What's Cool In Road Cycling

Pez-Test: TREK 5900

I was giggling like a school-girl… I’d just received the call from Dizzy Cycles – my local wrench-meisters and shop ‘o choice, advising me that it had arrived. The Trek 5900 that is. The same bike* that Trek provides to Lance and the US Postal boys! I giggled some more.

One of the best things about being a roadie is the level of refinement to which we can become accustomed. As geometries, technical and weight advantages become more standardized, it’s the details that start to make a bigger difference to satisfaction of ownership. The Trek 5900, 2003 model, delivers everything a refined roadie expects, but also a lot more.

Aesthetcially, the standout feature on this baby has got to be the frame – it’s a thing ‘o beauty. Sure it’s light, lightest in the world according to Trek, and with a full bike weight under 16 pounds (size: 54cm), who’s to argue? But the finish on the joints, the curves, the depth of that paint – makes ya say “ooooh baby”! Every joint is seamless, the smooth finish begs for a coat of wax lest it become dirty, and like a fine single malt, you must first behold the beauty, savour it, appreciate the hours of craftsmanship that created it. There’ll be lot’s of time for riding later.

Of course you’d expect this in a bike that is topline, and at around $4700US, this bike definitely hangs with some elite company.

Trek makes their carbon in various grades – 150, 120, 110 – where the lower number equals higher costs to produce, but delivering lower overall weights.

I talked with John Riley from Trek, who gave me the insider info on Trek’s patented OCLV technology. “Optimal Compaction Low Void” – it’s how they combine carbon fibers and aluminum lugs to create a frame that is light, stiff, but subtle to ride. Quick production lesson for all you non-poindexters – carbon fiber is… just that, a bunch of fibers made from carbon, that get wrapped around/ into/ onto a frame mould. The whole batch gets glued together, kind of like working with papier-mache. Because you’re weaving many layers together to create a shape, there are inherently some air pockets, or VOIDS that exist betweem the layers of fibers. The pockets are weak points in the structure. OCLV is Trek’s way of squishing out the air-pockets to reduce the VOIDS, and make the frame stronger and stiffer. The head tube, down tube, top tube, and seat post all become one piece of seamlessly finished carbon art.

The OCLV technology is about 9 years old, now but Trek is not about to rest on their laurels. The bike is constantly being refined, with actual input from US Postal and Lance himself. In fact, Trek has two guys whose full-time job is to travel with US Postal as technical liasons – how’d you like that job!

Not a curve out of place. The 5900 (also the 5500 and 5200) OCLV frame is pure carbon fiber, no aluminum lugs – resulting in one of the lightest frames on the market.

One look at the super thin Selle San Marco seat with cool US Postal Service stitching both impressed and scared me. A Laz-y-boy recliner this ain’t. But with this much excitement between your legs, whose got time to put their feet up? It is comfortable – sure it’s thin, but after a couple of quick adjustments, I never looked back – or down. It’s got the padding in the right places and I never once had any discomfort.

It’s got some very slick components, exactly what you’d expect in a bike of this caliber. The gruppo is Shimano Dura-Ace, which as we all know is a fine and precise way to control one’s steed speed. I asked John how much of the gruppo decision was based on sponsorship or OEM deals, and he told me that from the start, the plan was to build the best lightest bike they could, and select only components and materials that would deliver this strategy.

Wheels, bars, and stem are from Bontrager – they’re all-American and all-right!

WEIGHT SHAVINGS – I was impressed by the amount of detail spent looking for places to safely reduce weight. A standout was these Bontrager rims. How many grams did they machine out of these?

Most importantly, it passed my own personal litmus test (you know you’ve all got one…) – does this product make me faster, or at least “feel” faster? The Trek scored full marks all around. Now, this was largely because I actually was going faster, but even rolling around my block I couldn’t wait to get ‘er on the open road – bring on the Spring winds, bring on the climbs – nothing can stop me now! But more on that in the next few weeks as we road test this bad boy to give you the full ride story.

So if you’re a serious racer looking for every weight advantage you can find, or someone with a fat wallet and an appreciation for rolling art, this bike is for you. Stay tuned for our full-on road test!

*NOTE: The bike we tested is the standard issue Trek 5900, and not exactly the same in all aspects as the Team issue bike ridden by US Postal. Some parts and components may vary as dictated by team sponsorshiop and rider preferences.


FRAME: OCLV 110 Carbon. The lightest, fastest production frame ever made. Proven by the USPS team in the Tour de France. Optimum Compaction Low Void carbon. 110 grams of carbon fiber per square meter of OCLV creates this ultralight frame. 1-1/8″ head tube. Trek Pro Race geometry. Handmade in the USA.
Frameset available.
FORK: Bontrager Race X Lite, OCLV 110 Carbon, 1-1/8″ aluminum steerer tube, carbon crown

SIZES 50cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 60cm, 62cm
COLORS Titanite Black/Bright Silver (USPS Team)

WHEELS: Bontrager Race X Lite: Supreme all-around racing wheelset; 23mm semi-deep front rim provides excellent aero; 21mm rear rim improves lateral rigidity, prolongs wheel life; Bladed spokes; Race X Lite Titanium skewers; 660 g, 20h front/870 g, 24h rear
TIRES: Bontrager Race X Lite, folding, 700x23c

SADDLE: Selle San Marco Aspide Team, titanium rails
SEATPOST: Thomson Elite
HANDLEBARS: Bontrager Race Lite
STEM: Bontrager Race Lite, 7°
HEADSET: AHS Superlight Bearing system

SHIFTERS: Shimano Dura-Ace
CRANKSET: Shimano Dura-Ace 53/39
CASSETTE: Shimano Dura-Ace 12-23, 9spd

BRAKESET: Shimano Dura-Ace
Trek’s Limited Lifetime Warranty

Get more info on the 5900 at the Trek Website.

Visit one cool shop: Dizzy Cycles

Photography courtesy of Fotografica Studios

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