Trek Portland Review

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Andrew F Martin, May 4, 2006.

  1. You didn't ask for it, but with as much bandwidth as the Portland took
    up in pre-release anticipation, I thought I'd share some thoughts on
    the bike.

    1. Geometry - The geometry feels much more like a cross bike than my
    Madone SL. The BB is higher than I would have thought looking at the
    specs and feels a little slow. It's got a long wheelbase and a rather
    raked fork. Not an issue for a rain bike, but duplicating the feel of
    my Race bike will be tough.

    2. Wheels - The wheels are a bit heavy, but they seem just fine. We'll
    see if they serve me as well as my other BTrager wheels with paired
    spokes. I ditched the 28mm heavy wire-bead tires for something more
    practical and they feel lively-enough.

    3. Trim - I was never keen of Trek's decision to swap to a triple, so I
    put a 53/39 FSA Gossamer crank and Ultegra double Ft and Rear derrs on
    there to make it more of a pure road bike. I kept the 12-27 because it
    is my winter bike...and a 27 can't hurt (and I didn't want to plunk
    down another $50 just yet). I put some carbon bars/post on there that
    I had lying around to maybe soften the ride some since this is my first
    Al frame.

    4. Weight - it's not light ~21 lbs. I think a lot of the weight is in
    the wheels. If I can at a later date, I'll get an extra wheelset built
    up with lighter rims and good hubs to use for my faster days and keep
    the Btragers setup with beefier tires for commuting.

    5. Fenders - I haven't fendered it up yet, but this bike is going to be
    SO EASY to fender. More clearance than I've ever seen and all sorts of
    bolt points for fenders and/or racks. I'll just pick up some SKS
    fenders and throw them on there without having to mod the heck out of
    them like I have in the past.

    6. Components - 105 10speed is great. The brakes take some getting
    used to and I got some good squeal coming down a big hill last night.
    I think that once I get it sorted I'll really like them.

    Overall - I'm pretty sure it's going to be what I was looking for in a
    rain bike. Once I can sort out some of the adjustments and fit I think
    it'll be just right. It looks great and I'm really looking forward to
    the disks for the wet.

    Here's a pic of the current setup:
    http://tinyurl.com/k5h2u
     
    Tags:


  2. Jay Beattie

    Jay Beattie Guest

    Andrew F Martin wrote:
    > You didn't ask for it, but with as much bandwidth as the Portland took
    > up in pre-release anticipation, I thought I'd share some thoughts on
    > the bike.
    >
    > 1. Geometry - The geometry feels much more like a cross bike than my
    > Madone SL. The BB is higher than I would have thought looking at the
    > specs and feels a little slow. It's got a long wheelbase and a rather
    > raked fork. Not an issue for a rain bike, but duplicating the feel of
    > my Race bike will be tough.
    >
    > 2. Wheels - The wheels are a bit heavy, but they seem just fine. We'll
    > see if they serve me as well as my other BTrager wheels with paired
    > spokes. I ditched the 28mm heavy wire-bead tires for something more
    > practical and they feel lively-enough.
    >
    > 3. Trim - I was never keen of Trek's decision to swap to a triple, so I
    > put a 53/39 FSA Gossamer crank and Ultegra double Ft and Rear derrs on
    > there to make it more of a pure road bike. I kept the 12-27 because it
    > is my winter bike...and a 27 can't hurt (and I didn't want to plunk
    > down another $50 just yet). I put some carbon bars/post on there that
    > I had lying around to maybe soften the ride some since this is my first
    > Al frame.
    >
    > 4. Weight - it's not light ~21 lbs. I think a lot of the weight is in
    > the wheels. If I can at a later date, I'll get an extra wheelset built
    > up with lighter rims and good hubs to use for my faster days and keep
    > the Btragers setup with beefier tires for commuting.
    >
    > 5. Fenders - I haven't fendered it up yet, but this bike is going to be
    > SO EASY to fender. More clearance than I've ever seen and all sorts of
    > bolt points for fenders and/or racks. I'll just pick up some SKS
    > fenders and throw them on there without having to mod the heck out of
    > them like I have in the past.
    >
    > 6. Components - 105 10speed is great. The brakes take some getting
    > used to and I got some good squeal coming down a big hill last night.
    > I think that once I get it sorted I'll really like them.
    >
    > Overall - I'm pretty sure it's going to be what I was looking for in a
    > rain bike. Once I can sort out some of the adjustments and fit I think
    > it'll be just right. It looks great and I'm really looking forward to
    > the disks for the wet.


