Wealthy Gorilla.com profiled 12 billion-dollar companies that started in garages, including Microsoft, Dell, Google, Amazon, Harley Davidson, and Disney Enterprises, Trek Bikes isn’t on that list—because their humble beginnings started in a barn, not a garage!
South African Bevil Hogg and his partner Dick Burke set about launching bicycle shop franchises in college towns and nearly went broke when their enterprise proved less than successful. But near-ruin triggered the revelation that selling just any brand wouldn’t help them succeed.
“None of the good brands were available to purchase; their solution was to create their own brand of bicycles,” say company spokespeople about their fortuitous decision.
After discounting company names like Kestrel (the bird of prey), the partners began their adventure not in a garage but in a barn located half-way between their Wisconsin homes in 1976. Burke won the name game when he convinced Hogg that Trek was a better choice for their new business. The rest, as they say, is history.
Best Road Bike for Everyone – Trek Domane SL 6
- The frame offers massive tire clearance
- Hidden cables and aerodynamic tube shaping
- Superior suspension system
- Named 2019 Bike of the Year
- Tubeless Bontrager Paradigm wheels.
- May not suit your budget
- Sluggish uphill riding
- Might be too heavy for some cyclists
The Domane SL6 is your best bet for high-performance road riding if you want to be comfortable and still set speed records. At around $3800 you’ll make quite the investment, but your return is spectacular: Enjoy road-smoothing experiences courtesy of the lightweight OCLV Carbon frame with front and rear IsoSpeed to absorb bumps and a full Shimano Ultegra drivetrain.
The SL 6 comes with the highest-quality wheels on the market and confidence-inducing hydraulic disc brakes, so no matter what sort of hazards you and your Domane encounter, you can expect superior braking power. Tuck road essentials in the easy-access, frame integrated storage compartment that “gives you a versatile spot to stow tools and gear,” according to the manufacturer and reviewers enamored with this bike.
Best Mountain Bike for Everyone – Trek Fuel EX 9.8
- Internal storage compartment
- “Control Freak” internal cable routing
- XS to XL wheel options
- Ideal all-terrain choice
- Customizable through Project One.
- Good on climbs; not so much on declines
- Seat may be uncomfortable
Like all signature Trek bikes, you’ll pay for excellence. In the case of the Fuel EX 9.8, look for deals to save $500 on the $6000 manufacturer’s suggested price. Vibrantly colored in shades ranging from green to teal, the EX 9.8 gets sterling reviews for its ability to “fly through singletrack, throw down with the rowdy trail crew, and crush miles during marathon races,” said Trek product developers.
Fabricated to be lightweight and maneuverable thanks to the Mountain Carbon Frame and mounted atop carbon wheels, this sleek ride features a 1×12 SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain and FOX Performance Float suspension system. Made to delight all-mountain shredders, this product features Trek’s exclusive RE: Aktiv with Thru Shaft shock so expect it to confront and overcome any obstacle in its path. Stop on a dime when activating Shimano SLX 4-piston hydraulic disc brakes and the Tubeless Ready Bontrager Line Carbon 30 wheels with a 54-tooth Rapid Drive rear hub won’t let you down.
Best Road Race Bike – Trek Madone SLR 9 Disc eTap
- 12-speed wireless electronic drivetrain shifts with precision
- 700 Series OCLV Carbon frame with aerodynamic tube shaping
- RED flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes
- Adjustable Top Tube IsoSpeed shock absorption
- Intuitive 12-speed SRAM RED eTap AXS electronic drivetrain.
- Tricky to ride if it’s windy
- Somewhat heavy
- Reviews are hard to find.
There are cars on the road that cost a little more than the price of our Best Road Race Bike pick at $12,500, but who can argue with the superior engineering of this quintessential road race bike? Subject yourself to the most circuitous route during competition and you quickly discover that the Madone SLR 9 Disc eTap pairs the aerodynamics and ride quality of the ultimate race bike with the smoothness of SRAM’s most advanced electronic drivetrain, RED eTap AXS.
