacious. Both bikes also feature a Mino Link geo adjustment in the seat stay that adjusts the bottom bracket and head tube angle, but the EXe lacks the leverage rate adjustment found on the regular Fuel. We only rode the bike in the stock, 'Low' position.

Fuel EX
Fuel EX
Fuel EXe
Fuel EXe
Fuel EXe Geometry
Fuel EXe Geometry

Travel amounts are the same between both bikes, with 140mm of rear wheel travel and a 150mm fork. Of course, Trek's now iconic Active Braking Pivot suspension design is employed to separate braking and suspension forces. 

Photo

At the heart of the Fuel EXe is TQ's HRP50 motor. Definitely a less prominent e-system in the SL space, it provides 50 Nm of torque with 300 watts of power. A silent operator that takes up minimal space and only weighs 4 pounds (1.8 kg), it's combined with a sleek 360 watt hour battery. This ties the Fuel EXe for last place when it comes to motor torque with Specialized's Levo SL and second to last place in battery size just ahead of the Levo SL's 320 watt hour battery. However, unlike the Levo SL, the battery is removable without dropping the motor. All you have to do is remove two screws and slide the battery out an opening in the bottom of the downtime. So, like Transition's Relay, you could remove the battery and ride the Fuel EXe as a regular mountain.

Photo

The TQ system features one of the cleanest integrated top tube displays that offers four preset screens to display assist level, range, speed, rider and motor watts, and battery level in a percent. The display is bigger than Specialized's TCU display, and toggling between screens is done with the button on the display. A wired assist remote neatly tucks between other controls, and Trek's app gives you access to individual mode tuning, the ability to log rides, and recommended suspension settings based on your build. 

Photo

Trek offers a ton of builds in both aluminum and carbon, ranging from $5,500 to $14,000. Sizes range from small to X-large, and all builds come with the same motor, battery, and 29-inch wheels. We tested the 9.8 GX AXS build that retails for $10,000, and our size X-large test bike weighed 43.12 pounds (19.5 kg). This made the Fuel EXe the third-lightest and second-most expensive bike. Build highlights include a RockShox Lyrik Select+ fork with a Super Deluxe Select+ shock, SRAM Code Bronze brakes, SRAM GX Transmission drivetrain, Bontrager Line Elite 30 carbon wheels, and a Bontrager one-piece carbon handlebar. 

With a broader range of abilities than some of the other bikes in the test, the Fuel EXe stood out as the go-to SL trail bike when we set out on day one. However, upon learning that it wasn't the lightest (it was 1.5 lbs heavier than the Levo SL), we took another look at where and how the Fuel EXe fits into the SL equation.

 

Test Sessions has long been Vital's way of placing a bunch of similar bikes head-to-head to see where each excels and what sets them apart to help riders better understand which bike best suits their needs. This year, we had eight SL e-bikes, and three testers. This article just covers what we thought of Trek's Fuel EXe. To learn more about the other bikes tested, check out our complete SL eMTB Test Sessions


Meet the Testers

Photo
L-R: Jason Schroeder, Lear Miller, Jonny Simonetti
Jonny Simonetti Lear Miller Jason Schroeder
  • 30 years old
  • 6' 4" (193cm)
  • Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 5
  • Riding Style: Skatepark inspiration. Try to stay smooth and pedal as little as possible. 
  • 32 years old
  • 6’ 3" (190 cm)
  • Weight: 185 lbs (83.9 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 3
  • Riding Style: “Freeracer” after 15 years of racing, I like going fast. But the airtime counter is really the only clock I’m paying attention to these days.
  • 29 years old
  • 6-foot (182 cm)
  • Weight: 180 lbs (81.6 kg)
  • Years e-biking: 4
  • Riding Style: Relatively upright with weight more rearward than most. Enjoys a sneaking straight line or ripping jump trail.

Jason's Impressions

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Motor is silent, sleek, and has no drag
  • Favorite on-bike display
  • Straightforward and useful app
  • Attractive and svelte frame design hides that it's an e-bike
  • Forward pedaling position promotes all-day adventures
  • Versatile geo and suspension design maximizes performance climbing and descending
  • Multiple build kits
  • Less powerful motor than other SL bikes
  • Assist switch buttons are hard to engage
  • All-around useability makes it not the most aggressive descending bike

What's the Bottom Line?