    One regret I have about disc brakes is the inability to do a quick
    wheel swap. I don't have another pair, and if I go flat at home, I
    can't just throw on another wheel and ride to work. Also, on my
    Cannondale, the disc hubs are junk. Notwithstanding the robust looking
    seals, the right side bearings in my rear wheel turned into a rusty
    mess after just a couple of months of riding -- albeit a couple of
    months of riding through lakes of rain water. The hubs seals are a
    really stupid place to go cheap. I don't know what hubs you have on
    the Portland. Hopefully they are better.

    Frankly, unless you ride in a whole lot of rain (like in Portland), I
    think a better choice for a spring training bike/racing bike with
    fenders is the Pilot -- which you can get in CF. -- Jay Beattie.
     
  3. I live in Seattle where training == riding in the rain. I hope the
    bearing last. If not, I may get an extra set of wheels anyway. I
    didn't check the rear spacing (130 vs 135), but that will dictate what
    I do for an extra set of wheels.
     
  4. landotter

    landotter Guest

    Andrew F Martin wrote:
    > I live in Seattle where training == riding in the rain. I hope the
    > bearing last. If not, I may get an extra set of wheels anyway. I
    > didn't check the rear spacing (130 vs 135), but that will dictate what
    > I do for an extra set of wheels.


    Just check them every six months. It takes 10 minutes to overhaul a
    hub, if you drink beer, the time flies. Usually they have too little
    grease to begin with. First time you regrease, be liberal with the
    stuff, and water will stay out a long time. I did this when riding
    Chicago winters, overhauled yearly, and never found any water when I
    pulled them.
     
  5. Andrew F Martin wrote:
    > You didn't ask for it, but with as much bandwidth as the Portland took
    > up in pre-release anticipation, I thought I'd share some thoughts on
    > the bike.
    >
    > 1. Geometry - The geometry feels much more like a cross bike than my
    > Madone SL. The BB is higher than I would have thought looking at the
    > specs and feels a little slow. It's got a long wheelbase and a rather
    > raked fork. Not an issue for a rain bike, but duplicating the feel of
    > my Race bike will be tough.
    >
    > 2. Wheels - The wheels are a bit heavy, but they seem just fine. We'll
    > see if they serve me as well as my other BTrager wheels with paired
    > spokes. I ditched the 28mm heavy wire-bead tires for something more
    > practical and they feel lively-enough.
    >
    > 3. Trim - I was never keen of Trek's decision to swap to a triple, so I
    > put a 53/39 FSA Gossamer crank and Ultegra double Ft and Rear derrs on
    > there to make it more of a pure road bike. I kept the 12-27 because it
    > is my winter bike...and a 27 can't hurt (and I didn't want to plunk
    > down another $50 just yet). I put some carbon bars/post on there that
    > I had lying around to maybe soften the ride some since this is my first
    > Al frame.
    >
    > 4. Weight - it's not light ~21 lbs. I think a lot of the weight is in
    > the wheels. If I can at a later date, I'll get an extra wheelset built
    > up with lighter rims and good hubs to use for my faster days and keep
    > the Btragers setup with beefier tires for commuting.
    >
    > 5. Fenders - I haven't fendered it up yet, but this bike is going to be
    > SO EASY to fender. More clearance than I've ever seen and all sorts of
    > bolt points for fenders and/or racks. I'll just pick up some SKS
    > fenders and throw them on there without having to mod the heck out of
    > them like I have in the past.
    >
    > 6. Components - 105 10speed is great. The brakes take some getting
    > used to and I got some good squeal coming down a big hill last night.
    > I think that once I get it sorted I'll really like them.
    >
    > Overall - I'm pretty sure it's going to be what I was looking for in a
    > rain bike. Once I can sort out some of the adjustments and fit I think
    > it'll be just right. It looks great and I'm really looking forward to
    > the disks for the wet.
    >
    > Here's a pic of the current setup:
    > http://tinyurl.com/k5h2u



    Andrew, I get the impression that, for your purposes, the ideal commute
    bike would be a race bike with disc brakes, really well-sealed hubs and
    the clearance and attachment points for fenders. That's fine, but it is
    far from the general consensus of what constitutes a commute bike.

