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See our high-level takeaways below, or skip to our full review!Our Take:
- Small-town company
- Sometimes out-of-stock
- Multiple price points
- High-quality design and construction
- Advanced technology
- American company
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Whether your personal preference is mountain biking, endurance cycling, or beach cruising, purchasing a bike can be a significant investment. Picking the right bike can feel daunting, but Trek makes great bikes, in a variety of price ranges. Whether you’re looking for something at an entry-level price point, or ready to invest in a competitive racer, there are plenty of options.
Is Trek A Good Bike?
Trek makes a great bike, and one of the things that we love about the brand is that they have such a broad line-up. On one hand, Trek bikes are used by some of the most renowned professional racers worldwide. On the other hand, Trek offers bikes in a wide price range, so there are plenty of options for beginners, too. In our minds, this is one area that Trek really stands out against the competition.
Trek makes high-quality bikes, many of which are race-worthy, but they are part of a much broader bike company and offer those entry-level bikes, which are still high quality. While all of the competitors sell bikes in a broad price range, it is pretty clear that some of the competitors prefer to focus on competitive racing bikes. For instance, while endurance road racing bikes are often built with an expensive carbon frame, Trek at least offers one aluminum alloy version as well. The same isn’t true for every other bike maker.
Still, let’s be clear that Trek is much more than just a value brand. They offer a wide range of bikes, which means they have some value bikes, but that is only a small part of the story. Trek bikes might be found winning an endurance road race, such as at Flanders, or they might be found winning a race at the local dirt flow track. Of course, if you are looking for a hybrid bike, they have that too, and that is really the beauty of the Trek portfolio.
Trek makes high-quality bikes, in a wide range of prices, and for nearly every biking purpose. They make a bike to meet every personal preference and maintain a solid reputation along the way.
Does Trek Make A Good Mountain Bike?
Trek makes a great mountain bike, and in fact makes multiple types of mountain bikes that are perfect for any budget, and on any trail. First of all, did you know there are multiple types of mountain bikes? Well, if you didn’t, you do know. Hardtail mountain bikes are often considered more entry-level mountain bikes because they are cheaper and easier to maintain. The hardtail bike features a front fork suspension, but no suspension system on the rear wheel. From a performance perspective, there are some benefits to riding a hardtail bike, even though it is most often a cheaper bike.
Since hardtail bikes don’t have suspension on the back, the rider is able to apply greater torque to the frame, which in return enables the rider to go faster, especially on straightaway single tracks. If a more affordable bike that goes very fast sounds good to you, then consider comparing the Trek Marlin vs Specialized Rockhopper before making a decision. The Trek Marlin is a great value all around, as you get top performance at a reasonable price, but it is worth researching the Specialized Rockhopper as well.
One thing that is interesting about a hardtail bike is that it will work well for commuting as well since you don’t really need rear suspension around town. It will work mostly well as an everyday road ride. Still, if you truly plan on hitting the trails, you will probably want a full-suspension bike, which features rear shock in addition to the front suspension. It definitely provides a more comfortable ride when you are dealing with rocks and roots.
A full-suspension bike is a different type of bike than a hardtail bike. We recommend comparing Trek Fuel EX vs Specialized Stumpjumper, which both offer mid-level suspension travel, but you might also consider checking out a Giant mountain bike as well.
Still, the question at hand is whether Trek makes a good mountain bike, and they definitely do. For an affordable bike, which can be used as an entry-level downhill bike or for computing, consider the Trek Marlin. For something more advanced (and more comfortable), check out the Trek Fuel EX. We think you will be pleased with these adventure bikes, as either truly is an awesome bike.
Does Trek Make a Good Road Bike?
Trek makes great road bikes that fit into multiple price ranges and will work well regardless of whether you are a beginner or competitive cyclist. Consider this: The Trek Domane is one of the few bikes that has won the physically challenging road endurance race at Paris-Roubaix. Paris-Roubaix is a unique race in a few ways. For one, part of the race is along cobblestone streets, which are tough on the tires, and tough on the rider. Secondly, while road races are often held on clean streets, participants in the Paris-Roubaix often leave caked in mud.