As the first-ever wireless electronic groupset with a 12-speed cassette, you and this exceptional ride can expect to enjoy unprecedented quick and sharp shifting that makes it feel as though you’re on a seamless rocket ride. Three wicked color combinations are available; each one is designed to show off your personality. Even if you have to grab a payment plan, don’t deprive yourself of the ultimate in road race biking!
Best Electric City Bike – Trek Allant+ 9.9S
- High-end carbon frame
- Bosch’s fastest and longest-range drive system
- Removable integrated battery hides in the frame
- Stagger geometry for mount and dismount confidence
- Interfaces with Range Boost to double battery life
- Grabs attention that ups theft possibility
- Device mount may disengage
- May be out of your price range
Highly regarded and an affordable ride at around $6,000, this has been called the ultimate e-bike and if you take a test drive, you’ll find out why. Enjoy the feel and efficiency of the Bosch Performance Speed motor which re-defines power and the extra long-range battery will get you as far as you need to go without running out of juice.
This model is great news for folks with ultra-long work commutes as well as those needing an electric ride for weekend getaways. The OCLV carbon frame is engineered to deliver the perfect combination of lightweight feel, yet it offers a heavy enough presence to give riders confidence in traffic.
A bold combination of matte trek black and gloss red color, automobile drivers couldn’t miss seeing you if they tried. Download the COBI Bike app to turn your device into an on-board computer, attach it to the SmartphoneHub to charge, make or take calls, listen to music and/or receive turn-by-turn GPS directions. This bike won’t pick up coffee for you, but it does just about everything else.
Best Kid’s Mountain Bike – Trek Wahoo 24
- Kids love the color choices
- ThruSkew makes an excellent safety feature
- So solid, it won’t rattle if dropped
- Superior rapid-fire shifter
- Gears and braking are perfect for kids
- Tires may be insufficient
- Single-wall rims can be risky
- Could exceed the family budget
Not every parent is willing to plunk down $450 for a kid’s mountain bike, but if you believe that nothing is too good for your daredevil, the Trek Wahoo 24 should be on his or her Christmas wish list. Extremely highly rated by owners who trust the brand to protect the health and wellbeing of their wild and wooly offspring, this Wahoo is classified as a hybrid and engineered to deliver an exciting experience via this simple, lightweight and practical ride.
Fitted with a 1×8 drivetrain and wide range of gearing for simple shifting, the Wahoo 24 is specifically designed for children ages 8-to-12 whose height ranges between 51-and 59-inches tall. Available in colors chosen to match the personalities of today’s trendsetting kids, it’s crafted of aluminum for durability and strength. This mountain bike is light enough for children to comfortably control and parents like knowing that this bike’s Closed dropouts with Trek’s proprietary ThruSkew make sure the wheels never drop out unintentionally, so kids get an extra measure of safety.
Best Bike for College – Trek FX 1
- More affordable than a car
- Gets you to class fast, even in traffic
- Keeps you fit and healthy
- Easy to personalize and accessorize
- Light enough to stow in small spaces.
- Not recommended for off-roading
- Uncomfortable seat
- Easy to steal if not properly secured
Whether you’re footing your tuition bill or your parents are taking care of it, adding a bike for your college commute makes all of the sense in the world, and it certainly beats car maintenance and insurance premiums. Add up those costs and this highly-rated FX1 at $440 looks like a wise investment to make sure you get to classes on time. This hybrid bike offers a lightweight aluminum frame, so if you worry about it being stolen, it’s fairly easy to lift up and take to your dorm room.
Quality parts remain a benchmark of the Trek brand, so chances of this bike getting through all 4-years of college without repair costs are excellent. Available in either racy black or silver, the FX 1 is a versatile ride offering great performance, superior gearing capability, and strong wheels. Getting the lifetime warranty that comes with this Trek is like getting an extra A in chemistry class. This bike’s 21 speeds will keep you moving efficiently over all terrains and features double-walled wheels and mounts that allow you to accessorize your bike with any number of extras.
Best Hybrid Bike – Trek FX Sport 6
- Outrageously fast
- Interfaces with devices; sends data to fitness apps via DuoTrap S
- Flat handlebar for ultimate control
- Easy to upgrade with fenders and accessories
- Backed by Trek’s lifetime warranty.
