Monday, December 08, 2014

Bike Tests: Trek FX 7.3 vs. Cannondale Quick 4

I am getting closer to deciding which hybrid/city bike to buy and I made some good progress this weekend. I tried 2 bikes, which I thought would ride very similarly but were overall quite different from each other.

The first one I tried was the Trek FX 7.3.

This one has an MSRP of $649 but I found it here in SF for only $599. This is a pretty stellar price for the quality of this bike -- 27 speed (3x9), nice slick 700c x 32 tires, a nice light-enough frame, and of course, it comes in fluorescent green which is a requirement for me (at least, the fluorescent part).

It rode pretty well on the streets of Cole Valley, lots of potholes and random sidewalk jumping etc. The grips on the handlebars were nice and had a nice squishy feel to them. The bike had good pickup (though, at first glance, not as fast as the Cyclocross I tried a couple weeks ago, as expected). The pedals were nice and the shifters were in the "good-enough" category. I didn't love the brakes (not super responsive) but the sales guy (who was very good) said they could be tightened up a bit. Overall, pretty excellent, and this might be the winner for me. You can upgrade to a Trek FX 7.4 or a Trek FX 7.5 which comes with a carbon fork for a nominal extra fee. This seems like a potentially good idea as it dampens the bumps in the road without adding extra weight of a front suspension. That said, Trek reaaallly sucked it up with the crappy colour schemes in the 2015 models.

Dude. Seriously. They need to hire some more wild artists up there -- beautiful bikes, but man they need some more pizazz! This Trek FX 7.3 thankfully not only comes in drab something, but also comes in this epic green beaut. But the 7.4 and 7.5 both only come in plain and simple, black, white, grey. It's really plain, and suuuuper boring. Not a fan. Honestly, I may by the lower model just because the upper models look so boring. Not a great reason, but what are you gonna do when your colour choices are Grey or White?!?! Bah. C'mon guys.

Something that does rock a lot is Trek's 2014 model of the FX 7.5. This is super awesome, really funky, and I love it. I am trying to find this one in my frame size (17.5") currently... it sure is epic. :)

Now THAT is how you paint a bike! The extra blue on the pedals? Nice touch.

So I did really like the Trek FX 7.3, and I'm kindof a Trek man these days given all my Trail bike testing. I may go with one of these, and I really do like how this year they are putting the cables inside of the frame -- that's nice when you're constantly stuffing a bike in a trunk. Nice to have those tucked away. Overall, a great and comfortable ride, but a little bumpy. I need to try the carbon fork and see if that makes a difference. The tires were 700c x 32, so a little wider than I was planning maybe but they are slicks, so that's good.

Today, I went to go try to Cannondale Quick 4, as well. This does have a Carbon fork, and is somewhat equivalent to the 7.4 or 7.5. This was a fun ride as well, but I didn't like it for a couple of reasons as compared with the Trek.

Cannondale definitely hired someone to pick out colours other than black and white, so they beat Trek on that front (at least for 2015). But otherwise, Trek is the winner.

The Quick 4 is one of the highest of the Quick range of bikes, comes with 700c x 32 tires as well. Having not just been on the Trek this weekend I would have probably enjoyed the Quick more, but I felt it was missing a few things. I didn't like the (presumably, nylon) pedals only -- I thought that Trek's metal caging was a nice touch. This bike also comes with 3x8 gears instead of 3x9, with those extras being pretty useful on the San Francisco hills. The brakes were more responsive than the Trek 7.3, and it did actually feel a little less bumpy on the roads (may be due to the carbon fork). The pickup was pretty good, but the tires were a bit knobbly compared to the Trek. I feel like the shifting was similar. The "feel" of the Trek was better since I am so comfortable with Trek.

In general, this was a nice bike, but some components of it felt "cheap" and not as buttoned-up as Trek. The cables inside the frame was a nice touch on Trek as well as the metal pedal cages. I also prefer the slick tires, since I'm getting this thing to do a faster commute on. The seat on the Trek was better, just generally it felt like a better "final product" than the Cannondale, though this Quick sure does market itself well -- all the parts of it, the tires, the seat, the pedals... everything says "Quick" on it.

I think my next step is to try out a Trek FX 7.4 and 7.5 and see if I like those. I think the Carbon fork may offer some nice shock absorption and I suspect those will be a bit lighter too. The only concern I may have at that point, stupidly, is the lack of colour choices. If I can score a 2014 Trek FX 7.5 in that crazy blue, I might be all set.

Oh yes, and by the way, these are the first flat-bar hybrids I've tested. They are great, much more comfortable and city-friendly than the other bikes I've tried. I think my arms are actually just not long enough to ride a bike with my hands over the bike "hoods" on a road/cyclocross bike. I didn't find either of those as comfortable as I suspected it should be, and I think I'm pretty sure I'm gonna end up getting a flat bar. I could always add new handlebars later if I really need to... but this seems like it's going to work better for my needs.


Trail Boy said...

Interesting write-up. So which one (if either) did you get? I'm comparing these same two bikes myself.

Unknown said...

Same here.

GP3K said...

Searching for a new bike now. My old bike is a 2003 era Diamonback Outlook. Good solid city bike, but a bit on the heavy-slow side, I think.

I'm interested in trying out the Trek Fx bikes. I understand Avenue Cyclery and Valencia Street Cycles are the two Trek dealers in the City.

Prefer to find a shop west of Divisadero.

GP3K said...

So just an update...

I test rode the FX 7.3, and the newer FX 3 and FX 2.

The FX 3 was a lot smoother ride than the other two, which seemed identical to me.

Not sure what to attribute the difference to.

The FX 3 was $650, FX 7.3 was $539, and the FX 2 was $470.

Unknown said...

I have the 2014 FX 7.5 in that lovely blue and white combination, I love it! I hope you managed to get one too. It's such a light and sprightly bike, and it's a dream to ride.