The TREK Y-Foil...
And in-depth review that still
stands after three years!
(since then a number of years have passed, and there are no more to be had.
Still a great, classic machine as of August, 2006!)
by Mike Jacoubowsky
Also, a customer review!
And, no more Y-Foils?
|08/23/06- NO MORE Y-FOILS LEFT! Our
last Y-Foil, a very nice Y77 in 48cm size, found a nice home last week.
01/29/04- Last large Y-Foil sold, only 48 & 51cm
remaining. It was a good run while it lasted, but if you're over
5'7", the party's over. But we've got plenty of other TREK carbon
bikes that will fit, including 5000s, 5200s, 5500s, 5900s & Madones!
04/19/02 Preamble: OK, what's going on?
Did someone print a wonderful review of Y-Foils in Sports Illustrated or
what? I'm getting multiple daily emails from people all over the
country, desperate to buy one from us. Please note that we cannot sell
these bikes via mail-order though, due to TREKs dealer agreement (even if
you promise not to tell anyone!) But if you're local to Northern
California, the tables at the bottom of this page show the stock remaining
This is one cool road bike, no doubt about it. Capitalizing on their experience and
success with carbon fiber road and mountain bikes, TREK has taken a step beyond
traditional bike design, fully taking advantage of all that carbon has to offer. The
result is a road bike that is as striking as it is controversial.
You may be aware that TREK is the manufacturer of probably the most nearly-perfect
ultimate road frameset in the world...the OCLV 5500. At 2.41 pounds, it's way-light. It's
also way-comfortable with its full-carbon frameset doing a phenomenal job of damping
vibration and road bumps, and it climbs like a bat-out-of-you-know-where. And finally,
it's become 100% accepted all over the place...go to any race or century ride, and you'll
find them propelling zillions of riders to extraordinary feats. In short, the OCLV 5500
(same frame as found on the 5000, 5200 and 5220 bicycles) has made the transition in just
seven short years from new, exciting and risky to proven, reliable and a "safe"
purchase for even the most conservative rider.
Soon youll be adding the Y-Foil to that list.
Instead of using conventional round tubes made of extremely unconventional materials, the
Y-Foil utilizes carbon-fiber's ability to be made into dramatic, aerodynamic shapes
without the weight penalties associated with other materials. And, when combined with Rolf
wheels, you end up with an ultimate, wind-cheating design for a reasonable price.
But how does it ride???
More different than you can imagine, more familiar than you'd expect. And no, I don't
always talk that way, but that's what this bike is doing to me.
When you first start out, you get the unmistakable feeling that your seat is bouncing
around a bit, obviously an effect of the beam-style seat connection. What you're getting
is a certain amount of suspension in this area, and since this is not something normally
found on a road bike, it feels a bit strange. No, it feels very strange! And, because the
rear is acting like this and the front is like a "normal" bike, one gets the
immediate feeling that it's "harsh" in the front end. Such is not the case.
After no more than three miles, all feeling that the seat was moving around disappeared. I
liken this phenomenon to how it feels the first time you try a "floating" pedal
design... it seems like your feet are swimming around excessively, but by the end of the
day, you don't notice it at all. You settle down and enjoy the ride. And I do mean enjoy
On decent road surfaces, you find the rear of the bike exceedingly comfortable, perhaps so
much so that you notice more road hash coming up through the front fork than you'd expect.
The reality is that the front end of the bike is just like most other high-performance
carbon fiber front ends...very predictable, stable and great at damping vibration.
But get onto a bumpier road (the top part of Jefferson in Redwood City/Woodside in this
case) and all aspects of the Y-Foil really shine. This bike is incredibly smooth and
predictable over nasty surfaces!!! Both the fork and frame work together to give you an
unbelievable ride with a combination of comfort, control and responsiveness that I have
not encountered anyplace else.
On the flats (Canada Road) it cooks. You just kinda hunker down and watch your speed
climb. No doubt some of this is from the Rolf wheels but this bike still feels faster than
my 5500 does with the same wheels. And cornering is a pleasure, this bike feeling
exceptionally sure-footed and predictable.
OK, so how about The Hill (King's Mtn)? OK, how about it? If anyone knows this hill, it's
me, since I ride it twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday morning. I know all the
timing points, I know what shape I'm in (or not in) and I know this road like no other.
And the Y-Foil climbs just fine! My time this morning was 11 seconds off my time two days
earlier, and some of this might be attributable to the fact that it was colder today so I
had to wear leg warmers...and some of it might just simply be getting used to a new bike.
Climbing from a seated position, this bike feels as fast and efficient as my 5500 (and
that's saying a lot!). And the extraordinary lateral rigidity makes
out-of-the-saddle efforts something to look forward to.
