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  1. #1
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    Trek EX-9 suspension tech?

    I test rode a Trek EX-9 at my local shop, and it felt pretty good in the parking lot--fit, handling, etc, and a good parts pick for the money. But I can't find any info about what sort of rear suspension design it has, and I'm not savvy enough to tell by looking at it. Trek's webpage has nothing.

    I'm coming off quite a few years riding Ellsworth Truths and just looking for something new, and a bit less expensive, but I don't want to take too big a step back in suspension technology. Bikes I'm also considering are the Titus Motolite, and a Rocky Mountain Element or ETSX. Does the Trek perform as well in the woods as it does in the parking lot? Or would it leave me wishing for a more sophisticated set up?

  2. #2
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    The Fuel EX is a single pivot, linkage activated suspension design. AKA four bar, but not to be confused with a Horst Link four bar style which has the rear pivot on the chain stay where the Fuel is on the seat stay. The difference is that the Horst link uses two pivot points to achieve it's wheel path while the Fuel is one. I won't start or get into a controversey over which is better, bottom line is personal preference IMO. Main pivot location is for all around pedaling effliciency in the middle ring with a traction bias in the small ring (will try to push the wheel into the ground but does not lock out due to pedaling) and a compliance bias (will assist in activating the suspension in the big ring due to higher average speeds in the big ring) in the big ring. The design has a rising spring rate and is quite plush in the start of the stroke but ramps up and will resist bottoming out.

    Bearings in the main pivot and the rocker links with a bushing at the rear drop out pivot.

    I like the design and feel of the bikes. They are very consistent feeling in the rear suspension no matter what gear combination and climbs very well.
    Last edited by lew s lugnut; 04-10-2007 at 02:44 PM.
    Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by lew s lugnut
    The Fuel EX is a single pivot, linkage activated suspension design. AKA four bar, but not to be confused with a Horst Link four bar style which has the rear pivot on the chain stay where the Fuel is on the seat stay. The difference is that the Horst link uses two pivot points to achieve it's wheel path while the Fuel is one. I won't start or get into a controversey over which is better, bottom line is personal preference IMO. Main pivot location is for all around pedaling effliciency in the middle ring with a traction bias in the small ring (will try to push the wheel into the ground but does not lock out due to pedaling) and a compliance bias (will assist in activating the suspension in the big ring due to higher average speeds in the big ring) in the big ring. The design has a rising spring rate and is quite plush in the start of the stroke but ramps up and will resist bottoming out.

    Bearings in the main pivot and the rocker links with a bushing at the rear drop out pivot.

    I like the design and feel of the bikes. They are very consistent feeling in the rear suspension no matter what gear combination and climbs very well.

    Thanks very much for the info! It's surprising how hard it is to find these details--I'd just about resigned myself to just picking up the phone and calling Trek directly!

    Can I ask one more question--is the rear suspension pretty neutral under braking--i.e. no or minimal brake jack?
    Thanks again, Steve

  4. #4
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    Minimal or no brake jack can be detected. That condition is more prone to giving you problems with a simple single pivot design such as a Fat Possum or Raceday. But even those bikes, with the amount of travel and application, brake jack is something that is generally not an issue. But if you look at a diesel with 8" of travel, a very high and forward pivot, throw in a double black diamond and some rocks and voila, brake jack. Unless you install a floating caliper.
    Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine.
    My favorite bike is whatever I am riding.
    My favorite trail is where ever I am.
    Bikes and equipment are replaceable, friends and trails are not.

  5. #5
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    A follow up question, for those who've been riding Trek FS for a while. Are they generally pretty reliable in terms of breakage and performance? Are the rear pivots pretty low maintenenance and quiet? Thanks, Steve

  6. #6
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    A follow up question, for those who've been riding Trek FS for a while. Are they generally pretty reliable in terms of breakage and performance? 
    Well, aint that a loaded question!

    Everyone you talk to will have different impressions of what kind of abuse/hard use a "trail" bike should be able to handle. Where you ride, your riding style, and maintenance or lack there of will have dramatic effects on the longevity of your bike. All of this equates to how hard you are on your equipment.

    I have always felt that Treks are categorically tough. Taking all things into consideration they are reliable in the parameters that they were designed for (that is pretty much true for any bike). Now that Trek has a really defined distinction between XC and Trail bikes, these Fuel EXs will be much tougher than the Top Fuel models. A couple years ago, if you wanted a Trek "trail" FS bike, their only choice was a race bike that people would use for trail riding and beat the snot out of them.

