Trek 2012 road bikes – Higher tech, lower prices next year's big idea
It's OCLV all the way now on its Madone carbon frames
'World's biggest bike brand' Trek had a standful of marginal gains at Eurobike although it could as easily have been billed as marginal losses with price reductions more or less across the board on its road bikes.
Trek had told us they were having a quiet 2012 bike launch with not much new so we thought our tour of the bikes at Eurobike would be a routine affair after the razzamatazz of the Madone SSL and Speed Concept launches earlier in the year.
Or, for the same £1,500 you can have a 2.5 with Ultegra and this nice alu frame & carbon fork.
There certainly weren't any surprises but the subtle changes look like good progress and the best thing of all was that prices, especially at the key points, are lower for the new model year. For example, the 2.5 Shimano Ultegra-equipped hydroformed aluminium bike is now £1,500 instead of £1,650 and the 3.1 where you opt for the pricier Madone carbon frame and less expensive 105 components is the same £1,500 price, down from £1,600. Or the 105-geared 2.1 based on the same aluminium frame and its Lexa 'female' equivalent which last year broke the £1,000 barrier at £1,075 is now firmly back at the point you can finance it under the government Cycle-To-Work-Scheme.
On the feisty pricing policy, Trek's Chris Garrison explains, "What’s happening in the UK bike market these days seems to be an emphasis on component spec rather than frame quality. This is particularly evident with direct sell bikes and websites that bypass the independent bike retailer. The decision to focus on key price point models was made in an effort to support local dealers by putting Trek products at a competitive level with direct sell brands.
"For the consumer," she goes on, "it’s a win-win, as they get the quality benefit of buying a Trek, the customer service of buying from their local retailer and a price that makes that quality and service affordable."
Trek 2012 2.1 £1,000. 'H2' geometry neither too fierce for Cycle-To-Work nor lame for a first race.
In case you're thinking the reduced prices hide some sneaky de-speccing, that same 2.5 for example has a pukka Shimano Ultegra chainset and no discernible shortcuts, Garrison assuring us that its clout extending to handlebars, stems, seatposts and every other part and in very large numbers means they can 'realise some efficiencies' as they say in accounting circles.
The incremental improvements are in the manufacturing of the less expensive 3 and 4-series versions of the Madone carbon frames that used to carry the 'TCT' logo for Trek Carbon Technology but will now be stickered 'OCLV' for Optimum Compaction Low Void. If those initials sound familiar it's because Trek introduced OCLV several years ago on its Wisconsin-made top end carbon frames - it's the process whereby manufacturing is controlled from the inside of the moulded pieces that make up a Madone frame such that the carbon wall thicknesses are consistent and free of the entombed air bubbles that can set up a potential weak spot.
Trek 1.5 £800. 1-series bikes are about as classic an entry to racing as you could wish for on a keen budget.
The way Trek describes it, this proprietary process has been shipped across to its Far East factories now that carbon frame production is way past the 'new technology' voodoo phase. This gives the opportunity, apart from saving considerable cost, to tweak the frame designs themselves, introducing elements from higher up the Madone hierarchy. All Madones from 3-series and up for example will now feature 1.125 to 1.25" tapered steerers and the 4-series will carry Trek's BB90 bottom bracket shells and there's a general sleekening of stays and overall shapes in line with the 6 and 5-series frames.
Trek Madone 4.5 WSD £1,750. Plenty of men, too, will be liking this 'H3' geometry with 30mm taller head.
The fundamental difference between the various Madone series levels remains in the strength and therefore the price of the grade of carbon-fibre used. Assuming that the least expensive 3-series frame simply has to be just as strong as its priciest 6-series cousin, it means that more material has to be employed to achieve that requirement. We haven't stripped down one of these new OCLV frames yet to see how it compares with the sub-1,000 gram weight of a 6-series but we're expecting a few precious ounces have been shaved over TCT , along with the fatter bb and headtube meaning at least in theory that power delivery and steering precision should have sharpened.
Trek 2012 Madone 5.9 £3,500: this is the one with Ultegra Di2
Something you can always rely on at Trek is smart, inoffensive colours and graphics but it's good that this year they appear to have edged into er..edgier territory with the key 2.1 model being available in a gorgeous and stealthy matt black finish, perhaps inspired by Cannondale's successful CAAD10. Interestingly, the optional scheme is an equally sharp Team Layopard Trek blue so not hard to predict that the 2.1 will be a winner this year.
Trek 2012 Lexa SLX £1,000. Unbeatable Cycle-To-Work-Scheme speedster in on-trend green.
The women's Lexa versions of the 1 and 2-series aluminium bikes and the WSD - Womens Specific Design - carbon models are pointedly not styled in girly pink or with flowers and butterflies so that the bikes will work just as well for men who just happen to need or prefer what Trek calls its H3 geometry with shorter top tubes and 30mm more height in the headtube.
Trek 2012 Lexa S £700: as girly as it gets in the WSD line.
The Madone 5.2 at £2,800 with its Shimano Ultegra-based spec remains geometrically, technically and price-wise largely unchanged but the 5.9 goes up £100 to £3,500 and gets the new Ultegra Di2 electronic gears. This makes it a worthy flagship of the production shop-floor models before it all gets a bit esoteric and you're building your new Trek bike online using the Project One system and based on the Madone 6-series frames. You can make your own virtual version of Fabian Cancellara's signature bike - see gallery - from the Tour de France and it will cost you nothing until you hit the 'send order' button at which point you're in for nearly nine grand sterling.
Incidentally, for even more spec flexibility can now buy a Trek Madone 5-series frameset alone including the fork, headset and seatpost for £1,800, the 6-series for £2,600 and the superlight SSL for £3,100.
Trek 2012 Madone 5.9 frameset £1,800
And while we're in specialist territory, one thing that caught our eye from the range of ten Speed Concept mainly carbon time-trial and triathlon bikes is the Speed Concept 2.5, an aluminium-framed version for £1,400. There's a WSD variant, too, and considering it comes complete with a nifty set of Bontrager aero-bars and decent components based on SRAM Apex, it looks like an astounding introduction to wind-cheating races against the clock.
Trek 2012 Speed Concept 2.5 £1,400. "Astounding introduction for wind-cheating races against the clock."