Having it your way has almost never been easier – at least when it to comes to a custom build by a major brand. Okay – the build options are not limitless, but there’s enough choice to cover most ride configurations and make most riders pretty happy.
Trek’s Project One custom program has been around since late 2001, but has undergone some serious reconstruction, both to the production side to allow faster builds and delivery of one-off bikes, and to the website, which allows customers to choose a frame, select a paint scheme, add components, price the bike … and see how it all looks from the comfort of their web connected device.
About the only thing it doesn’t do is actually place an order, which you still gotta do through an official Trek dealer. This fail safe ensures you get a bike that fits right, because you’ll be guided through the fit process to confirm size specs of frame, stem, bars and cranks by someone who likely knows a helluva lot more about fit than you do.
The program is great for customers wanting personalized bikes as it leverages Trek’s relationships and huge buying power with their suppliers, and their huge network of well trained dealers, to deliver you a very customized build within 14 days from order, and for the same price you’d pay for a dealer’s showroom bike.
Watching your own custom Madone materialize before your eyes is a cool thing.
We at PEZ love a good custom build (and no one more so than our Tech Ed. Charles…), and in the process have sampled the works of some of America’s finest builders of custom framesets. But never have we experienced a program like this one – it’s impressive at the very least because it’s from Trek – arguably the most famous brand in the US. Smaller brands have been successful at capturing market share by offering what the big guys can’t – personal attention to detail in building bikes made to measure for each customer. But now, Trek aims to offer more personal selection to customers who’s egos won’t allow them to be ‘just another guy on a Trek’.
Trek’s Project One program doesn’t offer custom length tube sets, or funky one-off frame sets, but it does offer a degree of customization that no other major US brand does. (The only other web-based build-your-own program I’ve seen is by Orbea.) Customers can choose from Trek’s seven standard size Madone 6.9 and 6.5 frames, in Pro or Performance, or two sizes of WSD (Women specific) versions, then choose from a big variety of paint colors and schemes, component groups from the big three, and wheel sets, bars, stems, saddles and tires from Bontrager.
There’s enough choice here to please almost every taste, and the real finicky guys can always order just a frame set to buildup at their leisure.
You can order full bikes, or framesets only.
LET’S BUILD A BIKE
The newly designed website steps you through the design (paint schemes) and component build up of your choice of the higher end Madones. The interface is intuitive and easy to use, and allows you to save each build in case you want to change it later, or email it to a friend.
You start by going to the Projectone.Trekbikes.com.
The site starts you off with a completely built stock Madone 6.9 Pro, then allows you to change almost everything. You can change models to Madone 6.5 or 6.5 Pro, 6.5 WSD, or 6.9 (Performance version). I tested the Performance version a few months back (read the review here) and really liked it, so this time I tried the Pro version with its slightly shorter headtube.
This opening screen serves as your drawing board, on which you create and change your ultimate Madone – just in case you get too lost in uber-bike heaven, there’s a little reality check in the lower left corner of the screen – the running total of the retail price of the bike – which changes with each piece of spec you add or subtract.
The four major areas of customization are listed on the screen as Paint Scheme, Personalize, Drivetrain, and Components. Given its huge impact on how the bike looks it’s no surprise Trek has put Paint Scheme at the top of the list.
Next to their influence on ride quality, wheels can change the look of a bike dramatically – as you’ll see for yourself.
Then the fun begins right away as you decide how your own persona will be displayed via bicycle. The easy to use interface shows you exactly how the frame will look in different colors and paint designs, and is where I spent way too much ‘non-work’ time painting and drooling over so many cool looks. Four categories of paint finishes include Solid, Flames, Criterium (two colors + black – adds up to somewhere near 300 different choices in this one category) and Custom themes (6 very distinct paint schemes from Flying Ace, to Astana Team replica, flames, lightning and more.)
No truly custom bike is complete without the rider’s name on the top tube… so of course Trek gives the option to add your name or other words (of reasonable taste…)
The cool thing here is that no major gruppo brand has been left out. We all know a Campy equipped Trek is a rare site – but now it’s possible with just the click of a mouse. It’s here too that you can choose some less than common colors for cable housing and hood color also…
• Gruppo: Campy Record (Double & Compact), Shimano Dura-Ace (Double, Triple & Compact (Bontrager), SRAM Red & Force
• Brakes: multiple choices of Bontrager, Campy, Shimano, Sram
• Cable Housing Color – black, white, red, blue, yellow, and a bunch more for the really adventurous.
• Hood Color: Black, red and of course ever-cool white
All your favorite drive train choices are available, including Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM Red.
Then it’s on to the Component Selector
• Wheelset: Bontragers only – but 6 different wheelsets – both carbon and aluminum, and a Powertap hub version. I’ve been very impressed with both the Bontrager XXX Lite Carbon clincher and the Aeolus 5.0 carbon clinchers.
• Tires: Bontrager Race X-Lite AC’s only – but in your choice of 7 different colors
• Stem: Bontrager Race X Lite OS and XXX Lite Carbon, both in black or white
• Handlebar: Bontrager Race X Lite Blade VR, XXX Lite VR OS, Fit VR.
• Bar Tape: gel cork or grippy
• Seatpost – standard Madone seat cap, comes in a zero and 25 mm set back.
120mm or 160mm length, and in setbacks of 5mm, 20mm, or +10mm
• Saddle: 6 choices of Bontrager saddles and a bunch of colors.
Big thanks to OBSESSION BIKES for the build, setup, and fit.
Don’t Forget The Dealer
Once your bike is done (in digital format), you can do a few things with it:
• Save it – so you can come back and tweak whatever you want,
• Print it – to admire on your cork board or fridge,
• Email it – to your soon to be jealous friends.
• Order it – send an email to notify Trek or your local dealer that you are ready to buy using the “Order This Bike” option, after which you’ll get a call from Trek or your local dealer to set up a fit consultation.
Don’t worry about being too giddy once you’ve designed your dream Madone, the site keeps you on track with easy to follow steps to order.
Nobody wants a bike that doesn’t fit right, so Trek has you covered by keeping their dealers in the loop so you don’t go ordering a bike with frame size, bars, stem, seatpost setback, cassette size and crank length all in the wrong size.
Savvy customers will notice there’s no way to specify these dimensions in the build up process – because Trek wants to ensure you get the bike you not only want – but also fits.
Once you’ve signed off on the size specifics, your dealer submits the order, and in about 2 weeks, they receive your custom built to order Trek Madone. Not a bad little program, and one that makes ordering a bike a lot more fun if you like choices…
Trek didn’t need to ask me twice to log in and build up a bike to test the new program – in fact – this bike was the very first full build to go through the revamped production system.
One final note is that dealers can also order bikes specific to their market, allowing them to save time and money of after sale parts swaps.
Hey, and if all this internet website mumbo jumbo is too much tech you, you can still do it the old fashioned way and walk into a Trek dealer. They’ll be happy to look after you I’m sure…
• Consumer site launched September 16 – dealers are waiting!
See it here: Projectone.Trekbikes.com