As for descending...what can I say except that it's FAST! King's Mtn has two straight
sections where you can gather a bit of speed, and there's no doubt that I was carrying
about 1-1.5 mph more speed into the bottom of these sections than I normally do (and that
difference is coming from the frame only, since my 5500 also has Rolf wheels). I was doing
39.5mph at the bottom of the wide straight section, where my speed would normally be in
the 37-38mph range. High-speed handling wasn't a problem either, as the bike felt very
much like my 5500.
And finally, the return home, on the exact same roads where earlier I'd felt the seat was
moving around too much and perhaps the front end was a bit stiff, and I was scratching my
head trying to figure out how the bike had transformed in just over an hour, since I no
longer noticed those traits at all!
To sum things up here...you will like this bike. And after the first couple of miles, you
will love this bike! But it might not win you over on a typical test ride, because there's
just so much going on that's new here, and this is not an ordinary machine. Just like your
first time with clipless pedals or maybe aero bars, it will take a short while to learn
what it's all about. But once you do, this may quickly become a part of you that you won't
let go of. --Mike-- 5/05/98
Homma, a Y-Foil owner (and fan) in Japan, part of the worldwide Y-Foil Fan
Club. Thanks for the photo!
May 4, 1999...a happy Y-Foil 66 customer!
I just thought I would give you a short report on my new Y-Foil 66.
Steve put together all the modifications an old geezer needs to allow me to ride this bike on any kind of road. My first ride (other than the
test ride) was yesterday's Delta Century. Now I know you will be thinking "just how dumb is this guy?" But as you have written, if you
get a chance to ride with your children you don't turn it down. So my son Chad and I pedaled off into the rain and wind of the Delta, and I
just can't say enough about how wonderful it is to have :
1. A son who will break the wind for the entire 100 miles, and
2. The Y-Foil. It is soooo comfortable, that even those rough delta roads were not a problem.
At every rest stop it got the most attention ( the Rolf wheels with the blue paint was everyone's favorite).
I'm looking forward to the next opportunity to put some more miles on it.
Thanks to Steve and his crew for putting it together right as I had absolutely no problems, on a brand new bike, on my first century ride.
P.S. Love your work on the web site.
|May 6, 1999. One year on the Y-Foil and still loving it!
This morning's ride up King's Mountain and across Skyline was once again
proof of just how versatile the Y-Foil is...climbs great (especially when
seated) and incredibly sure-footed in sprints. I didn't realize I'd
had it for a full year until I looked into updating this page and noticed
the date...5/05/98! --Mike--
Addendum 6/24/98. Many more miles on the Y-Foil, and I still love
it! I'm glad I'm not riding the Markleeville Death Ride this year, because I'd have
to decide between my 5500, which at 18 pounds would seem to have all the advantage on a
course that climbs 10,000-15,000 feet, and the Y-Foil, which would totally rock on the
descents! The Y-Foil does such an incredible job of slicing through the air that, at
times, it literally (and I do mean literally) feels like someone is pushing you.
I've had this feeling several times on Skyline between King's Mtn and 84. By
the way, this is the bike I rode on our Bear
Valley to Markleeville ride.
Why no Y-Foil in the TREK Catalog?
this great machine has been discontinued!
Briefly, the Y-Foil road bike was doomed to extinction when the UCI
ruled that all bikes must have seat tubes, period. Didn't matter if it was
for time trial or massed-start use...no longer allowed. Still legal for
Tri use, and still a great bike for general road use (sport bike for
centuries etc)...but a difficult bike to market, since one of its main
intended usages was killed off.
From the beginning, it was meant to be a conventional, but very
aerodynamic, road bike...not a Tri-specific machine. It's appeal was to be
as broad-based as possible and, as a relatively high-end bike, much of its
acceptance was to come from the racing crowd, which has great influence on
what the rest of us buy. Once it became useless to a good chunk of the
racing crowd (due to the UCI ruling), it became something of an albatross
from a marketing standpoint.
Had it been done as a tri-specific bike with steep seat angle etc., I have
a feeling it would have been hugely popular with that crowd. Tooling
costs, however, are so high for a bike made like that (OCLV) that it
wasn't something they could just snap their fingers and do, and the
decision was made to pursuit a much-less-expensive aluminum tri bike (the
Bye-bye Y-Foil...we'll certainly miss you. Clearly, this has been one
of the great "crossover" bikes (dual-purpose standard road
bike/Tri-bike) ever. If you're interested in one, you probably have very
little time, as final production from TREK was in 1999. We anticipated
this and brought in as many as were practical, but many sizes are either
already gone or very low. All remaining inventory is on sale, so there is,
at least, a silver lining!