The Trek Fuel EXe 9.5 is the lowest-spec bike in the company’s Fuel EXe series. They’re among the best lightweight e-MTBs you can get hold of; the bikes are easy to handle and fun to ride, without giving away too much on weight.
That’s not to say they don’t offer anything in the electrics department, either, though. They still have a bit of a punch and nicely straddle the two worlds of e-MTBs and conventional MTBs. You can end up paying top dollar for the highest-spec bikes in the range, up to around $14,000.
So, at less than half that amount, does the Fuel EXe 9.5 tick the right boxes? Or should you pay that little bit extra for some of the other rides in this highly-regarded range? We’ve spent many hours out on the bike to get all the answers you need.
Right, then, let’s get stuck into the Fuel 9.5!
Another cracking bike from the team at Trek. The introductory bike in the Fuel EXe range doesn’t disappoint, with an excellent motor, lightweight feel and natural ride experience.
The TQ motor, battery and display are real highlights, all elevating the overall ride of the bike. There are elements which could be better at the price tag you’re paying – the suspension and brakes for two – but overall, it’s still a very fun bike to ride, with great versatility.
It shines downhill, copes admirably uphill and loves a twisty trail.
Trek Fuel EXe 9.5
The Fuel EXe 9.5 has exactly the same OCLV carbon frame as the other bikes in the Fuel EXe range. That’s right, even the top spec Fuel EX 9.9 XX1 AXS, which costs more than twice as much.
It’s certainly a good start and we’re sure you’ll also be wanting to know how much does a Fuel EXe 9.5 weigh? The total weight is 19.93kg.
It certainly isn’t feather light, but it still lends itself to being thrown around without too much difficulty, and you still very much feel in full control of the bike.
It’s easy to manipulate through the twisty sections, which is helped by the geometry options which Trek has offered. Like the rest of the Fuel EXe range, the 9.5 comes in 4 different frame sizes, each of which have two geometry settings.
Take your time over selecting your frame and geometry setup, because the ride experience will be elevated by nailing it down first time. It could be an expensive mistake if you don’t feel fully comfortable up there.
The frame looks the part, too, with a really refined finish and a battery tucked down nicely into the downtube, along with internally-routed cabling.
The bike mimics a traditional MTB on the descents; it feels nimble and easy to manoeuvre, yet also feels nice and planted on the trail due to its low centre of gravity.
It’s no slow-coach on the climbs, either. It copes with them well thanks to the lightweight frame and a decent punch in the motor department.
Trek has partnered with (the relatively-unknown) TQ for the electrical components. The company is more renowned within the robotic and aviation sectors, but they’ve really put a decent shift in with this collaboration with Trek.
The Fuel EXe 9.5 has a 360Wh battery supplied by TQ, which is the same size as the rest of the bikes in the Fuel EXe range. This is by no means an insignifiicant battery; you can get a decent day’s riding done out on that 360Wh battery, particularly if you use it more sparingly.
It won’t power you for hundreds of kilometres, but it will offer a welcome helping hand to a fairly capable e-MTB rider, who simply needs a small electrical nudge from time to time. It works intelligently with the motor to release the power conservatively, too.
The charge time is another success story as far as this bike’s concerned – you can get it back up to full juice in around two hours.
The motor on the Fuel EXe 9.5 is another collaboration with the folk at TQ. Like the rest of the Fuel EXe range, the 9.5 comes with the TQ-HPR50 motor, which can emit a solid 50Nm of torque.
This isn’t the punchiest motor on earth, far from it – you can get up to 90Nm on some e-MTBs, but then you lose that natural ride feel. This bike is designed to mimic a normal MTB and feel natural, which you often lose with a big aggressive motor.
It’s important to really think about what you want from an e-MTB. If you want to be thrown up mountains all day long, with little human effort, then this bike certainly isn’t for you. However, if you just want a little leg-up, then this bike offers you a wonderful ride experience
The power is delivered in a very natural way and you always feel very much in control of the bike. It’s important for that natural ride experience to have a motor which softens off nicely and comes to life gently – you can often feel pulled around by some larger motors.
TQ has nailed it with the HPR50 and it complements the other natural ride features of the Fuel EXe 9.5. Oh, and it operates silently, too – a dream out on the trails.
Another round of applause is necessary to the crew at TQ for the motor’s display on the Fuel EXe 9.5. It’s a very-advanced piece of kit, which puts other displays to shame – Shimano and its primitive EP8 display ought to take note.
This is a real beauty. Not only do you have the amount of remaining battery charge presented as an exact figure – something we think should be mandatory on e-MTBs – but you get much more, too.
You can customise your display to add in all sorts of important ride data – such as the estimated number of kilometres riding you have left on the battery, info about how much climbing you’ve done, your RPM, heart rate stats, and much more.
