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Trek Top Fuel

written by Justin Loretz

Trail riders can light the afterburners

Trek Bicycles have given their two-year old marathon XC bike, the Top Fuel, something of a make-over for 2022. Despite being outwardly very similar to the very much ‘not broken’ 2020 model (released 2019), the changes are more than just skin deep. Trek has repositioned the Top Fuel from a ‘marathon XC’ bike into a ‘trail bike’, (mountain biking loves to fracture itself into ‘types’). By trail bike we mean a bike designed to shred every trail - all over the mountain. Call it a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ bike that is guaranteed to be 85 percent perfect for every ride, from fast buff XC trails, through to black diamond Enduro ‘gnar’ and everything in between. 

The new TopFuel models use alloy frames at entry-level, moving to Trek’s proprietary OCLV Mountain Carbon as your investment rises. Trek has moved away from their ‘Straight Shot’ downtube, the key visual change, to add the turning angle on tight switchbacks. Trek also added another 5mm of rear-wheel travel to bring it up to 120mm, from 115mm – leveling up the rear travel, to the front. 

The 2022 TopFuel frame geometry has gotten slacker at the front to 66/66.4 degrees and steeper in the seat tube to 76/76.4 degrees effective - measurements are given here for both high and low settings using the Trek Mino switch chip. All good moves to keep this adventure-seeking rig feeling fresh and lively on all types of terrain, but especially when the going gets rough. 

The downtube also now features the same lockable stash-box as was debuted on their Madone road models in 2021 - into which can be stored tools, tubes, snacks, whatever you normally stuff into your jersey pockets. Aside from that, the key difference on the new models is a burlier set of Trek’s own Bontrager carbon wheels (now Bontrager Line Carbon models from Bontrager Kovee Pro 30’s in 2022 and XC4 Team Issue tires that have a bit more meat and attitude than the XC centric XR3 ones of the previous Top Fuel iteration. And that’s it. 

The first rides on this bike are eliciting pretty rave reviews about its added confidence in the chop, and its overall ability to be that ‘one bike’ that we all wish we owned, the one that is almost always perfect, whatever the ride calls for. ‘Quiver killer’ is a horrid term, but if ever a bike deserved the title, it’s the 2022 Trek Top Fuel. As your only arrow, it will fly straight and true. 

The ‘old’ 2019 Top Fuel was epic, (I bought one and loved it – see #mtbgenie on Instagram), so will I now put it on eBay, and line up a 2022 model? Probably not. At least not as a full bike. 

Two reasons: First I’m riding my Trek Supercaliber too much the Top Fuels little brother – an incredibly versatile pure XC race bike that keeps nibbling away at the negative thought-wall, which says ‘race bikes aren’t good away from the race track’. If you haven’t checked this Olympic and World Championship winning XC bike out yet, you should. 

Second, I’m a weight weenie that is a bit obsessed with bike weight, why? With a limited-sized engine, I need the bike to be as feathery as possible. One reason why I LOVE the Trek Supercaliber so damn much. The burlier 2022 Top Fuel has put on some weight and added heavier slower accelerating tires that, personally, I don’t need (or want) but you might… That said, I do want the new downtube stash box and I do want the new geometry, so with a wheel change, it could be a contender…  

I could buy the bike complete and make the changes to lighter wheels, or I could just buy a frameset and swap my parts onto it. So could you.