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2018 Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL Review

By Bruce Lin
Photos By Chris Motta


2018 Trek Top Fuel

This bike sold in one day, but we've got other hot bikes at our Mountain Bike Collection here.

I look up at a hard climb, legs burning, heart about to burst, lungs struggling for air, and I decide to ignore all the pain and sprint up as fast as I can. When I get home, I look at a bag of cookies and decide, miraculously, to not eat it all in one sitting. I’m not my usual self. What’s happened to me? I blame race season. That time of year when I get beat every week by 90-pound teenagers and middle-aged men who can pedal like diesel engines. That time of year when I kick myself for every day last winter spent on the couch, not training. But I ride on, dreaming of the victories to come. Maybe I will realize these dreams with this special secret weapon: the Top Fuel 9.9, Trek’s top-of-the-line XC race bike. Stiff, light, and with modern geometry, it’s a bike meant to go fast. This isn’t just any Top Fuel either. As an RSL, Race Shop Limited, the same bike ridden by Trek’s best athletes it doesn’t get any more pro than this.

The first thing your eye is drawn to is a SRAM XX1 Eagle groupset, which provides 12 gears, a 500% range, and plenty of gold bling to show off the bike’s race-winning intentions.

Sram XX1 Eagle Drivetrain

The drivetrain spins a stiff and anorexic set of SRAM Rise 60 carbon wheels, weighing in at just over 1400g.

2018 Trek Top Fuel

To bring it all to a stop are SRAM’s top-end Level Ultimate brakes with carbon levers and titanium hardware.

Trek Top Fuel

Trek Top Fuel

Out front is a RockShox SID World Cup, a pro-level cross country fork with the new Charger damper which provides less friction, and a stiffer and lighter carbon steerer and crown.

2018 Trek Top Fuel

Providing the suspension in the rear is a Fox Float with Trek’s newest Re:Aktiv damping technology. Developed with the help of F1 suspension experts, Penske Racing, Re:Aktiv uses unique damping to help the shock react to what you’re riding, staying supportive and firm for pedaling, while still allowing it to open up to provide instant plushness for small bumps and big hits. This means you can leave the shock alone while riding and just let it work.    

2018 Trek Top Fuel

Trek’s Mino-link chip in the rear triangle allows you to adjust the geometry to your liking, raising or lowering the bottom bracket by 10mm, and changing the head angle by 1°. In my opinion, the bike will ride best in the lower and slacker position, which is how most will choose to ride it.

Trek Top Fuel

The lower option makes the bike more stable at speed, allowing you to descend more confidently while expending less energy. To improve things even more, this Top Fuel 9.9 RSL comes with a RockShox Reverb dropper post, an increasingly more common sight on XC bikes as they become more capable and cross-country tracks become more rugged. To me, droppers are the best thing to happen to mountain biking, and the key to extracting the most speed from your bike going downhill.

This Top Fuel is the complete package, no upgrades required. It’s a bike that simply begs to be ridden fast. Someday, when I can justify buying it for myself, it will be my XC weapon of choice, and I will surely dominate all. But for now, it can be yours, and you will probably beat me on it.

This bike sold in one day, but we've got other hot bikes at our Mountain Bike Collection here.


Bruce is a writer who loves getting his bikes dirty, trying new tech, and riding tough trails that make him suffer for hours at a time. 

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