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    Are the rear pivots pretty low maintenenance and quiet
    Quiet pivots usually mean clean pivots. I have seen all brands display creaks or squeaks when dirty. The rear pivots are bushing, not bearing and should be quiet unless contaminated. They are easy to maintain and should never be greased or lubed in any way. If they do display some noise, the bushings should be disassembled, cleaned, and if a "glaze" is found on the bushings a very light sanding with a fine grit paper.

    I hope this helps.
    Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine.
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  7. #7
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    L.S.L, good advice and information again--thanks!

    I've been lusting for a Titus Motolite complete ($2,500) for a few months now, but the test ride a few weeks ago on a Trek EX-9 was an eye opener. I can also buy it from my favorite and nearby bike shop, whereas the nearest Titus dealers are 80-100 miles away, and not expecting to get any Motolites in to demo any time soon. Realistically, I have to either mail order an ML or drive 5 hours one way to demo one at a shop well to my south which has one in stock in my size. I don't want to mail order such a bike--I prefer to test ride before commiting! And that's a lot of driving.

    The Horst Link-equipped Titus (according to some) may be slightly superior to the Trek's design, but realistically, I don't think it's going to matter to a 44 year old guy riding at a recreational level. The Trek also has a considerably better parts pick for the money, and probably weighs a bit less to boot! (anyone know offhand what an EX-9 in 17.5" size would weigh?)

    If I can overcome the bike snob appeal of a more exclusive brand, I think the Trek might just be the bike for me! Coming from ten years aboard Ellsworth Truths, a non-snob bike might actually be a refreshing change...

  8. #8
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    Trek has bench tested everything out there besides their own stuff. I hope I am remebering the specifics correctly. The following is not to bash any other design, only show why Trek has chosen to design the bikes as they have. As stated earlier, IMO, it comes down to personal preferences.

    Axle path-When shocks are removed from a comparable travel Horst Link equipped bike, 3-5", the difference between a horst link and the current design/pivot location on a Trek (same location on all Fuels, Top Fuels, Fuel EX, Liquid, Remedy, Session 77, plus all Sugars, Cakes, Hifi, and the short lived Klein Adroit FS- See a pattern?) is only 2mm axle path difference when at the end of the stroke and completely bottomed out. What that means is the axle path difference is negligible and at it's most is 2mm, but how much time do you spend at the last 1/4 of your travel?

    Pivots-With the main pivot being the only one between the front end and the axle along the chain stay means a better tracking rear end. It also changes the effects of pedal induced "bob". With two pivots placed as they do with a Horst, in the small ring, you will compress the suspension. While aiding in small bump compliance, this is unnecessary in the small ring since you are traveling at slower speeds and your body weight alone is enough to get small bump compliace at those speeds. In the small ring on a Trek family you will be extending the suspension with pedal strokes, aiding in traction. While trying to extend the suspension it will not lock out because of the pivot location, and again, work easily for small bumps at those speeds. In the big ring, a Horst will be trying to extend the shock and push the wheel to the ground, which may add traction on baby butt smooth courses, but will give you stutter bumps trying to negotiate small stuff at higher average speeds. The compliance bias on the Trek will aid in compression in the big ring. While traveling at 18 mph you could use some assistance on small bumps since you need to soak it up quicker at that speed. Middle ring of the Trek is for all round consistent non bobbing feel from the rear end no matter what cog you are in.


    Once you get up to and over six inches of travel, I am not familiar with the differences and the goals the designers are trying to accomplish can vary a lot more.
    Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine.
    My favorite bike is whatever I am riding.
    My favorite trail is where ever I am.
    Bikes and equipment are replaceable, friends and trails are not.

  9. #9
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    Well, I called my local shop--the owner's ordering me an EX9 and it'll be here middle of next week! Thanks much for your patience and help, sir! I think you've helped me make a good decision...

  10. #10
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    007 Ex8 Weight

    My Stock Ex8 With Crank Bro Eggbeater Sl Pedals Is 28.21 Lbs.it Was 28.83 On The Bike Shop Scale With Stock Pedals .the Ex9 Should Be A Pound Lighter At Least.the Talas Fork Is A Little Heavier Though.

  11. #11
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    I hope you enjoy the bike Steve. PM me if you have questions on set up or are having any issues.
    Anyone who rides a bike is a friend of mine.
    My favorite bike is whatever I am riding.
    My favorite trail is where ever I am.
    Bikes and equipment are replaceable, friends and trails are not.

