2017 Trek Remedy and Fuel EX Launch
Over the years, the Trek Remedy has filled several different prescriptions. It has done duty as a Trail bike, an Enduro race platform, Aggressive XC and others, depending on how enamored you are with labels and sub-categories. Cam recently reviewed a Shremedy – a Remedy with a handpicked Shore-worthy spec – and it managed to stick a 29″ wedge in his opinion about the suitability of big wheels on our home trails. The 2017 Trek trail bike launch brought editors to Squamish – a perfect venue for a few proper days of riding on the new Remedy and Fuel EX.
For part of our time in Squamish, June looked just the same as January. A tad warmer, though, and the sun did come out. I would have been disappointed if all the out of towners hadn’t had a chance to experience proper wet coast conditions. For their part, they loved it. Sick moody photo: Margus Riga
Choosing Squamish for this launch says something about Trek as a company, and it also says a lot about the confidence they have in their new bikes. The former, because they recognize Squamish has some of the best trails in the world. And the latter because it’s one thing to put the press on your new bike in an exotic place where the food and weather are good, but the trails may be less so.
The Sea2Sky gondola in Squamish delivers on its name. Before we rode bikes, or talked bikes, we had a bite to eat on the deck and then a sneak preview of Not2Bad.
Sterl wasn’t expecting me when I came over the top – and this move is blind until you drop in so I didn’t know he wasn’t ready. I chirped “Sterl!” and he shot this from his hip while scrambling backwards. And that’s why there is only one Sterling Lorence. I’m on the Remedy here, but I also rode it on the 130mm Fuel EX the day before – piece of cake.
The 2017 Trek Remedy
For 2016, the Remedy was available at 140mm in either a 27.5 or a 29″ version. For 2017, travel increases to 150mm, but only 27.5″wheels are available. Huh. According to Trek, this is part of a push to simplify the buying experience for the consumer. The Remedy’s intended use stays the same – it bridges the gap between Trail and Enduro (leaning more to the latter) – but their interpretation of the right tool for that job is to only offer it in one wheel size.
The 2017 Trek Remedy 9.9. You can pick up this top spec’d brawler for $7,999 US. Photo: Sterling Lorence.
Simplification I applaud. What is a bit odd, though, is that the 29″ Remedy was a great bike, and they killed it. Trek did not indicate they’re moving away from long travel 29ers, but for now, you can get a 29er in the form of a Fuel EX, but the Remedy is restricted to 27.5. Got it? Let’s move on to the other changes.
- The head tube came down .5 degrees from 68/67.5 (High/Low) to 66.5/66 for 2017. The Remedy is longer (447 to 458mm for the 19.5″ frame) and lower as well (341 to 336mm).
- It’s stiffer everywhere than the current Slash.
- Expanded the RE:aktiv shock program to include Rock Shox, meaning more shock options and availability.
The Knock Block stop chip in the top tube works with the rest of the system to prevent the handlebar’s controls and fork crown from contacting and damaging the top and down tubes. Yes, it will work with non-Bontrager stems so No, you don’t need to get the pitchforks out.
- Straight Shot down tube. You may have heard a little ballyhoo about this when the Fuel EX Plus was launched about a month ago. It’s unique looking. The thinking is that it provides the lightest and stiffest structure – Trek says that reducing weight and adding stiffness was a priority for the Remedy and Fuel EX re-design. The down tube is a brace that allows the BB to support the head tube, so it makes sense to pay attention and design around this area if you’re trying to maximize stiffness. Otherwise, when you bend fibers (this applies to alloy also) at the head tube, it will be weaker and heavier.
- Straight Shot necessitates measures to prevent the fork crown and handlebar controls from contacting the down and top tubes during abrupt slow speed turns. They call it Knock Block and it’s a system that uses a keyed stem and headset top cover, custom headset spacers, and a stop chip in the top tube. Don’t worry – you don’t need a Bontrager stem to make this work. And no, it doesn’t make stem alignment foolproof. You still have to squint and shimmy to get it aligned.
This was from Day 2. We were told it would be primarily a shuttle day. It wasn’t. Which is just as well because shuttling in the Remedy would be a bit of a waste. This is a good look at the Remedy’s Straight Shot Down Tube (the head tube junction is the pertinent part – obviously it curves a bit at the BB junction).
Knock Block keeps that fork leg from contacting the down tube – and handlebar mounted controls from contacting the top tube. Shown here also is one of the Control Freak internal cable management ports. Both technologies are used on Carbon and Alloy Remedy and Fuel EX for 2017.
- Remedy Enduro builds are available with a 160mm fork and SE4 tires in 2.4 width, and a more aggressive 66/65.5 degree head tube angle (High/Low) due to the longer travel fork (frame is identical).
