My time with the 2014 Trek 1.5 is about to end. Over the last few months I’ve ridden over 500km on the 1.5 exactly as it arrived except for my own pedals and bottle cages.
I’ve ridden over all kinds of road conditions and surfaces and along flat roads as well as over steep and rolling hills. To cut to the chase, I’ve found the new Trek 1.5 a thoroughly likeable companion and I genuinely feel it’s an excellent step forward over the old one and for me, is a fine buy at its £875 price point.
In case you haven’t read my first look post (http://girodilento.com/2014-trek-1-5-first-ride-review/) I used to own the previous generation Trek 1.5, which I bought after a strong recommendation from a bike shop owner. After riding 1,000 miles on it through winter, I just didn’t like the old one to keep it. Trek have certainly fixed this with the new one and it’s been a really pleasant companion. The ride quality is smooth, the handling is composed and assured at all times. It does everything well. For the price point of £875 at retail running a Tiagra 10 speed drivetrain except for the long reach brakes (and FSA cranks) – everything works as well as you’d think it should. It’s not a super light, super stiff race bike but that’s not what it’s designed to be either.
Really a bike like this should be bread and butter for Trek and it feels like that as a product. I’m a big fan of the Trek H2 geometry as I feel it’s a sensible tweaking of race geometry for the everyday rider without going all “Sportive” and running a really high headtube. On the 56cm model I was riding, the head tube length of 170mm is actually shorter than a Cervelo R5 (in size 56cm) and it has the same head tube length as a Specialized Tarmac S-Works SL3 had – so it’s far from lofty or lengthy. I’m labouring the point a little as I’ve seen a few comments over the last few years criticising the “high” headtube on the H2 geometry and I think that’s both unfair and simply wrong. It’s certainly a height that works for me and allows me to run less spacers than a more aggressive front end would and is perfect for the target market for the bike.
The update to the frame with some Kammtail style tube shaping on the top tube and the downtube give the frame a nice modern look as well as having transformed the ride. It’s UCI certified too, which is nice if you want to race one – although I don’t think this is where the bike is at its best.
To me the new Trek 1.5 is great in a range of circumstances. I think it’s a terrific beginner’s bike – it’s comfortable, smooth riding, does everything well and so makes a great bike to find your legs on. For those of you that have now found your legs, I still think the bike has a lot of appeal. It has long drop brakes and huge clearance for running full mudguards, so can become a fine winter training bike and I do think it has a lot to offer here. The smooth riding, comfortable, good nature of the bike is perfect for winter riding. In the compact gearing I rode the bike in, it features a 12-30 cassette, which is low enough to climb the steepest of hills. I reckon it’d even make a good Audax bike – although I won’t get the chance to find out. It has rack mounts too for commuting or riding to the shops, (or carrying cakes on for your mid ride stops!) – especially once you’ve fitted your SKS Chromoplastic mudguards, which would be a perfect match for the bike. In fact it has so much mudguard clearance I reckon you might be able to get 28mm tyres and full mudguards on this bike – definitely 25mm and full guards.
The 1.5 seems very well made and finished as you’d expect from Trek and the colour scheme has been something I’ve really enjoyed too. It’s fairly masculine, but I’m a guy and I like it!
So it can’t all be perfect can it? Well no obviously, nothing is perfect but I think for the price point this is a bike I’d be happy to spend my own money on (I did once before!) There are some things I liked less about the bike, but unless you’re doing a no expenses spared dream build there’s usually a compromise or two.
For me the bits I liked less were really only the wheels, brake pads and the handlebars. Wheels on most bikes at this price point are not the finest. The Bontrager approved hoops that come with the 1.5 are a bit portly and not the most lively but they roll wheel and I’ve not managed to knock them out of true through a wet, wet winter that seems to have had far more of its fair share of potholes. These wheels would be something I’d upgrade, especially if you wanted something more sprightly for the summer – but they do the job adequately. For commuting and winter training they’d be just fine till your wore them out. The brake pads weren’t great and they seemed to be a bit harsh on the rims. If it were my own bike, I’d quickly swap them out for some Koolstop Salmon brakepads – which are my favourites. Very easy on the rim and lovely brake feel – not something you could say about the stock ones.
The only bad thing I could find to say about 10 speed Tiagra, which shifts fantastically for the money is that I noticed when riding in the dark that the exposed cables can get in the way of the beam from my front light. They can also rattle against the bars a bit on what is otherwise a pretty quiet bike. Very minor quibbles that you don’t get on 105 level Shimano or higher as the cables are run under the handlebar tape. I didn’t find the shape of the bars quite to my liking either, they feel wider than their 42cm sizing and I found both the reach and the drops deeper than I’d like – but they do the job just fine and I probably wouldn’t change them if it was my bike.
Overall though, I’ve really enjoyed this bike. It’s smooth, comfortable, versatile, dependable and makes a fine riding companion – especially for the money. Given the fact that the frameset has a lifetime warranty – I think it’s good value too.
If this had been the 1.5 I’d bought personally back in 2012, I’m almost certain I’d still own it today and would have travelled many thousands of miles on it by now. For sure, I think it’s fine winter bike for anyone who doesn’t want to go crazy and spend a fortune on one. It’s comfortably under the £1,000 cycle to work threshold, which will make it interesting to a lot of riders in the UK. As a first bike it’s perfect because once you get fit and decide you want something lighter and faster, chuck some mudguards on this and keep it as your winter trainer. So many cyclists, myself included buy a bike around this price point, then sell it to step up to something fancier then end up looking for a winter trainer – buy one of these and that’s a job ticked off from the start. The 2014 Trek 1.5 is a fine bike for the money, I’ll miss it.
If you’re interested in buying, you can click through and order one from Evans Cycles (and this site gets a small commission that helps keep it running): http://tidd.ly/1a3c4788
Thanks for reading