  12. #12
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    ur gonna be happy. i love my ex8.

    put it this way. the owner at my LBS has ridden everything under the sun. they deal Titus, Intense, Trek, and Norco....he rides an Ex8 and loves it...
    Abington Wheel Wright Freeride Crew

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  13. #13
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    Thanks fellas--I'll post up weight and impressions when I get it! I feel good about the bike, and really good about dealing with this shop--I've bought a number of bikes there, including my first nice one when I first got seriously into riding as an adult in '93. It's a 2nd generation, non-chain place--owner's the son of the original owner. He's a good guy, a bit reserved, thoughtful, patient. Just the sort to deal with nutz like me. B-)

    When he said he could have one by tuesday next week, I was a little shocked and joked "what, can't you get it a little sooner," and he said seriously, "I could have them overnight it if you want, Steve." Since we've had a bunch of snow and rain this week and the trails are all covered in dirt gravy, I told him tuesday was soon enough...

  14. #14
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    Great choice, I have nothing but praise for my EX-9.
    Enjoy!

  15. #15
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    does anyone know Trek's specific approach do the Ex design concept? IE geometry and frame design? GF has a ton of documentation on G2 and all, but I can't find anything on Trek's site.

    I'm interested. It doesn't seem that often that the big bike manufacturers come out with such good bikes for good prices.
    Abington Wheel Wright Freeride Crew

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  16. #16
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    I picked up my EX-9 last wednesday, switched out a few things, saddle, grips, tires, threw on my Eggbeaters, and hit the trail thursday after work then again yesterday/saturday. Fantastic bike! I love the way it handles--how can a bike with more travel than my last one feel quicker and livelier?? It carves really nicely, whips around trees, scoots over roots and climbs better than any bike I've even owned. I did find it to be a little unsteady at crawling speed, creeping over a skinny in the technical section of my local trail, but I spend a lot more time whipping through the singletrack than rolling teetertotters anyway, and I suspect that I'll adjust and be fine on that sort of thing, too.

    My scale's cheap and probably not terribly accurate but it seems to weight in the neighborhood of 27.5 pounds.

    This is really a smokin' bike--I wish the word was out there more. I spent a lot of time trying to find reviews and details about this bike before posting here where Lew S. Lugnut helped me make one of the best bike decisions of my life. I owe you a beer sir, if you're ever in Michigan!

    Oh, Hutchinson Scorpion (front) and Spider 2.0's at 30 pounds stick like velcro and roll great.

    Steve, happy Trek owner.
    Last edited by SteveF; 04-22-2007 at 11:32 AM.

  17. #17
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    Steve, i agree with your sentiment.

    Question for you and others though....

    At crawling speed, do you think the unsteadiness might be caused by not having enough weight over the front wheel?

    Yesterday i rode some amazing but very technical, twisty, and slow single track and i have the same issue. i sometimes feel the front wheel wash out a little. it's not tire selection (running tubeless 2.1 blue groove 28psi). i think its weight distribution.

    im going to give it a few more rides and if i cant adapt by shifting more weight forward, ill try a longer stem.

    and if you havent... find a long technical downhill, drop your seat 3 inches, put your shock on open, and prepare to rape the ground. :-)
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  18. #18
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    quattrokid73 asks:

    "At crawling speed, do you think the unsteadiness might be caused by not having enough weight over the front wheel?"
    __________________________________

    Yeah, you may be on to something there. After my ride at the tech park thur, I went back to the bike shop and bought a flat bar to replace the riser that comes stock, cause it did feel a little high. Dropped the front end by around 2-3cm, I'd reckon--it's about level with the saddle now. It felt good on the more crosscountry-ish trails saturday; I'll have to swing back by the tech park next week and see how it works there.

    This is my first bike with disc brakes and on saturday, they occasionally sounded gritty and/or groaned a bit--not a howl but sounds as though it may grow up to be one! Should I clean the rotors with rubbing alcohol or is this just a break-in symptom that will improve with a few rides? It was pretty dusty saturday--could that have contributed?

    I really love this bike! I haven't been this geeked to ride in quite a few years! I've been thinking about why this bike feels so much more at home on my local trails than the California-designed bikes I've ridden for the last decade. I wonder if the Trek being designed in Wisconsin, where the trails are probably real similar to what we have here in Michigan could be part of the reason...?

  19. #19
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    yeah, i am going to try a different stem if i have to in order to get that front tire glued.

    also, disc brakes will make noise when they are breaking in. but its just a part of the beast. most disc brakes will make some sort of noise at each point in their life cycle. just, if it sounds unusual, get it checked out at the shop.
    Abington Wheel Wright Freeride Crew

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