The Best Hybrid Bike

If you want a versatile bike that can work for anything from short road rides to dabbling in triathlons to commuting moderate distances to work, a performance hybrid like the Trek 7.2 FX is likely the right bike for you. In a corner of the bicycle world that is congested with countless nearly-identical bikes, the 7.2 FX rises above the fray.

WAIT: March 3, 2015
After an additional 20 hours of research and testing three finalists, the Trek 7.2 FX remains our pick for most people in 2015. It's a very similar bike with a cheaper MSRP of $490 vs $550 for 2014.  However, in order to get that cheaper price, they used a few cheaper components. But it's still in line with everything else in the field and we think most casual/commuter bikers will not notice any difference—other than the cheaper price. Basically, you're getting the same bike experience for $60 less. However, if you can still find a 2014 model on sale, you will get a slightly better bike for about the same amount of money. Look for our updated guide with the latest description of the 2015 model in about a month.
Expand Most Recent Updates
September 17, 2014: Setting this guide to wait status since the 2014 Trek is starting to be phased out in favor of the 2015. But we still really like this bike, and if you find it in a local bike shop, we recommend you get it. We're just beginning research on the best models for 2015.
April 23, 2014: We added a detailed explanation of why we prefer the 7.2 FX over the 7.1 model.
April 14, 2014: Added a link to Bike Radar's kid's bike buying guide, which will help you identify the right bike size, weight, and features for pre-schoolers through 12-year-olds.

If you don’t have a Trek dealer near you, or the Trek is selling for substantially more than its $550 MSRP, the Specialized Sirrus a decent alternative. The only major differences are the plastic pedals, which won’t grip as solidly or last as long as the alloy metal pedals on the Trek, and the paint job, which comes down to personal preference.

Both of these bikes also come in Women’s Specific Design (WSD) configurations, which means they claim to be optimized to work with the female physique. Usually this means a purple/pink/light blue paint job, a different seat, and slightly smaller sizing. Thing is, this may not actually fit you better, even if you’re a woman. The only way to tell is by trying them out yourself at a bike shop. (More on this here)

Our favorite hybrid bike, the Trek 7.2 FX.

Our favorite hybrid bike, the Trek 7.2 FX.

Ideally, you should really buy your bike in person. A good bike store will help you find the right size to fit your needs and maybe even swap out some parts to really dial in a good fit. That’s in addition to perks like comped maintenance and professionally checked assembly that is guaranteed to be of high quality. (More on why we recommend this here)

Why should you trust me?

I’ve spent more than fifteen years working as a journeyman mechanic at some of Boston’s largest bike shops, about that many years racing bikes at the Expert or Elite level, and I now help run a program that distributes more than one thousand bikes per year to low-income Boston residents. I get to see all kinds of bikes after they’ve been out in the real world for a few years. After a while it becomes obvious what works and what doesn’t as far as bike parts go.

Who is this for?

The fitness or performance hybrid is great for someone who wants to get into cycling but isn’t entirely sure that they want a road bike with tiny tires and drop handlebars. It’s also a good bike for someone who wants to run errands around town, commute a good number of miles back and forth to work or school, or even do a short charity ride or triathalon.1

That, and it doesn’t look too dorky. The same can’t be said for clunky comfort hybrid bikes, which add ineffective and heavy suspension that even a 90-year-old grandmother wouldn’t benefit from. Similarly, “commuter” hybrids can come equipped with racks and fenders (mud/rain guards) that add a lot of unnecessary weight. If you really need these features, you can always add them yourself later on.

Another good thing about fitness hybrid bikes is that they don’t become redundant if you decide to upgrade to a higher-end road or mountain bike. This bike can remain in your stable, relegated to being a dedicated commuter or grocery getter or for any other time you don’t want to dirty up your expensive prized steed.

If you already have an old, neglected road or mountain bike kicking around, you should ask yourself, “Why am I not riding this bike?”
In fact, even if you already have a bike, you might benefit from getting something like this. If you already have an old, neglected road or mountain bike kicking around, you should ask yourself, “Why am I not riding this bike?” If your answer is “Because cycling cuts into my Syfy original movie watching time” then I probably can’t help you. But, if you answered “because my road bike is uncomfortable” or “my mountain bike is too clunky and slow,” then we’re in business.

How we picked

I started my research by searching the web for “best hybrid bike” and “hybrid bike guides.” What I found wasn’t all that helpful. There are lots of sites out there that will help you decide what type of bike you need, breaking down the differences between a “Fitness Bike,” “Comfort Bike,” “Mountain Bike,” “Cross Bike,” “Road Bike,” and “Unicycle.” Bicycle Habitat and Consumer Reports both have great guides for narrowing down what kind of bike you need. Of course there are also a whole lot of guides out there created by retailers who just happen to sell the bikes they coincidentally end up recommending. You should probably steer away from those.

The guides will tell you that a bike is better due to some vague reason—“it will dish out whatever you can take,” “it has a solid Shimano parts package”—but this stuff is meaningless. What they fail to mention is the truth about this category of bikes: They are all basically the same.

