Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trek Verve 4; My First Impressions

I’ve been an avid bike rider for well over twenty-five years.  My late brother got me into the sport and I’ve been a fan ever since.  I enjoy road biking and absolutely love mountain biking.  But, while bombing down the hill, balls to wall, is a ton of fun, the aftereffects, not so much.   And by aftereffects I mean, backache, headache, neck ache, (insert body part here) ache.  You get the picture.  My Nishiki hybrid, while still a very functional piece of equipment was starting to get a little long in tooth.  I had resigned myself to a few more years of riding it and then burying it with full honors.  After all, I must have put about eight to nine thousand miles on it.

A few months ago we were visiting some friends in Florida and he took me out to his garage to show me his new toy a GIANT hybrid.  Very impressive bike.  Front shock, gel saddle atop a shock absorber seat post, and the best part a handlebar that adjusts so an old duffer like me can ride in a more upright position.  Perfect!  As soon as I got back home I began my research. 

Now I’m the kinda guy that researches everything to death and after an aggressive Internet search on hybrids, I came across the Trek Verve 4.  Obviously they have a Verve 1, 2, and 3, but the 4 had most of the goodies that I wanted.  Mainly a 27-speed gear train, lightweight aluminum frame, trigger shifters rather than twist grips, and an adjustable front fork with lockout.  It also had upgraded Bontrager tires and rims as well.  I went to my local bike shop, took one for a test drive and ordered it. 

One of the things I like about having a hobby, and I have many, is the ability to add tschokes and upgrades.  Biking is no different.  I had the bike guy dump the platform pedals and add a pair of Shimano M540 clipless pedals.  I’ve ridden clipless forever and these are a great lightweight, easy to get in and out of pedal. Of course I had to get new riding shoes as well a riding computer. I really don’t trust my head to some ten dollar bucket so I also ordered a GIRO Air Attack Shield helmet; in red and black of course.  The cool thing about the helmet is, well, the shield.  A smoked grey, detachable eye shield that hooks on the helmet with three magnets.  Since I wear glasses I’m loath to take two pairs with me; my regular and my sunglasses.  This solved the problem, case closed. 

So, how does the bike ride?  Well I went out for a ten-mile cruise today.  In one word; freakin’ awesome.  Yes that is two words but you get the idea.  The ride is extremely plush.  The front shock soaks up the bumps beautifully.  I made one adjustment to the factory setting and I think it is spot on.  The seat post, while not adjustable, helps dampen the smaller bumps, dips and cracks in the road. Together with a more upright riding position and a soft gel seat to boot, I was very comfortable.  It’s pretty lightweight so the acceleration was pretty good.  Not three-thousand dollar composite frame good, but good enough for me and much faster than my old steel frame bike. 

I also like the 27-speed drive train.  It was extremely easy to quickly find the right gear for cruising, climbing and accelerating instead of trying to hunt it down.  Hunting for the right gear is not too much fun especially when you are in the middle of long climb.  I pretty much switched back and forth between the large and middle chain ring.  I think only the most odious of hills will require the granny.  The steering was very responsive and precise.  One cool feature is the Bontrager Satellite Elite handgrips.  They are paddle shaped, perfect for the way I like to ride; loose grip with my fingers lightly resting on the brakes.  The paddle shape helps distribute the weight on my hands resulting in less shock being transmitted up my arms.  Less fatigue equals more riding time. 

After one or two rides I usually start thinking about upgrades.  New this. New that.  My mountain bike has literally every part replaced except for the frame.  I’m not seeing that in this case.  Good new for my wallet, not good new for the bike shop owner. The shifters are precise, the brakes very good, and the derailleurs, while not top of the line by any stretch of the imagination did their job very, very well. Trek really got it right.   I still have to make a few micro adjustments to dial in the saddle position, but a couple more rides oughta get that taken care of tout suite. 

So bottom line.  It is a great bike for my purposes.  Upright riding position, comfortable cockpit and a super plush ride. I think this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship.