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Tech feature: Trek hits the city streets, December 9, 2005

Trek cracks the urban cycle

Typically 'city bikes' are slightly pared-down MTBs or flat-handlebar road bikes with fatter tyres. Bike maker Trek hoping its collection of urban warriors will appeal to riders who want a rig that's specifically suited to the city street, as Tim Maloney found out when he visited the range's launch in - where else - New York City.

Trek Portland
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image) Trek Portland  - the ultimate commute bike?

It was a cold November day in Manhattan with a strong north wind blowing through the canyons of skyscrapers that line the Big Apple's boulevards. All the usual traffic chaos like gridlock from a burning parking structure full of cars was on offer to keep Cyclingnews from getting to Trek Bicycle's Urban cycling launch, appropriately called RideManhattan. With urban traffic chaos ever increasing worldwide, spiraling energy costs and unfathomable parking, the bicycle may just be the way to get around the worlds ever growing conurbations.

To that end, Trek Bicycle went out to thoroughly research how to develop bicycles more suited to urban riding. The process began with product manager Chad Price defining the urban landscape, measuring the interaction between bikers and the city, then boiling it all down to create specific profiles of urban bikers. This led to product concepts and eventually to real-life bicycles that Price and Trek believe can improve the urban cycling experience because they were specifically created for city cycling and not just called a "city-bike."

Trek Soho
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image) Trek Soho  - Urban two-wheel style

Trek's new Soho model pays homage to Manhattan's South Of Houston neighborhood (SoHo), a locale that is an icon for urban chic. And the Soho mirrors this approach, as Trek's Zapata Espinoza told Cyclingnews that "Soho is a bike for the urban professional that wants to ride to the coffee shop, store or office in style. We like to think of Soho as the bike many of our current Trek OCLV owners would want as a sweet get-around-town bike." Trek's new Soho has a unique new Alpha Aluminum frame, with an innovative protective rubber "bumper" on its top tube that keeps Soho from sliding and scratching the frame. Posterior support is provided by a special Bontrager SoHo Leather saddle with abrasion resistant side panels and shoulder friendly rubber carrying pad as well as matching leather saddle and grips. Soho has a special Bontrager Satellite Plus handlebar set for a sleek modern look and extra comfort, plus more room for lights, cycle computer and it will even hold your U-lock in a pinch! And each Soho comes with a sleek, custom-designed coffee thermos.

Trek Soho's eccentric bottom bracket
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image) Trek Soho's eccentric bottom bracket provides chain tension adjustment on a bike with vertical dropouts.

Some of the unusual technical features that make Soho a cutting edge urban style ride include an eccentric BB with adaptable rear dropouts so the bike can run a derailleur, internal gear hub or singlespeed. Soho has dropouts that allow mounting of disc brakes, rack and fenders without special mounting hardware. Soho's hoops are the all-new Bontrager Select Disc Road wheel system, mounted with Avid mechanical disc brakes for great all condition braking that are essential in urban cycling situations.

Urban cycling isn't just for Manhattan, and Trek's new Portland pays it's own homage to left coast city riding. Portland is a modern day incarnation of the original Trek 520 touring bike, but from the new Bontrager Switchblade fork, to Avid mechanical disc brakes, the Trek Portland has an array of the most modern components and geometry that make it an ideal way to make your way across any urban environment on two wheels.

Trek Portland's impressive mechanical details start with Shimano 105 2x10 gearing w/ Shimano STI shifting and a Bontrager Compact 36/50 Crankset. Hoops are the new lightweight and durable Bontrager Select Disc Road wheel system featuring Bonty's paired spoke technology, a smooth Bontrager Satellite Elite carbon fibre fork, mated to a Trek Alpha SLR (smooth weld) aluminum frame with integrated disc mounts. Avid BB disc brakes make for efficient all-weather stopping and the cool quick-release mini fenders make the Trek Portland a diverse urban commuter that can convert to a weekend fast touring bike.

Trek FX 7.5 WSD
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image) Trek FX 7.5 WSD  - specifically designed for female fitness riders

Trek is proud to point out that its Women's Specific Design models appeal to a broad range of female riders, from the high-end Madone road rig to the all-new for 2006 dedicated three-model line of FX fitness bikes. According to Trek's Espinoza, the WSD bikes, "are designed to address the key anatomical differences between men and women by providing improved fit and better control for woman cyclists. Shown is the Trek 7.5 FX WSD model, popular with urban women who want a bike designed for fitness and designed for them. The attractive Crystal Blue color adorns a tough Alpha SL Aluminum frame and straight blade alloy fork with lowrider mounts, with Bontrager SSR wheels, a Bontrager Select crankset and a Shimano Deore LX rear derailleur. Trek's FX WSD line is rounded out by the entry level 7.5 FX model and top end 7.6 FX.

Trek calls its new SU model Sport Urban, kind of like a two-wheeled SUV that doesn't need fuel. Because the fuel is you! In fact, the SU bikes are an ideal transport solution for urban warriors, college students and anyone who's looking for a stylish, economical and functional transportation means. This matte navy Trek SU200 has a tough Trek Alpha alu frame, a straight blade alloy fork with lowrider mounts, Shimano M465 mechanical disc brakes with Shimano EF50 levers, mounted on wheels with Shimano M495 disc hubs and Bontrager Ranger disc rims. Trek SU200's drivetrain is a SR XCC-100 crank, with 48/38/28 chainrings, and a Shimano Alivio rear derailleur.

A bike named SU
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
(Click for larger image) Trek's SU model  - it stands for Sport Urban, kind of like a two wheeled SUV


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Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews.com