This is part three of a three-part series.
In the previous two posts of “My new bike,” I explained why I started searching for a new bike and how I chose to purchase the Trek Pilot 2.1. With making a decision, the next step was to do it.
One of the quandaries about buying a new bike in the winter is wondering when you’ll actually ride it. It was already November when I decided to purchase the Pilot. I had already resigned to riding on a CycleOps trainer for the season. Even then, I was ready to purchase the new bike…
Buying a bike in December
After deciding which bike I wanted to buy, I had to wait. I wasn’t waiting for availability (I had just ridden one). Instead, I was waiting for a good deal.
My local Trek dealer had a Pilot in my size in stock, and it offered some great incentives in December. For me, this meant choosing some tech work valued at $120 and a three-year Trek Red Shield Protection Plan. I felt that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
I called the shop during the evening of November 30 (Friday) to see if they still had one in stock. It had one in a box and was willing to put it on hold if I came in the next day. When I arrived on Saturday (December 1), they had it together and ready to go. I paid for it, but I had to order some accessories for it.
The important thing about buying accessories is knowing what you need before visiting the bike shop. I learned this with the FX (I paid three times in accessories what I paid for the actual bike itself). But since I had already purchased a number of items for the FX, it was only fitting to inventory those items and see what would transfer to the Pilot.
I listed all of the items on my FX to consider transferring to the Pilot.
- Trek gel saddle
- Cat Eyes headlamp and rear strobe
- Seat bag, inner tubes, and tire irons
- Trek water bottle metal cages
- Topeak portable tire pump (xfer)
- Shimano SPD/platform pedals
- Rear rack
- Trek road fenders
- Bontrager handlebar extenders
- Other accessories
In the end, I decided to keep only one thing for the new bike. Here’s a break down of each item:
I spent all summer riding on the gel-filled saddle. It was fine for short rides. But as my rides became longer and my rear became more accustomed to the bike, I seemed to outgrow it. The new bike comes with a basic race saddle, so I opted to give that a try (more on that later).
I thought I’d be a nice guy and give up this really good headlamp and rear strobe to whoever got my FX. Both are in good working order, but I’m looking for something with more features and a smaller profile. Selling them with the FX might help out someone that would otherwise have to buy their own anyway. I will get new lights this spring. But since I’m not outside right now, it can wait.
The inner tubes that fit on the FX are wider than those for the Pilot, so there isn’t any point of keeping them. A seat bag is a great way of keeping it all together, out of the way, yet attached to the bike (as opposed to a backpack). I chose to get a larger one (to hold two tubes and various other items), so the old one is going with the FX.
I decided to get some lighter-weight plastic cages for the new bike (I can’t justify paying for ones made of carbon fiber). The old metal ones are in excellent shape and do an excellent job of holding water bottles. I hope the new ones are as reliable.
I considered buying a different pump, ideally a dual-use (CO2, hand) type. But I haven’t been impressed with what I’ve seen so far. I especially like how strong my current pump is, and it doesn’t seem to take much effort to get a tire to ride-able condition. In the end, I really like my Topeak pump, so I’ll keep it for now. Note that this is the only thing I’m keeping for the new bike.
I used a Sigma BC 1606L DTS computer on the FX. It has all of the features I could ask for, all for a reasonable price. But it conked out on me a couple of times (probably because I had two sensors on the bike at the same time), and it isn’t really suited for a trainer. I ended up adding a cadence sensor and a second wheel sensor to use it on the trainer. But in order to use it reliably, I had to set it near the rear of the top tube, making it difficult to read. Additionally, I have to remove the rear sensor when I’m on the road (thus the reason why it gave out on me). Since I like the features, I ordered a wired version (BC 1606L) of this computer with a long wire for the rear wheel for the Pilot.
I added the Shimano SPD PD-M324 pedals to the FX after I started riding farther. These are dual-use “clipless” pedals (i.e., they don’t use shoe cages to keep your foot in place); I can wear either shoes with Shimano Pedaling Dynamics (SPD) cleats or with regular shoes (hence the “platform”). The SPD cleats are supposedly great for beginners because they allow you to “clip out” (disengage the cleat) easily and can fit into a cycling shoe with a recessed sole. However, they are designed for mountain bicycling more than road bicycling, so the connection is not as strong (and power transfer is not as reliable). I had them clip out of the pedal on a couple of rare occasions. Also, I had trouble lining up the cleat to “clip in” (attaching the cleat to the pedal). I chose the Shimano Ultegra PD-6620 SDP-SL pedals because of the larger surface, the stainless steel, and the reliability of Shimano products. Clipping in is much simpler; clipping out is not.
The rear rack on the back of my FX utilizes the Trek “Exchange” system, so it is supposedly easier to connect Trek “Exchange-” specific panniers and packs to it. Although installed, I never used it (because I started riding more for fitness); furthermore, the Pilot is not really designed to carry a rear rack. So my Pilot will not have a rack on it.
These fenders are a little heavy for a road bike, but they work well on the FX. Instead, I opted for the removable Bontrager Satellite Fenders that are found on the Portland.
These are designed for flat handlebars to provide additional hand positions. The road bike’s drop handlebars already provide additional positions, so there’s no need to purchase anything else for the handlebars.