It’s more than just a display, then, it’s a fully-fledged ride companion. You can link all that data up onto your smartphone, too, and really nail down your performance out on the trails. We love it.
Now this is where things begin to get a little more simplistic and how the Fuel EXe 9.5 differs from some of the more expensive bikes in the range.
The Fuel EXe 9.5 comes with RockShox 35 Gold DR, Debon Air Spring forks – offering 150mm of travel. And there are RockShox Deluxe Select+ RT Shocks at the rear, with 140mm of travel.
The amount of travel is the same as the others in the range, but the components aren’t quite as plush. The best way to describe the forks is “ok”; they don’t offer the comfiest ride by any stretch of the imagination, and they aren’t quite as durable as other forks out on the market.
Can you tackle the enduro and XC-style trails you want to on the Fuel EXe 9.5? Yes. Is it a dreamy experience bouncing through those trails and up and over obstacles? Not really.
They’re ok and do the job, but not magnificently.
It’s a similar story with the shocks; for the price you’re paying for the full bike, you could get a higher spec component – it doesn’t mean the bike is bad, not at all, but Trek could have offered more here.
Overall, the suspension setup doesn’t live up to the high-level frame, battery or motor.
The Fuel EXe 9.5 comes with 29in wheels at both the front and the rear, with a Bontrager Line, 6-bolt Boost110 at the front end and a Bontrager alloy, 6-bolt at the rear.
This differs from some of the more expensive bikes in the Fuel EXe range, where you have fully-carbon OCLV wheels.
This is one of the factors that has raised the overall weight of the bike.
You don’t feel a great deal of difference out on the trails, they’re fairly robust and help soak up a lot of pressure when carving about.
The tyres are produced by Bontager too, with XR5 Team Issues at both the front and the rear. They offer a decent level of grip into the corners and hold up well overall. No complaints on the tyre front, they do the job you would hope of them.
The Fuel EXe 9.5 is fitted with TRP Slate Evo Hydraulic disc brakes. This is a big step down from the SRAM components on some of the more expensive Fuel EXe bike.
It’s another case of being just “ok” – they aren’t powerhouses and they do get a little hot, but then again the bike isn’t the most powerful on earth. They do an adequate job, but we think you can get much better in this department.
The Fuel EXe 9.5 comes with a Sun Race CSMZ800 11-51, 12-speed cassette and Shimano Deore M6100, 12-speed rear derailleur.
This is an adequate pairing, but they’re far from being all-singing all-dancing.
The shifting is fairly swift, but by no means as responsive as some on the higher-spec bikes in the Fuel EXe range. Again, Trek could have offered more here
We certainly aren’t aghast at that price. You can get a lot worse for this kind of price and you’re still getting those magnificent TQ electrical components and the OCLV lightweight frame.
You’re making compromises in other areas, such as the suspension, brakes and drivetrain and maybe we could argue Trek could have knocked the price down a bit. But overall, it’s a good bike at a fairly decent price
Fuel EXe 9.5 Facts & Figures
|S||155 – 165 cm
5’1″ – 5’5″
|74 – 78 cm
29″ – 31″
|M||165 – 176 cm
5’5″ – 5’9″
|79 – 83 cm
31″ – 33″
|L||177 – 188 cm
5’10” – 6’2″
|84 – 89 cm
33″ – 35″
|XL||188 – 195 cm
6’2″ – 6’5″
|89 – 91 cm
35″ – 36″
|Frame size number||15.5″||15.5″||17.5″||17.5″||19.5″||19.5″||21.5″||21.5″|
|Frame size letter||S||S||M||M||L||L||XL||XL|
|A — Seat tube||38||38||41||41||43.5||43.5||47||47|
|B — Seat tube angle||69.3°||68.8°||69.8°||69.3°||70.8°||70.3°||71.3°||70.8°|
|Effective seat tube angle||77.3°||76.8°||77.3°||76.8°||77.3°||76.8°||77.3°||76.8°|
|C — Head tube length||10||10||11||11||11||11||12||12|
|D — Head angle||65.3°||64.8°||65.3°||64.8°||65.3°||64.8°||65.3°||64.8°|
|E — Effective top tube||57.2||57.3||59.9||60||62.9||63||65.6||65.8|
|F — Bottom bracket height||34.1||33.4||34.1||33.4||34.1||33.4||34.1||33.4|
|G — Bottom bracket drop||3.2||3.9||3.2||3.9||3.2||3.9||3.2||3.9|
|H — Chainstay length||43.8||44||43.8||44||43.8||44||43.8||44|
|I — Offset||4.4||4.4||4.4||4.4||4.4||4.4||4.4||4.4|
|J — Trail||12.4||12.7||12.4||12.7||12.4||12.7||12.4||12.7|
|K — Wheelbase||118.7||118.8||121.6||121.7||124.6||124.7||127.6||127.6|
|L — Standover||73.2||72.6||73.3||72.7||73.9||73.3||75.9||75.3|
|M — Frame reach||43.4||42.8||45.9||45.3||48.9||48.3||51.4||50.8|
|N — Frame stack||61.6||62||62.5||62.9||62.5||62.9||63.4||63.8|
* All measurements provided in cm unless otherwise noted.
