I am Superman: Trek EXe mountain e-bike reviewed
I rediscovered my bike after a few weeks of lockdown. At first, I just rode my cheap steel-framed bike around the neighborhood. After a few rides, it dawned on me that this was it mountain bicycle! So I took him to my nearest lane.
That first exhilarating flight is forever etched in my memory. The early morning sun peeks through the trees as deer scurry away, the squeal of tires on the mounded ground, the idiotic grin on my face as I sprint, flirting on the brink of disaster—or at least of pain—with my inexperience on the trails. I’ve been hooked to the point of riding a bike in the ground, taking perverted fun every time something breaks and I’ve upgraded it. I eventually upgraded to a Trek Fuel EX 7, and I love it.
The Fuel EX is Trek’s family of full-suspension mountain bikes dedicated to all terrains, from flow to tech. Like every model in Trek’s lineup, it comes in a wide range of trim levels, including aluminum and carbon frames. (The EX 7 has a metal chassis.)
Currently, the EXe version is only available for the higher-spec 9.x bikes with carbon frames, but it is hoped that there will be an aluminum frame option in the near future.
Getting my hands on a Fuel EXe 9.9 XX1 AXS involved a two-hour drive to Trek HQ in Waterloo, Wisconsin. There, I not only got a chance to talk with members of the team that developed the Trek Fuel EXe, but I also got to ride Trek’s own trails.
With the Fuel Exe, Trek targets the single-track mountain biker who rides for fun, fitness, and the outdoor experience. To achieve the look, feel, and even sound of a traditional mountain bike, Trek partnered with German technology company TQ. Our patented TQ harmonic ring drive can deliver 50Nm of torque in a small package that fits neatly behind the chainring.
The engine delivers this torque at low rpm because it achieves a large gear reduction in one step. Its movement is similar to a Wankel rotary engine. With the battery pack hidden in the downtube and simple controls, the entire battery drive assembly adds just 8.6 pounds to the weight—an impressively lightweight addition for some real power. The EX 7 weighs just under 32 pounds; The EXe comes in at 38.5 lbs. The pedal assist tops out at 20 mph.
Electronic features are well integrated into the EXe. The screen is simple and easy to read at a glance while on the road. The steering wheel controls are simple and intuitive while allowing quick rotation between the three assist modes, Eco, Mid, and High.
Customization is done through Trek’s new phone app, which provides three-mode customization for e-bikes by customizing maximum power, assist level and pedal response. The app defaults to these modes shifting up through Eco, Mid, and High. After two weeks of my time with the EXe, I tweaked the medium settings to give me all the power with a mid-high assist, but in a gradual, controlled manner. With these settings, I’ve found that my riding experience more closely mimics my analog bike—just easier.
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