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Trek 1.2 review

25 Nov 2016
Verdict:

An aluminium race-bred Sora smoothie from Trek

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£750
For 
Decent range of Sora components, robust but comfortable, fast and responsive
Against 
Sluggish brakes and tyres, slightly restrictive gearing

US bike company Trek has taken a slightly different approach to its compatriot and rival Specialized with its affordable road weapon, the Trek 1.2.

Trek’s new bike provides, or at least so the company’s marketing spiel claims, ‘a fast, aero ride for the passionate enthusiast or aluminium aficionado seeking a peloton-tested, confident and smooth ride.’

The 1.2 already shares much with Trek’s higher-end, much more expensive race range, so with Sora bolted on, too, we were keen to discover just how good this machine really was…

 

Frameset

Trek’s aluminium frame tube technique is said to balance strength with weight savings. Box-section tubing at the down tube – for stiffness when getting the power down – is welded to a 150mm head tube.

From this a flatter, box-section top tube extends toward its junction with a more traditional, rounded seat tube. There are fittings and eyelets for mudguards and a rear rack, broadening the bike’s appeal beyond the racer tag Trek has given it.

All the cables for the 1.2’s brakes and derailleurs are externally routed with easily-reached barrel adjusters at the head of the top tube. The relatively acute head and seat tube angles offer a predictable ride.

Trek’s ‘H2’ frame geometry is applied throughout, which raises the front end of the bike slightly when compared to the firm’s racier options. No bad thing if all-day comfort is near the top of your priorities list.

Groupset

The Trek is equipped with Shimano Sora components for the most part, including the shifters, 50/34 chainset, front and rear mechs.

There’s been hardly any cost-cutting, with even the 11-28 cassette and chain are Sora – in fact, only the brakes are unbranded items. The gearing options are slightly more limited than we might like, however – 34-28 being the smallest uphill ratio.

However, we found the closer-ratio cassette shifted easily and seamlessly. However, if you’re thinking of buying the Trek 1.2, we’d factor in a little extra cash for a brake upgrade.

Shimano 105 callipers are a steal at the moment, going for £27.49 from Wiggle at the time of writing, and would make the ideal replacement for the (frankly not very good) ones the bike currently carries.

Finishing kit

Offsetting the quite tall front end of the 1.2, is a pair of very shallow drop, alloy handlebars, ideal for an attacking riding position without costing you in the comfort stakes.

Bontrager’s Montrose Comp saddle sitting atop it is cosseting, and features ample padding on its shoulders. We were impressed with its long-distance comfort and adequate flex. 

Wheels

Bontrager’s TLR wheelset is tubeless-ready, meaning you can fit a set of the newest, inner tube-free tyres to these alloy rims.

While the wheels themselves are designed to be durable and maintenance-free, the first thing we’d do is take Trek up on the offer of a rubber swap, whip the T1 tyres off and consign them to turbo trainer duty.

In 25c guise, they do offer a comfortable ride, but cornering with utter confidence is impaired by the choice of rubber being offered here.

 

The ride

The overall sensation as we barrel downhill towards a 30mph limit is that this feels every inch the alloy racer – the handling is assured, predictable and we already feel like we could spend a lot of time in the saddle with barely an ache.

Before we know it, a flashing road sign warns us we’re doing 32mph and slowing the bike to within the speed proves harder than it should. In fact, the comparative lack of stopping power available is remarkable.

That said, the ease with which it covers distance in comfort is a real positive, and despite offering a slightly restrictive choice of gears, it compels you to attack flats with serious commitment.

It’s the second-lightest bike on test, just beating the Specialized by 2g. We also found it easy to get the power down in some sprints, the TLR wheelset spinning up with some rapidity, aided by an excellent connection between the Sora shifters, chainset and mechs – it pays to spec a bike so uniformly.

The Trek’s trump card is the ease with which is maintains its composure through pretty much anything you’ll throw at it.

Tighter downhill corners are a simple case of brake (as best you can), tip in and aim it at the apex – the curve it tracks around the bend is exactly what you demand and expect; no drama, just a confident arc through the turn and a sprint out of the saddle to the next.

The amount of feedback we experienced is on a par with that of the Allez – a direct connection with the road with little harshness.

The bike’s geometry allows a head-down position to add a little aggression to your cornering, made even more compelling when you position the headset spacer on top of the stem, rather than beneath it.

The Bontrager T1 tyres it comes with didn’t inspire confidence in road holding, though, and the bike would definitely benefit from a rubber upgrade.

 

RATINGS

Frame: Light and strong with more than a nod to comfort. 9/10 Components: The Sora kit sadly doesn't extend to the brakes. 6/10 Wheels: 'Yes' to the wheelsets but a big fat 'no' to the tyres. 7/10 The ride: Fast. Which is why those brakes need sorting out. 8/10

Verdict: The £750 Trek 1.2 is a popular bike, and it's easy to see why. Generous components for the pricetag and decent all-round performance make this an aluminium race-bred Sora smoothie. Just make sure to budget for an upgrade to the brakes and tyres. 

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 534mm 534mm
Seat Tube (ST) 506mm 506mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 629mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 382mm
Head Tube (HT) 150mm 150mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 degrees 73 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73.7 degrees 75 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 978mm 981mm
BB drop (BB) N/A 68mm

Spec

Trek 1.2
Frame 100 Series Alpa aluminium frame, Trek carbon road fork
Groupset Shimano Sora
Brakes Alloy, dual-pivot
Chainset Shimano Sora, 50/34
Cassette Shimano Sora, 11-28
Bars Bontrager Race VR-C, alloy
Stem Bontrager Elite, alloy
Seatpost Bontrager, alloy, 27.2mm
Wheels Bontrager TLR, Bontrager T1 25mm tyres
Saddle Bontrager Montrose Comp
Weight 9.36kg (54cm)
Contact trekbikes.com/gb

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