- There are new Bontrager goodies as well: 35mm bars (carbon and alloy) and stems (bars aren’t stiffer, the flex is tuned the same), flat pedals, carbon wheels, and a new Drop Line dropper post (this deserves its own article but the big news is it will retail for $299 US; our test bikes were equipped with it and it worked well but more time needed to properly evaluate it, of course). Yeah, my head is spinning, too.
- The 2017 Trek Remedy is also available in women’s models.
The 2017 Trek Remedy 8 will retail for $3299 US.
The 2017 Trek Remedy 8 Womens’ edition will also retail for $3,299 US.
The 2017 Trek Remedy 9 RSL (160mm version) comes in at $4,499 US.
The 2017 Trek Remedy 9.8 (and the 9.8 Women’s edition) will retail for $5,299 US.
Here’s the 2017 Trek Remedy 9.8 Women’s edition. $5,299 US in case you missed it.
Those are the changes from 2016. The similarities won’t surprise anyone, because they’re all tried and true Trek tech: Active Braking Pivot (ABP), RE:aktiv custom-tuned shocks, Boost 148/110 rear/front hub spacing, and the Mino Link to allow two head tube/BB configurations. And remember when I said they claimed it was stiff? Here’s the chart:
2017 Trek Remedy stiffness vs old Remedy and Slash. Manufacturer-supplied graphs like this…well take it with a grain of salt, however, I have no reason to believe it isn’t accurate. The Remedy and Fuel EX both felt stiff as hell. So I believe ’em. But I’m not saying it’s gospel.
Let’s have a look at the new Remedy’s geo chart:
Eat your heart out, geo nerds.
Riding the 2017 Trek Remedy
Enough foreplay, let’s get to it. The rides were split up so that one group of us rode Fuel EX one day, and Remedy the next, and vice versa. There were two organized rides each day, and not everyone did the second ride, but they’re nuts because the dirt was heroic. I drew Fuel EX 9.9 on day one and rode the Remedy 9.9 on day two. This meant that it didn’t feel as snappy when climbing (not a surprise) but obviously was more confident on the way down.
Trek Remedy launch in Squamish, British Columbia. June 2016.
It’s always hard to draw solid, line-in-the-sand conclusions after only a few rides, and let’s remember that we were on brand new, top spec Fuel EX and Remedies, so any notable problems would be surprising. Unlike many launches, however, this was held on trails and in conditions with which I’m familiar – but that only made the bikes seem that much more impressive. It’s hard not to compare them to each other – harder still because the Fuel EX was shod in very meaty 2.4″ Bontrager XR4 Team Issue tires. They are easily one of the finest aggressive XC tires I’ve ridden.
If I had a lasting impression from the Remedy, it was that I was instantly comfortable on it, RE:aktiv worked as promised, and it was one of those days where the bike and trails were a perfect match. It may sound like unremarkable praise, but it was a gaggle of grown-ups hooting and hollering at high speed on the way down, and pushing the pace on the way up. Our tester just arrived yesterday so we’ll have more real detail on it soon, but I’m already curious to see if it’ll be the bike I want to take everywhere this summer. Head to head with a Bronson, for example, will be interesting.
Since I mentioned the tires on the Fuel EX, I also need to mention that on the Remedy we had the SE4 Team Issue. Also excellent in the mixed wet, loose, and rocky conditions of Squamish.
In advance, let me apologize to pocketbooks everywhere. Eagle is good.
Both bikes were Eagle-equipped, and that was my first experience with SRAM’s new 50 teeth of Freedom Group. You may be hoping I’d say it’s not that great, overrated, or uninspiring, but that would be a lie. We climbed up steep grades on fresh legs and on tired ones, and that 50 tooth ring was easy to shift into and provided nice relief on the nasty slopes of the Legacy climb. We rode in legitimately wet conditions on the morning of day 2, but drivetrains remained silent and smooth. Nary a chain was dropped, not a shift was missed. We didn’t have long pedals from our home base at Quest University to the trails, but 10 teeth on the back allowed 40 km/h+ if you wanted to push your speed on the way back home. Of course, you don’t need Eagle, but a 500% gear range sure is impressive.
The 2017 Trek Fuel EX
The 2017 Trek Fuel EX 9.9 29 retails for $8,399 US. Photo: Sterling Lorence
Like the Remedy, the Fuel EX also gains 10mm in travel, going from 120 to 130mm in the rear and up front (you get a 140mm fork if you buy a 27.5+ equipped Fuel EX). Also like the Remedy, the head tube slackens slightly (from 68 in Low to 67.6 / 67 in High / Low). And, wait for it – that’s right, the reach increases from 448 to 453mm (in Low) and the BB drops slightly. Here’s the full geo chart:
Dear Trek, I love you but I went blind making your geo charts legible.
