When it comes to Trek’s racing bikes they tend to be categorised by numbers. The 1 and 2 series are the entry-level aluminium-framed offerings, then you get into the carbon Madone 4, 5 and 6 models. So what are we doing testing something called a ‘Pilot’?
Well, this is Trek’s nod to the budget sportive or serious commuter market. Essentially, it’s just like the company’s other aluminium road bikes, except it features a head tube that extends above the top tube to provide a more relaxed riding position. It also features a triple chainset to allow even the portliest of new riders to crest most hills.
The Pilot looks the part with a tasteful silver and black finish, and the high position of the bars makes this a really comfortable all-day ride. Despite the aluminium frame, the ride is supremely cosseted, with not a hint of twitchiness.
The chunky Bontrager All-Weather tyres provide surefooted handling, even on some slushy January mornings. In fact, all the Bontrager kit worked well: the R1 saddle was perfectly comfortable; the carbon seatpost is a nice extra; and, though heavy, the Bontrager-branded wheels do look cool on a starter bike.
Not quite so impressive was the mix of drivetrain components. Twinning Shimano’s Tiagra groupset with an FSA crankset doesn’t do it any favours. Shifting worked adequately, but it was by no means plush. Similarly, the unbranded brakes had a slightly spongy feel. It’s all fine for country-lane pootling, but it might tell in a more competitive arena.
So, the Pilot 2.0 is a great bike for medium-pace all-day riding, or a commuter who means business, or perhaps even better suited to somebody wanting their first taste of drop-bar cycling. But if we had the choice we would try to find another £150 and upgrade to the Pilot 2.1, which comes with 105 components, better wheels and on paper looks pretty near perfection for this kind of market. And, of course, if Trek’s bikes are good enough for Lance, then they’re probably good enough for us. (Come on, did you really think we’d get through a whole Trek review without mentioning him?)