Compared to other small motor and battery bikes in the test, the Fuel EXe had the most reserved geometry, resulting in a well-rounded bike. The seated pedaling position was more forward, and the rear suspension was incredibly supple compared to rocks and roots. This made the Fuel EXe ideal for undulating trails as it carried speed well and was easy to sit and spin on. It did ride lighter than the scale showed, and I didn't have any issues tossing the bike around. The rear suspension was incredibly smooth descending, but it still rode like a 140mm travel bike with a lower stack height through demanding sections. Such moments required a more thoughtful and cautious approach to not override the Fuel EXe. Down faster, low angle trails with tight corners or natural rollers, the bike really came to life, offering a precise, calm ride quality that was a blast. 

I love the aesthetics of the Fuel EXe. Its slim front triangle and neatly integrated motor successfully hide the fact that it's an e-bike. The stealthy display was also my favorite due to its out-of-site location and useful data screens that offer everything you'd want to know during a ride.

With how similar the Fuel EXe performs to a regular trail bike, it's the perfect bike for big adventure rides. The TQ motor isn't the most powerful, but its smooth delivery truly fades into the background, allowing you to conserve energy, ride further, and receive a fairly untainted e-pedaling experience. Because its battery isn't huge, riding with less assistance is necessary to achieve a decent ride length. For this reason, I wouldn't get the Fuel EXe as my post-work bike to knock out a few quick laps. It wants to get out and take you places and spreads its abilities evenly across descending and climbing performance so that every moment of a ride is maximized. 


Jonny's Impressions

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Most natural power delivery of any bike
  • Great rear suspension performance, easy to setup
  • Neutral geometry makes it easy to ride
  • Battery life, died before finishing a session
  • I would need to ditch the one piece bar to get appropriate stack height

What's The Bottom Line?

The hype around the Fuel EXe when it first launched had me excited to throw a leg over it. Hardly showing any signs of having a battery and motor on board, I anticipated this to be the most natural feeling bike in the test. It ended up third lightest by a little over two pounds, but it carries the weight well. This was the only bike that fully died during my time aboard it and pedaling with the motor off felt just like pedaling a bike in second gear instead of first. Power delivery from the Tq motor was so subtle I hardly realized it was assisting until the torque became more apparent up steeper pitches. The assist levels get up to speed with a bit more pedal input required, but also allow for going past the top end of power with little to no drag. Trek has done a great job of creating the most natural pealing bike possible, and allow for pedaling past what the motor can provide without hitting a wall of drag.


Lear's Impressions

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Fast, light and nimble on varied terrain
  • Super quiet motor with the most subtle power delivers in the group 
  • Efficient pedaler 
  • Beautiful frame that's slim and perfectly integrates e-components
  • Wired AXS
  • Smooth and planted rear suspension
  • Slowest feeling motor in the group
  • Shorter battery life 
  • One-piece handlebar was too low for technical descending 
  • Not the most descent-orientated bike 
  • Lacks confidence in demanding sections
  • Assist switch buttons are hard to push

What's The Bottom Line?

Trek definitely took the angle of trying to mirror the experience of a classic mountain bike ride with the benefit of some assistance climbing with creating the Fuel EXe. It rode light, was very efficient and fast pedaling, and the rear suspension was smooth and planted. It was the least gravity-orientated bike in the test, highlighted by a lack of confidence in rough sections. The low stack and low-rise one-piece handlebar didn't help the situation either. Still, I enjoyed how quick and light the Fuel EXe rode on smoother trails, and the rear suspension offered the best traction and control of all the bikes in the test. 

The TQ motor was impressively silent and had the most natural assistance. It was also one of the least powerful motors, but I appreciated how it quietly delivered power at a rate that matched my effort, and there were no harsh startups or shutoffs in power. Battery life wasn't as good as the bikes with Fazua's system, so riding in lower assist modes would be needed to receive proper range. The entire e-system was also beautifully designed into the EXe's frame. Everything felt very refined, from the sleek battery and motor integration to the clear display and tucked-up charging port.   

Overall, the Fuel EXe would be best for riders who want a well-rounded e-bike and are cool with giving up some motor power and range to save a few pounds. 


A big shout out to TannusFeedback Sports and Maxxis for supporting Test Sessions! 


View key specs, compare e-bikes, and rate the Trek Fuel EXe in the Vital MTB Product Guide.