My experience in the bike industry has taught me that around $500 is a good amount to spend on a first-time or casual-use bike. That’s the price point at which you can start expecting bikes to last a long time and perform consistently well between tune-ups, which are fewer and further between. Spending less means you’ll end up making the difference, and then some, in maintenance costs. Spending more means you’re mostly paying for lighter, more premium materials and components that a novice biker won’t really notice or benefit from—especially if you’re talking about a hybrid bike, which is designed for versatility and approachability over pure speed. If you want a lighter bike, it’s worth looking into, but it’s not worth it for most people. Also, if you’re riding around in an urban environment, expensive bikes become targets for professional bike thieves like the ones we interviewed for our bike lock guide.

Despite what the various manufacturers claim, the frames on these bikes are nearly identical.
At this price point, a hybrid’s frame should be aluminum—and most of them are. Despite what the various manufacturers claim, the frames on these bikes are nearly identical. This doesn’t stop the major bike brands from trying to set their bikes apart with marketing spin: Trek uses “Alpha Gold Aluminum,” Cannondale uses “Quick, Butted 6061 Alloy,” Giant uses “ALUXX -Grade Aluminum,” and Specialized uses “A1 Premium Aluminum fully-manipulated butted tubing.” One very useful review touted a bike’s “welded aluminum” frame. Yes, that’s how aluminum tubes are put together, by welding them. That’s like saying a car has “turning wheels.”

There are a few options with steel frames, but cheap steel is incredibly heavy and not worth your consideration. Steel is like steak: You should pay a lot for the real deal or greatly lower your expectations. Buying a $500 steel hybrid is like getting a steak at IHOP.

That said, many of these bikes, including the Trek 7.2 FX have steel front forks (the thing that holds the front wheel). Steel is a great material for a fork. It’s much better at absorbing road chatter and vibration than an aluminum fork, and the weight penalty is more than made up for by the added comfort.

When it comes to gear-shifting and braking components on low- to mid-range hybrid bikes, you are effectively dealing with two major component manufacturers: Shimano and SRAM. At this price, you want Shimano. While SRAM has made a name for itself with its high-end components, it is still severely lacking at the more economical end of things. Shimano has been at it longer and produces the hell out of some cheap, indestructible drive train components (cogs and chain rings). Through my line of work I get to see bikes from every era. We’ll get bikes at the shop from the ‘90s, even the ‘80s with still-functioning Shimano shifters and derailleurs (the things that facilitate shifting between the different gears).

On the other hand, we’ll install brand-new SRAM components on a bike and see them deteriorate and then detonate within weeks or months. Even Shimano’s low-end stuff is made mostly of metal. SRAM’s low-end components are primarily plastic, more Mattel than metal.

All bikes in this price range have very similar aluminum frames with almost identical parts: rim brakes, 24 speeds (more than enough for covering most hills), and house-brand everything from wheels to grips. The only way to discern between them is by splitting hairs when it comes to their spec and price. So I took out my mini axe and set to splitting.

I pored over dozens of spec sheets looking for differences, and the bike companies didn’t make it easy—one company will use “Shimano Altus” to describe a front derailleur (the front shifty thingy) while another will call the same derailleur by its part number, “FD M191.” I came to the conclusion that unless you are buying a bike online from some cut-rate outfit, you are basically going to be getting the same bike across about fifteen brands. The only major differences were in the quality of the tires, pedals, and other minor components.

Many bikes were eliminated from the line-up because they had inferior parts packages, had heavy steel frames, came from not-so-legit manufacturers, or just looked dumb. If a bike didn’t at least look cool online, I wasn’t going to bother meeting it in person.

In the end, I felt the only way to make a determination was to actually go and throw my leg over a few of these bikes. Bikes I test-rode included: the Cannondale Quick 6, Raleigh Cadent FTO, Giant Escape 2, Specialized Sirrus, Kona Dew, and the Trek 7.2 FX. It was difficult to discern any differences between these bikes since, again, they’re designed to be roughly similar in riding experience. But, under close scrutiny, I found that the Trek had a slight edge.

Our pick

The 7.2 FX feels premium without the price tag to match, sporting flat-resistant tires, metal pedals, and solid design.
Stating that the Trek 7.2 FX is the best hybrid bike isn’t exactly earth-shattering news. It’s like saying that McDonald’s is the most popular fast food restaurant. Both the brand and model are versatile and widely available, which is part of what makes them so popular.

I’ll admit, if you asked me, “Hey bike dork, what’s the best hybrid bike?” I would’ve knee-jerk replied, “Probably the Trek 7.2 FX.” When I began my research I was hellbent on proving myself wrong, but I failed. There are bikes that are cheaper than the Trek 7.2 FX, but they cut cost in areas where you’re going to feel it. When you’re looking at a field of virtually identical competitors, it’s the little things that make the big differences. In the case of the Trek, those differences came down to the tires and pedals.


