Today, Jesse, Nick, Artie, John and I hopped on the bus and headed to Lewis Morris with the goal of testing out some new Trek bikes. The two bikes we were most intersted in were the new Fuel Ex and the new Madone. The new Fuel EX is quite different from past models, and all of us were hoping it would be a drastic improvement.
The Fuel didn't let us down! All of us who rode it felt that it was "friggin fast!" The bike was actually not particularly light weight for a bike that has lot of XTR and a carbon frame,(26.3 lbs) but it FELT very light while riding it. Trek's new Full Floater linkage design seems to do everything Trek wants it to do. It feels plush. You don't feel the shock topping out like you did on older Fuel EX models and on some other full suspension bikes. It feels like you are always floating somewhere in the middle of the travel. Now, normally, a bike that feels that plush would feel innefficient, but not this one! The Fuel felt just as light and nimble on the climbs as on the downhills. The rear shock was certainly working on the ascents, but you didn't feel it bobbing around at all. This made for smooth fast climbing (much faster climbing than we expected).
Descending was at least as much fun as climbing. Traction became a non-issue on the new Fuel EX. The bike gripped the ground so tightly, I kept pedaling to get more speed even on relatively steep dowhills. This bike begs to go fast!
The new Madone also seemed to achieve all Trek's goals for overhauling their high end road line. I tested a Madone 5.2 which is made of OCLV Black carbon. Black is the intermediate quality level of OCLV. White is entry level and Red is the high end.
I immediately noticed the bike's rigidity in the bottom bracket area. The bike just felt really solid. I stood up and pushed up a steep hill, and I still couldn't feel the bike flexing. The front of the bike also felt really stable. The new large lower headset cup seems to make a big difference.
I was very happy with the bike overall. It felt smooth, but extremely stable. I suspect that riding a higher end model with OCLV Red carbon would have giving the bike a silkier ride. I also would have preferred a wider handlebar, but that could obviously be switched. (the 54 cm test bike had a 42 cm bar on it)
Trek took some huge steps for 2008. I think they are going to be a much bigger player in the mountain bike scene this year.