Trek XO2 £1600

Light & capable cyclo-crosser

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

With a light aluminium frame, robust gear and great attention to detail, the Trek XO2 is a super-capable cyclo-crosser.

  • Frame and fork: Fantastic finish and detailing, fixings for mudguards front and rear, with a well-matched carbon bladed fork
  • Ride & handling: Light and responsive but solid and direct enough for precise off road use
  • Equipment: SRAM Rival is well suited to off-road use and has novelty value as well. Tasty finishing kit
  • Wheels: Flashy white painted spokes might be just for show but these light, stiff Bontrager wheels are sparkly performers too

“That’s a nice light bike!” says BikeRadar spannerman George carrying the box containing the Trek into the workshop. And at 8.39kg for a 58cm aluminium cyclo-cross bike he’s right.

The impression once it’s out of the box is even more striking. Shocking pearlescent red frame with white decals, cables, bar tape, stem and saddle match the paired white spokes and red anodised spoke nipples of the Bontrager wheels. The red brake lever hoods don’t quite match – but full marks for effort nonetheless.

Well protected for ’cross rough & tumble

A closer inspection doesn’t disappoint, as the attention to detail is far from just cosmetic.

Trek wants your bike to stay looking good, so has fitted frame protection measures everywhere. A plastic collar sits at the bottom of the seat tube to stop the chain unshipping onto that lovely paintwork on the bottom bracket; rubber protectors are fitted to stop the long cable runs along the top tube from marking the frame; and there’s even a rubber gaiter to prevent water and grime from running into the section of cable outer between seat stay and rear mech.

Inline gear cable adjusters within easy reach of the bars are a welcome detail too, and in terms of finish, the welding is by a long way the best of the aluminium bikes in this group.

The Trek is also the lightest of the aluminium bikes we tested with it – and is priced accordingly – but it still keeps an eye on versatility with its mudguard eyelets at the rear dropouts and forks.

There’s loads of clearance for mud-caked wheels in the fork and in the chunky Y-shaped seatstays. That means plenty of options for tyre widths for both on and off road.

Big S-shaped chainstays – the tubing asymmetrically flattened on one side to accommodate the chainrings – mean mud won’t collect behind the bottom bracket either. It’s also good to see there is no chainstay crossbrace– which means one less place mud can build up.

Details add up to great performance

The best thing about all this attention to detail is that it works beautifully. All that white kit is soon covered in mud, and you might get the odd chip on those painted white spokes, but the bike’s performance still shines through.

The frame is stiff and efficient, and its light weight combines with the stiff, light Bontrager wheels to make for an exciting and nimble ride. Within minutes of getting on the Trek we are confidently throwing it into corners and through leafy singletrack.

The Avid Shorty 4 cantilever brakes are strong and dependable, though as with the brakes on most cyclo-cross bikes, you really need to use them from the drops to get the most modulation and power from the ends of the levers. Once you do though, all you need is one or two fingers on the lever.

The carbon bladed fork gives the right balance of positive feedback and control, without either being too flexible to handle big braking efforts and long fast descents or too stiff to allow for tight, slow twisty cornering.

The Trek is unusual for its use of the ‘third groupset’, SRAM Rival. If Campag devotees can tear themselves away from their two-lever finger and thumb operated system, they may soon warm to the positive clunky action of this 10 speed groupset – which is welcome in the rough and tumble of cyclocross.

Shimano fans will like the fact that both up and down changes are incorporated into one lever, with almost the same action as they’re used to with two separate levers – though that might not stop them trying to shift to easier gears with an immovable brake lever at first.

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