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Specifications

Product
Trek Fuel EXe 9.8 GX AXS T-Type E-Bike
Model Year
2024
Riding Type
Trail
Enduro / All-Mountain
Rider
Unisex
Sizes and Geometry
SM (High, Low)
MD (High, Low)
LG (High, Low)
XL (High, Low)
Wheel Size
29"
E-Bike Class
Class 1: Pedal Assist (Pedelecs)
Motor
TQ HPR50, Harmonic Pin Ring drive transmission, 50 Nm max torque, 300W peak power, 250W maximium continuous power
Battery
TQ, integrated, removable with Allen wrench
Optional 160 Wh range extender battery fits into included standard water bottle cage with built-in retention strap
Battery Capacity
360 Wh
Display/Remote
Display: TQ LED, top tube integrated, 2" screen, Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
Display screens: battery/ride time, range/ride time, speed/average speed, rider power/motor power
Remote: TQ 2-button
Modes
Three dynamic assist modes plus walk assist
Max Speed with Assist
EU and APAC: 15.5 mph (25 km/h)
All other countries: 20 mph (32.2 km/h)
Frame Material
Carbon Fiber
Frame Material Details
OCLV Mountain Carbon front and rear triangles; alloy rocker link; molded seatstay, chainstay, and down tube protection
Rear Travel
140mm
Rear Shock
RockShox Super Deluxe Select+, RT damper, 205mm length x 60mm stroke
Fork
RockShox Lyrik Select+, DebonAir spring, Charger 2.1 RC damper, 44mm offset, Maxle Stealth thru-axle
Fork Travel
150mm
Head Tube Diameter
Tapered, 1.125" top, 1.5" bottom
Headset
Integrated cartridge bearings
Handlebar
Bontrager RSL Integrated bar/stem, OCLV Carbon, 820mm width, 27.5mm rise
Stem
Bontrager RSL Integrated bar/stem, OCLV Carbon, 0° rise
Virtual Length: 35mm (SM), 45mm (MD-XL)
Grips
Bontrager XR Trail Elite, nylon lock-on
Brakes
SRAM Code Bronze, 4-piston, SRAM HS2 200mm 6-bolt rotors
Brake Levers
SRAM Code Bronze Stealth, tool-free Reach Adjust
Drivetrain
1x
Shifters
SRAM Eagle Pod Controller, 12-speed, AXS electronic wireless
Front Derailleur
None
Rear Derailleur
SRAM GX Eagle Transmission, 12-speed, AXS electronic wireless
Chainguide
Upper slider
Cranks
SRAM GX Eagle Transmission Alloy, 165mm length
Chainrings
SRAM Eagle Transmission, X-SYNC 2, 32 tooth, alloy
Pedals
None
Chain
SRAM GX Eagle Transmission, 12-speed
Cassette
SRAM GX Eagle Transmission XS-1275, 12-speed, 10-52 tooth
Rims
Bontrager Line Elite 30, OCLV Mountain Carbon, tubeless ready
Hubs
Bontrager Line Elite wheelset, 15mm x 110mm (Boost) front, 12mm x 148mm (Boost) rear with Rapid Drive 108 freehub and XD driver
Spokes
Bontrager Line Elite wheelset
Tires
Bontrager SE5 Team Issue, Core Strength sidewalls, aramid bead, 120 TPI, tubeless ready, 29" x 2.5"
Saddle
Bontrager Arvada, austenite rails, 138mm width
Seatpost
Bontrager Line Elite dropper, MaxFlow
Drop: 100mm (SM), 150mm (MD), 170mm (LG), 200mm (XL)
Seatpost Diameter
34.9mm
Seatpost Clamp
Single bolt
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions
12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Max. Tire Size
29" x 2.5"
Bottle Cage Mounts
One inside front triangle
Colors
Deep Smoke, Dark Aquatic, Lava
Warranty
Lifetime frame and wheels; 2 years Trek/Bontrager parts, suspension linkage components, and paint/decals
Weight
41 lb 7.2 oz (18800 g)
Miscellaneous
• ABP (Active Braking Pivot) rear suspension design
• Geometry adjustable via Mino Link flip chip in rear rocker link pivot
• Compatible with mixed ("Mullet") wheel setups (29" front, 27.5" rear) with Mino Link flip chip in High position
• Internal cable routing with integrated channels
• SRAM UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger)
• Trek Central mobile app provides motor assist tuning, range monitoring and calculation, navigation and tracking, suspension and tire pressure recommendations, pressure monitoring with AirWiz and TireWiz sensors, and integrates with third-party apps
• Weight given for size MD set up tubeless
• Includes TQ 4A battery charger
• Includes SRAM AXS Powerpack battery charger
• Includes Bontrager TLR tubeless tire sealant, rim strips, and valves
Price
$9,999.99
More Info
What do you think?
Where To Buy
Free standard shipping on all bikes (continental U.S. only).
Flat rate shipping to Hawaii and Alaska.
Free standard shipping on all bikes (continental U.S. only).
Flat rate shipping to Hawaii and Alaska.
$9,999.99
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
Free shipping on orders over $50 (continental U.S. only).
International shipping available. Some exclusions apply.
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