They say good things come to those who wait, and in the case of Trek’s latest suspension project with Penske Racing Shocks, the new RE:aktiv rear shock is the product of 5 years of research and development. Offered on the brand new 27.5″ platform of the venerable Fuel EX, the RE:aktiv shock builds on Fox’s DRCV technology to offer a new level of suspension performance.
Already a leader in the custom shock absorber market for high performance vehicles such as Indy Car and Formula 1, Penske does not offer mass produced suspension. Instead they custom tailor each part to the needs of their customers and teams. A chance meeting between Trek’s Dylan Howes, the director of Trek’s MTB frame technology, and Jim Arentz, Penske Racing Shocks’ Technical director, led to the idea of a partnership to include Penske’s technology in Trek’s latest bike. Five years later, the new Trek Fuel EX 27.5 is ready for its debut, F1 technology and all…
The biggest difference that sets the RE:aktiv shock apart from the pack is the inclusion of what Trek and Penske refer to as regressive damping. Most mountain bike suspension is either progressive or digressive, while regressive damping is supposedly true F1 technology that has trickled down to Indy car, NASCAR, and now, well mountain bikes. On the track, regressive damping provides firm support on the straights and corners but as soon as it encounters a bump, the shock instantly opens up to plush, smooth progression. This all happens extremely fast and as Trek points out, “delivers on the unrealized potential of an inertia valve.”
Once Trek and Penske had worked out the damping they wanted to incorporate into the RE:aktiv shock, Fox was brought in to package it into a patent-pending exclusive design only for Trek bikes.
“The thing about Penske is they’re completely focused on being a racing company. So what we’re doing is leveraging their R&D resources and turning that into almost an extension of our own capabilities,” said Trek Director of Suspension Development Jose Gonzalez. “The combined effort with Fox providing the production expertise has produced just an outstanding shock.”
As for the bike itself, the 27.5″ Fuel EX continues where the other Fuels have left off. In addition to the RE:aktiv DRCV rear shock, the frame includes Trek’s ABP (active braking pivot) and Full Floater suspension linkage with both OCLV carbon and aluminum frame options. Suspension is dialed in for 120mm of travel front and rear which mates to a 68 degree head angle and 73 degree seat tube angle. Other important numbers include a 142×12 rear end, ISCG 05 mounts, BB95 bottom bracket (carbon model), internal derailleur and dropper post routing, and E2 tapered head tube.
As of the launch, the 27.5″ Fuels will be offered in one carbon version – the EX 9.8 (with alloy chainstays), and three aluminum versions – the 7, 8, and 9. Pricing starts with the EX 7 27.5 at $2,629.99, up to the $5,249.99 Fuel EX 9.8 27.5. If you’re looking for the RE:aktiv shock technology however, you will only find it on the EX 9 and EX 9.8, the 7 and 8 models stick with the standard Fox DRCV technology.
Sold in the same sizes as the Fuel EX 29 with the exception of the 23″ frame, select models are available now from Trek retailers with the rest of the line available later this Summer.