…better to just get a bike that comes with [flat-resistant tires], especially when you consider the fact that a set of these can easily go for thousands of miles…
Let’s start with its flat-resistant tires. Even as an experienced bike mechanic who can fix a flat in a matter of minutes, I prefer to avoid being put in that situation. I don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road in a sketchy neighborhood fixing a flat in the rain while stressing about being late to work. You might be thinking, “well, they’re just tires, I can just replace them,” and you definitely can, but that would run you an extra $60 to $100. Definitely better to just get a bike that comes with them, especially when you consider the fact that a set of these can easily go for thousands of miles before needing replacement. Other than the Specialized Sirrus, none of the competition have flat-resistant tires.

trek_pedalThe 7.2 FX was also the only bike that came with metal pedals, which would otherwise run you another $15 to $20. The alloy pedals are going to hold up better than plastic pedals and they provide more grip in wet conditions.

I thought, “This is a bike I could see myself carrying up the stairs to my apartment.” And, at just 25 pounds, it wouldn’t give me a hernia doing so.
Those small upgrades and the 7.2 FX’s good looks were enough to turn my head. Actually taking it on a test ride sealed the deal. It felt solid and comfortable. I thought, “This is a bike I could see myself carrying up the stairs to my apartment.” And, at just 25 pounds, it wouldn’t give me a hernia doing so. (Sweethome editor Jacqui Cheng actually does carry a very similar bike–the Trek 7.3 FX–up flights of stairs on a regular basis, so as long as you’re reasonably able-bodied, it’s doable.)

If the fit of the bike is anywhere near good, the only place you’re going to notice a difference is at the saddle and the grips. I found the grips and saddle on the Trek comfortable, but saddles in particular are a very personal thing. What works for one person might not work for another. Again, these items can be swapped out at little to no charge by a good shop.


The Altus/Alivio shifter/derailleur combo is adequate. Well-tuned Altus feels as good as anything. Yes, I have XT on my mountain bike, but I could live with Altus on my city bike.

Similarly, the linear pull V-brakes are nothing special, but are strong and responsive.

Similarly, the linear pull V-brakes are nothing special, but are strong and responsive.

The little holes above the derailleur in this picture are for mounting a rack or fender.

The little holes above the derailleur in this picture are for mounting a rack or fender.

Also, as with most bikes of this type, both the frame and the fork are fender- and rack-ready (as indicated by the little holes on the back of the frame and bottom of the fork).

In the end, the Trek 7.2 FX doesn’t have a ton of advantages over the closest competition, but it definitely has something. That said, as aforementioned ad nauseum, there is very little difference between the bikes discussed here. If you find a better deal on a Specialized or if you prefer the style, I’d go for it. The Giant is also decent, but doesn’t have flat-resistant tires.

Why is the 7.2FX better than the 7.1 or 7.3?

The reason why we went with the 7.2 FX over the 7.1 is mainly that the 7.1 has a clunky freewheel system instead of a lighter, better sealed and more efficient freehub system. In a freewheel system, the ratcheting part of the hub system and the sprockets/cogs are one unit that must be replaced altogether when worn. With a freehub system, the sprockets/cogs slide onto a freehub body and can easily be replaced separately when worn.
If you’re riding your bike in a semi-regular fashion, you will be replacing your chain and cassette (what all the sprockets/cogs are called together) once per year. The 7.2 FX also makes the jump to flat-resistant tires and a slightly better aluminum frame. The former you may notice…by the lack of flats you get, the latter, maybe not so much, but it’s there.
Other than a few component upgrades, the big selling point for the 7.3 FX is the oversized stem and bar system. Traditionally, the diameter of a handlebar and the corresponding stem clamp is 25.4mm (1″). “Oversized,” in this case, means 31.8mm (about 1 1/4″). It’s visibly noticeable—it looks cool to some people and it definitely adds stiffness.
But here’s the thing: oversized systems were developed so Tour De France type bike racers could have a stiffer platform for sprinting at 40+ mph while wrestling their bikes like angry gorillas. This stiffness also translates into less absorption of road shock and more abuse on your body. This is fine of you’re getting paid six figures to ride your bike and you’re getting massages every night, but for the average cyclist, an “under-sized” system is adequate.

A very close runner-up

Also Great
If you can get this for $20 less than the Trek, you can upgrade to metal pedals and get virtually the same bike.
Speaking of the Specialized, the Specialized Sirrus stands toe to toe with the Trek 7.2 FX—it even has flat-resistant tires. The only place it comes up short is with its plastic pedals. It’s another great-looking bike that feels good to ride. I also found that it was priced well below the MSRP at one shop I visited. Enough below that replacing the plastic pedals when they break still wouldn’t bring it up to the price of the 7.2 FX sitting next to it in the rack at the same shop. Another reason why it’s good to shop around.

Specialized Sirrus

Specialized Sirrus

Disc brakes: a dubious upgrade

Any hybrid bike in this range is going to have a big brother with disc brakes (what they use on cars and motorcycles). The Trek 7.2 FX has the 7.4 FX Disc at $879.99 and the Specialized Sirrus has the Sirrus Sport Disc at $770.00.

If you are a fair-weather rider, you aren’t going to gain an advantage by using disc brakes.
Are disc brakes worth the added cost? Unless you’re planning to ride in the rain, snow, and ice on a very regular basis, no, probably not. The real advantage of disc brakes is that they brake exactly the same way all the time, regardless of conditions. Yes, hydraulic disc brakes do have more stopping power than a cable-actuated brake, but with modern V-brakes, you are not going to be wanting for power. In fact, manufacturers often dumb down the stopping power of even the most basic V-brake models by placing a damping spring in the “noodle” (I know it sounds silly, just ask someone at the bike shop to demonstrate this). If you are a fair-weather rider, you aren’t going to gain an advantage by using disc brakes. If you are planning on riding in adverse conditions, definitely consider them. The pads last longer with little to no adjustment and they are much more reliable than rim brakes in the wet.

