What's Cool In Road Cycling

Trek 5900 – The Long Ride

For most of us, buying a top level road ride is an investment – and a luxury, so we want high returns for years to come. I’ve been riding the Trek 5900 for several months now, and can finally answer those reader letters about some dividends after a few thousand kms…

We took our first look at the Trek back in March (read the Trek 5900 Test here) and were pretty darn impressed. You also saw US Postal riding these frames in the mountains again at this year’s Tours. You’ll recall we loved the frame – it’s Trek’s own OCLV 110 carbon fibre – very light, very stiff. The finish and craftsmanship were top-notch, dressed up nicely with Shimano Dura-Ace levers & drive train, Bontrager bars, term, wheels and tires, and Selle San Marco seat.

Like any new bike, it took a while to become totally dialed to my (the tester’s) prefs. I fiddled with the seat height enough to make even a certain Mr. Merckx roll his eyes – (but hey – I was also testing a lot of pedal/ shoe combinations); lowered the bars about an inch over the past few months, tried a couple different stem lengths; all stuff you’d do anyway. As my position changed slightly on the bike through all this, the overall ride of the bike remained constant – thanks to the geometry and OCLV 110 frame.

But now, several months later, the standout feature is definitely the ride – preferably going up! Sure – the ride is a product of the sum of the parts, but it all can be traced back to that frame. I’ve ridden the bike in all kinds of conditions – sun & heat (you too huh?), but I got a few cool rainy day rides in too. I went out in groups and by myself. I rode flats, rolling hills, 12 km climbs and 12 km descents, and even took it on a gravel road one day. The bike’s had a pretty good work out. About the only thing I missed was taking it to chase the Tour in July, but then I didn’t want to risk the airline baggage apes, nor have to worry about my ”best” bike when I was pushing through Tour-sized crowds and disinterested French gendarmes. Let’s face it – this is a bike you keep either your butt or your eye on at all times.


Don’t be fooled by the wanna-be jersey or marina-side vista, this is an actual urban ride in Vancouver.

So how does it ride? – let’s see if a little word association might help –
Lazy-boy Comfort and Formula 1 Handling
How can you not love carbon fibre: the way it absorbs the gumps (that’s right – I said “gumps”) in the road and let’s you think you local road crews are actually doing a great job of road maintenance, coupled with the response of a very stiff and tight frame. It goes where you point it with no hesitation and no deviation. I especially enjoyed the 70 kph descents on the Trek – hands on the drops, egg-position – quick and sure through the turns.

Rock of Gibraltar Stability and F16 Agility
Back to those descents – the faster I went the more stable I felt. Twisting turning drafting passing – this bike did everything I wanted it to – when I wanted. Sure there are snappier handling bikes out there, but I’ve yet to ride one that inspired my confidence at speed like the 5900.


At 3000 ft the lightness in my head finally matched that of the 5900.

Light As A Feather Makes It Better
The 54-sized bike I’m riding weighs in 16.2 pounds with Shimano PD-7750 pedals – I know because I just weighed it. With numbers like these, you just can’t keep this bike from going uphill – fast! I impressed myself and my friends on a few of our climbing missions – we’re talking gaining 1000 metres over 10 km, riding 39×23. Sure, long climbs like this are mind-numbing, but my mind feels a little better when more of my energy is being used to “haul my carcass” up the hill, and if the mind feels better – so does the body.


What goes up… Proven geometry keeps the road where it belongs – beneath you – on even the fastest descents.

Euro-styling and Geometry Made in America
Sometimes trying to mix cultures is just not a good idea – Mr. Spock never did “get” what being human was all about… And on a closer planet, sometimes those Euros’ ideas can only make sense to them and vice versa. But Trek has created a beautiful balance of proven European-based geometry in a bike that is about as American as they get. (I don’t know the actual geometry angles, but Trek assures my they’re pretty standard.)


You can ride the same frame as US Postal!

Long term everything performed as it should – no breaks, squeaks, not even a flat tire! Okay – there was one thing – I did have a mystery creak from the bb, but that disappeared after a thorough cleaning of the various parts down there. So in the end – if you can afford this luxurious investment (msrp is about $4700US), I expect you’ll be enjoying the rewards for a pretty long time.


Be sure to read our first test on the Trek 5900 here.

And get more info from the Trek website: www.trekbikes.com

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