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Trek Ride+ : First Impressions

by Bike Shop Girl

The bicycle shop I manage, Cool Breeze Cyclery, and sister store, Trek Bikes of Charlotte, have brought in a fleet of the new electric assist bikes, Trek Ride+.  One of these, the FX+ is a demo bike that our co-owner with an engineering background took for this past weekend.  Below is his original experience.  We will be trying out this bike ourselves, as well as possibly building up our own with the Bionx or E-Bike Kit.

Ride+

Trek FX+

The new Trek E Ride bikes arrived last week so I took the demo bike home for the weekend. This FX+ model is very normal looking at first glance with all the great Trek features built into the 7.5FX, including the carbon front fork. Taking a closer look, you’ll find a high torque pancake electric motor laced into the rear wheel, a battery pack slid into the rear rack and a controller / dash board mounted like a cycling computer to the handle bar. The concept is very much like the hybrid electric cars, difference being that the rider still provides the base engine, meaning that you still must pedal this bike. Just like the hybrid cars, the electric motor provides a power boost. In the case of the E Ride bike, you can choose to boost your pedaling power by 10, 20, 30 or 40%. The bike senses your pedaling effort just like the crank mounted high end power meters, but does it with sensors built into the rear axle. Again, just like the hybrid cars, the bike employs regenerative braking going downhill to recharge the batteries.

How did it ride?

I live in a really hilly neighborhood so I let my wife ride the bike while I road my high end road bike. Her personal bike is the same 7.5 FX used as a platform for the e-Ride bike and she always walks it up the first hill which is about an 8% grade. Knowing this we set the boost to 40% and she road up this same hill with very little effort and a huge smile”the result of a feeling of accomplishment for having finally conquered that hill. After waiting for me at the top of the hill”.Ummm”not sure I’m liking this feeling”.we continued for the next hour to attack every hill in the neighborhood. After an hour we had used about 15% of the battery charge. To put the bike away, I rode it up my drive way which is a 10% grade and again the feeling of the power boost is simply amazing”it is smooth and predictable and simply flattens the hills for the rider. Bottom line” this bike absolutely leveled the climbing ability between us and in the case of our neighborhood made the family ride even a possibility. Now we’re thinking about a Blue Ridge Parkway ride” By the way, the bike can also be set add up to 40% to your pedaling effort for the same feeling and effect of riding a bike in a trainer, but that’s another story.

- Steve Doolittle, Co-owner of Cool Breeze Cyclery and Trek Bikes of Charlotte.

 
Burley nomad 269

26 Responses to “Trek Ride+ : First Impressions”

  1. jdc says:

    Interesting. Our shop is currently deciding whether we want to revisit the whole ebike thing again. I’ll be showing your test article to the others. We were one of the first shops to carry them, admittedly when they weren’t as developed as they are now, and when consumer interest wasn’t there. A ‘bent riding friend of mine uses a cheap $600 (Canadian)one as his winter beater and he loves it. He tried the Bionx system on his beater ‘bent and wasn’t as happy.

  2. Ben says:

    I think what we all really want to know is…

    Can you put it at 40% boost in a low gear and ride wheelies for miles?

  3. alcahueteria says:

    Those things seemed to ride pretty good. I’ve tried one as well and was impressed with the power and the lighting system. I liked the generate mode too, to recoup some power and act like a motor break. Great for downhills. It’d be perfect for doing long commutes without getting so sweaty.

    Also I work at a shop that carries a couple of the hybrid ones, 7100 or 7200 I can’t remember. Again they ride pretty good but that body position, and adjustable stem seemed a bit sketchy at high speeds.

    The real issue we seem to be having with them is with the batteries of course. Apparently the charger Trek provides is a fast charger, and if you accidentally (or purposefully) leave the lights on, it drains the battery lower than the fast charger can deal with. Therefore Trek requires you to send it back to them to charge fully on a slow charger. I think that’s dumb.

    Another dumb thing is that we’re warrantying one of the batteries, so they just sent us the black battery wrapped in plastic with two wires hanging out. No nice case like the one on the bike. Apparently they expected us to open and reuse the case. Well we were then advised not to do that because one of their technicians did and the battery apparently caught fire and almost burnt the place down. So now they are sending a new battery fully encased.

    Hopefully they figure these issues out, until then I think people should know what they are getting into.

  4. I made a technical error in my test ride review that’s makes a huge difference. While the display on the dash board reads 10%, 20%, 30% and 40%…the corresponding pedaling boost is actually 25%, 50%, 100% and 200%.

    Didn’t experience the wheelie..but set at 200% boost, even a half revolution of the crank will surprise you, meaning that you are down the road before you have time to place the second foot on the opposite pedal..