A step up in a commuter-oriented direction

Also Great
The Globe Work 2 is a good option if you're already sure you want to be commuting in all conditions.
If you’re into the idea of a fitness-performance-whatever hybrid but you’re already convinced that you’re going to go all in and start riding the thing to work in all conditions, then the Specialized Globe Work 2 is a solid option. It comes in at $600 but it rolls off the floor with a bunch of upgrades.

Specialized Globe Work 2

Specialized Globe Work 2

What caught my eye right off the bat was the artsy headbadge. The headbadge is designed to allow the rider to slide any piece of artwork or sticker they want into it. The frame is free of logos and many of the bolts use a security torx-style head so you need a special tool to remove them. The quick-release levers also screw off so that an opportunistic thief can’t pop your wheels off as easily. Another perk is the fenders. At a roughly $40 upcharge from the Specialized Sirrus, the Globe Work 2 comes with full fenders. A set of aftermarket fenders is going to cost you $40. This bike is an excellent choice for someone who is planning on being more committed to commuting, especially in an urban environment or anywhere where theft is an issue.

Also Great
The T800 has a lot of extras to cater to commuters like fenders and a chainguard, but the internally geared hub is special. It wears much more slowly and is less messy while riding.
Now, if you want to scream to the world, “I am a massive bike dork!” then the $650 Torker T-800 might be worth looking at. Like the Globe Work 2, it has very reserved looks, and not only does it come outfitted with fenders and a chainguard, it also has a rear rack and an eight-speed internal geared hub. An internally geared hub is going to hold adjustment almost indefinitely and it will wear much slower than its outwardly geared counterparts. No fuss, no muss, no clicking, and no greasy parts lurking below, waiting to attack your pant legs.

WSD or “Women’s Specific Design”

Something you’re bound to run into is the acronym “WSD.” WSD stands for “Women’s Specific Design.” WSD bikes have slight tweaks to the frame geometry and componentry that claim to make them better suited for (some) women. Sarai Snyder, founder of Girl Bike Love and CycloFemme elaborates:

“As a little person of just 5’2″ (on a good day), attention to women’s specific design has greatly increased the smaller bike options available for me. But I think the term “Women Specific Design” can be a little misleading. Most of the time WSD means a shortening of the top tube length, smaller all around sizing, and the addition of a women’s specific saddle, narrower handlebars, shorter stem, and maybe even a shorter crank length. These things account for the notion that most women have shorter torsos, longer legs, and narrower shoulders on an all around smaller frame than men. Realistically, we are all unique in our build. A woman of 5’10” might be hard pressed to find the benefits of WSD. It should also be noted that for some companies WSD is really just an excuse to change the paint scheme to market to a different audience. In the end, the most important thing is finding the bike that fits your body and your riding style as an individual.”

What does that mean for you as a prospective biker who’s also a woman? Basically, test some bikes with WSD, test some without, then decide which one fits you better. While unisex/men’s bikes won’t often come in pink or purple (if that’s your thing), fit, comfort, and component quality will matter more than colors when it comes to actually riding your bike.

Why shouldn’t I buy a bike online?

It’s generally not a great idea to purchase a bike online. And we’re not talking about this from a poetic “buy local” perspective. Buying local ensures you get a safer product thanks to professional assembly and will often end up being cheaper in the long run. Plus, if you have someone helping you set up a bike, you’re more likely to have a good experience with it.

Buying local ensures you get a safer product thanks to professional assembly and will often end up being cheaper in the long run.
There’s no denying that you get a better bike for your money when you buy online. A Diamondback Insight 2 on Amazon is going to run you less than a Specialized Sirrus, and the Insight has a superior parts package. Similarly, a Motobecane Cafe Latte on Bikes Direct is going to cost less than a Trek 7.2 FX and come with much better parts, but as a novice biker, you’re unlikely to notice the marginal benefits of $40 handlebars over $30 handlebars (if there are even any to be had).

On the other hand, the lack of care and attention put into your online-ordered bike will be blindingly obvious (possibly literally) when you hit a pothole and your wheel winds up turning 90 degrees while your handlebars stay straight ahead as you fly over them.

Online retailers and big box stores work on volume, and they tend to pay their mechanics (and I’m using this term loosely) a piece work rate as opposed to bike shops, which pay mechanics by the hour. A piece work bike assembler churns out bikes as fast as he can—they fly out the door and he or she never thinks about them again because they will be sold to someone far away.

A shop mechanic, on the other hand, has to be more accountable. If that person neglects to tighten a pedal and the customer eats it on their first ride, he or she will see the customer come into the shop the next day all battered and bruised. The shop will feel awful for causing a customer injury and the mechanic will definitely feel awful when he or she gets fired.

Seth Sampson, manager of Giant Bicycle Store in Boston, put it best: “It is amazing what can go wrong, even when you have only 10 percent of the bike to build. Our bikes have better quality, and are correctly assembled. You can always save more [up front] buying online, but end up paying more to make it work right.”

