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The 7.7FX is the one-from-the top Trek ‘bike path’ bike. They’ve designed it to be a do-it-all machine: recreation, transportation and exercise. It’s a road bike with an upright geometry – not an easy thing to deliver on – but as a package it's a good lightweight commuter, if a little upright for longer jaunts.
Trek have gone to a lot of trouble to make the upright position work, the two key features being the Isozone insert which is an elastomer dampener at the top of the seatstays (Trek are keen to point out it's not 'suspension'), and the Nebula Plus saddle with flexform – basically a pivot that allows the saddle to move in a slight arc along the line of the bike – which is specifically designed for the riding position of the FX series. These two, combined with the carbon fork and seatpost make for a comfy, road buzz free ride.
It works really well as a get around town commuter, just hop on and power away. The frame is stiff enough to transfer anything you put through the pedals in to forward speed. This is where the disadvantage of the upright position comes in though: once you are up to a decent speed (especially if you’ve been racing the roadies from the traffic lights, and this bike is particularly good at that) it’s not so easy to keep it up. The bike is so short – more so than some other hybrids – that the upright position makes you act as a very effective airbrake. I swapped the stock stem out for a 130mm unit just to get a little bit lower.
The Isozone dampener works a treat to make the ride comfortable, but once you load it up you do notice there’s a bit of wobble. That wobble turned into a scary shimmy descending with luggage at over 30mph at one point, which is not great. I used the bike quite a lot with my son in a child seat and had to be very careful to keep the speed down coming down hills. It's much better when it's unloaded at the back.
The drivetrain works really well and I loved the 105 flat bar controls, they give a very positive shift (clunk!). You can trim the front mech (two positions) in the granny and middle rings which is helpful, but I did get a bit confused with the gear indicator for the rear block. This doesn’t seem to have changed from the nine speed mountain biking kit, yet it has to fit 10 gears in what’s designed for three blocks of three: the lowest gear didn’t match up with the lowest position on the indicator. Consequently I found myself looking at the block to know what gear I was in. The bike is sprightly up the climbs – it's better going up than down – but felt a bit overgeared on the steep stuff, especially with a child seat or luggage on the back.
The brakes are a bit of a let down compared to the quality feel of the shifters and drivetrain. They’re perfectly functional and will stop you in no distance at all but they feel a bit cheap and modulation isn't good. Maybe this is where Trek made a saving to fit some of the other kit in, but performance-wise they don't match up to the rest of the spec.
I liked the wheels, they coped admirably with me and my son, even on roughstuff. I particularly liked the underrated (in my opinion) Bonty race lite hardcase tyres. They roll well and feel more racy then you’d expect from a 28. They are good in the wet and above all they are very puncture resistant.
The Trek 7.7FX is comfortable and great fun to ride. Thanks to its light weight and elements of road bike geometry it’s quick off the mark but its upright position is not ideal for bigger rides. The 105 controls are great and it’s a nippy around town bike, but it's not really set up for longer distances.
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Make and model: Trek 7.7FX
Size tested: 20"
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: FX Alpha Black Aluminum w/IsoZone monostay
Fork: Bontrager Nebula, carbon
Wheels: Bontrager Race
Tires: Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase, 700x28c; 60tpi
Shifters: Shimano R770, 10 speed
Front Derailleur: Shimano R773
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Crank: Shimano 105 50/39/30
Cassette: Shimano 105 12-27, 10 speed
Pedals: Wellgo single sided, clipless
Saddle: Bontrager Nebula Plus
Seat Post: Bontrager Nebula Elite, carbon
Handlebars: Bontrager Race, 25mm rise, 31.8mm (15.5, 17.5": 0mm rise)
Stem: Bontrager Nebula, 12 degree, 31.8mm
Headset: Aheadset Slimstak w/cartridge bearings, sealed, alloy
Brakeset: Tektro RX 1.0 w/Tektro alloy levers
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Trek state: “Designed to fit every riding need, the FX Platform is the all-day, every day ride for recreation, transportation or exercise. A versatile, upright riding position coupled with features like Flex Form and IsoZone technology provide optimal comfort for going the distance on the bike path or burning through a quick workout.”
It certainly is a very nice, very comfortable, and really quite nippy bike for recreational riding on the road, bike paths or trails.
Transportation works to a certain degree: because of the IsoZone damping widget at the top of the seatstays, it’s never going to be the stablest load carrier.
Going the distance? It depends what you call distance. 10-20 miles and I’m with Trek. Anything longer than that, especially in sub-optimal weather, and I’d want something less upright.
Similarly, it depends what you want out of a workout. It’s a really nice bike that you’ll want to ride, so I reckon it fits the bill. I don’t think anybody would mistake it for a machine that’ll make you quicker at your next time trial.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The frame and fork both seem of a decent quality. Normal use during the test period didn’t cause any blemishes on the finish. Although I don’t like the looks partly painted carbon fork, the finish quality seems decent.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The Trek 7.7FX’s frame is made from 6000-series aluminium, with the fork made of carbon. The clever bit is this IsoZone insert that sits just above the rear V-brake, where the seatstays join together into a monostay. Trek reckon they’ve “killed vibration in the range a rider feels most (between 40-50 Hz), a rate of twice that of any other system currently on the market.” I can’t vouch for the numbers, but the bike certainly feels comfortable because of it.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
My experience of the geometry is pretty much as Trek describe it: practically a road bike, but with an upright riding position. It felt really quite short with the stock stem for a bike that was evidently my size in every other dimension. Swapping out the stem to a 130mm road one sorted this out to a certain extent for me.
Where I noticed the road bike geometry most is that the seat tube angle seemed almost racing bike steep. The consequence of this is that your sitting relatively far forward, with your weight pretty close to the bottom bracket, which is really good for putting the power down.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The carbon fork, Isozone insert and the carbon seatpost certainly soak up the road buzz. I found the saddle extremely comfortable, especially so for the upright riding position (which is what the saddle is specifically designed for).
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too felxible?
The bike has the right stiffness for what it’s designed for. Power transfer is good, but it’s flexible enough to be comfortable.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is exceptional on this bike, put your foot down at the traffic light and you’ll have no problem keeping up with the roadies. Because of it’s upright position, you’ll have to work hard to keep that speed going though.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
There was no overlap.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Unloaded, the bike feels stable and handles very well. As soon as you add a rack with any significant weight, you can feel that the bike was not really designed for this purpose.
Commuting with a couple of small panniers full of clothes, you notice that the back-end starts to wobble a bit. More worrying is that descending with this type of load (around the 10kg mark) the bike starts shimmying around 30-35mph.
Similarly, with a 2.5yr old boy on the back, you have to be careful. Once you’re cruising it’s fine, but manoeuvring at low speeds can be tricky. I wouldn’t even dream of taking the bike up to 35mph with my son on the back.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Not really for me
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Possibly, depends what they are looking for.
Age: 32 Height: 1.78m Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Cervelo Dual
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, fixed/singlespeed, Audax