    In the general commuter context, the Portland's 21lbs is actually
    pretty light and the triple crank makes a world of sense, as does the
    geometry. I still balk at the paired, low spoke count wheels, though.
    And I think the CF fork is a triumph of marketing over practical
    considerations.
     
  6. Good points. Relative to what I was looking for - it seem a good fit
    as a commuter/rain bike. I hope to do 100-300 miles a week on it all
    winter so something that others might consider more appropriate for
    "commuting" just wouldn't hack it for me.
     
  7. landotter

    landotter Guest

    Andrew F Martin wrote:
    > Here's a pic of the current setup:
    > http://tinyurl.com/k5h2u


    /me clenches lower back in mock agony.
     
  8. Ken C. M.

    Ken C. M. Guest

    Andrew F Martin wrote:
    > You didn't ask for it, but with as much bandwidth as the Portland took
    > up in pre-release anticipation, I thought I'd share some thoughts on
    > the bike.
    >
    > 1. Geometry - The geometry feels much more like a cross bike than my
    > Madone SL. The BB is higher than I would have thought looking at the
    > specs and feels a little slow. It's got a long wheelbase and a rather
    > raked fork. Not an issue for a rain bike, but duplicating the feel of
    > my Race bike will be tough.
    >
    > 2. Wheels - The wheels are a bit heavy, but they seem just fine. We'll
    > see if they serve me as well as my other BTrager wheels with paired
    > spokes. I ditched the 28mm heavy wire-bead tires for something more
    > practical and they feel lively-enough.
    >
    > 3. Trim - I was never keen of Trek's decision to swap to a triple, so I
    > put a 53/39 FSA Gossamer crank and Ultegra double Ft and Rear derrs on
    > there to make it more of a pure road bike. I kept the 12-27 because it
    > is my winter bike...and a 27 can't hurt (and I didn't want to plunk
    > down another $50 just yet). I put some carbon bars/post on there that
    > I had lying around to maybe soften the ride some since this is my first
    > Al frame.
    >
    > 4. Weight - it's not light ~21 lbs. I think a lot of the weight is in
    > the wheels. If I can at a later date, I'll get an extra wheelset built
    > up with lighter rims and good hubs to use for my faster days and keep
    > the Btragers setup with beefier tires for commuting.
    >
    > 5. Fenders - I haven't fendered it up yet, but this bike is going to be
    > SO EASY to fender. More clearance than I've ever seen and all sorts of
    > bolt points for fenders and/or racks. I'll just pick up some SKS
    > fenders and throw them on there without having to mod the heck out of
    > them like I have in the past.
    >
    > 6. Components - 105 10speed is great. The brakes take some getting
    > used to and I got some good squeal coming down a big hill last night.
    > I think that once I get it sorted I'll really like them.
    >
    > Overall - I'm pretty sure it's going to be what I was looking for in a
    > rain bike. Once I can sort out some of the adjustments and fit I think
    > it'll be just right. It looks great and I'm really looking forward to
    > the disks for the wet.
    >
    > Here's a pic of the current setup:
    > http://tinyurl.com/k5h2u
    >

    I just read the report. While Trek might call this a "commuter" I
    personally think it's closer to a race bike than a real commuter.
    Nothing against Trek, they make fine rides. But the cf fork might have
    issues, as well as those low spoke count wheels. But it's your ride. Enjoy!

    Ken
    --
    New cycling jersey: $49
    new cycling shorts: $39
    Not being a slave to the petrol pump: priceless.
     
  9. Chalo

    Chalo Guest

    Andrew F Martin wrote:
    >
    > I ditched the 28mm heavy wire-bead tires for something more
    > practical and they feel lively-enough.


    So by "practical", do you actually mean the opposite? That is, do you
    mean something more prone to pinch flats and punctures, less
    comfortable, and less durable, with poorer traction and less flotation
    over rough or loose surfaces? Because that's what it looks like in the
    picture.