For safety’s sake, even a bike that is advertised as “90 percent assembled” is going to require a trip to a bike shop for final assembly and a safety check. This assembly and safety check is going to run you $60 to $150. “Whoa!” you’re saying, “But I only paid $300 from the whole bike.” Thing is, for liability (and ethical reasons) a shop mechanic must go over every bolt on that bike to make sure it was assembled correctly, which, more often than not, it wasn’t. Just go down to a Sears or even a Dick’s Sporting Goods, put the front of wheel of the bike between your knees, and try to twist the bars, and you’ll see how much those guys care about your wellbeing as the bars easily turn sideways while the wheel stays in one place. That’s not what’s supposed to happen.

You will also notice that, with your online order, nobody helped you find the ideal size for your body measurements, and unless you really know what you’re doing, you’re probably going to buy the wrong size bike. There’s a lot more to fit than just the number on the frame. Just the frame itself has no fewer than seven major variables that comprise its “geometry,” all of which affect how a bike ultimately feels. Bikes like these tend to have more or less identical geometry across brands, but there are other factors that contribute. A good shop will help fit you to a bike and make any alterations that might be necessary. Saddles, stems (the thing that holds the handlebars), and the handlebars themselves can often be swapped out for a better fit and improved comfort.

You’re also likely to get perks and freebies for purchasing from a shop, like a free 30- or 90-day break-in tune-up that would otherwise run you another $60 to $100 each for your super-deal bike from Bikes Direct. And don’t think these are just “nice to have” but unnecessary; cables will stretch and need readjustment after the initial few weeks of riding. Many shops will also give you discounts on accessories like locks, lights, helmets, and fenders within a certain window after your purchase. Not to mention help with warranty issues. Your shop will deal with that annoying stuff for you. Even expensive bikes break, and it’s good to have someone in your corner when things go awry.

Hopefully we’ve convinced you by now that it’s worth going to a real bike shop to get your bike. Now for the bad news: Not all bike shops are created equal, and it’s up to you to find a good one you can trust. Yelp and advice from friends can help, but ultimately you’re going to want to shop around a bit to see for yourself. Especially if you find that you have an affinity for a bike, but its gears weren’t working well on a test ride from a particular shop.

You want a shop that will take care of your needs throughout the shopping process and offer you services even after you’ve made the purchase. Make sure the salesperson takes the time to quickly look at you on the bike to make sure your saddle height is roughly correct. And make sure the bike is properly set up when you’re test-riding it; if the shop is sending you out on a bike with rubbing brakes or loose bars, this reflects badly on how well they will service your bike in the future. It’s also worth asking them to adjust the bike before you make a final decision. If they fail on any of those accounts, it’s probably a good idea to look elsewhere.

Shopping for a kid’s bike? You’ll also want to do that in person, for the same reasons listed above. There are some useful tips for getting the size, weight, and features right for every age group from pre-school through 12 years here.

The competition

What about the other bikes I tested? Well, as I stated earlier, none of them are really bad. In fact, if you can get them for significantly cheaper than the Trek or Specialized, they might even be the better buy. But I had my reasons for not choosing them.

The Cannondale Quick 6 is arguably the coolest-looking bike in the mix but it doesn’t have the alloy pedals or flat-resistant tires of the Trek 7.2 FX. However, it does come in (at least MSRP-wise) at $40 less than the Trek. $40 isn’t quite enough to buy yourself a pair of decent pedals and some better tires, but if this bike happened to be on sale it might be the one model that could draw my interest away from the Trek.

The Giant Escape 2 is a very popular bike, but, and I’m not sure why, Giant decided to go with an aluminum fork on this bike. It’s lighter but does much less than the steel forks found on the other bikes listed here to dampen road shock and vibration. It also doesn’t have the flat-resistant tires of the Trek.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Kona Dew has a kind of silly-looking narrow-legged steel fork that comes off as an unfortunate afterthought when juxtaposed with its wider-tubed aluminum frame. Which is weird because Kona generally gets it right aesthetically. Hey Kona, put a fatter fork on your bike!

The Raleigh Cadent FTO is a good-looking bike and it felt great on my test ride, but I still can’t recommend it. The FTO has sub-par plastic pedals, an aluminum fork, and tires that aren’t extra resistant to punctures.

As for bikes I didn’t test, let’s just say there were a lot. But I had a good reason for skipping each one.

The Motobecane Cafe Latte is the one Bikes Direct bike on the list. Personally, I wouldn’t ride a bike called a “Cafe Latte” if you gave me all the free lattes in the world, but that’s just me. Well, me and a lot of people who have an iota of self respect. That said, you get a lot of bike for your money. Of course you then have to have it assembled at a bike shop, tuned at a bike shop after it breaks in, and Bikes Direct won’t be easy to deal with when it comes to warranty issues. It’s not like sending back your iPhone.

Schwinn has a similar brand image issue as Raleigh and the Sporterra 3 is their version of this bike. They have effectively become synonymous with crap. This an ugly bike with a horrible name from a less-than-reputable manufacturer. They are now owned by the company that produces Pacific Bicycles—the only brand that gives Huffy a run for its money in the race to the bottom of the bicycle food chain. The Sporterra also seems to have vanished from the internet, which could mean it’s being discontinued.