To manage the grueling demand of the Paris-Roubaix roadways, Trek designed a bike with IsoSpeed technology that allows for the rider’s seat and the front fork to move up and down via a specially designed decoupler. It’s a unique design, in that it enables the rider to absorb some of the shocks from the road while enabling the bike frame to remain stiff and quick. Just as we noted that hardtail bikes are often faster because the rider can apply better torque to the frame, the decoupled IsoSpeed tech allows the same for the Trek Domane.
While you might also consider Giant bikes, the most direct competition to the Trek Domane is the Specialized Roubaix, which is obviously designed for and named after the grueling Paris-Roubaix endurance race. In comparing Trek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix, you might also note that the frame and front fork allow room for slightly wider tires than a traditional road bike. The larger tires (tubeless in recent years) absorb some of that beating that the cobblestone hammers out, and enables the rider to stay fresher longer.
Of course, there are other types of road bikes, including aero bikes and climbing bikes. Like its competitor bike brands, Trek offers a bike for every road, and each type of bike is just as advanced as the Trek Domane in its own way. We highlight the Domane here to highlight the resources that the Trek team puts into developing new technology and high-quality bikes.
Where Are Trek Bikes Manufactured?
Trek is a big company based in the small town of Waterloo, Wisconsin, but Trek bikes are mostly manufactured outside of the United States. Many of their bikes are manufactured in Europe and Asia, in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, China, and Taiwan. International manufacturing might be necessary to compete as a company, but Trek never compromises on quality. While many of the bikes are made in other countries, there is a factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and
Trek offers you the opportunity to order a custom bike and pick it up directly from the factory, through the Trek Project One experience.
And an experience it is. If you order the Project One factory experience, the Trek team will give you a VIP welcome and tour of the Trek headquarters, a look at the design studio and manufacturing center, a one-of-a-kind bike unveiling, and a group lunch ride with trek employees. Truly incredible, and if you love cycling, it’s a worthwhile experience. One thing we love about the internet is that you can research questions such as this without walking into your local bike shop to ask questions they probably don’t know the answers to.
As noted previously, Trek does a particularly fantastic job of developing bikes at multiple price points, and smart manufacturing plays a large role in their ability to do so. For instance, the most advanced Trek Domane bikes feature an OCLV carbon fiber frame, but Trek also sells an aluminum alloy version of the same frame that is perfect for beginners, or those on a tight budget. The alloy version is not a cheap bike but is much more accessible than the carbon fiber version of the Domane.
Trek Bike History
Trek was born during a time when Schwinn made ultra-affordable bikes for boys and girls, and the only serious bikes were foreign brands (some of which are still around). There was a distinct gap for mid-market bikes, and for American-made bikes. This was the gap Trek was established to fill, and it is the gap that the brand still largely fills today.
Of course, they are now much more than just a mid-market adult bike company. They make bikes for every age, in every budget, and for any adventure. One of the things we love about the brand is that Trek bicycles are just as popular among professionals as they are among beginners, and in our estimation, that is the mark of a truly incredible bicycle company.
Nowadays, they may manufacture bikes overseas to ensure they can sell at an affordable price and stay in business, but that is just a reality of the global economy that we live in. Still, Trek is a simple brand based in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and if you order a custom bike, they will give you a tour. Even for us average riders, that is pretty cool.
Trek Bike Alternatives
There is a long and growing list of brands making bikes, and depending upon whether you are interested in a mountain bike, road bike, or just a beach cruiser, there may be other brands you consider in addition to Trek bikes. Really, the options are endless. Some bikes have a relaxed geometry or upright geometry intended to make your bike more comfortable to ride, while others might have a more aggressive geometry intended to optimize performance. There are many considerations, such as considering hydraulic vs mechanical brakes, head tube angle, shifter systems, suspension systems, and more.
