Trek’s new lineup of electric city bikes is gorgeous, speedy, and expensive

Trek is a brand mostly known for its high-quality performance and mountain bikes, but the Wisconsin-based manufacturer is making a major play for urban commuters with its new lineup of powerful, sleekly designed, and impressively fast electric city bikes.

Trek’s new Allant+ lineup features 10 different e-bikes, ranging in price from $3,600 to $6,000. If that seems steep, it’s because every model is powered by a top-of-the-line Bosch motor that is lighter and offers less resistance than previous generations for “a more natural ride feel,” Trek says.

The Allant+ bikes utilize two separate Bosch motors. The models with Bosch’s Performance Line CX motors provide a boost of up to 25 km/h (20 mph), and models with the even faster Performance Line Speed motors offer assist of up to 45 km/h (28 mph). All of them are pedal-assisted mid-drive motors, which means better balance overall, but no throttle power.

I recently made the trek (heh) to one of the company’s retail stores on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to test out the most expensive model, the Allant+ 9.9S, which retails for $5,999. At first glance, the bike is similar in appearance to Trek’s Dual Sport+, which was first released in 2018. Like the Dual Sport+, the battery on the 9.9S is completely integrated into the frame, giving it a clean, aesthetically pleasing look overall. Trek is clearly ready to move past the sunken-battery design of its Super Commuter+ 8S, which itself was a step above the bolted-on battery design of Trek’s older models.

The frame shape was very inviting, with a slightly downward-slanting top tube that has a stand-over height of 82.1 cm (32.3 in). If that’s still too high, you can also opt for the Stagger variant with a stand-over height of 70.6 cm (27.8 in). This is sure to be attractive to customers who want a bike they can share with other members of their family.

Beneath the polished surface lurks a heck of a lot of power. An impressive 625Wh battery fits snugly inside the frame, which is just a ton of power for a city-style e-bike. If somehow that’s not enough juice, you can bolt a second battery to the down tube for even more range. There are many e-bikes sold with dual batteries, but this is the first I’ve heard of a bike seller letting you add a second battery after the sale.

I haven’t had the chance to test out a bike with Bosch’s Performance Line Speed motor, but it only took one loop around Central Park to impress me. It’s about 40 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than the previous Bosch motors. That means less drag when you pedal through the assistance level, according to Darren Snyder, director of Trek’s global city bike category. And it’s quieter, because there are fewer meshed gears and less surface area to create noise. Overall, the smaller motor gave Trek more room in the down tube for that bigger, 625Wh battery.

The bike itself is heavy, but mostly due to its high-powered battery. Trek has worked to shave some weight off the frame itself — about four pounds, compared to previous generations — by using its own patented OCLV carbon material. The Allant+ 9.9S clocks in at 23.36 kg (51.5 lbs), which is about five pounds more than the Dual Sport+, but a pound less than the Super Commuter+ 8S.

A cool feature is the bike’s digital display. You can either use the screen that comes with the bike, or you can sub in your own smartphone by snapping it into an adjustable mount and pairing it via Bosch’s COBI app that tracks your speed, assist levels, power usage, location, and more. The app also has a fitness tracker that can pair with other devices like a smartwatch, and a music tab which can connect to Spotify or whichever podcast app you prefer. That said, I didn’t get a chance to test out all of the apps features.

On my brief ride around the park, I found the 9.9S to be a delightfully speedy and smooth ride that was equally enjoyable in low- and high-power settings. I wouldn’t take the bike off-road, though, without getting some added suspension in my seat or front fork. But that said, the 27.5-inch tires, made by Trek’s own Bontrager brand, were comfy and — I was surprised to learn — made specifically for e-bikes with a thicker piece of rubber in the middle of the tread to provide more traction.

Snyder said the Allant+ bikes were designed to conquer commutes and tackle that first- and last-mile challenge. The metal fenders, for example, are designed to withstand more abuse than a plastic equivalent. The bike felt sturdy, but I’d need more time with it before gauging whether it was a daily rider or not. Trek isn’t offering any folding models, which, depending on your commute, could be a possible drawback. I know some cyclists like having the option to bring their bike onto public transportation or toss it in the back of a car. The rear rack is replaceable to accommodate a child’s seat, but Trek isn’t actively marketing this bike to parents due to liability concerns. As a dad who takes my kid to school every morning and is mostly interested in e-bikes that can replace my need for a car, I hope they reconsider that tactic.

As we’ve previously noted, e-bikes for commuters are expensive. E-bikes from Trek or the recently released models by General Motors are designed to dramatically increase the range of what is considered “bikeable” distances while reducing the reliance on cars, ride-hailing apps, or public transportation.

Trek’s bikes are especially pricey because you also get access to a range of services, from warranties to the company’s vast network of repair shops, that you don’t have with a less well-known brand. There are hundreds of e-bikes out there that are exponentially cheaper than the Allant+ 9.9S, but you could be stuck out on a limb when it eventually breaks down.

Snyder told me that “design integration” was the driving force behind the Allant+ lineup. “We really wanted to clean up the profile and aesthetic,” he said. Most e-bikes on the market today have extremely visible batteries and design profiles that distinguish them from most traditional bikes. That’s fine, but sometimes you want to ride under the radar. Trek’s new e-bikes are some of the first I’ve seen from a US manufacturer that don’t scream “it’s electric!” when you’re out riding.

European manufacturers are way ahead of their US competitors when it comes to designing stealthy-looking e-bikes. And as someone who still feels slightly embarrassed when blazing past other riders on the Manhattan Bridge, I’m really excited about more incognito e-bikes hitting the market. Trek’s gorgeous new models are a fantastic start.

All Rights Reserved for Andrew J. Hawkins

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