Today I happened to be talking to one of my favourite people in the bike trade, Ritch Hilton-Foster of Ride in Poole (http://www.ridebike.co.uk/). Ritch is a great guy and if you’re in the area I highly commend Ride to you – they’re a really top bunch of guys. Now Ritch, rides a Colnago C59 in the summer months and as I’m on my quest to find my ideal winter bike – I asked him what he rode on days he didn’t fancy taking his C59 out into the elements. He reply was immediate and without any hesitation – a Trek 1.5, which he said was a fantastic winter bike, cheap, comfortable, rides well, proper geometry carried over from the Madone and takes full SKS mudguards (and can take a rack too!). He went on to tell me this was his third winter in a row on one and he couldn’t imagine riding anything else. He also went on to tell me about guys on his staff who swore by the 1.5 and how popular they are in his customer base for a winter trainer/commuter bike.
With a retail price of £800 for the 2012 Trek 1.5 is least expensive bike I’ve been recommended and now features the new 10 speed compact Shimano Tiagra groupset and in it’s compact configuration it features a lowest gear of 34×30 which should make even the steepest climbs relatively easy going. Ritch did say the only changes he would suggest for people used to riding expensive summer bikes is some lighter wheels, different tyres and a carbon seat post as the 2012 has an alloy one. There are also some stores still selling the last of their 2011 1.5’s at a discount – which has a carbon seatpost with 9 speed Tiagra rather than the new 10 speed, making the 1.5 perhaps even better value as long as you’re ok with a 9 speed bike. All my other bikes are 10 speed now, so the 2011 would be a non-starter for me even though I think it has a better paint job than the 2012.
I even tried to talk things up saying something along the lines of “ah but I don’t want a cheap winter bike – I’m used to a certain level of quality now (hopefully without sounding too pretentious)” and that basically I wanted to spend much more than that – in fact probably about double that amount. Ritch was adamant that – this is a brilliant winter bike and I’d be mad to spend more as there’s really no need.
So the good points:
To be frank I’m going to give this some serious thought. I respect Ritch’s views as from previous discussions, we like similar kinds of bikes and this would bring me in well under budget. I already have a set of light and fast wheels and tyres and it would be great to spend some time on the entry level bike of another of the world’s largest bike companies. I really enjoyed my Allez and if it had had proper mudguard mounts and spacings, I would probably be still riding it now. In fact seeing the 1.5 made me wonder why Specialized don’t do the same thing with one of their entry level bikes (or why any of the other big manufacturers don’t). Still kudos to Trek for this feature alone.
Another point I’ve been pondering is on the recent Wildside club ride, I got spanked by some guys on fairly modest steeds – so I think that’s given me a humility/reality check on high end winter bikes – they won’t necessarily make me any faster and whilst I want a bike that still handles pretty much like a race bike in the winter, I’m most likely going to be riding a bit slower for a variety of reasons, so an extra kilo or two isn’t going to be the end of the world.
A couple of Trek 1.5 reviews here:
A link to the product page on the Trek site is here: