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a shiny thing Trek Pilot 1.2
Lanceís retirement present?

The Pilot series of bikes is shiny and new. For the last 3 years there hasnít been a Trek road bike that you can fit mudguards to. That would be rather handy here in the UK, where it rains quite a lot. Looking around, not many manufacturers make any sort of quality drop-handlebar road bike that had the clearances and fixtures for mudguards. This might seem like a little matter but it is the main reason I looked at this bike.

I understand that the concept behind these bikes is to get people who donít like the idea of pure racers to buy a road bike. Itís unfortunate that everything needs a concept, but road bikes are quite hard to sell, especially if theyíre only really useable in summer. Some brands have been selling flat handlebar bikes to temp people back to road bikes, but road bikes work best with drops. Itís taken Trek a while to catch on, but they have, and very thoroughly.

The 1.2 is the second up in the range. The 1.0 has the same frame and fork with mainly Shimano Sora components instead of Tiagra. That saves you £170 (£530 instead of £700), but itís something of a false economy as Tiagra is much better quality, and a good bit lighter. If you really like, you can spend £2600 on the 5.9. Thatís far too much to spend on a training bike.

The Pilot range feature Ďcompactí frames: a sloping top tube. Sloping top tubes arenít really necessary on road frames (Lanceís bikes didnít have them) unless youíre working with bigger gaps between frame sizes, as Giant do. Iím guessing that Trek want to attract mountain bike users who are used to the look of a sloping tube and the extra clearance it gives.

Compact frames are claimed to be more comfortable because they bend vertically more easily and have more seatpost on show. This may be true, but I canít think how you would measure it practically. All I know is that ride was very smooth, principally due to the 28mm tyres and perhaps the carbon composite forks. Any assistance from the carbon seatpost is probably imagined.

The main frame has a rich red fine metallic paint throughout, with a high quality finish. The fork is very nice to look at. The red paint fades from the crown to show the carbon weave. The dropouts are neatly forged aluminium alloy.

The wheels are pretty standard fare. Tiagra hubs are wired with 32 butted spokes into eyeletted Alexa rims. Theyíre good for the money, but nothing fancy. The more expensive models have Bontrager paired-spoke wheels that look trendier and save some weight. Theyíre also trickier to true when you hit that pothole.

Iíve not done any long rides on this bike yet, so my verdict must be limited. I can conclude that Trek has got the right idea with the Pilot. Itís a practical road bike for those of us who need to ride in bad weather, in groups, and not just race. It looks good, itís very well made and is lovely to ride. The price is excellent for the quality here (beautiful aluminium frame, carbon forks and seatpost, lots of Tiagra). The frame and forks have a lifetime warranty. Oh, and it takes mudguards!

Copyright © 2005 Skippy Kitten