A fast, carbon-framed, fender-happy crosser from Trek

Trek haven’t ever made much noise in the cyclo-cross arena; it’s not a brand that instantly springs to mind when pondering a new CX bike. They’ve probably been too busy with their successful road and mountain bikes to bother pedalling up what was, up until recently, quite a quiet cycling cul-de-sac. They’ve brought out the odd bike or two but these have been pretty much under the radar... Well, apart from some respected Lemond models when that name was cuddled in their loving arms.

Now that cyclo-cross has grown up and got big, Trek are confidently stepping up to the start line with a couple of alloy-based bikes and two carbon ones, this £2,200 Cronus CX Pro being the lesser of the two carbon siblings. The £3,000 Ultimate is the more spendilicious big brother. That isn’t to say that the Cronus CX Pro is the ugly stepchild; it’s actually quite the looker and, at 8.34kg/18.5 lbs (56cm, without pedals), a high-class race-ready machine.

The Cronus is very much a Trek family affair. It may say Trek on the down tube but it’s part of the Gary Fisher Collection and has his signature proudly displayed on the top-tube while the frame is decorated with a spread of Bontrager baubles.

The heart of the CX Pro is its 500 Series OCLV (optimum compaction low void) frame that has a whole lot going on...

Starting up front, the Cronus boasts FCC, or Fisher Control Column  a completely re-engineered steering column that rethinks every component to make a stiffer, more confident, corner-carving front end, supposedly. The head tube is of the rapidly-becoming-standard tapered variety with a Bontrager Race X Lite Cross E2 fork slotted into the 1 1/2in lower bearing and 1 1/8in upper bearing that should keep everything steering where you want and judder free. The front-brake hanger bolted into the crown should help out there too, and it features a cable-adjuster - thank you.

At the bottom of the forks are specific dropouts that are FCC compatible to fit an oversized front hub with 25mm end-caps that'll stiffen the front end up further, but the Bontrager Race wheels on this CX Pro lack this feature. Hiding at the rear of the dropouts are vanishing fender (that’s 'mudguard' in English) mounts: tiny integrated bosses that, with the addition of adapters, allow the fixing of ‘guards. These are repeated on the rear dropouts too. Along with bosses on the fork, seatstay bridge and bottom-bracket, they make the Cronus more than just a race machine.

The topside of the slightly sloping top-tube is fluted with internal rear-brake cable routing while the underside is a flattened oval which should make shouldering the bike less painful. The down tube is massive and looks like it will make a decent mudguard, running the full width of the oversized head tube base and spreading out for the full breadth of the bottom-bracket to cradle the BB90. Gear cables enter the down tube up top and exit just fore of the bottom bracket shell to run bare to their respective mechanisms, although there are mounts on the right-hand chainstay to run a full outer underneath the tube should you wish.

The top of the seat tube is wrapped by the top tube/seat tube junction and, like the down tube, flares out past the direct-mount front derailleur to the full width of the bottom-bracket. That combination should keep things stout down there. Twin bottle cage mounts extend the hand of versatility to those that want to ride for more than just an hour in a CX race.

Chainstays and seatstays shy away from any fancy swoops and bends, but they make up for this by being chunky at the bottom-bracket, the driveside one being slimmer to make room for the chainset. Making the chainstays so chunky has allowed Trek to get rid of a chainstay bridge meaning there’s a good four fat fingers of clearance between the tyre and bottom bracket, with added mud room thanks to inside scallops. Acknowledging that the bike isn’t just carbo-bling and that it's meant for some rough and tumble, the right-hand chainstay has a thick chainstay protector top and bottom, and chain protection plates grace the chainstay and down tube.

SRAM provide the go with a Rival 10 speed drivetrain and GXP S300 crank with 'cross friendly 46/38 chainrings linked to a 11-28 cassette, while Avid supply the stop with Shorty 6 cantilever brakes. The Cronus has had a 30-second trolley dash up and down the Bontrager aisles to finish itself off with a carbon-wrap Race X Lite ACC layback seatpost, chromoly-railed Evoke 2 saddle, alloy oversized stem and Race Lite Anatomic-C handlebars that are wide and flare ever so slightly at the drops for more control and less forearm banging.

Bontrager Race wheels have 20 radial spokes up front, and 24 rear, all bladed and clinched around them are Bontrager CXO Team Issue 700x34c tyres of the light off-road file tread that suggests the bike was specced in mud-shy California. You’ll probably want to change these for your favourite race rubber but they look wide and whoomphy enough for comfy towpath and road work.

Trek say the Cronus changes the cyclocross landscape, exceeding expectations and delivering unexpected features. They probably wrote that before the whole disc brake thing kicked off with a vengeance, then. A bit harsh maybe, because with a light, stiff-looking OCLV carbon frame, tapered head tube, BB90 and internal cable routing, this could be a serious race contender, and with twin bottle cages and sneaky mudguard capability, it has the makings of a pro-commuter for weekdays and the off-season... if there is a CX off-season these days.

We'll be back with a full review soon. In the meantime, go to www.trekbikes.com for more details

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.