Product Reviews November 27, 2010

Bike Review - Trek District 2010

A bike without gears sounds like a crazy idea, especially living beside the South Downs. Why on earth would you do that? But that's exactly what I've done - bought a Single Speed (SS). After much deliberation, I plumped for Trek's District. I've had the bike a few weeks now and suffice to say, I haven't looked back. Sure, if you're going on a 'proper' ride on the SS you need to be committed. You will fatigue quicker and if the wind is against you, you just have to get on with it. It's part of the deal. On a single speed, as I'm discovering, you just concentrate on the revolutions - and not the gear you might be in. Clear your mind, look around a bit more and enjoy the experience. It should help your fitness too. Welcome to a world of no gears!

Let's rewind just a moment. I haven't bought a new bike for 42 months. Not that I've been counting. This does not mean I've stayed away from buying parts for the bike - goodness me, no! The Allez Elite is now significantly upgraded with Easton components all over it. I had been toying with buying a road 'bike for life'.  Ti frame, upscale components, the whole works, but the timing isn't so good at the moment. Shelved that for a while, (it will be back) but remained keen on buying a new set of wheels. Not going to replace the MTB yet - had that serviced and it's running ok again. So what about a Single Speed? Not really considered the 'SS' option before. Maybe this is the way forward? 

Having bought one, I've decided it is. Lucky for me.   

I wanted a bike that was going to be almost zero maintenance, caught your eye when it went past and most importantly, was significantly different to my road bike and MTB. Afterall, what's the point in buying a bike that's almost the same as the one you've already got? So, determined to purchase something out of the ordinary, the moment I saw the District I knew that was going to be the one I would eventually acquire. That's all very well - but is it any good?

There are many single speed bikes on the market. I didn't really appreciate that until I started looking. One of the things I like about the world of 'SS' is the number of niche players there are who provide bikes of this nature. This appealed to me and I was close to buying a 'Foffa', at one point a 'Create', a 'Charge', Specialized 'Langster' (and 'Globe') as well as a 'Genesis' Flyer. I still think the Genesis would have been a good choice - but too simliar to my Spesh. Drop bars, racing geometry - disc brakes though - but not quite what I was looking for.....

The Trek offers a chance to go 'almost' purist (not the whole hog though - that would have involved a fixed wheel and I'm not doing that....yet). I've been out on it a few times now and it's great fun to be on. This morning I got stopped by a taxi driver who wanted to know what it was - he'd spotted the belt drive and was amazed a pedal bike had such a drivetrain. That is the most unique element of the bike. The carbon belt makes for silent riding - and all being well it should last up to 10 times longer than a metal chain. You cannot hope to miss the colour scheme - the grey and orange really compliment each other - enhancing the deep rim wheels. The aluminium frame and carbon forks help keep the weight down and the Tektro brakes do a fine job of providing plenty of stopping power. The Bontranger race saddle will take a while to get used to, although I did 50km on it yesterday and I'm not walking too oddly today! The gear ratio works just fine - you can maintain a decent speed along the level and it's pitched so you can still climb hills on it. On the basis of this I think this should help my general training - and also provides some variety when I'm out on the road.

To summarize; a great value bike that is fun to ride. You can jump on it and buzz to the shops as well as extend yourself on longer runs. Not changing gear is a habit that I will soon become used to. In short, I love it!

'District' Specification: 

Frameset

Sizes 50, 54, 56, 58, 60cm

Frame Grey Aluminum

Fork Bontrager Satellite Plus, carbon

Wheels Wheels Alloy front hub, SS cassette rear hub; deep-section orange alloy rims

Tyres Boontrager Race Lite Hard-Case, 700x25c

 

Drivetrain

Crank Bontrager Satellite Nebula, 55T alloy Carbon Drive belt sprocket

Cassette 22T alloy Carbon Drive belt sprocket

Pedals VP track-style alloy (upgraded to Shimano M324 SPD/Flat combination pedals)

 

Components

Saddle Bontrager Race

Seat Post Bontrager Satellite Nebula

Handlebars Trek Urban, alloy

Stem Bontrager Approved, alloy, 15 degree

Headset Cartridge bearings, sealed

Brakeset Alloy dual-pivot brakes with Tektro alloy levers

 

Accessories

Extras Chainguard, belt drive

Front Lights 2 x Cateye EL-135 LED

Rear Light 1 x Blackburn Mars 4.0

Bottle Cage 1 x Lifeline Titanium carrier

Saddlebag Small Topeak Wedge Drybag (with strap)

 

Other sources: 

www.TrekDistrict.com - unofficial Trek District Blog

www.trekbikes.com

www.freedombikes.co.uk

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