2018 Trek Crockett 7 Review

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2018 Trek Crockett 7

2018 Trek Crockett 7

Just two weeks ago Trek unveiled the new version of Crockett, a purebred aluminium cyclocross bike thats capable of doing double duty as a gravel grinder and a racer.   The Crockett is the capable little brother of the Trek Boone, the cyclocross bike that’s been ridden by CX legends like Katie Compton and Sven Nys.

The timing was actually perfect for me as I’d been in the hunt for a new bike that could handle racing as a cyclocross bike, riding as a gravel grinder, and a travelling as road bike durable enough for me to pack up fly with and ride in places like Cuba or New Zealand.  Make no mistake, first and foremost the Crockett is designed for cross racing, but Trek definitely took steps to make it a more versatile platform in this latest iteration.

The biggest changes between the 2018 Crockett and the previous generation were; the addition of 15mm front and 12mm rear thru axles for additional stiffness through the hubs, additional clearance to run beefy tires as wide as 42mm for gnarly backcountry roads, direct mount disc brakes (cantilever brakes are no longer available on the Crockett) and a 150g lighter frame.  Perhaps the coolest thing that we’re seeing on the new Crockett is the addition of stranglehold rear dropouts, meaning the Crocektt is singlespeed ready straight off the rack.

So as soon as the Crockett was available (actually before it was even made public), I ordered the Crockett 7 and had it on its way to the shop.  I’ve only managed to put about a dozen hours into the bike right now, but here are my first thoughts, and the key variables that led me to my decision.

Crockett 5 vs Crockett 7

The differences between the Crockett 5 and Crockett 7 are in the component specs.  While the frames are identical save for their paint schemes, the big differences are that the Crockett 5 comes equipped with SRAM Rival components and mechanical disc brakes.  Shelling out over a grand more for the Crockett 7 will get you SRAM Force components with a 1x drivetrain and direct mount hydraulic discs.

For me, mechanical discs were a non-starter and equipping the bike with SRAM Force shaves about a pound off of the bike. So the decision was pretty much made.  Personally I find that mechanical discs on road applications simply don’t yield sufficient benefit over rim brakes in terms of tactile feedback and modulation for me to warm to them at all. I’d used the TRP Spyre’s on the Giant TCX SLR 2 that I previously owned, and while they’re arguably the best road discs available, I still prefer the feel of Shimano Ultegra or even 105 rim brakes on conventional road applications.

So the Crockett 7 it was.

Geometry

The Crockett shares its geometry with the race winning Boone, but what differentiates the Boone from the Crockett is the carbon frame and addition of Trek’s proprietary IsoSpeed decoupler, a setup that allows the top tube and seat tube to flex independently from one another, providing for a more supple ride.

I immediately found that I preferred the geometry of the Crockett to the Giant TCX SLR.  Sitting lower into the bike I’ve found that on fast and flowy singletrack I feel more planted into the bike as opposed to on top of the bike, which is characteristic of other cross frames that I’ve ridden.

An issue that comes up with cyclocross bikes that do double duty as road bikes or commuters is that the higher centre of gravity that the geometry of the bike creates in order to accommodate a larger triangle and higher bottom bracket can make the bike a little sketchy at higher speeds.  That’s a characteristic that you become acutely aware of at speeds over 50kph.  On the Crockett however you sit a little closer to the ground with more bottom bracket drop and a shorter seat tube than bikes like the Giant TCX SLR, so I certainly didn’t feel out of place or sketched out on the bike during higher speed descents out on the road.

The geometry of the Crockett is such that you never really feel out of place on the bike, regardless of terrain, whether its grassy trails, flowy singletrack, gravel roads, or plush pavement. Which leads me to my next point.

Versatility

As I mentioned earlier, I landed on the Crockett after a search for a bike that could be my Swiss army knife for riding.

Specifically, I needed a bike that would be all of the following;

  • A bike that would be fun on non technical, flowy singletrack with my wife who’d be on a hardtail mountain bike (the Crockett can take up to 42mm tires)
  • A racer I could bust out in the fall for cross season (it’s a Cyclocross bike after all…)
  • A road bike durable enough that I could travel with and not need to worry about baggage handlers setting me back a couple grand with a cracked top tube or chain stay (aluminium frame, and solid geometry)
  • A city bike that’s just nice enough for me to be stoked to ride it in town for a 2 hour rip, but not so nice that I’d be scared to lock it up while I go in for a coffee (Specialized Langster single speed wasn’t cutting it in the hills, Madone is overkill for in town)

For all of the above reasons, the Crockett was a clear an obvious choice.

There were other bikes that I considered, like the Specialized Diverge and the Trek Domane S5 Disc, but the Specialized was a little too rich for the spec that I was looking for, and the both the Trek and Domane were too in to the gravel/road bike category to take onto the trails.

I also looked at the Giant TCX SX, and actually almost pulled the trigger on another Giant TCX SLR 1. But the TCX SX that is actually a steal for a carbon frame cross/gravel bike in the $2000 range, and the SLR 1 were both impossible to get availability on in my size. Giant’s exceptional value frequently means that actually getting your hands on a bike late in the season can be exceptionally difficult.

While I’m on the topic of Giant, the Giant TCX’s have curiously long top tubes, such that I’d ride a small in them while I ride a 52cm or 54cm road bike in any other brand. Part of why I’m not crazy about their geometry.

How’s it ride?

So far I’m loving the Crockett. I’ve put a few hours into it on quick and flowy grassy terrain, and a few hours into it on gravel and pavement running 32mm Bontrager RL tires. In either case the Crockett has been responsive and nimble in handling. And while it definitely lacks the snappiness of a carbon frame road bike or a Boone in pick up or acceleration, its an easy tradeoff to make given the ultimate versatility you gain with the an aluminium cross bike.