- No gear indicator on the handlebar
- Heavier than other hybrid models
- Noisy freewheel may annoy you.
This is another iteration of the FX, a more sophisticated bicycle attached to a heftier price tag that hovers around $2100. Trek Sport 6 never met a consumer reviewer it couldn’t delight, so if you are eager to go straight to the lightest, fastest model on the Trek FX lineup, the 6 is your best bet. This high-end road bike features a flat handlebar that offers the ultimate in comfort and control. Make this bike yours and get the benefits of a road-smoothing IsoSpeed decoupler that never met a shock it couldn’t absorb.
The lightweight 400 Series OCLV carbon frame and advanced 11-speed Shimano 105 road drivetrain perform seamlessly, and this stealthy matte black bike packs a fitness wallop, holding its own against any hybrid on the market. There’s more. The Sport 6 is outfitted with Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, a lightweight Bontrager alloy wheelset with thru-axles, hidden fender mounts, and a Bontrager Montrose Comp saddle. Fitness just got fierce!
Best Downhill Bike – Trek Session 9.9 29
- Fastest downhill bike on the planet
- Never met a jump it couldn’t accomplish with flair
- Handles like a dream
- Air shock and fork are adjustable and easy to fine-tune
- Features Mino Link setup, and adjustable fixed-angle headset.
- 2019 version isn’t the latest iteration
- Bike/frame weights may vary in final production
- Maximum rider weight is 300 pounds.
There are deals to be had on the Session that sported an $8400 retail suggested price tag. If you’re in the market for the best downhill bike you might ever encounter, snag this cycle for $7400 while Trek offers this discount. It matters not how many speed records you have set on other bikes: this one is the one guaranteed to set a new one. Are you a fan of World Champion Gee Atherton? This is his bike choice and you wouldn’t think of refuting his pick, right?
Technically, the Trek Session 9.9 is a monster, combining a treasure trove of Shimano Saint parts–premium OCLV Mountain Carbon frame and FOX Factory suspension—-so you sail along at top speed on steroid-quality 29-inch wheels. You don’t have to be a pro to own this legendary ride, but you do have to come up with at least $7 large to get it into your garage and your life.
Best Entry Level Downhill Bike – Trek Session 8 27.5
- Alpha Platinum frame
- 200mm RockShox Boxxer Select fork
- Confidence-inspiring stability
- Quality suspension system
- 7-speed drivetrain keeps things simple.
- Try before buying; you may need a bigger model
- Weight spring on L and, XL models too soft
- Won’t accommodate riders over 300 lbs.
For newbies fortunate enough to have the wherewithal to invest in a piece of equipment that’s as sophisticated as the Trek Session 8, pat yourself on the back. You’re starting off on the right foot. Or the left if that’s your dominant extremity. Don’t let the name of this bike’s color disturb you; it’s called Rage Red for a reason and if you can spend $4730 on this remarkable ride, you can expend all of the rages you wish while enjoying every feature and benefit.
No ordinary mountain bike, Session 8 is engineered with part-focused geometry that stands out from the crowd when you show your stuff at the local bike park. Fabricated of beefy aluminum, your starter bike is no wimp on wicked terrain, showing off its 200mm/210mm front and rear suspensions. Do you demand both versatility and durability? Get both courtesy of park-ready geometry, 27.5˝ Bontrager Line DH 30 wheels, SRAM Guide R brakes, and a DH-specific SRAM GX 7-speed drivetrain.
Best Women’s Trail Bike – Trek Roscoe 7 Women’s
- Engineered for all skill levels
- Awesome traction
- 120mm RockShox Judy SL fork w/TurnKey lockout
- SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain
- Hydraulic disc brakes.
- Not every woman loves the saddle
- Limited color choice for fashionistas
- Only the Roscoe 8 includes the drop seat.
It’s anybody’s guess why Trek developers gave this women’s bike a guy’s name, especially since this is no “girly-girl” ride. Priced at around $1260, the Roscoe looks menacing and mysterious and it’s fitted with a beefy wide-range drivetrain that shows off its many gears on the fly. This mid-fat trail hardtail model touts confidence-inspiring 27.5+ wheels with mid-fat tires, so if you ask the dudes you run into when you ride whether your bike looks fat, you don’t have to feel insulted when the answer is a decided yes.
