Trek's 7.5 FX Disc offers dependable handling, great stopping power from its disc brakes, a well-thought-out spec and a touch of panache.
Behind their Tour de France road frame glamour, Trek have been quietly building up a roster of individual, elegant and well-considered urban bikes.
We loved the cyclo-cross-derived Portland last year, and the stylish, single-chainring Soho (complete with coffee flask) caught our eye too. The 7.5 FX Disc is one in a range of flat bar city bikes, and includes both front and rear rack mounts should the daily ride to work extend to a weekend tour or more.
Trek's 7.5 FX shares its frame with several others in the range, including the non-disc version that goes for £50 less. It boasts an elegant profile, with a curved, tapering down-tube and a pearlescent, silvery finish. Both the frame and the straight bladed fork feature rack and mudguard mounts - a practical touch we welcome on city bikes. The rack bosses at the stays are even spaced out for running a hydraulic disc calliper.
Unfortunately, Avid's chunky mechanical BB5s get in the way, so you'll need a specialist rack such as Topeak's Super Tourist DX F/Disk (www.extrauk.co.uk, £33) or Madison's Ridge (www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk, £24.99). It's a shame the mount isn't tucked away between the stays, which would allow you to run a conventional rack. Tyre clearances are very generous - the frame and fork can accommodate a cyclo-cross tyre for some fireroad action. We ran our favourite summer road and dirt tyres, Halo 38c Twin Rails (www. ison-distribution.com, £12.99), with lots of room to spare.
We're big fans of the Avid mechanical disc brakes on the Trek, and while the BB5s aren't quite as adjustable as the BB7s - only one pad can be brought in and out - performance is superb, both in the wet and dry. They're easy to set up and low in maintenance. All this means loads of confidence to ride whatever the weather, and a saving on rim wear too.
There's a triple up front to extend your horizons out of the city, with a tight 11/26 cluster at the back underlining the Trek's road credentials. If you do end up touring, we'd recommend upping it to an 11/32 or so. Deore shifters are simple and reliable, teamed with a Deore front mech and a Tiagra mech at the back.
Elsewhere, Bontrager parts provide matching finishing kit with a gentle riser bar, a relatively long stem, ergo-shaped grips and a comfortable perch.
Trek have a range of 700c disc wheels courtesy of Bontrager. The 7.5 comes with 32-spoke rims built up with plain gauge spokes. Shimano hubs are easy to service with their cup and cone bearings, though these lack the protective rubber sleeve of higher-end mountain bike ones. We've found the 32c Racelites to be comfortable tyres in the past, with decent puncture resistance, but have noticed they lack grip in the wet. The 32-spoke three-cross spoke pattern should ensure they're up to some load-carrying too, which makes them a versatile set of wheels.
The 7.5 FX Disc 's ride position is ideal for all-day outings in comfort, with the fork steerer left generously long. Ride it back-to-back with a lighter machine such as the Genesis Day 03 and you notice the heft, but you also notice you have 250 quid still in your bank account.
Disc brakes provide superb stopping power, even if they're partly to blame for that extra weight. Given the lack of carbon, 32mm tyres go some way to smoothing out the ride, although the straight bladed fork still feels stiff. Steering is slower than some but all the more stable and confident for it - this bike feels like it will safely get you around come sunshine or snowfall, with or without panniers.
It's versatile too, and with those clearances would be perfect for riding a weekend Sustrans route, such as the W2W or Hadrian's Wall.
The Trek is a rounded machine, even if it feels slower than lighter, racier flat-bar bikes. It scores highly both in the practicality and looks departments. Its handling is well balanced, the all-weather braking is superb and it's suited to weekend mixed-surface tours too. Add plenty of panache and it's a great formula.