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  1. #1
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    Trek Portland 2011

    Gree-tings BF.

    SHORT VERSION: My LBS has $3,250 of mine and I will be purchasing a new bicycle tomorrow, possibly the Trek Portland.

    Questions: Is this a solid bicycle? What upgrades should I add for a 13 mile commute (one-way)? I'm very new to the commuter bicycle market and I would greatly appreciate ANY advice you guys can share.

    LONG VERSION:
    I ordered a Carbon District two months ago and the delivery date was recently pushed back for a second time to late September.

    I'm considering canceling that order and placing a new one for a Trek Portland 2011. I realize the bikes serve two different purposes, but my need for a commuter with a little hauling capacity is greater than my need for a strictly fun quick-getter.

    Since the Carbon District is already paid for, my LBS says he can cancel the order as soon as I give him the word and he will place an oder for a bike of same/similar costs, to include optional components such as racks etc.

    NOW, what I came here for is a little advice on what I may need for this bike?

    Carbon District (as I paid for it) - $3.250

    What I'm thinking about buying:
    -Portland Organ - $1,650
    -Race X Lite Wheels (as Madone trainers) - $900


    Leaving me with $550-800 to spend on other components. The math doesn't add up, but the prices above are MSRP and my LBS usually knocks off $100 or $200.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    tsl
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    I own a 2006 Portland. It's my favorite of the four bikes in my fleet. It's also the best riding bike I own, and that includes steel and Ti bikes with carbon forks. If I had to, I'd sell any or all of my other bikes, but you'll need to pry my Portland from my cold, dead fingers.

    The 2011 version of the Portland addresses a couple of shortcomings of recent models.

    • They've restored Avid BB7 brakes to the line-up. The Avids stop like you've reached the end of a rope, yet modulate better than Ultegra rim brakes with KoolStops. The feel in the levers is orgasmic.
    • They've changed the wheels. Wheels were my biggest issue on my Portland. The new ones are still 24-spoke, but at least they're not that silly paired-spoke lacing. I can't say if the new wheels are any better than the old ones, but they couldn't be any worse.
    • I've changed my mind about the 9-speed drivetrain. Two or three years ago, I saw it as a downgrade. After buying lots of 10-speed chains, and recently acquiring an older 9-speed bike, I think 9-speed is the sweet spot between number of cogs and cost of consumable parts.
    • The fork is new for 2011, so I can't comment on it. Except to note that it has separate fender and low-rider mounts. The old fork had only lowrider mounts, and it's a trick to mount full fenders on them
    • A rear rack is now standard. It's just plain silly that for four years one wasn't.
    • Older models came stock with SPD clipless, which I thought was great, but it raised a ruckus from the plain shoe set. Now the plain shoe guys will be happy and we clipless people will have to buy our own pedals, just like on any other bike.


    Most other Portland owners I know also have swapped the "fenderettes" for full fenders. I put the stock quick-release fenders on one of my road bikes, and full fenders on the Portland.

    My bike was two years old NOS when I bought it. Three years and 10,000 miles down the road, I stand by every word I wrote about it on my Test Ride, and Initial Review.

    Updates since then:
    • The issue I identified with the rear brake was resolved with a change in cable routing starting with the 2008 models. I rerouted my rear brake cable myself. Not as pretty, but now the rear brake works and feels just like the front.
    • My initial fears about the wheels were confirmed. I couldn't afford to replace them until last fall, when I bought a handbuilt set including a dynamo hub up front.


    Those were my only issues with the bike, and both have been addressed by Trek with the 2011 model.

    Due to equipment downgrades, I couldn't recommend the 2009 and 2010 Portlands. The 2011 model regains my recommendation.

    PS: Those tires are also new for 2011. I haven't ridden those, but my Portland just loves the 28mm Continental GrandPrix 4-Seasons I put on it this past spring.
    Last edited by tsl; 08-31-10 at 03:03 AM. Reason: Added PS
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  3. #3
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    tsl, you are the man. thank you for the informative response. if i do buy this bike and decide I don't like it, I'm blaming you.

    About the drivetrain/brakes. I'm looking to lighten this thing as much as possible without compromising strength. My first upgrade will be Dura Ace components, but only the ones I can afford. In your opinion, what do you feel would be the best upgrade? Derailleurs, shifters, crank, etc?

  4. #4
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by KruiserIV View Post
    tsl, you are the man. thank you for the informative response. if i do buy this bike and decide I don't like it, I'm blaming you.

    About the drivetrain/brakes. I'm looking to lighten this thing as much as possible without compromising strength. My first upgrade will be Dura Ace components, but only the ones I can afford. In your opinion, what do you feel would be the best upgrade? Derailleurs, shifters, crank, etc?
    My Portland is 105 and Ultegra. I also have an Ultegra and Dura Ace bike. I really can't tell the difference, except for what you'd expect going from a triple to a double.

    In the drivetrain, the big mass is the wheel. Disc hubs are heavier than standard hubs and the rotors count as rotating mass as well. I thought the wheels on mine were much too heavy. Reducing weight and gaining strength were my primary goals on the new wheelset. Counting grams like a supermodel counts carbs, I shaved a whopping 10 grams off the rear wheel. But I also got it from 24 to 32 spokes and 19mm wide to 24.

