My new bike, part 3

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.

In the end, I decided to keep only one thing for the new bike. Here’s a break down of each item:

Trek gel saddle

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).

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Cat Eyes headlamp, Cat Eyes rear strobe

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.

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Seat bag, inner tubes, and tire irons

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.

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Trek water bottle metal cages

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.

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Topeak portable tire pump

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.

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Sigma wireless computer w/cadence

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.

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Shimano SPD/platform pedals

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.

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Rear rack

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.

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Trek road fenders

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.

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Bontrager handlebar extenders

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.

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Other accessories

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.

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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.


Profile of front of my Trek Pilot Profile of front of my Trek Pilot

Front three-quarter view of head stem and handlebars Front three-quarter view of head stem and handlebars

New Trek emblem on handlebar stem New Trek emblem on handlebar stem

Ultegra road pedal Ultegra road pedal

Front of bike as seen from rear right side Front of bike as seen from rear right side

Rear profile of my Pilot Rear profile of my Pilot

Looking down at the handlebars and computer Looking down at the handlebars and computer

Front tire seen from front angle Front tire seen from front angle

Shimano 105 brake and shifter Shimano 105 brake and shifter

The Pilot’s drivetrain The Pilot’s drivetrain

Seat pack attached to seat post Seat pack attached to seat post

Seat pack opened Seat pack opened

Rear fender attached to bike Rear fender attached to bike

Rear fender halfway off Rear fender halfway off

Rear fender removed Rear fender removed

Part 1: A need for speed

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8 thoughts on “My new bike, part 3

  1. About your comment on the rear rack “the Pilot is not really designed to carry a rear rack”. I have a Trek Pilot 5.2 and I am considering a rear Bontrager Rack LI. My Pilot has the frame eyeholes so my assumption is that it is designed to carry a rear rack. I am an older rider who loves the carbon feel and the 5.2 options but I do ride with a camera, snacks, binoculars and the likes so I really am considering a rear rack. Any thoughts?

  2. Thanks for the comment Doug – If your Pilot 5.2 has the brazens (bolts) on the seat stays, then it was probably designed to carry a rear rack. Trek doesn’t add to its newer carbon bikes; I don’t know if there have been issues with overloading a carbon frame with the added weight of a rack and panniers. It’s probably best to check with your local bike shop to be on the safe side. I envy you… the Pilot is a great bike, and an all OCLV carbon model must feel like riding on a cloud.

  3. Thanks Brian. I just got my Pilot 5.2 a month ago and I have only put about 100 miles on it so far,(I live in Ohio) but it is fantastic! I started out looking at 1.2’s about a year ago and after all my searching and testing I ended up finding a new 2006 Pilot 5.2 full carbon and complete Ultegra components and it put the 2008 Pilot 5.0’s to shame. I was sorry to hear they are only making the 1.2’s and the 5.0’s now and i was lucky to find this one still in the box in the basement of a shop about 45 miles away.(The internet “IS” a wonderful thing!!) I’m going to check about your comment concerning the overloading the carbon frame and if I find any useful information I’ll be sure to share it on here.

  4. Doug – Thanks for following up and offering to post your findings here. It’s great when we can share information across vast distances (although Ohio isn’t too far from Wisconsin). This is one of the reasons why I started posting on the Web. I look forward to reading what you learn.

    Speaking of miles, since I bought my Pilot 2.1 in December, I’ve logged 530 miles, all from the comfort of my living room. Fortunately, the temps are climbing, the snow is melting, and the rain is washing the salt and grime from the streets, so I plan on putting on some real miles very soon.

  5. Brian – Just an update on what I’ve discovered about my 5.2 Pilot after 500 miles.

    I still have not installed the rear rack as I had planned. So far I’ve found that I can actually get by with an under the seat pack. I installed the Trek 120 cu. in. pack and have managed to get what I need into that so far. As the season progresses and and my rides get longer I may change my mind and install a rear rack. If I do I plan using on the Bontrager Aluminum Rack which seems to fit my bike the best.

    Other items I’ve added are two King Titanium Bottle Cages. I went with the King Cages not really concerned with weight (but they are only 28 grams each) but for strength. They seemed to be the best I could find and would last the longest.

    I did change the Bontager Race Saddle to a Terry Gel Saddle. Off the top of my head I’m not remembering the Model # but I will post at another time. So far I am pleased with my saddle purchase, though I only have about 150 miles on it and no one ride over 30 miles. Time will tell.

    The bike itself is everything I wanted and more. Responsive, solid, light, a pleasure to ride. Everytime I get on it I smile and am thankful that I took my time and researched to find out exactlly what I wanted for the type of riding I do. I am taking it in for a tune-up this weekend as there has been some slight streching of cables and whatnot, but so far everything has been wonderful. I’ll keep ya posted.

  6. Doug – thanks for the update. Like you, I’m really happy with the Pilot. Although mine is mostly aluminum with some carbon, it handles really well. I was finally glad to get it on the road; it is nimble, quick, and smooth. I love riding mine as well.

    I haven’t added many new accessories yet. The plastic Trek water cages are strong and reliable, especially with the way I fumble for a water bottle. I would still like to try the new CamelBak Podium water bottle, but I’m a little reluctant to pay for a water bottle (I haven’t purchased one since riding; instead, I’ve received good, free bottles from rides and functions). I added a CatEye Single Shot rechargeable headlamp (HL-EL600RC), which would probably concern someone worried about weight, but I’m happy with its light output and small design. My only concern is that I have to remember to recharge it every so often. And I added a Bontrager Inform saddle (with carbon composite). At first I wasn’t sure I liked it. But now that I have it adjusted just right, I’m really happy with it.

    For cargo, I did a dry-run ride to work; the ride consisted of 17 miles of varying terrain (inclines included) and climbing a mean hill wearing a Novara Bicycle Commuter Backpack. The pack features contoured shoulder straps, a belt strap with a zippered pocket, a sternum strap, and two padded “back lifts” that allows your back to breathe. It also has a separate compartment for your bike lock.

    Although I didn’t carry everything I would carry in my pack, I did ride with a lock, a pair of Converse low-top Chuck Taylor shoes (they look cool and sit flat), and some cool-weather clothing layers. Also, it was a cool, damp morning that turned into a warm, dry day. That meant removing layers as I rode along and putting them into my pack. In all, the ride to work was about 1 hour 20 minutes, per my computer (probably closer to 1 hour 45 minutes with stops). Wearing the pack didn’t seem to bother me. But getting it on and off was a bit of a hassle, and you lose access to your jersey pockets.

    However, I noticed that REI is clearing out this bag, and not many other manufacturers have something bike related (CamelBak might still have a couple of good options). If Novara or anyone else offered something similar, I would recommend checking it out it for anyone that prefers a backpack.

    Other people I’ve spoken to like using a messenger bag. They swear by them. I haven’t really looked at them. A suitable one has both a shoulder and a belt strap (so it doesn’t shift around your torso while you’re riding).

    I added a full rear rack to my 7.3 FX last year, and it seemed slightly heavier. But I had the option to carry more. Since getting the Pilot 2.1, I’ve considered getting a seatpost rack for small items. A carbon one is expensive, so I’d consider the cheaper option. They don’t carry as much, but I’m not interested in carrying a lot. If you’re still interested in adding a rack, I say go for it. Just know that your bike will likely handle differently and probably won’t feel as quick as it does now.

    I’m looking forward to hearing how the riding is going. Keep rolling.

  7. Nice looking bike…I have just completely rebuilt a Trek 1000 from 1987 and I was wondering where you found the new head badge (Trek emblem)? Thanks.

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