Gary Fisher, the “Father of mountain biking”, has produced a new high end road range for Trek. Ever since their falling out with Greg Lemond, Trek have been without a second road bike range. Not any more: one cycling legend may have left the building, but Trek have a few legends on the roster – including Gary Fisher, who's now turned his hand to producing a high end road bike, the Cronus.
He hasn't stopped there. The range includes some mid-priced offerings – the Ion and the Trail – in various combinations of aluminium and carbon. It was the Cronus though that caught our eye – this he claims is the “Best handling road bike. Period”.
Fisher has done his own thing here and tried to design a bike you can train on all week (and indeed all year) but which is good enough to race on at the weekend – a sort of utility sports bike. Being American, Trek have come up with a slick marketing term to describe the concept, luckily the marketing guy we spoke to was British so he couldn't remember what it was "something like Sports Utility… but not", it's Race Utility, but the gist was good enough.
There are three Cronus models in eight sizes and all share the same frame. That frame is made from high modulus carbon fibre with a tall head tube so you can get an upright position without the need for a big stack of spacers, Fisher call this the Fisher Control Column. As is the fashion, it's asymmetric too, going from 1 1/8" to 1 1/2" for added stiffness. A weight of 900g underlines the frame's race potential – indeed in the US the Kelly Benefits team have been racing on these bikes this season.
As well as being light it's stiff too with a mighty downtube morphing into really wide bottom bracket – apparently the Cronus downtube is the widest diameter carbon tube that Trek has ever produced so you should certainly have a stiff pedalling platform. There's more asymmetry too with a beefed up chainstay on the non-drive side.
This being a Gary Fisher there are some clever and practical touches: cables are routed externally for ease of maintenance and the seatpost is standard 27.2. The Cronus' all weather credentials are enhanced by mudguard eyelets that screw in to the dropouts – a threaded screw on the brake bridge means you can fit a set of guards without needing to remove the brakes. Chapeau, Gary.
But Mr Fisher hasn't stopped there: what really sets this bike apart is the front fork and wheel. In a bid to strengthen and stiffen the front end of the bike – he's claiming it is 27 per cent stiffer laterally than the current class-leading machine – he's made the flange on the front wheel larger, having the immediate effect of making the spokes shorter and stiffer. The wheel uses outboard j-bend spokes.
To compensate for the wider flange, Fisher has made the fork legs slightly wider apart and for good measure made the fork ends larger too – this makes for a larger contact area between the fork and the hub and again adds strength and stiffness, says Fisher, we'd certainly like to try it out. The only downside in a race situation is that while you could take a wheel from someone else they couldn't use your wheel with a standard fork, not unless they wanted that flange to saw through it… which seems unlikely.
There are two versions of the Cronus on offer in the UK, both based around the same carbon frame. The top of the line Cronus Ultimate comes in black and is decked out with a full Sram Red groupset, don't expect to get any change out of £4,000 on this one, it's certainly a striking looking machine, but it was its less expensive stablemate in white, the Cronus C Pro, that apparently has attracted the most excitement – I can see why. Gary Fisher, while an undoubted innovator and a maker of some very fine bikes, doesn't have a track record in road bikes and £4,000 is a big ask in the current climate. Sizing, geometry, and tube dimensions are proportionate throughout the range to give consistent handling and ride positions no matter which size you ride. We've already got our name down for a test model.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.