    If you have too much money, then by all means pimp it out with full DA if you like. Otherwise, put it towards a good set of lights or something.

    EDIT: That said, before Standard Time returns, I'm replacing my 5603 levers with 5703. The only issue I have are the shadows cast by the shift cables from my bar-mounted lights. The 5700s run all the cables under the bar tape, like the newer Ultegra and DA levers do.
    Last edited by tsl; 08-31-10 at 03:28 AM.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  5. #5
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    Pardon my ignorance, but what did you do to reduce wheel weight?

  6. #6
    tsl
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    See For want of a lockring, Ride Report, and Wheel Pics.

    You do know it wasn't a typo when I said I saved a whopping 10 (ten) grams on the rear wheel?

    The front gained weight due to the dynamo hub. I like that whole lighting system so much, it could have gained twice what it did and I'd still be happy.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  7. #7
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    If you could totally trick out your portland with THE top of the line Shiamno, Campy or SRAM, no holds barred. What would you do?

  8. #8
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by KruiserIV View Post
    If you could totally trick out your portland with THE top of the line Shiamno, Campy or SRAM, no holds barred. What would you do?
    6700/6703. The triple is what makes it for me. The other two don't offer triples.

    • My pure roadies are standard doubles, and I'm a solid 39-ring rider.
    • A compact would have me shifting the front in the middle of every block.
    • But, I need the granny for hauling groceries up the hill and slogging through the snow with the studded tires on.


    For these reasons, all my commuting/errand bikes will always be triples.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  9. #9
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    You are the man. I'm taking this info to my LBS right now and we're going to hash out some details. Thanks again tsl~

    Can we give karma?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kojak's Avatar
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    Before pulling the trigger, look at this:

    http://www.baronbicycles.com/bikes/ousider-disc

    Your bike shop could order one for you direct from Baron or you can buy direct. The Outsider is what I ride for commutes/winter training.

    Very nice handbuilt steel frame with fenders and rack mounts.
    Last edited by Kojak; 08-31-10 at 01:13 PM.
    Guy K. Browne

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  11. #11
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    I discussed the bike with my LBS for a few hours this morning and i'm still thinking about what I want. I want A) for the bike to look good and b) cost under $3k, C) Available to my LBS (I'm not asking for a refund, he simply canx'd the District and gave me credit.)

    Any other thoughts for some sturdy 9/10 speed commuters? Prefer steel, but aluminum will work.

    As for style, I like sport style, but I also like the classic style, similar to the 2010 Trek Portland.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Kojak's Avatar
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    The Baron I previously mentioned has: "Race inspired geometry makes for handling that’s quick yet stable."

    This is what one looks like w/o fendersBaron_steps..jpg
    Guy K. Browne

    Schwalbe North America
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  13. #13
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    totally concur on the awesomeness of the Portland, even though I don't own one. I spent about the same money on a Soho and a Roubaix, and I wish I'd bought a Portland instead. maybe I will sell them and buy the bike you are getting. congrats, lucky you...
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  14. #14
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    Just a quick opinion--if you're also in the market for training wheels for the Madone, consider the Bontrager Classics instead of the Race X Lites. X Lites are still a not unfragile race wheel; Classics would hold up better for lengthy training.

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    All great advice. Do you own both pairs Mconlonx?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by KruiserIV View Post
    All great advice. Do you own both pairs Mconlonx?
    No. I work in a Trek dealership...

  17. #17
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    For that amount of coin, I would look at a custom build. I'm not talking a custom frame necessarily, but an off-the-shelf frame, components, and wheels you want. These can all be found online easily, and there are numerous custom wheel builders. Basic tools and wrenching skills or a good mechanic at your LBS are also needed, of course. This assumes you have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for in a commmuter bike. I'm not bashing Trek (I have a Madone and couldn't be happier with it), but paying close to MSRP for a Trek makes a custom build a serious contender. If you can get the Trek at around 20-25% off MSRP, then go for it.

  18. #18
    smitten by саша pwdeegan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alan s View Post
    For that amount of coin, I would look at a custom build. I'm not talking a custom frame necessarily, but an off-the-shelf frame, components, and wheels you want. These can all be found online easily, and there are numerous custom wheel builders. Basic tools and wrenching skills or a good mechanic at your LBS are also needed, of course. This assumes you have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for in a commmuter bike. I'm not bashing Trek (I have a Madone and couldn't be happier with it), but paying close to MSRP for a Trek makes a custom build a serious contender. If you can get the Trek at around 20-25% off MSRP, then go for it.
    +1
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kojak View Post
    The Baron I previously mentioned has: "Race inspired geometry makes for handling that’s quick yet stable."

    This is what one looks like w/o fendersBaron_steps..jpg
    THat is one beautiful bike.


    And btw, I was in my LBS last week and a fellow had ordered a Jamis Aurora Elite... Needless to say, we talked a bit, I did some research, and ordered one on Saturday =D

  20. #20
    Senior Member Kojak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KruiserIV View Post
    THat is one beautiful bike.
    I sure like mine.
    Guy K. Browne

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  21. #21
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    i really like the trek portland. i wish they did a 135mm rear end. that would be great and really open up the rear hub options. this is also the big thing turning me off on it too.

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