The Diamondback Insight 2 is one of the only bikes in this list available on Amazon. As previously mentioned, buying bikes online is not a great idea for so many reasons. It is cheap and you will get slightly nicer components at the same price point as the Trek or Specialized, but you’ll pay for it later.

The Jamis Coda Sport is the only steel bike in the mix. While it has a similar parts spec, it is bound to be significantly heavier. Steel does have its attributes—it’s stronger and more durable than aluminum, but there’s a good reason people pay more than $2,000 for a good steel frame. Steel is real (heavy). Unless it’s incredibly well built out of select tube sets.

The Trek Allant 7 is a worse version of the Specialized Globe 2. Rather than a sporty 7.2 FX rigged up with fenders, it’s more of a grandpa bike and is less versatile due to its single chainring.

Giant’s V2 is a similar, more commuter-y retro bike that falls flat aesthetically.

Care and maintenance

Hybrid bicycles require the same maintenance as any other bicycles—lube the chain (but not excessively) and fill up the tires to the recommended pressure weekly (check out our guide on bike pumps). Nearly all bike shops have free air either in the form of a compressor or a floor pump with a gauge. Gas station compressors are set very high (and they charge you money), which can result in blowing the tire right off the rim with a terrifying gunshot-like sound. And remember, bikes like to be stored in dry places whenever possible. I’d advise getting your bike tuned annually. If you do find that you’re riding regularly, it is a good idea to grab a small bottle of lube and a floor pump.

Pro tip: if you live in a part of the country where there is a winter, take your bike to the shop in the middle of winter. You’ll beat the spring rush when everyone decides on the first gorgeous day that they all need their bikes NOW! A bored winter mechanic will spend much more time on your bike than a stressed-out summer one. Especially one who is rewarded with craft beer or homemade cookies.

Oh, and make sure you get a good lock and learn how to use it.

Wrapping it up

I liked the Trek 7.2 FX most because it looks and feels good and it has a couple features that the competition doesn’t have. It is slightly more expensive than its close competitors, but I feel that those upgrades are worth the few bucks. Talk to your local bike retailer, shop around, and don’t hesitate to have them tweak a bike you like to get it dialed so that you don’t look like a poster child for the “bicycles are horrible” campaign while you’re riding.


1. All these categories are completely made up by the major bicycle manufacturers. You know how people freak out when Oxford adds new words to the dictionary? “WHAT? YOU CAN’T ADD ‘SRSLY’ TO THE DICTIONARY, IT’S TOTALLY MADE UP!” Yes, because all the words that came before srsly were not made up; our ancestors found them written on rocks in caves. Words like “coelacanth.” When someone finally saw a coelacanth, he was like, “Oh look, there’s one, I’ve been waiting a long time to use that word. Up until now it was only useful for Scrabble.” Well, it’s the same way with bike categories, only there isn’t a group of incredibly smart people who meet in a dark board room somewhere in England and discuss these things; bike companies just do whatever they hell they want bike-name-wise. Jump back.

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  1. Bike buying guide, Consumer Reports (Subscription Required), March 2013

Originally published: April 2, 2014

  • Jonathan Peterson

    Nice review and as an ex-bike mechanic with 6 rides in the family I agree 100% with your overall strategy for components, etc. Also, I am SO not fond of the adjustable stems on many bikes these days – even my wife’s otherwise excellent Bianchi Milano sported one. Such huge, heavy hunks of crap.

  • thewegger

    This is a great article, that is spot on in just about every aspect (big amen on the value proposition of disc brakes), but I do have one quibble and one issue. First the quibble. I haven’t seen a dampening spring on a linear-pull cantilever (aka V-brake) on a new bike in years. Are they really still out there?

    Secondly, I would argue that in its current incarnation, Raleigh is more than just a name slapped on a bicycle. I’ll agree that they put some junk out on the market, but they also have some bikes that are a great value.

  • José Manuel Sánchez

    Nice! Are you going to do folding bikes, too?

  • David Rogers

    A note on the Torker, from someone who rides an internal hub bike:
    The 8 speed and 7 speed hubs are great for a lot of things, but they still have significant limits on hillclimbing. The 8 speed is better than the 7 speed for this, but you sacrifice gear spacing-the spacing is very even on the 7 and rather odd on the 8, especially on the gears you use the most. You want to be careful playing around with your chainrings and sprockets too, as there are limits to what the hubs can take.
    I still love mine-it’s quiet, clean, I can change gears at a stoplight, and I’m not a serious biker, so between the fenders, basket, bent bars, and what seems to be a single speed bike, no one expects too much of me :-)

  • Graham Rose

    Great article – My wife and i just picked up two new bikes from our LBS – She ended up with the 2013 version of the Giant Escape 0, for about the price of the 2014 Escape 2 you tested. We looked at the trek 7.2, and between the two the 10 speed and carbon fork seemed to make more sense (plus she liked the murdered out matte black on the giant more than the girly colors on the trek :)

  • Casimir Crunch

    Would be great if you could indicate the country of manufacture of each bike in the review. There is a vast quality difference in materials, even the metal used in parts, depending on the country of manufacture. I always get a visible “Made In …” before I make a bicycle purchase.

