The bike just went went where I wanted it to go. I felt at ease blazing over rooty terrain and didn't hesitate to go over obstacles. I never felt like the Fuel EX was too much or not enough bike for any trail I rode. It conqurered all terrain superbly and would be perfect for someone who rides a variety of terrain and distances, whether that is technical XC or endurance riding. It's a capable climber, awesome on pedal-hard-go-fast terrain and inspires courage on descents. It's a great bike when all you want to do is ride.
The EX performs brilliantly on everyday singletrack -- the kind of trails you want to ride for hours upon hours. Its handling traits are balanced and nimble, thanks in part to its low bottom bracket and ample standover. The efficient DRCV suspension platform and the 27.5-pound weight combine to make the EX 9.8 feel like a no-holds-barred race whippet while on the pedals. The large wheels and neutral geometry, mixed with the bike's efficient-yet-active suspension, allow the bike to scoot up hills like a cat up the curtains. It's competent and predictable on the descents.
From our first ride we can tell you this bike is a winner. It retains the same taut, responsive and efficient feel of the 26″ Fuel EX but is just plain faster, especially on the climbs. Lumpy, ugly slow speed climbs are a delight on this bike; it’s pretty inspiring really! We’d have to say the build kit is close to perfect as well. Amazing braking and shifting, and the Rockshox Reverb Stealth is the icing on the cake. We wouldn’t change a thing.
It's undoubtedly a fun bike on the trail and, it also seems highly capable. Toss in the very good pedaling performance and you end up with an immensely versatile machine. Overall, the bike is playful and flickable, relishing in medium-sized drops and small doubles and happily attacking bermed corners. As on the 26in Fuel EX, rear-suspension performance is excellent thanks to the Trek-exclusive DRCV-equipped Fox rear shock that makes the bike feel like it has more travel than it does.