Ah, the humble bicycle, does it even need an introduction? I'd say so, because this is no ordinary bicycle. Well, conventionally it is; it doesn't have its own stereo system and set of indicator lights (why ever not?). By ordinary, I mean your standard Tesco's own, bright gold, steel heavyweight tragedy - that gives you a good few months of steady riding. This however, the extraordinary, is quite sublime; slick, solid, speedy, silver and sexy (I can say that, it's mine); the Trek 7.0 FX.
Now normally I wouldn't make such a fuss over a brand, but to disregard this one as nothing more than a 'maker of bicycles' wouldn't just be wrong; it would be a criminal offence. Ever heard of Lance Armstrong? Yes indeed, his bikes are made by Trek. Of course, we've all heard of David Beckham and Nike, and have probably all got one product with their tick of approval, but I just wanted to make one thing clear; Trek are right up there at the top when it comes to the cycling world. Cue a truly sensational biking quote from Trek themselves:
'The bicycle is the most efficient form of human transportation. It can combat climate change, ease urban congestion, and build human fitness. It brings us together, yet allows us to escape. And it takes us places we would never see any other way.'
For me, that quote pushes through two notions: that cycling is an efficient means of transport and undoubtedly a very viable part-solution to many environmental problems; and that the brand to go with is Trek. Not only can they persuade people with their emotive words, but they take issues with the environment very seriously indeed, implementing various initiatives; 'we [Trek] continuously evaluate our manufacturing processes and business practices to be sure our actions, and those of our employees, reflect our better-world goals'. These initiatives include using green energy, smarter shipping strategies and employees commuting by bike (well, you'd hope so wouldn't you?). I'm just trying to convince you that cycling is splendid; and that cycling with Trek is magnificent.
The FX 7.0 comes under the category of 'bike path' on the Trek website, and is very much in between being a hybrid and a road bike; a road bike is, surprisingly, designed specifically to be used on the road, whilst hybrids are supposed to be more versatile, adapting to both road surfaces and more off-road trails and paths. Of course you can use the FX on off-road paths, it won't suddenly dismantle itself into a box ready to be sent back to your supplier; it's just not built for it, that's all. I suppose it's in the same way that a Ford Focus wouldn't be suited to a dirt track as a Land Rover Discovery would be, for instance.
This is very much a commuter's bicycle. Being a hybrid-type design of a bike, you don't have to lean forward as you do on a racing bike (they're the ones you'll often see on television). What I love about the FX is how it brings the best of two designs into one (reminds me of Hovis' 'Best Of Both' - or not). Firstly, it brings with it the 'traditional' and more commonly found upright riding geometry, as aforementioned. None of this racing bike leaning, or penny-farthing wobbling; surely neither can be good for your back? Rather, it's simple, it's comfortable and it's just the way I like it. The seat is easily adjustable, with a twisting device which rids the need of one of those annoying metal tools which just always gets lost; just make sure you tighten it well, otherwise you'll be twisting round with every corner that you take. Yes, it's fun at first, but after a while...just trust me.
Secondly, the wheels. Now, at this point I should say that I'm really not an expert in bicycles; I'm somebody who wanted a bike to use for commuting to work, and my girlfriend's house (which is just over 3 miles away). So if I said, 'Alloy hubs w/Clix; Bontrager 550, alloy 36-hole rims', that might not mean much to you, or to me. However, I know a bit, and what I don't I can research! 'Clix' is a wheel release system, allowing for removal of both your wheels in just seconds. However, the benefits for a commuter's bicycle; not much. If you're going to be locking your bicycle up in a public place then you'll have to ensure the frame and both wheels are locked up, which is rather annoying. This is more of a racer bike feature, and whilst it's not incredibly frustrating, the way the bike is advertised does contradict the reasoning behind such a feature. Nevertheless, Bontrager is another brand that only speaks in quality, with a quick slogan reference that sums things up nicely; 'Lighter. Faster. Stronger.' (reminds me of a certain Daft Punk song).
Looking at it from my terribly uneducated perspective once again, the wheels are a convenient in-between from racer to, say, a much more 'typical' bike. Racer wheels are agonisingly thin; you feel like you're constantly cycling on a tight rope. Your standard and 'typical' bike is likely to have much thicker wheels, ones that will happily adapt to any surface, but not specialise in any particular one. The FX, whilst designed for the road, does seem to be the in-between, with much thinner wheels, but not scarily thin. They allow for faster riding; the thinner the tyre and the better quality the material, the lighter and more efficient it will be, thus providing fast-rolling wheels, and fast get-to-work times.
Whilst your handlebars, saddle and wheels are all Bontrager developed, both the brakes and the gears system are made by Shimano; Trek seem to have a theme of unquestionable quality going on here... Integrated in the FX 7.0 is a 7 speed Shimano EF50 trigger, which is superb. Whilst there's only a certain amount of ingenuity a developer can carry out with your brake handles, the way in which the gear-change has been developed is just wonderful. It uses a trigger mechanism, which just feels like you're pressing the trigger buttons on a PS3 or XBOX 360 controller, every single time; it's awesome! It works incredibly well too, and adds to the ability to gain top speeds with this bike, as well as of course quick acceleration, as you glide through the gears.
The design of the FX 7.0 is simple and effective, just the way I like it. The colour is described as 'matte silver' - it's silver. It has been said many a time to me that this bike is 'rather feminine' - 'neutral', is the phrasing I'd use. Doesn't look half bad either. The finish of the paint work hadn't even been considered by myself due to there simply being nothing to question; the quality shines through this bicycle. The versatility of it must also be appreciated. Unlike many racing bikes, you can easily install mud-guards on the FX 7.0 (very, very useful for the commuter), as well as having plenty of room on your handlebars for lights too. Speed and versatility seems difficult to come across in cycling, but the FX 7.0 just handles it so well.
Overall, I have to say that I'm really pleased with the Trek FX 7.0. You may well jump out of your seat when I tell you that this bike will set you back in the region of £300, even with it being an entry-level for its kind. However, when you consider that your cheapest road bike won't be any less than £500 then it does start to put things into perspective. Indeed, if you're not going to use it at least a few times every week then perhaps the price-tag will seem outrageous; but if you have a regular commute to work, to a friend's, or even just as a daily means of exercise, then I really can't recommend this enough. With a design of such simplicity yet such versatility, components of exceptional quality, and a brand that stands by the unquestionable finish of all its products, the Trek FX 7.0 is a bicycle that will last, but will also happily rack up the miles as you sail through that traffic jam that you were once part of!