    • Michael Zhao

      All bikes in this price range will be made in Taiwan.

      • Dr LHA

        Actually many of the bikes in this price range will be made in China.

  • Royce Ruiz

    I’m currious about when you talk about the disk brake upgrade why you reference the 7.4 FX Disk at $879.99 and don’t mention the 7.2 FX Disk at $599.99. I’m currently looking for a hybrid/fitness bike and based on what I have read here I am leaning toward the 7.2 FX Disk, however since you didn’t talk about it I’m wondering if there is a reason that you avoided it. Any thoughts would be helpful.

    • Michael Zhao

      Cheap disks will have less stopping power than cheap linear pull brakes. The only reason to get them is if you’re going to be biking in the rain all the time.

      • Royce Ruiz

        Thanks for the reply, so to confirm, the disks on the 7.2 are “cheap” and the disks of the 7.4 are better? If I plan on riding in the rain but only on occasion is it worth the 7.4? I live in San Francisco. I plan on riding a few days a week all year long. It doesn’t really rain alot here but there is fog and dew frequently. 7,4 is more than I wanted to spend but if its really worth it I would consider it.

        I checked the Trek website with the comparison tool, the 7.2 has mechanical disks and the 7.4 has hydraulic disks. So which would be better for me?

        • Michael Zhao

          I would strongly urge you to reconsider getting discs. I live in Portland, it rains all the time. I’ve never had an issue with rim brakes on any of my bikes. All my friends run rim brakes as well.

          If you’re dead set on disc brakes, my experience has been that cheap hydraulics are never worth it. Look at these reviews:

          Definitely go with the mechanicals. It’s a much simpler, easier to fix/maintain system. Just don’t expect it to provide stronger brakes. If you really want a good setup, I’d go to a bike shop, and buy the 7.2 Disc, then ask about upgrading to Avid BB7 brakes. It would still cost you less than the 7.4 Disc.

          • Royce Ruiz

            I am by no means “set on getting disks”. I know very little and that is why I’m asking. Thank you for the comments. I’m now leaning toward the recommended 7.2 with the rim brakes but will do more research before I try to find a good LBS.

          • Raivyn

            Weight aside, I think hydraulic disc brakes are a huge improvement. Unless you are racing and need to keep weight down, or are going to be in the middle of nowhere with no bike shops around, there is no reason not to get hydraulic disc brakes. While they may have the same stopping power, it is easier to apply the brakes because the hydraulic fluid does all the work. You don’t have to squeeze the levers as hard to stop, and if you have a long hill or are carrying weight (I pull my kid in a trailer), the ease of operation is definitely noticeable.

            One thing to also keep in mind is that should you decide to get a bike w/rim brakes and decide you want to get disc brakes later, it will be a much more expensive upgrade than getting a bike with disc brakes from the start because you will likely have to not only get the disc brakes, but also have to upgrade to a whole new wheel set to accommodate the rotor. And that’s if your bike has the brake bosses for disc brakes. If it doesn’t, then you are better off just getting a new bike.

          • Steve Elliott

            Agree 100% about the Avid BB7’s — they are an awesome mechanical brake. For ease of maintenance, I would much rather have mechanical discs. Even hanging or storing your bike with hydraulics becomes a problem due to leakage. I don’t have any hydraulic brakes on my bikes any more. Trying to fix a hydraulic brake system in the dark and in the cold sucks. I’ve heard various opinions about hydraulic brakes being terrible in cold weather, but I never had a problem with fluid freezing. It might depend on what kind of fluid you use (I generally just used mineral oil….) and no problems at all during hour long commutes down to -30C. Other things froze, but that’s a different issue…. :)

    • thewegger

      I’m not familiar with Tektro brakes on the 7.2 FX Disc, but my experience with lower-end mechanical disc brakes is that you will get a good bit of brake noise/rub unless you’re assembler/mechanic is patient and thorough. The cheap discs are often harder to tune. Cheap linear pull brakes are easy to set up and work great.

      • The_Mick

        I have cheap mechanical Tektro Novela Disc Brakes on a decent but low-end Diamondback Response XE Mountain Bike. They WERE a pain until I spent some time YouTube-ing how how to adjust them and then spent some time learning to get it right. Once you’ve got them right, they’re no problem. I’ve never had rubbing (3 years) with the rear wheel brake but the front one I have to adjust about once a month – probably because I quick-release the front wheel before putting it in the car and bump the pads around.

  • Brian Van Nieuwenhoven

    Excellent article.

    My only issue is that the word “triathlon” alarmed me in reference to the level of bikes that are talked about here. (if you are seriously competing in multiple triathlons and don’t want to come in dead-last, upgrade to a strictly road-style bicycle. But if you were that type of person, you’d likely know that already.) That’s a minor quibble in an otherwise well-written guide.

    • The_Mick

      Note he said “dabbling,” not “seriously competing” in triathlons.

      Note that many consider “hybrids” as different than “comfort” bikes in that their geometry is half-way between the relaxed-style comfort bikes and road bikes. The Trex 7.2 FX series are hybrids, not “comfort” bikes.