|Frame||OCLV Mountain Carbon, removable battery, internal routing, alloy rocker link, 34.9 mm seat tube, upper chain guide mount, 55 mm chainline, Mino Link, ABP, Boost148, UDH, 140 mm travel|
|Fork||RockShox 35 Gold RL, DebonAir spring, Motion Control damper, lockout, tapered steerer, 44 mm offset, Boost110, 15 mm Maxle Stealth, 150 mm travel|
|Shock||RockShox Deluxe Select+ RT, 205 mm x 60 mm|
|Hub front||Bontrager sealed bearing, alloy axle, 6-bolt, Boost110, 15 mm thru axle|
|Hub rear||Bontrager alloy, sealed bearing, alloy axle, 6-bolt, Shimano 8/9/10 freehub, Boost148, 12 mm thru axle|
|Skewer rear||Bontrager Switch thru axle, removable lever|
|Tyre||Bontrager XR5 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, aramid bead, 120 tpi, 29×2.50”|
|Shifter||Shimano Deore M6100, 12-speed|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Deore M6100, long cage|
|Crank||E*thirteen E*spec Plus, 165mm length|
|Chainring||E*thirteen E*spec, 32T alloy ring, 55 mm chainline|
|Cassette||SunRace CSMZ800 11-51, 12 speed|
|Chain||Shimano Deore M6100|
|Max. chainring size||Max: 34T Min: 30T|
|Saddle||Bontrager Arvada, austenite rails, 138mm width|
TranzX JD-YSI-22PLQ, 100 mm travel, internal routing, 34.9 mm, 346 mm length
TranzX JD-YSI-22PLQ, 150 mm travel, internal routing, 34.9 mm, 454 mm length
|Size: L, XL
TranzX JD-YSI-22PLQ, 170 mm travel, internal routing, 34.9 mm, 497 mm length
|Handlebar/stem (integrated)||Bontrager Rhythm Comp, alloy, 31.8 mm, 15 mm rise, 750 mm width|
|Grips||Bontrager XR Trail Elite, nylon lock-on|
|Stem||Bontrager alloy, 31.8 mm, Blendr-compatible, 7-degree, 50 mm length|
|Brake||TRP Slate EVO hydraulic disc|
|Brake rotor||TRP, 6-bolt, 203 mm|
|Motor||TQ-HPR50, 50 Nm, 250 watt maximum continuous rated power, 300 watt peak power|
|Computer||TQ LED display with Bluetooth & ANT+ connectivity|
|Weight||M – 19.93 kg / 43.94 lbs (with TLR sealant, no tubes)|
|Weight limit||This bike has a maximum total weight limit (combined weight of bicycle, rider and cargo) of 136 kg (300 lb).|
How Does it Compare?
There are a few big players in this half-and-half, MTB and e-MTB market. Specialized, Orbea and Pivot are among the manufacturers who have been pumping money, time and effort into the sector.
A fair comparison to the Fuel EXe 9.5 is the Specialied Turbo Levo SL Comp.
It comes in at a very similar price currently, due to a big discount on the Specialized website, and you can now pick one up for $5,429, down from $7,000. It weights in at 19.4kg, half a kilogram under the Trek in this review, but it has a smaller battery, with only 320Wh, compared to the Trek’s 360Wh.
The motor on the Turbo Levo SL Comp is also lacklustre in comparison, only emitting 35Nm of torque compared to the Trek and it has a much less advanced display.
The Specialized’s FOX suspension set-up is more forgiving, though, and, overall, provides better value for money in that department – the same applies with the SRAM brakes and drivetrain that it comes with, as standard.
It’s a very close call here – you’re either getting a better electrics set-up with the Fuel EXe 9.5 or a better suspension, drivetrain and brakes set-up on the Specialized.
Both deliver their power in a natural way, but we just love the TQ motor set-up, it’s one of the best we’ve used in recent memory.
With that in mind, the Trek just sneaks it.
The Fuel EXe 9.5 is quite the introductory bike into the Trek Fuel 9.5 range. It offers some excellent features, which you find on the much more expensive bikes in the range, such as the motor, battery and frame.
It rides beautifully on the trails, with a seriously fun and natural ride experience. And although you lose out on some components, with a downgraded suspension, drivetrain and brakes, we still think it’s a very fun bike to ride, on the whole.
Could Trek offer more in those latter departments for the price tag? Yes, probably. Does it ruin the overall ride experience? Not really.
It still gets a big vote of confidence from us. Now give it a whip round the trails for yourselves.