Out of the box the Crockett 7 comes with a 11-32 cassette and 40 tooth SRAM Force crank running as a 1x drivetrain. For the mix of applications that I need the bike for over the next month (road and gravel riding in Australia and New Zealand), I actually found that the 40 tooth ring wasn’t quite a big enough ring so I’ve swapped it out for a 44. The verdict is out for me as to whether I’ll swap it back when I get back to Calgary. 44 on a 1x is on the edge of too big for bigger climbs out on the trail, but its already pretty easy to spin out on the tarmac with it, which makes me question switching back to a 40t. I guess I can just get bigger quads…

Over the next couple weeks I’ll put the bike through a few more paces, and follow up to this review.

Raf
Raf
Rafael Lopez is an entrepreneur, blogger, and athlete living in Calgary, Canada. When he's not running between coffee meetings in downtown Calgary, you'll find him on one of his four bikes (Trek Madone 9.2, Trek Fuel Ex 8, Trek Project One Speed Concept 9, Specialized Langster Las Vegas), or out for a run on the Bow River, or shredding the pow in the Canadian Rockies.
Showing 8 comments
  • Brant Arthur

    Thanks for the early review! The new crockett looks great, though I want something in between the 5 and 7 ($2,500 for a Rival HRD sounds about right). I’m curious that you went bigger on the chain ring – I was thinking of getting an 11-36 cassette or 10-42 (my favorite dirt climb for this kind of bike is 30 min at 11%). I look forward to hearing more about the frame and the value given that there are similar $3k carbon bikes.

    • Raf

      Hey Brant! Yeah the reason I went to a 44 was that I’m actually going to be road racing the bike in Auckland this month. I have a Trek Madone that actually would have been perfect for that, but I’ve got 7 different flights for the few weeks that I’ll be down here, so I didn’t want to trust a dozen different baggage handlers with my carbon road bike. I actually think that a 42 would be perfect for the bike, especially with an 11-36, it’ll give you tonnes of range especially with what sounds like an awesome gnarly climb.

      And yeah I’m on the same page as you with the group spec. I think I would have opted for Rival with hydraulics had it been an option. I looked at going frame only as well and building it up with Rival and hydro, but even with Trek U prices, that price would have been way past the break even versus off the rack. I’ll update the review in a couple weeks once I’ve raced it and taken it out on some more trails!

  • APW

    Awesome review. Thanks Raf. I’ve got a new Crockett FS in my LBS awaiting the rest of the parts for my build. I’m setting up a CX-1 Force drivetrain also with hydro disks. Cassette is 11-28, and I am getting the new Easton crank that has a nice way to swap rings; I am planning on having a 38 to start (gravel grinder in the mountains will be my first foray) and then also a 42 or 44 for other applications. That crank takes some weight out too. Easton stem / bar / post, and wheels too. I think this is going to be a great ride…. ANdrew

    • Raf

      I like the sound of that set up, 11-32 is pretty wide for the cassette on mine. Its fine, but an easier setup to switch chainrings would be preferable to just sucking it up with a one size fits all ring (which isn’t quite realistic) with a wider cassette. I’m actually going to look into that myself now that you mention it!

  • Ian

    Hi there,
    I’m waiting on the new Boone release and also interested to see the spec they offer here in Australia. I run 11/42 with a 34 single ring on my XC bike but was actually considering going to the extreme of a 2×11 set up on the Boone with an 11/42 mtb cassette and derailleur paired to a 34/46 front double crankset. I’m hoping that the Boone will replace my road bike entirely and be the go-to for gravel adventures and CX racing. Seems like too big a range and gaps between gears but I know 2 others running this sort of set up and they seem happy with it. Any comments?

    • Raf

      Yeah I was actually waiting on the Boone as well to see what they did. Based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think that the Boone will get a wholesale frame redesign. My guess is that it’ll go similar to the Domane where there will be an “entry level” Boone 5 or S level Boone which is the existing frame, and then there’ll be an SL Boone or Boone 7 that will have the front isoSpeed decoupler that we’ve seen in the pro circuit over the past year.

      If I wasn’t such a sucker for aero bikes, I’d actually look at the same options as you. I think the Boone as a one bike for gravel/road/CX is a fantastic idea. Essentially the Domane fills that space for a lot of people, but it just doesn’t have the tire clearance to have a go at CX. But one of the guys I work with has definitely taken his Domane SL onto some pretty rooty local single track with 32mm tire, and he was pretty stoked on it. For a little while I even thought of having the Boone RSL as a one bike for everything, but its only available with canti brakes here in North America. Though at just over 16lbs, it gives most road bikes a run for their money, and its still a thoroughbred cross racer.

      As far as the gearing, yeah its a huge range you’re looking at and I’d just ask myself how often I’m using that 42 on the cassette with the 34. If its lots, yeah man, go for it. And on the flip side, when I’m pushing the 44-11 on my Crockett with slicks, I’m cruising pretty good. Its just big steps between gears and I’d have a think on how oftne you’re using them all.

      Where abouts in Australia are you? I’m actually just in Auckland right now and was in Sydney for a week and a half earlier this month.

      • Ian

        I’m in the Blue Mountains about an hour outside of Sydney. There are some pretty good back-country gravel rides around this area that require descent gearing range, maybe not the extreme of a 42 but more than a 11/32.
        Thanks for the reply.

  • Rob

    Just to let you know, so somebody doesn’t buy the frame/fork thinking they need to spec different wheelset/hubset. The 2018 Crocket went to 12mm front and 12mm rear.

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