Most of Trek’s bikes are high-quality enough to feature hydraulic disc brakes. Cheaper options, and especially bikes for kids, might feature mechanical disk brakes. Not sure of the difference? In comparing the performance of hydraulic vs mechanical disk brakes, hydraulic disk brakes are more efficient and require less pressure than mechanical disc brakes.
Yet, before we digress too much, suffice it to say a Trek bicycle is a great place to start. Some may prefer a Specialized bike or a bike made by Giant, but most major differences will be related to personal preferences. If you are in any way overwhelmed by the decision, try not to fret too much, because all three brands are great.
Is Trek Better Than Specialized?
Trek and Specialized are very similar as bike manufacturers, and whether one is better than the other might be a matter of personal preference and perspective. Generally speaking, Specialized focuses a little more on competitive bikes, while Trek offers competitive bikes, but also manufacturers more entry-level bikes. If you look at a list of cycling winners there are a few brands that frequently win the big races, but Specialized wins more races than some of the other brands combined.
Still, while cycling is accessible to us all, the reality is that we aren’t all going to be in contention for a big road or trail win, and we appreciate Trek for realizing this. Since we’ve talked a good deal about the Trek Domane, let’s continue to consider it here as an example. The Trek Domane is available in three different types of frames. The most expensive frame is an OCLV carbon frame, as is the mid-tier frame. And as previously noted, the most affordable version of the bike is an aluminum alloy frame. While the most expensive bike is clearly the best version of the bike, and the model you would want to ride while competitive racing, the other models are still viable options depending on your budget and intended use.
And often the two brands choose parallel paths. While the Trek team developed IsoSpeed suspension, which decouples the seat tube from the top tube for better shock absorption, Specialized developed the Roubaix with a longer wheelbase and Front Shock technology specifically to respond to the grueling demands of Paris-Roubaix.
So, in analyzing Trek vs Specialized, the reality is they are both great bikes. If you are looking for differentiation between the two, Trek is more accessible to beginners and intermediate riders, while Specialized is more often ridden by race winners.
Which is Better: Trek or Giant?
Giant might be a little cheaper, but we prefer Trek as the better bike in many instances. While there are several good bike brands out there, Giant is the other company often compared to Trek. One thing that is interesting about Giant is that they are a bike manufacturer in every sense. Not only do they manufacture their own bikes, but they also operate facilities that manufacture bikes for competitor brands. In fact, there are certain Trek bike models that Giant actually makes on Trek’s behalf.
It’s probably for this reason that Giant bikes are often a little cheaper than Trek bikes or Specialized bikes. Giant cuts out the middle man in manufacturing and makes their bikes on their own. Our take is this: Trek and Specialized seem to invest a little more in research and development related to bike design, while Giant’s investment budget might be more focused on manufacturing technology. It’s a somewhat subtle difference; however, one worth considering.
Concerned about Price? Bike Brands Compared
Like everything else, affordability is a matter of perspective. All three bike brands have entry-level bikes, just as all three bike brands race-ready competitive bikes. If you are just looking for a city bike, then Trek has more options, as Specialized and Trek are more focused on competition bikes. And while there will be bikes across the affordability spectrum, Giant is often the cheapest because they manufacturer their own bikes, Trek often falls in the middle, and Specialized is often the most expensive. Trek generally has the most options across the board, and if you visit a local bike park, you are likely to see quite a few Treks.
Recommended Trek Bicycles
So, what does all of that boil down to? Well,Trek makes a great bike, so you just need to decide what type of bike you need. If you are looking for a good city bike or commuter, then you might consider the Trek Verve, which is actually available as a traditional bicycle or as an electric bicycle.
If you plan on taking your bike to the mountains, we recommend that you consider the Trek Fuel EX, which is built with full suspension to conquer any trail. And lastly, if you are looking for a good road bike, the Trek Domane is one of the most advanced bikes available on the market. Plus it is available in a more affordable aluminum alloy frame or with a carbon frame.
Regardless of which bike you choose, we hope you enjoy wherever new trails and roadways might take you.
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