Imagine a giant, splashy trade show dedicated entirely to products from just one company, and you have some idea of what Trek World looks like. Displays and lighting on par with the best you’ll see at Eurobike or Interbike, combined with nothing but Trek, Gary Fisher, and Bontrager products makes for an experience like no other.
Held every August at the Monona Terrace convention center in Madison, Wisconsin, it’s a chance for Trek dealers to see and ride the new bikes that will be on sale for the coming year. Dealers also network directly with Trek employees and take advantage of an impressive menu of services the company offers.
Trek President John Burke’s keynote speech is always a highlight of the multi-day affair. He’s famous for challenging dealers to embrace cycling advocacy, and this year was no different. Burke challenged a room full of Trek dealers to collect 160 signatures each for the People for Bikes movement. People for Bikes aims to collect a million citizen signatures (either on paper or online) to demonstrate to legislators that cycling is a legitimate form of transportation and recreation.
In addition to the Monona Terrace seminars and display booth, the parking lot at Trek headquarters in Waterloo is converted to a giant demo center. Trek has a purpose-built network of trails on private land for employees and occasions just like this, plus hundreds of miles of Wisconsin farm roads.
It’s a dealers-only type affair, but we scored an invite and came home with a camera full of photos plus the scoop on a few products that won’t even be available for a few months yet. Highlights are below, and don’t forget to check out singletrack.com for updates on the mountain bike line.
Bontrager Race XXX Lite road shoes
As Bontrager charged ahead with the shoe line started just a few years ago, brand manager Tom Kuefler admitted that the lack of a flagship, halo model road shoe hindered the brand’s image. Those days are now in the rearview mirror as the XXX Lite road shoes are born. The ultralight shoes got a complete makeover in terms of construction and materials to make aggressive weight goals. Kuefler says that a size 42 in the lighter Limited Edition model with all Velcro straps will weigh about 195 grams. The standard RXXXL shoe with micro-release ratchet buckle will come in closer to 265 grams. Both shoes share a new, thinner carbon sole with ribs under the mid-foot to maintain stiffness. The uppers are made with a single seam on the lightweight mesh. Overall, the number of component parts to make the shoes is dramatically reduced compared to the Race X Lite shoes, making for a sleek, simple, and lightweight shoe. Pricing and availability are still in the works.
Bontrager helmets and clothing
Trek has always carried a line of road and mountain bike helmets, but never made serious inroads in a crowded field of quality brain buckets. By rebranding the helmet line under the Bontrager family, they hope to gain more ground. In order to improve fit, Bontrager product managers started from scratch with a new head form. Look for the full line of road and mountain helmets in Trek dealers this month.
In addition to the helmets, Bontrager clothing expands to include some stylish casual and commuting items. Pricing drops for 2011 on all technical jerseys and shorts.
Trek road bikes
A couple of new options in the Trek road family will be appealing to budget-conscious riders. The Madone 3-Series is new for 2011, and brings Trek TCT carbon fiber frames to price levels below the $2000 mark. The frame looks very similar to the much more expensive 6-Series bikes, and even includes an internal, press-fit bottom bracket and carbon fork with Bontrager Speed Trap computer compatibility.
Also with prices under $1500 is the Lexa line of entry level women’s bikes. Multiple models include different component and graphics packages on aluminum framed-bikes with female-friendly fits.
We didn’t spend all our time on the show floor. Trek media relations specialist Drew Axt also treated us to a private tour of company headquarters.
Highlights include the race department, where engineers Mark Andrews and Ray Waxham work to keep all the many Trek-sponsored athletes fitted with the gear they need to succeed. They’re not building special bikes (except in the case of some one-off, pint-sized race bikes). But Waxham, Andrews, and manager Scott Daubert coordinate with the teams to make sure the right numbers of frames with the correct paint schemes and in the correct sizes. They’ve also got a laser fit tool, so in the (frequent) event that they’re assembling new bikes for team riders, they can precisely duplicate the fit.
In the atrium at Trek headquarters, there are prominent displays from both Trek’s recent race victories and also the company’s development from its beginnings in the 1970s. A series of bikes representing every one of Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France victories greets visitors on the west wall. Opposite, each one of Alberto Contador’s grand tour victories is represented with a jersey and custom painted Madone bike.