Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Product Review: 2014 Trek District S

This review is for the 2014 Trek District S single speed bike: not the belt drive version, not the steel versions, not the 9-speed version.  The District S replaces the discontinued Trek Soho single speed.


I'm digging that all black stealth look.

I was looking for a fixed gear bike for my daily commuter, and wanted one with horizontal forward facing dropouts, rack and fender mounts, room for cushy tires, and wide handlebars for lights.  There really aren't many bikes that meet all of those criteria; there are of course lots of fixies with track ends which are hard to use with fenders.  The Surly Cross Check single speed was another one I considered, but at $1000 it didn't look much nicer than the Trek at $600.


Handlebar has a nice bend, and the stem is really nice.
The grips lock on so they won't twist.


Internal rear brake cable -
the housing goes all the way through, no stops.

Ordinary square taper BB, easy to service.

I think this graphic is supposed to look edgy.



Headbadge is glued on;
I won't be mad if it falls off.

My serial number... in case I ever need it.
Nice of Trek to offer an on-line registry too -
I wonder if the cops ever check there when they recover a stolen bike.

wtu333c6534H


Wishbone monostay adds vertical rigidity... and looks cool.

Saddle is reasonable - no reason to swap it out.

Some bigger tires and fenders will be coming eventually.

The rack mounts came with these plugs in them;
in case you don't have a rack I guess - anyway, they come right out.


Flip flop set to fixed.

Real track nuts.
Rack and fender mounts.
Forward horizontal dropouts
Exactly what I wanted.

The chain is 1/8" for fixie cred.  
I'll give the chain protector a chance; it's aluminium, not plastic.
But if it starts to rattle it's offa there.



Bontrager 700c 28mm tires measure an actual 26mm.
Schrader valves...
looking forward to my first two flats so I can put in some presta tubes.




Room for lots more tire in here though.

Here too.



The pedals are the only parts I can't live with...
I got wide feet and ride in tennis shoes so I'm getting
some platforms with toe clips.



This bike has an aluminum frame – I would generally prefer a nice steel tubeset on a FG commuter for the dent resistance, but aluminum makes this frame nice and light so that’s a plus.

Some notes on geometry:  The District S geometry is about half way between a touring bike and a cyclocross bike – two styles that are frequently used as commuters.  The longer wheelbase is especially nice for heel room if you use panniers, and it also helps smooth out bumps in the road.


Trek's Website Photo with Schrader valves airbrushed out.





Colors                     Matte Black
Frame                     Alpha Gold Aluminum
Fork                        High-tensile steel w/low-rider mounts
Sizes                        52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm
Wheels                   Alloy track front hub; alloy track flip-flop rear hub w/32-hole alloy rims
Tires                        Bontrager AW1 Hard-Case Lite, 700x28c
Crank                      Bontrager Nebula SS, 44T w/chainguard
Cassette                 Shimano 17T freewheel
Pedals                     VP track-style alloy
Saddle                    Bontrager SSR
Seatpost                 Bontrager Nebula, 27.2mm
Handlebar            Trek Urban, alloy
Stem                        District, alloy, 15 degree, flip/flop
Headset                 Slimstak, semi-cartridge bearings, sealed
Brakeset                Tektro extra-long reach, dual-pivot brakes w/Tektro alloy levers
Grips                       Custom District, lock-on
Extras                     Chainguard


The ride:  Predictable and conservative, but fun; probably exactly what you'd want in a commuter.  The handling is more like a mountain bike with slicks than it is like a road bike; maybe most of that is just the handlebars, but if you like high speed cornering or spinning 130rpm from the nose of the saddle you'd be disappointed.  But it's also not a hybrid or comfort bike; it's zippy and nimble.  This bike would also be great for critical mass or light grocery shopping or any kind of urban riding including trails.

The Trek District S gets an 8.5 of 10 on the Diablo Scott scale of urban SSFG commuter bikes.  Minor deductions for narrow pedals, narrow tires, and Shrader tubes - I would have given bonus points for prettier joints but the welding is entirely appropriate for this price point.  

Update:  I like this bike more every time I ride it.  But I swapped out the pedals for some wider ones without teeth, the grips for some ergonomic ones, and the saddle just because I had one available that was a little nicer from my road bike.


Also got rid of the reflectors and stickers 
I've got wheel lights and back flashers and headlights though. 
Very nice pedals... I wouldn't mind even a little bigger, but these'll do.

My hands were getting kind of sore, these things
are like little La-Z-Boys... REALLY comfortable.

Put a new saddle on my road bike so the old one goes on my fixie...
a little scuffed up but a great saddle.


Getting the lights just right was kind of tricky on this bar.


Stock tires


Upgrade tires - the difference is quite noticeable in person...
not so much in these photos.

Current status:
  • Stock bike plus track cog and lockring, bottle cage, and Cateye computer, from the dealer
  • Added rear rack and commuter trunk bag from Ibera
  • Took off reflectors.  Added two front lights from Planet Bike and rear rack light from Cateye
  • Swapped out pedals for MKS GR-10... didn't much like the stock pedals
  • Added shiny happy bell from Sports Basement
  • Swapped out grips for Ergon GC1... stock grips were OK but my hands were getting sore and these grips are GREAT
  • Swapped out saddle for San Marco Regal... stock saddle was OK but Regal is my favorite and this one was a hand me down from a recent update to my Klein
  • Swapped out Bontrager 28mm tires for Vittoria 37mm tires... because potholes; but I put a lot of miles on those Bontragers first
  • Wheel reflectors are off and I have SpokeLit's ready when Daylight Saving Time ends





Lots more photos HERE


Thanks to Dave at Big Dave's Bikes in Pleasant Hill
for the special order and great service.

Big Dave's Bikes
(Tell him Diablo Scott sent you)

2 comments:

Curtis Corlew said...

So, Mr. Recently Injured got a fixed gear bike? What could possibly go wrong? Still, it looks way cool. What kind of gearing does it have? I discovered that I actually prefer gears, and that I shift a lot. Even when there aren't hills. But you're tougher, so it will go better for you.

Diablo Scott said...

Well my Masi commuter that was stolen was also a fixed gear and I used it for four years, so it's not new to me. I like fixed gear for commuting because it's fun and there are no shifters or derailleurs to not work when they get gunked up with rain and road grime. The Trek is geared at 44x17 which is about the same as the Masi at 42x16. My biggest hill is the MUP overpass at Treat Blvd.

Seriously, if you have three or more bikes, one of them should be a fixie.