Under the taglines “Out of the gym and on to the street” and “Most. Versatile. Bike. Ever.”, the FX is Trek's most popular platform. The multiple comfort features do smother its ultimate speed potential though.
Ride & handling: Ultra stable and comfortable, but the payoff is reduced responsiveness
Despite having a pretty large frame, the Trek features a fairly short cockpit reach between saddle and bars. The tall head tube puts you in a naturally very upright position too, so it’s not a bike you’re going to want to ﬁght against a headwind on. This sit-up-and-beg position does work very well with the one-ended suspension feel though.
While the rubber winged grips take some sting out of rougher surfaces, there’s not much forgiveness from the stout carbon fork. That means you’ll soon learn to put most of your weight over the fat, wobbling saddle and the shock-absorbing insert in the rear of the frame. How much extra comfort is coming from the saddle, the long rear end or the IsoZone plug is hard to tell, but whatever the balance, this is deﬁnitely a comfortable bike for rough, gravelly cycle path use.
The tall, easy-to-see-from, not-so-easy-to-create-power-from position makes it more suited to the scenic route rather than any trafﬁc light dragster action. High wheel and overall weights make it sluggish away from standing starts. Flex in the frame and crank mean its power response also leaves it lagging whenever the pace picks up. Though tyre clearances are plentiful, the cyclo-cross potential of this bike and frame are limited.
The good news is, once you do coax it from a canter into a gallop, it holds its speed well, with plenty of gears to choose from. The smooth ride removes a lot of swerve and dodge drama from less perfect road surfaces. However, while power from the V-brakes is plentiful in the dry, there’s less stopping power and control in the wet than with discs.
Frame: Good looking, with beginner-friendly geometry, but heavy
The 7.6FX's white colour and subtly curved, multi-shape hydroformed main tubes certainly set up a slick ‘iPhone generation’ look. The tube proﬁling helps manage weight and strength too, avoiding the need for extra gussets. The tapered headtube for a 1.5-1.125in fork steerer means that technically it's totally up-to-date with the latest road bikes, and the carbon-fork legs have a socket for Trek’s wireless Speed Trap sensor (£29.99 extra) too.
It’s the back end that’s really interesting however, with a shock absorbing IsoZone segment sandwiched between the single wishbone mainframe extension and the seatstays. There's a few millimetres of squish visible when you sit on the bike, but the main purpose is to screen out fatiguing vibration in the 40-50Hz range, which Trek reckon is the most obvious to riders.
The back end of the bike is really long, which helps to stabilise it at speed and suck out some sting. It's also fully bossed to take two bottle cages, mudguards and a rear rack. There are no ﬁxtures for disc brakes though, so you’re staying with old-style mountain bike V-brakes forever. The shock-absorbing insert also makes this a particularly heavy frame for this class of bike.
Equipment: Kit has been chosen for comfort not light weight; brakes lack power in the wet
The comfort kit has a signiﬁcant impact on weight too. The winged grips help spread pressure on your palms, but weigh a lot more than conventional grips. The broad-hipped FlexForm saddle, with rails set into a block of elastomer, allows shock absorption, and sideways roll, but the saddle adds another 449g to the already high bike weight.
Despite being a conventional rim-braked set, rather than disc equipped, the Bontrager wheelset is also pretty weighty, with the tough but stiff Hard Case tyres contributing plenty of the total. The triple road chainset means it’s got the ratios to cope with steep hills and solid weight, despite a tight ratio 11-26 cog cassette on the back. However, the action of the shifters feels slightly loose.
There’s also some rattle and play in the plain-ﬁnish brake levers, and anchorage is less than assured, particularly in wet weather. The white stem and its colour-matched spacer stack certainly match the frame though, and the reasonable bar width translates to a steady and conﬁdent steering.