i was lucky enough to have a test ride on a brand new 2017 Trek Fuel EX8 today. this is Treks "trail" bike with 130mm of travel from front and rear Fox suspension, 29" wheels, Shimano XT gearing and a KS dropper post.
the alloy frame isn't the lightest compared to a carbon frame but compared to the fat bike i'm used to riding it's a skinny light weight. Also skinny are the rims and tyres, again in comparison to a fat bike. I'm sure anyone riding a normal bike wouldn't find the 2.4" Bontrager tyres skinny at all but it was disconcerting looking down at the front wheel at what looked like a road tyre compared to the plus rubber I'm used to.
After the ride i recently did at Cannock chase and commented on the braking bumps and how they had battered me on a HT with rigid forks i thought the ideal way to test this bike would be to do the same ride again and see if the suspension made that much of a difference.
well, i have to say it did, but not in the way i was expecting. Yes, i got over 15 personal records (PR's) on strava, mostly on the downhills but it was the transitional stages, the flatter bits between the climbs and descents that are stoney and rough enough for me to need to stand up on my normal bike and absorb the roughness through my legs and arms that made the biggest difference for me. i was able to sit down, let the bike smooth this out and pedal a lot faster than before. I was able to carry this speed into the little rises along the trails and the whole thing flowed a lot better. by the end of the ride there was non of the usual back ache and this and of course the downhill performance would be why I'd recommend this bike. it's probably the best riding full suspension bike i've ridden to date and i've had my fair share.