  5. Geo says:

    Just want to second Steve’s observation: There are 4 settings for both assist and generate settings: both at 25, 50, 100 and 200%

    The generate mode will STOP you on hills on the highest setting. Makes for an amazing workout. ;D

    The entire unit adds a little under 20lbs of total weight to the regular bike, they are a BLAST to ride. Our stores carry them as well, lots of great feedback from the customers who have purchased them.

    Having tried to wheelie under 200% assist, almost completely lost control. A fun thing to do is pick up the rear wheel and stamp on the pedal and just watch the wheel take off. The software for these things are cool too … hehehe. They are limited to 20mph … electronically. ;)

  6. Matt S. says:

    My 2 cents on E-bikes:

    They often seem marketed towards inexperienced cyclists. My wife nastily broke her arm while test-riding one last fall. She got a burst of speed as she tried to put her foot down and got tangled in the bike

    I think they seem pretty fun to experienced cyclists, but for newbies, the extra power and weight can be a dangerous combination.

  7. JuanDD says:

    Pro Bike, Trek dealer, did a demo day here in barcelona and i took the opportunity to do a short test ride with the FX+.
    The bike seems to be fitted with a Bionx PL 250 or 250HT with the rear rack battery carrier.
    Is a very nice option, for me the two main advantages i feel, besides the obvious flatten hill effect and no sweat to reach the max assited speed, where the engine brake (regenerative mode 4) that really slows your ride no matter how pronounced is the hill, and the push when launching from a stop.
    The bike rode like a trek FX 7.5 just much more wheight behind. But not much different than if you use the bike to shop for groceries.
    If your conmute is shorter than 20km you can do it both ways easily with no recharging. And very small use if not too hilly (bike has 4 assistance modes). I found the cut when you reach mas speed too sharp, but with some software versions you can “edit” this (not supported by Trek).
    Bionx is a top of the range electric assistance system wich adds to the price of the Trek bike. But is very reliable and with good support.
    Please comment when you take a longer, loaded or hard/offroad/trail ride.

  8. mark says:

    I’d definitely be interested in a longer, more detailed review. For those who have ridden one,can someone comment on how much of the additional weight is in the battery & how much is in things like the hub. I am curious regarding how much it would weigh if I wanted to ride it sometimes without the battery. I think I remember seeing that it is based on a Trek 7200 or something like that, which weighed about 23 pounds stock. I read on Treks’ site that the battery system adds roughly 15 pounds. If the battery itself only weighs a few pounds and most of the weight is in the rest of the system, I’m not sure I’d want to use the bike without the battery in place.

  9. John says:

    Interesting stuff. Looks like the electric assist would really help out with hills and frequent stopping. Take time off the commute. Maybe. When you say its governed at 20 mph, that’s just the assist, right? I’d assume you can go faster down hills. Or does the generator braking kick in and prevent freewheeling? Also, do they sell just the electric system so you could mount it on, say, a Long Haul Trucker?

  10. I haven’t tried the FX but I imported a Japanese e-bike and delimited it and can get nearly 40kph out of it! It’s fantastic for going to work and the battery has never ran out on me by far yet.

  11. mark says:

    I was disappointed to find out that these bikes are not readily available. The nearest dealer to me was over an hour away & he only had some of last years models. My local Trek dealer cannot even order the Trek Assist bikes without ordering a minimum of 6 of them. The next closest trek dealer is over 2 hours away. I want one of these bikes, but not that bad. Any other ideas on electric assist bikes from other brands?

  12. mark says:

    OK, so I guess I did want one that bad. BSG, thanks for the article. I drove the 2.5 hours to the nearest store and test rode one this morning. I ended up buying the FX+. It is an amazing bike for those of us with hilly commutes. There’s a hill coming in to our development that I usually ride up (on my commuter bike) at about 5-6 mph. I had absolutely no trouble maintaining 14 mph on the FX+.

  13. Allie says:

    Interesting! Have been interested in these types of bikes for a while so I’ll have to check it out.

  14. Rich Robertson says:

    I am an employee and head mechanic at our local trek dealer. we recently received two 7200 ride plus bikes in on the demo program. i must say that i have ridden a lot of very impressive bikes in my career and nothing has come close to putting as big of a smile on my face as the ride plus did. this thing is a hoot! as for the wheelies in 200%, i woul not recomend trying them. i broke my nose as the bike landed on top of me.

  15. Steve says:

    Just tried it at my local bike shop yesterday. What a blast! I couldn’t stop laughing while riding. If any of you remmebr the 70′s TV show “The six Million Dollar Man”, well it really makes you fell bionic.

