Choosing the Trek Pilot 5.2: LBS's, expectations, test rides and money.

author : Ontherun
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A few months back I wrote an article about buying your next bike. Well now I have done it and wish to share my experience and choice with you.

Meet my new bike, Dulcinea—she is my new ride. A 2005 Trek Pilot 5.2. Some of you may be laughing that I have named my bike, and that is fine.* I highly recommend the Pilot and this is the tale of how I ended up making my decision on which bike to buy.


The hunt begins

I started my bike hunt by going to three local bike shops (LBS) in February. The first stop was a tri specific shop. I was quite surprised when I talked to the salesman that he would not put me on a tri bike. With the type of riding I do and what I expect from a bike, he recommended a road bike with aero bars. That being said, he recommended a couple of Felts, and a few other bikes in the shop.

When I got to the next LBS, the salesman heard "tri" and that is all I was shown. When I inquired about a 2001 leftover QR Kilo, I was told it was too big for me. With all due respect, at 6'1" tall, there are not too many production bikes that are too tall for me. At that point, I said thanks and left before any other damage was done.

The third shop was the LBS I have been dealing with for over 20 years. They were the favorite from the beginning. I hooked up with the assistant manager of the store for my pre-season bike talks. As with the tri bike shop, he did not recommend a tri-specific bike for the type of riding I like to do. He explained to me that tri bikes tend to be more technical to ride. They can be twitchy and the rider needs to focus more on bike handling than with most road bikes.

He showed me the Specialized Roubaix, the Felt 5C, and the Pilot 5.0. The criteria were my love of my old carbon bike and my need for a responsive—but not too twitchy—thoroughbred. The price range was around $2000, depending on what component package I was to go with.

I chose the third shop based on trust and the fact that I know what kind of service I will receive in the long run. It did not hurt that my local tri club was also sponsored by this bike shop.

Test rides

In late March I went in on a good day for a few rides. As a disclaimer, the Felt and Specialized were just one size too small and were maxed out on all the adjustments. I rode the Felt first. It was a nice ride, basically what I was looking for out of my next bike. The next bike was the Roubaix. With all the homework I had done, I expected great things. It was great, just not what I was looking for. The bike was designed for the cobbles of France, and was like riding on a sofa. The problem was, when I went to go hard, the bike just did not respond.

The only Pilot built in my size was a Pilot 5.2 from 2005. With a few exceptions, it was the same bike as the 2006 5.2 but with different handlebars. The bike was just right! Responsive, yet forgiving. I want to focus on the next rider to pass and the hills ahead, not whether the bike will go down with an aggressive move. The fact that the bike is made in the USA put it ahead of the Felt. There is nothing quite like buying from a "neighbor." I will agree with some of the skeptics that buying a Trek is paying for Lance. You also pay for a going-wage in the states. But the bottom line is that the bike gave me the ride I wanted and those were the deciding factors that beat out the Felt.

I then compared the 5.0 Pilot from 2006 and the 5.2 from 2005. The frames, other than color, were the same. As for components, the 5.2 had an upgrade from a mixed 105 Shimano group to an all Ultegra. In the end, the price for the 5.0 was $2000 and the 5.2 was $2150. Plus the 2006 5.2 was listing for almost $3000 with only a few changes. Needless to say, the 5.2 Pilot is my new ride.




For the techno geeks like me, this bike has lots of bells and whistles without going overboard. It is an all carbon frame and fork package. It also comes with the Shimano Ultegra package in the drive train. Bontrager-the Trek house brand, fills out the rest of the components. A Race Lite saddle, Race X carbon seat post, and Race Lite wheels and tires rounded out the package.

Additions and upgrades

I added Profile T2 aero bars to get the fit the way I wanted it. I highly recommend the T2 bars for a road bike. They allow you to get into a very comfortable road position first. This keeps the bikes inherent stability. Too many adjustments to a road bike to go aero can make the bike very twitchy. These bars allow the arm rests to be mounted behind the handle bars, allowing for the seat to remain back, but also allowing the rider to go aero.

The only regret I have is I bought two water bottle cages. I had intended on getting an aerobar mounted water bottle. The money for the extra cage could have gone towards that. I plan to add one if it will fit on the T2 bars. On the same note, a silver bike is not quite what I had in mind. I love loud bikes with multiple colors. That being said, I can live with a color that is not quite the same as my neon green and black carbon Trek 2300.

Knowing what I wanted from a bike and finding the store I wanted to deal with made buying a bike a dream. I put a lot of effort into choosing this bike and I am very happy. Now all I need to do is find more time to ride.

*Let me tell you why I named my bike “Dulcinea.” Dulcinea is a character within a character in the story of Don Quixote. Dulcinea is a figment of Don Quixote’s imagination, loosely based on a lady of questionable upbringing. He goes "into battle" for her, charging the windmills as if they were dragons. While I can dream of "The Tour" while on long rides, I can also keep chasing my goal of Kona some day. After riding a carbon Trek 2300 for almost 20 years, there is little substitute for carbon bikes for me. I would have loved to purchase a Maldone, but $$$ got in the way. Dulcinea may be no Maldone, but she is all mine, and not a bad substitute at that.


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date: June 5, 2006


Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03


Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03

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