    Forgive me if I misunderstand you.

    Chalo Colina
     
  10. My change was practical to my uses - yes. Practical for commuting
    through city streets - you're right, probably no. Again we're back to
    the question of "What is commuting?". For me it's a 20+ mile ride to
    work on good roads. That, and I need to be able to use the bike as my
    rain bike as well which gets in 2 long rides each weekend.
     
  11. Chalo

    Chalo Guest

    Andrew F Martin wrote:
    >
    > I hope to do 100-300 miles a week on it all
    > winter so something that others might consider more appropriate for
    > "commuting" just wouldn't hack it for me.


    For what it's worth, the few folks who put in a multiple of that
    mileage mostly ride bikes that you probably think wouldn't hack it for
    you. Freddie Hoffman, just to name an extreme example, has /averaged/
    something like 100 miles per day over the last 30 years. He rides a
    50-pound Schwinn with roadster bars.

    In my 300mi/wk days, I rode a 27 pound mountain bike with slicks. I
    used a 53/12 top gear, but I still had a triple crank. And flat bars.


    It's obvious what kind of bike turns you on, but it's much less obvious
    that such a bike confers any advantages for the kind of riding you're
    talking about.

    Chalo Colina
     
  12. >> I hope to do 100-300 miles a week on it all
    >> winter so something that others might consider more appropriate for
    >> "commuting" just wouldn't hack it for me.

    >
    > For what it's worth, the few folks who put in a multiple of that
    > mileage mostly ride bikes that you probably think wouldn't hack it for
    > you. Freddie Hoffman, just to name an extreme example, has /averaged/
    > something like 100 miles per day over the last 30 years. He rides a
    > 50-pound Schwinn with roadster bars.
    >
    > In my 300mi/wk days, I rode a 27 pound mountain bike with slicks. I
    > used a 53/12 top gear, but I still had a triple crank. And flat bars.
    >
    >
    > It's obvious what kind of bike turns you on, but it's much less obvious
    > that such a bike confers any advantages for the kind of riding you're
    > talking about.


    The more experience I have riding in the rain, the more benefit I see to
    having disc brakes on a "commuter" bike. I've done a lot of damage to rims
    in wet weather, and I've seen a number of my customers (and even one of the
    guys I regularly ride with) explode rims apart due to grinding the sidewalls
    down too thin. Two years ago? I would have told you that disc brakes were a
    silly thing to have on any sort of "road" bike. Now? I'd definitely consider
    them an asset, if you live in an area that gets lots of rain. This past
    winter, we got LOTS of rain.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles
    www.ChainReactionBicycles.com


    "Chalo" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > Andrew F Martin wrote:
    >>
    >> I hope to do 100-300 miles a week on it all
    >> winter so something that others might consider more appropriate for
    >> "commuting" just wouldn't hack it for me.

    >
    > For what it's worth, the few folks who put in a multiple of that
    > mileage mostly ride bikes that you probably think wouldn't hack it for
    > you. Freddie Hoffman, just to name an extreme example, has /averaged/
    > something like 100 miles per day over the last 30 years. He rides a
    > 50-pound Schwinn with roadster bars.
    >
    > In my 300mi/wk days, I rode a 27 pound mountain bike with slicks. I
    > used a 53/12 top gear, but I still had a triple crank. And flat bars.
    >
    >
    > It's obvious what kind of bike turns you on, but it's much less obvious
    > that such a bike confers any advantages for the kind of riding you're
    > talking about.
    >
    > Chalo Colina
    >
     
  13. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    On Fri, 05 May 2006 16:56:14 -0400, Ken C. M. wrote:

    > I just read the report. While Trek might call this a "commuter" I
    > personally think it's closer to a race bike than a real commuter.
    > Nothing against Trek, they make fine rides. But the cf fork might have
    > issues, as well as those low spoke count wheels. But it's your ride. Enjoy!


    I agree about the wheels, but otherwise this seems like a nice bike. Does
    it have eyelets for fenders and racks though?

    Matt O.
     
  14. Yep. Eyelets all over which is a new thing because all other bikes
    I've setup with fenders have relied on zip-ties. The front fork even
    has some inside the fork for a nice clean look.
     
  15. Mike Jacoubowsky writes:

    >>> I hope to do 100-300 miles a week on it all winter so something
    >>> that others might consider more appropriate for "commuting" just
    >>> wouldn't hack it for me.


    >> For what it's worth, the few folks who put in a multiple of that
    >> mileage mostly ride bikes that you probably think wouldn't hack it
    >> for you. Freddie Hoffman, just to name an extreme example, has
    >> /averaged/ something like 100 miles per day over the last 30 years.
    >> He rides a 50-pound Schwinn with roadster bars.


    >> In my 300mi/wk days, I rode a 27 pound mountain bike with slicks.
    >> I used a 53/12 top gear, but I still had a triple crank. And flat
    >> bars.


    >> It's obvious what kind of bike turns you on, but it's much less obvious
    >> that such a bike confers any advantages for the kind of riding you're
    >> talking about.


    > The more experience I have riding in the rain, the more benefit I
    > see to having disc brakes on a "commuter" bike. I've done a lot of
    > damage to rims in wet weather, and I've seen a number of my
    > customers (and even one of the guys I regularly ride with) explode
    > rims apart due to grinding the sidewalls down too thin. Two years
    > ago? I would have told you that disc brakes were a silly thing to
    > have on any sort of "road" bike. Now? I'd definitely consider them
    > an asset, if you live in an area that gets lots of rain. This past
    > winter, we got LOTS of rain.


    Rim failure is not one of the problems I see that might cause me to
    switch to a hub brake of one kind or another. I have eyes and hands
    that can see and feel a worn rim and am able to gauge with good
    accuracy when a rime should be replaced. I'm sure you can too,
    considering your experience with bicycles.

    On the other hand, have you tried a disc brake bicycle instead of rim
    brakes? I think you will find other good reasons not to do that for
    your road bicycling.

    Jobst Brandt
     
  16. Chalo

    Chalo Guest

    Mike Jacoubowsky wrote:
    >
    > Chalo wrote:
    > >
    > > It's obvious what kind of bike turns you on, but it's much less obvious
    > > that such a bike confers any advantages for the kind of riding you're
    > > talking about.

    >
    > The more experience I have riding in the rain, the more benefit I see to
    > having disc brakes on a "commuter" bike. I've done a lot of damage to rims
    > in wet weather, and I've seen a number of my customers (and even one of the
    > guys I regularly ride with) explode rims apart due to grinding the sidewalls
    > down too thin.


    The disc brakes on the Portland are in my opinion one of its most
    useful and practical features.

    I also used to consider disc brakes a needless gimmick on road bikes,
    not worth the front wheel dish they impose. But my experience with
    them, almost exclusively on the street, has proven their merits to me.
    They provide strong, consistent braking; they allow a frame to
    accomodate a range of rim diameters; they tolerate rim damage, fat
    tires, and fenders far better than rim brakes; and they leave the bike
    noticeably cleaner in wet conditions than rim brakes do.

    There are a few reasons why I wouldn't ride a Portland and why I would
    recommend something else to a friend who expressed an interest in that
    model for a daily commuter. But the disc brakes are not among them.

    These are among my actual concerns with the Portland as a commuter--
    the plastic fork might not hold up safely to typical commuting-bike
    wear and tear;
    its wheelbase is not long enough for best comfort, stability, or
    accomodation for panniers;
    its wheels are not as reliable as normal wheels of equal weight, cost,
    and build quality;
    even with 30 speeds there are no low gears you couldn't easily have
    with a single ring bike;
    the stock position is too low for natural heads-up riding in traffic.

    Trek already makes a better road bike for commuting than the Portland.
    The trouble for Trek is that the 520 is old news, and about as exciting
    as cold oatmeal in terms of marketing buzz. What I don't understand is
    why a bike like the 520 but with disc brakes, a sloping top tube, and
    innocuous cosmetic updates would not have proved marketable enough
    without the Portland's compromises in reliability. If they had stuck
    to steel and proven utilitarian geometry, they'd even have been able to
    make an appeal to the Surly/Gunnar/Soma hipster-purist market as well.