    Thankfully, the dealer warned me that I shold not pedal while doing a tight turn, otherwise it would rocket me into the curb and bushes.

  16. Mark M says:

    Once the bike has accelerated to 20 mph a noticeable pedal resistance occurs without any generating metered on the display, a safety feature imposed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission .

    I not really sure what happens at this stage .

  17. Henry says:

    I bought a Trek Valencia Ride plus bike, picking it up from a store in Woking Surrey on the 3rd of November 2010. My tale of ownership is a bitter sweet one. I will give you the sweet part first. I have been massively impressed by the sophistication of the electrical assistance. You can really enjoy riding this bike with the system switched on but using no power assist at all. However whenever you feel tired or want a boost the system is there to help at whatever level you require. I have been using the bike to commute to work and back over a route that at it shortest is 6 miles. I have to say that I have really enjoyed the bike and have found many ways to enjoy the different ride plus levels, as well as the regenerative breaking and generative modes that allow you to charge the battery as you ride. With nice spring weather in England I have been enjoying a ten mile route into work where I end up increasing the charge to the battery rather than depleting it and taking about 55 minutes to complete the 10 mile journey. This has been accomplished by switching on the consul but riding the bike with the motor providing no assistance. This is aided by the motor being a brushless design so that it free wheels with no resistance. My 10 mile journey includes a steep decent where I set the system to charge the battery at the maximum level and in so doing provide the maximum engine breaking effect. However this hill is steep enough to allow me to clock up a maximum speed approaching 25mph despite the engine breaking effect. On one energetic day I generated electricity for the whole 10 mile journey and fully re charged a half empty battery. Quite surprisingly this only added about five minutes to the journey time. However to get home after a tiring shift at work I tool the shortest route and used the system on the highest assistance level. This 6 mile route has a couple of hills at the beginning followed by a decent to a predominantly level section with a steep hill at the end. I was completing this journey in less than 22 minutes at a average of 16mph. I was finding that for most of the level section the motor did not kick in at all as I was maintaining 16/17mph, just above where the motor starts to help. Starting with a full battery I managed to complete over 70 miles before needing to actually plug the battery into the battery charger. This was achieved by adding charge to the battery on my ten mile journey to work and depleting it on my 6 mile ride home. So I have to agree with all the positive comments about the bike and the technology. However as indicated by my reference to this being a bitter sweet tale there has been for me an Achilles heel that has resulted in me returning the bike to the store and thankfully getting my money back. I am a heavy guy, getting close to a 100kg. Part of the reason I got my money back is because i made my weight clear to the bike shop I bought the bike from and asked for reassurance that the bike would be able to cope. I mentioned to the store that I had read on this forum an account regarding spoke failure in the rear wheel. A spoke broke in the rear wheel of my bike after just 37 days of ownership from new with the mileage showing 361. Then a second identical rear wheel spoke failure happened while riding home from work on a smooth suburban road close to my house. This second failure was just 80 days and 564 miles after the first failure. This was enough to convince me that for me the rear wheel was not strong enough. I have to say it was a really hard decision to hand the bike back as in every other respect the bike worked wonderfully and I was using it all the time. If you are lighter this may not be a problem, however the design of the bike centres all the weight over the rear. The motor is in the rear hub, the battery is carried within the rear rack, and as there is a rack you are going to attach your panniers to it adding to the weight over the rear. To this of course you must add the weight of the rider. As I say for me as a heavy (but fit) guy this was too much. I did contemplate keeping the bike and having the rear wheel built stronger. However the bike uses special spokes and as far as I could see you would have to have some specially made. Perhaps Trek should give an option for a stronger wheel for heavier people or those wanting to use the rear carrier to carry loaded panniers. After all one of the benefits of having electrical assistance is that you can carry heavier loads. For me this has been a real shame for in every other respect the bike was perfect for my needs. What a shame. Henry.

  18. Delta_Charlie says:

    Henry – I relate to what your saying about weight as I’m 124.1 kg, or 273 lbs. and have paniers attached to the rack on the rear. My Trek FX+ broke a rear spoke at 525 miles. The dealer replaced the spoke, but it broke another at 557 miles. The dealer sent the rear wheel back to Trek and they replaced it with another. When I picked up the bike he cautioned me to check the air pressure of the tires frequently as riding with low pressure may cause the rim to flatten from hitting bumps resulting in excess strain on the spokes. I’ve now 744 miles on the bike with no new broken spokes (yet). I’ve been very careful about tire pressure and avoiding bumps, and am cautiously optimistic about seeing the last of broken spokes. I am pleased with the response from my dealer and Trek and feel they took ownership of my spoke problem.