One item I didn’t purchase earlier this year was a bike-specific multi-tool. What makes these useful is that they have a number of relevant hex wrenches and screwdrivers all in one handy fold-out device. I have one on my Christmas list; Kristen was nice enough to give me a Bontrager Rollbar multi-tool for the holidays.
With different style pedals, I had to purchase different style shoes. I got a pair of Nike Altea II Plus to replace my Kato IV. The Kato is a great shoe for casual riding; it accommodates SPD cleats in a recessed cavity, and offers a really rugged sole. The Altea is a rigid shoe designed for road bicycling; its outsole is made of a carbon fiber composite, but also has small studs for walking. The upper part is made on a last (I suppose it means that it’s a more accurate method of manufacturing so they’re truer to size). I especially like the ratcheting set up of the Altea’s top strap; it feels very secure.
I decided to keep my old Trek Interval helmet for now. The color doesn’t match the bike, but it still functions and is great for riding.
Setting it up
When I purchased the new bike, I also purchased some of the accessories for it: fenders, seat bag, water bottle cages, spare inner tubes, and a new license (required where I live if riding on the streets). I had to special order the fenders and seat bag. It worked out, though, because the day I bought the Pilot was the day we started getting some serious snowfall for the season.
The parts came in the following week, but I had made a decision to get fitted on the bike and to try out the road pedals. I stopped in and spoke to Mike, the store’s fit specialist, and we discussed pedals. After learning about why one pedal was better than the other, I made a decision and purchased the Ultegra SPD-SL pedals and the Altea shoes (the sale price helped). We also agreed on a time to do the fitting, and I also decided to order the wired Sigma computer.
The following Sunday, I went in for the fitting. Mike set everything up on the trainer and had me sit on my new Pilot. It looked as elegant on the trainer as in the catalog, and I had a hard time believing that I was now the proud new owner of such a slick and lovely road bike. I strapped in the new shoes and hopped on my new aluminum and carbon steed; I quickly learned about the SPD-SL set up. We started with the pedals: these large, boxy steel things with a red and white sticks coming out each one were installed where I would expect to find my new pedals… those were for the fit. Mike guided my feet into the fit pedals and had me start pedaling. After a few revolutions, Mike had me stop to adjust the cleats on my shoes. He got both of them done before moving to the bike fitting.
Mike had me pedal again, and he noted the seat’s location. He then had me stop to adjust the seat height and angle. Then he had me pedal again to observe the handlebar set up. I noticed that the levers seemed out of reach. He adjusted them down and had me ride again. This time the reach felt perfect.
Since I was waiting for the computer, the Pilot was still not ready to come home. I would have to wait until the following Wednesday, when the shop techs installed and set it up. I brought my new bike home on schedule and marveled at it. Fortunately, it didn’t snow that evening… with all of the snow and salt on the roads, I used the car rack to bring it home.
I put the Pilot on the trainer and started riding. This was an easy week, so I would only ride lightly. As you would expect from a new bike, it shifted smoothly and felt great. But about halfway through my 30-minute ride, I started feeling pain in the middle of my crotch from the saddle. I considered getting a different saddle with a cut-away in the middle. After discussing it with Mike at the bike shop, he suggested that I try adjusting the front of the saddle down just a little. He also told me that the shop planned on bringing in a saddle-testing device for helping customers find the right saddle. In the meantime, I tried his recommendation… after a couple of attempts, his suggestion worked. I haven’t had as much discomfort on the trainer since making this simple adjustment.
The other issue that came up on the trainer was that the new bike’s tire burned off a little and stuck to the trainer’s roller. The bike shop sees this often on their in-store trainer, so Mike told me that 000 steel wool would remove it. I also learned about getting a separate tire for the trainer. He pointed me to the Continental Ultra Sport Hometrainer tire, which is made of a different rubber compound and is supposed to be slightly quieter on the trainer. Since installing the new tire, my rides have gone well… I’m still riding three times a week on the trainer. I haven’t had to use the steel wool since.
I brought my new Pilot 2.1 home almost two weeks after purchasing it. I was scheduled for a ride the following evening, so I set it up on the trainer and put on my first 8-1/2 miles (it was an easy week). I love the positioning of the handlebars; I haven’t experienced any lower back pain as a result of the positioning or the geometry. I am still working out how the gearing works, seeing that I have a ten-speed cassette instead of the eight-speed found on the FX. I haven’t had much trouble learning the new shifters. In fact, I like the trim feature on the Shimano 105 front derailleur; this feature in the shifter allows the rider to back the chain guide if the chain runs the risk of rubbing against the guide. The saddle seems to cause less problems since I adjusted it down a bit, but I’ll still see if there’s a better alternative in the spring.
I am looking forward to the warmer weather so I can take the Pilot outside (when it’s January in Wisconsin, warm weather seems to take a very long time). I really loved getting out on the FX this past year and rediscovering the joys of bicycling. I put almost 1,170 miles on it since buying it in May. But the real treat will be spending time on the Pilot outside next year, and for years to come. My bicycling goals for the upcoming year include group riding, charity rides, and bicycling to work.