Whether you’re a newbie or you’ve been around a bike trail longer than you care to admit, this powerful ride says everything about your willingness to risk everything for the ultimate thrill. Whether you prefer your terrain as choppy as it gets or you want to pamper your beautiful ride so its fashion-forward Alpha Gold aluminum frame keeps looking good, count on the internal routing for the cable system and 27.5+ tires mounted on Tubeless Ready Bontrager Line rims to get you where you need to be atop a saddle designed just for your derriere.
Why Trek Makes Excellent Bikes
Choosing the strategically-located town of Waterloo, Wisconsin as their base of operations, that barn proved an ideal launching pad for the shared dream. With only 5 employees doing all of the manufacturing, the company churned out 904 touring frames crafted of steel tubing that was lugged and silver-brazed, then hand-painted to exacting standards during year one.
Refusing to accept mediocre craftsmanship, “Every bend and every weld was charged with purpose, as each meticulously constructed frame broke the convention that all great bikes must come from Europe,” say chroniclers of Trek’s startup. Both men held a shared vision that never wavered. Even as new technology entered the picture, the company mission remained, “building a better world through this simple, elegant machine.”
Diversification drove the company forward as Trek Bicycles morphed into “the largest U.S. bicycle company, making everything from kid models to professional road and mountain styles,” according to a profile detailing the company’s remarkable growth on the CNBC website.
Still, the only major manufacturer producing two-wheelers in the U.S., Trek’s passion for producing the most formidable bikes on the planet meant thinking beyond the domestic capability to the thorny issue of quality production control that can make or break a company promising excellence.
Much of the company’s integrity is seen in its employees. Trek culture is no slogan. Employees are entwined in company ideas, products and innovations, evidenced by the preponderance of staffers arriving at work on Trek bikes. It’s okay to work in riding togs and there’s a bike technician on hand so staffers can have their rides serviced while they work.
In sum, one of the best ways to judge a product’s merits is by understanding the work ethic promoted by management. For this reason and more, it’s not hard to understand why Trek bikes remain the epitome of engineering, quality, and integrity.
What’s Trek Doing in 2020 and beyond?
If an anthropologist were to look into the future of Trek based on its past, she would find clues in the phrases “Raised on Rocket Science” and “To lead, you must invent” on the Trek website.
Trek’s Senior Composites Manufacturing Engineer Jim Colegrove estimated bike production at “somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 bikes.” That figure shows a disproportionate number of products make by this company in light of the fact annual U.S. bike production is only about 56,000 units.
What will drive the company and sales into the future? The availability of materials like the carbon fiber the brand relies upon to produce its signature bikes. Trek intends to keep manufacturing in the U.S. to maintain strict control over manufacturing protocols and methods, especially in light of the fact that Trek employees are so invested in the brand and eager to help drive it into the future.
That stated, Trek acknowledges the fact that “Virtually no American companies make smaller parts that go onto a bike like the brakes and the gear shifters. Those products are made overseas.” For purists, this acknowledgment may continue to drive controversies since Trek’s “Hand built in the United States” label adds such value and prestige to every sale.
Relying upon research and vision to drive the company forward past 2020, Trek periodically gives the public a peek at the future. Most notably, the just-introduced Émonda is described as “the lightest ever” model that costs almost $16,000 to produce.
Trek sees the future in its 2026 Zora concept. More than a sleek, fast, quality ride, Zora balances heavy responsibilities on its handlebars. Besides being eye candy, this transport has been conceived to confront “the social, political, and environmental challenges the world might face come 2026.”
According to product developers, Zora will “take cues from material and manufacturing technologies we’re just starting to develop,” but these generalities only hint at what’s to come since there are no specifics associated with this product introduction.
Zora was subjected to what “Bicycling Australia” calls “tough Aussie conditions,” a precursor to the actual introduction of what is expected to be the very definition of innovation in terms of connectivity, speed, and design. Not bad for a company born in a barn that clings tenaciously to its American roots!