The 2017 Trek Fuel EX 8 29 – $3,199 US.
And the 2017 Trek Fuel EX 8 Women’s – $3,199 US.
Here’s the 2017 Trek Fuel EX 9 29, which is priced at $3,999 US.
2017 Trek Women’s Fuel EX 9.8 – $4,999 US.
Aaaaand the 2017 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 29 – also $4,999.
Like the Remedy, the Fuel EX gets the Straight Shot down tube for lightest and stiffest structure. That also means it gets Knock Block. Similarly, expect RE:aktiv shocks on the higher end builds (a high threshold platform that becomes regressive with shock movement), and frames still employ the Trek tech you’d expeck like ABP, Mino Link, etc. Yes, that feels like Yada Yada-ing sex, but I think you get the point (hey – I mentioned the Bisque). The DNA of these two bikes is similar, even if they’re destined for different homes.
…and the 2017 Trek Fuel EX Plus
Briefly, because it’s already been launched, the Fuel EX comes as a 29er, or as a 27.5+ bike – the Fuel EX Plus. Same frame, but it gets a +10 power up with a 140mm fork and 27.5+ wheels and tires. A note on tires: Trek feels that a 2.8 is the tire width limit for 27.5+, any fatter and you’re moving into fat bike territory. They claim (fairly) to have a well-educated opinion on this, since they’re no strangers to fat bikes and rubber.
The 2017 Trek Fuel EX Plus – $5,299 US.
So what’s Trek’s division of labour as far as Fuel EX and EX Plus? Fuel EX Plus is aimed at riders who “corner with caution” and for whom key attributes in their bike are “confidence and traction” whereas Fuel EX is for more aggressive riders who rail corners, and push limits. Nothing groundbreaking or surprising there.
Like the Remedy, the 2017 Fuel also introduces several Women’s Fuel EX models which replace the Lush. These include Smaller sizing down to 14″ and 27.5″ wheels for size 14 and 15, and 29″ wheels for larger sizes. Looks like no Fuel EX Plus for the ladies, which feels a bit like a miss.
Riding the 2017 Trek Fuel EX
There’s no real point in delaying this statement: the Fuel EX is a top notch trail bike. Before getting to Squamish, the bike I was more interested in, predictably, was the new Remedy. It lived up to its promise and is the more suitable platform for riding on the shore, but I would take it on the road almost anywhere. However, the Fuel EX was a bona fide eye opener for me.
The new Fuel EX felt at home in the steeps of Squamish. Photo: Margus Riga
Admittedly, I haven’t ridden a Fuel EX in several years at least, so its performance may have caught me by surprise more than some. I thought I would be enduring the ride on those trails on that bike, and that day two on the Remedy would be the one that I actually enjoyed. Was I ever wrong. When pedaling and climbing, the Fuel EX was predictably fast, smooth, and responsive. The RE:aktiv 3-position damper on the Fox Factory Float shock was appreciated on long or steep climbs, but if I forgot to flick it from open, it still held me up well and felt efficient.
And by at home, I mean feet kicked up in front of the fire, cradling a scotch.
Tip it over the edge, though, and the geometry, meaty rubber, and superb 34 Factory Float from Fox made me forget this was the “little bike”. We rode a no-compromise series of technical tracks in Squamish, and I never thought “I wish I was on the bigger bike for this”. Really my only complaint was with the handlebar. I was on a 19.5″ bike, and it has the same 750mm bar that appears on much smaller bikes. Surely Trek/Bontrager could apply the same graduated bar sizing to bikes as they get bigger as they do with wheels for their women’s bikes, for example?
Narrow bar complaint aside, I have to reiterate that we were riding the 9.9 Fuel EX with XX1 Eagle and everything else off the top of the shelf. It should be good, and light, and fast. But it was. I still remain impressed with its technical capabilities, though, and we will be spending more time on one in the future.
The word is out on Squamish. I’ve been there three times in four weeks to preview new product. Photo: Margus Riga
If I were writing a TL;DR version, here you go: the 2017 Trek Remedy and Fuel EX both represent solid incremental steps forward for their respective platforms. Geometry and stiffness are notably improved, and at the high end, the addition of SRAM’s Eagle group gives a drivetrain range that provides useful versatility. I liked them both, but the Fuel EX was better than I imagined. That doesn’t mean I’m not impressed by the Remedy, I just expected to be impressed by it.
2017 launch season is here. Shots fired by Trek. What’s next?