    Incidentally, riding the bike is very enjoyable and one of my favorite things. The pedal assist removes any reasons for not using it. I find myself on the bike running local errands and shopping while my truck remains in the driveway.

  19. Roger says:

    I tried one of these yesterday and it was a blast. I am 225 lbs and concerned about the broken spokes.
    The bike I tried is a 2010, but they told me there was no change in the 2011 model. The only think I didn’t like was the rough ride, which I suspect is from the tire pressure.
    How much did the dealers charge to replace a spoke and was there a charge to have the wheel returned to Trek? Did they have an upgrade they sent back?
    The dealer told me new batteries would cost $600.00. Has anyone found any place to get a replacement other than the dealer?

  20. Angela says:

    I want to buy one of these and having trouble finding it in stock where I live now, Sandpoint ID. I just moved from Charlotte a couple of months ago. Now wishing I’d done my bike shopping before I moved. Good luck on the fleet!

  21. Robitj says:

    Thought I would put in my two cents on owning and riding my Trek 7200+. I bought this bike strictly for commuting and I have only 200mi plus on it so far in the last six weeks I have owned it.
    My commute is 9 miles each way, mostly heavy city with 3 good hills that are more hilly in the ride home. I do ride part of the ride on a bike path but on a nice day, I opt for the road on the way home due to heavy pedestrian traffic. I ride 3-4 days per week.
    I am under 220lbs, I equip the bike with a large water bottle and a kind of extensive tool kit on the frame. I keep a rear rack trunk with some extra bike clothes to cover change of weather @ gloves, rain jac, pants etc.
    I pull a flat bed Burley Trailer (16lb) with a Rubbermaid pack trunk on it to keep my work clothes dry. In it I keep my work boots and small bag for my truck (I drive). Behind the pack I have my lunch. It is a large hardpack lunchbox. All of this is strapped down quite well but with the weight of the bike itself, I have quite a load.
    I cover the 9 miles in (my best time) 32min. because of this system. For comparison, I can drive in just under 15min.
    I have rode this route using a standard bike with trailer and coming home was far too grueling and the slow pace with traffic was dangerous.
    This bike has changed everything. It operates flawlessly. I push myself to my personal limit as much as possible to get a workout but I could just as easy take a leisurely pace and still arrive in 45min.
    I know others love this bike for just riding and I do not blame them but if you want a good commuting bike..this is the one.
    I will add that I just turned sixty, I am in good shape and I have riding since 1978. I think anyone who is capable of pedaling a bike for any distance would benefit from the BionX system. You have to put in to get out. No free ride. It flattens out the hills and speeds out the flats. Yippeeee.
    Could I make this ride in just as good time with my Trek 1000? Yup. However I need all the crap I take with me. I work a long and physically grueling job and just do not need an unpleasant ride home.
    Go try it.

  22. Suzanne Stack says:

    My 60 year old husband with COPD, lung lymphoma, 2 new knees and a new hip just rode his 2011 Trek FX+ halfway across America with me this summer on the TransAm Trail. Oregon coast to Pueblo, Colorado this year, Pueblo to the east coast next year. If you’ve ever wanted to, you can do it on this bike. See our blog at: http://bicyclelife.topicwise.com/doc/yumadons1

  23. Alan K. says:

    I’m thinking of getting an FX+ in the 22.5″ frame – I’m wondering what sizes others are using. I’m 6’2″, 34″ inseam & 210 lbs. I emailed a couple of bike shops and one of them responded back that they think there’s a 25″ frame in Trek’s FX+ family – couldn’t find that size online. Anyone know of that size?

    Thanks – I love researching this cool stuff!
    I want to transition from riding twice a week to hanging up my truck keys until the weekend (and kid-duties).

    Alan (San Jose)

  24. Maarten says:

    Hello all,

    I´ve just found an 2011 FX plus in a bikeshop here in Holland.
    It was on sale, and after the first test ride I was sold. So happy to read that almost all of you are happy about the bike.
    I will keep you posted after my first week of commuting.
    Greetings from a flat, but very windy Holland!

  25. Tana Elva says:

    I have a 2012 Trek 7200 WSD (womens)19″ & want to get a BionX SL350HT DT. Was told incompatible w Burley Trailer or any other due the short axle. How is your Burley fitted to 7200+?? Special attachment? RSVP thanks so much!

  26. Tana Elva says:

    Robitj – I have a 2012 Trek 7200 WSD (womens)19″ & want to get a BionX SL350HT DT. Was told incompatible w Burley Trailer or any other due the short axle. How is your Burley fitted to 7200+?? Special attachment? RSVP thanks so much!

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