Trek FUEL EXe 9.8 XT

I got a new bike the other day! The make and model is up in the title there.

I was camping up in Port Townsend, and I saw several fellow campers had brought their mountain bikes and I was envious. Ever since breaking my arms mountain biking I haven’t mountain biked. I’ve done plenty of in-town biking since then (except a little recovery break after being hit by a van 😬), but just no single-track whatnot. I had even sold that old mountain bike (cursed, naturally).

I didn’t even have a cruiser anymore. I was riding a Specialized Vado for several years, in large part because I could plop my kid on the back of it and take her to school or hittin’ parks. But she got too big for it! Plus, Miranda has the Tern, so we can use that for kid hauling.

So I was ready for a new bike. I have three different friends now who have gone for electric mountain bikes, so I was feeling the pressure to go that route. Having a reason to hang with buds is a precious thing, and I was feeling ready to give it a go again.

The one major strike against electric mountain bikes around here is that they are prohibited on most trails. “Prohibited”, like, you see a little sign here and there, and you’ll get a little side-eye from other bikers once in a while. Of those I’ve talked to who take their electric mountain bikes on our trails, most people have never heard a peep about it, one or two have said they heard one snarky remark over years of riding. So not a big deal. I’m a rule-follower though, so it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow. What helps it go down is that prohibiting e-bikes feels like a wrong side of history opinion to have. They say ebikes tear up trails (proponents say they don’t) and they say it can be dangerous (what’s actually dangerous is people doing dangerous things, not the bikes). I think it opens up more of the sport to more people, which I like. Anyway, obviously I bought the thing and have been using it, so I’m a rule-breaker now. Judge me.

So, how did I pick this bike? I walked into the main bike shop in Port Townsend and said “I’ll have that one.” This is very distressing, perplexing, and infuriating to several of my friends who insist upon deep research and consultations before making bike decisions. The thing is, I’m not totally uninformed. I’ve owned a bunch of mountain bikes in the past, so I essentially know what I’m looking at. This bike, even though it was essentially an impulse buy, will inform my overall knowledge of bikes and inform the next one.

My mental checklist was basically:

  • It’s pretty nice, components-wise and aesthetically.
  • It’s a Trek, and I’ve never owned one of them before, but I like that it’s a Wisconsin company.
  • We have a Trek dealer in Bend, so I’m covered for repairs, equipment, and whatnot.
  • The motor on it isn’t enormous. In fact, it’s almost a bit “stealthy” in that if you aren’t pretty in touch with bikes, you might be unable to guess one way or the other if it’s electric.
  • The motor also isn’t hugely powerful, so biking will still be about getting a workout.

After I got it, I found a cross-promo thing they did with some famous mountain biker biking to a Charley Crockett song, so that felt right.

What I didn’t do was a ton of online research reading reviews and stuff. I’m not even sure how much I trust online reviews of bikes (or anything) anyway. You ever see Al Madrigal’s Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy? It’s hilarious. There is a bit in there where he really goes off on people’s online reviews. He’s ultimately like: I don’t want to follow in the footsteps of someone who is the kind of person who writes online reviews, which, ya know, yeah.

Pretty pleased so far. I even bought a pair of gloves and elbow pads this time.



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