As we started the climb up Zen Trail, on our fourth ride of the day, I silently thanked the Fuel for its svelte figure, superefficient suspension, and a highly responsive front end that allowed me to easily loft those big wheels up and over rock step-ups. The bike was helping me out, even as the sun beat down on me, my shorts chafed the back of my knees, and my legs grumbled.
Going downhill, I was all over that dropper post. I felt stable and confident letting the bike roll down the rock staircase that led into a small canyon, sailing over these unfamiliar ledges without a qualm. The Fuel has “only” 120mm of travel, but with the firm suspension, it never felt like it came close to bottoming out or hitting its limit.
This bike combines trail and XC qualities in a way that may confuse some, but it would suit a certain type of rider very well: someone like a former road racer, or an avid trail rider who just wants to beat the crap out of his or her buddies on the climbs; then be able to open it up on long, fast, alpine descents. If you dabble in XC or endurance racing from time to time, the Fuel won’t hold you back, either. For this rider, the Fuel would be an ideal one-bike quiver.