    Chalo Colina
     
  17. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    On Sat, 06 May 2006 17:15:06 +0000, jobst.brandt wrote:

    >> The more experience I have riding in the rain, the more benefit I see
    >> to having disc brakes on a "commuter" bike. I've done a lot of damage
    >> to rims in wet weather, and I've seen a number of my customers (and
    >> even one of the guys I regularly ride with) explode rims apart due to
    >> grinding the sidewalls down too thin. Two years ago? I would have told
    >> you that disc brakes were a silly thing to have on any sort of "road"
    >> bike. Now? I'd definitely consider them an asset, if you live in an
    >> area that gets lots of rain. This past winter, we got LOTS of rain.


    > Rim failure is not one of the problems I see that might cause me to
    > switch to a hub brake of one kind or another. I have eyes and hands
    > that can see and feel a worn rim and am able to gauge with good accuracy
    > when a rime should be replaced. I'm sure you can too, considering your
    > experience with bicycles.
    >
    > On the other hand, have you tried a disc brake bicycle instead of rim
    > brakes? I think you will find other good reasons not to do that for
    > your road bicycling.


    Though I'm definitely of the KISS philosophy, I can appreciate the utility
    of disk brakes. Of course one can keep track of rim wear and replace rims
    when necessary, but with disks it becomes a non-issue. Someone who rides
    on hilly terrain in rainy weather could easily go through a set of rims in
    a year. I've met mountain bikers from the UK who go through twice that
    many. Over time the disks would prove more economical and less hassle.
    They also provide more consistent braking performance.

    Also, as Chalo pointed out, disks are much cleaner. The black slurry on
    rims and tires from braking in the wet is very messy.

    Matt O.
     
  18. Matt O'Toole wrote:
    > On Sat, 06 May 2006 17:15:06 +0000, jobst.brandt wrote:
    >
    > >> The more experience I have riding in the rain, the more benefit I see
    > >> to having disc brakes on a "commuter" bike. I've done a lot of damage
    > >> to rims in wet weather, and I've seen a number of my customers (and
    > >> even one of the guys I regularly ride with) explode rims apart due to
    > >> grinding the sidewalls down too thin. Two years ago? I would have told
    > >> you that disc brakes were a silly thing to have on any sort of "road"
    > >> bike. Now? I'd definitely consider them an asset, if you live in an
    > >> area that gets lots of rain. This past winter, we got LOTS of rain.

    >
    > > Rim failure is not one of the problems I see that might cause me to
    > > switch to a hub brake of one kind or another. I have eyes and hands
    > > that can see and feel a worn rim and am able to gauge with good accuracy
    > > when a rime should be replaced. I'm sure you can too, considering your
    > > experience with bicycles.
    > >
    > > On the other hand, have you tried a disc brake bicycle instead of rim
    > > brakes? I think you will find other good reasons not to do that for
    > > your road bicycling.

    >
    > Though I'm definitely of the KISS philosophy, I can appreciate the utility
    > of disk brakes. Of course one can keep track of rim wear and replace rims
    > when necessary, but with disks it becomes a non-issue. Someone who rides
    > on hilly terrain in rainy weather could easily go through a set of rims in
    > a year. I've met mountain bikers from the UK who go through twice that
    > many. Over time the disks would prove more economical and less hassle.
    > They also provide more consistent braking performance.
    >
    > Also, as Chalo pointed out, disks are much cleaner. The black slurry on
    > rims and tires from braking in the wet is very messy.
    >
    > Matt O.


    Wear, cost, slurry aside - I'm just really looking forward to being
    able to stop when I pull the brake lever. That's not always the case
    in the wet with my old rain bike.
     
  19. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    On Mon, 08 May 2006 12:36:41 -0700, Andrew F Martin wrote:

    > Wear, cost, slurry aside - I'm just really looking forward to being
    > able to stop when I pull the brake lever. That's not always the case
    > in the wet with my old rain bike.


    Just get some decent brake pads, like Kool-Stop.

    Matt O.
     
  20. Yep - Salmon are the best I've used...and they still suck. In totally
    soaked riding (most days all winter in Seattle) there's just not enough
    braking force to stop. Downhills that end with a stop sign are avoided
    because I'm usually unable to come to a complete stop with my rim
    brakes (road calipers, not cantilevers or V-Brakes).
     
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