      I may end up doing one for fun with a mountain or hydrid bike. If I can ride in the snow (see below) I can do a triathlon – even if I finish last. I’ve never done one, though I used to be a long distance runner, high school track & cross country coach, and have run marathons. I can swim well and now that I’ve discovered cycling to help lose weight after Achilles tendon surgeries and years of sedentary recovery (294 to 231 lbs in 17 months, 6’3″ – mostly by Calorie Counting), I’m considering moving from the mountain bike I’ve been using to maintain muscle mass to a hybrid or road bike. But my neck (also operated on) doesn’t like the mountain bike torso geometry so I’m going to rent a road bike to see if drop bars kill me, then probably get a hybrid. I may get a hybrid one frame-size smaller than what “fits” me so that my seat height will be a couple inches higher than normal, compared to the handlebar and put my torso in a little more in a road-bike-like position. That will all be determined in the future.

  • brucerb

    I would replace the tires regardless. The 7.2FX and probably most bikes in this class come with 700×35 tires which in my opinion are too wide for a bike that’s going to spend >90% of the time on paved surfaces and the rest of the time on “improved” urban/suburban trails. Unless you are going to be going on rougher trails or unless greater rolling resistance is the way you want to increase the fitness benefits, something in the 26-30 width makes a noticeable difference. I’ve done this with every bike in our family. Bikes that come with that width tire are uncommon in this price range, last I checked.

    • Michael Zhao

      That’s a good point. Though I would posit that someone unaccustomed to riding on road tires might appreciate the added shock dampening of wider tires.

  • James

    I have a Kona dew, it’s a great bike (equal to or better than the Trek), and cheaper than the Trek too. How can you categorically dismiss a hybrid commuter bike, which is by definition utilitarian, because the front fork is “silly-looking” and “narrow-legged”? Since when did the Wirecutter value writers that are posh, prima donna bike snobs? Did you even ride the dew, or the dew plus for your disc break section? What specific features does the Trek have that a Kona doesn’t? Come on, man, the dew comes with metal pedals, flat resistant city tires, and is compatible for fenders and rear/front racks too. I don’t like you’re sentence structure, but that doesn’t keep me from reading the Wirecutter. And the dew comes with a fatter front fork on larger sizes around 59cm. Maybe if you’re worried about the size of your fork, you should be worried about the size of other things instead.

    • Michael Zhao

      I’m glad you found a bike that works for you. If you were able to find it for cheaper, all the better. But the MSRPs are similar and other things equal (which they are, more or less), we think most people would prefer the aesthetics of the Trek over the Kona.

      Moreover, the Dew is by design and geometry, more of a mountain bike masquerading as a road bike than a road bike with a more relaxed riding position. This is reflected in the fact that it’s a bit heavier as well. This is neither good nor bad, but again, we think most people would prefer the more efficient riding position and lighter weight of the Trek.

      • James

        That would have been a nice criticism to include it the article. It sounds like you, Michael, would have been better off writing that article.

  • karan bedi

    Great article.

    I am a newbie rider looking at similar bikes. I came across the Cannondale quick 4 which I think will fit my riding needs.

    I see that you have mentioned the quick 6 as a substitute if you could get it for a discount. I can get the quick 6 for around 550 and I know its a step up from quick 4.

    How does the quick compare to Trek 7.2 FX?


  • GuybrushThreepwood

    Thank you for the article, it’s very timely for me as I’m looking to buy a good commuter bike in this price range right now.

    My question is about the Jamis Coda Sport. I have to say I’m intrigued by the benefits of a steel frame bike and have been running into the weight issue that you mentioned with many bikes. According to the manufacturer’s website, that model weighs about a pound more than the Trek, which I wouldn’t consider a deal breaker. Then again, they could be fudging the numbers.

    I haven’t had a chance to test either yet; in your testing did you find that the Jamis weighed significantly more?

    • New Bike Needed

      Amen. I’ve been researching this closely, and the best info I can find suggests that you are exactly right — the Coda weighs about a pound more than the FX 7.2. And having ridden both, I can tell you that the pound’s not noticeable. So not reviewing the Coda seems to me to a be a big hole in this otherwise very strong article. Thom and Michael — Any thoughts on this

      • Michael Zhao

        If you’ve tested and ridden it and enjoyed it, you should get it. Reynolds 520 tubing is pretty high quality stuff for a bike that’s so cheap. We’ll definitely look into it next time we update this piece.

        • yl3v

          I too just went through test-riding most of the bikes in this article, including the Jamis Coda series. My top two were the Trek 7.2 and Coda Sport – but I simply found the Jamis to have a smoother ride, and really didn’t notice much of a weight difference (if any). Went to buy the Coda Sport, test rode the Coda Comp – and took the Comp home.

          All that being said, it’s personal preference, and I don’t think you can go wrong with either the Trek or the Jamis… But I love my Jamis :)

  • David Hughes

    I have a 2004 Trek 7500 FX (equivalent to the 7.5 FX) and have been really happy with the build quality. I bought it used from a couple who did lots of bike touring and the husband was a professional fitter and mechanic.

    I know you guys push new stuff, but I got a near-mint $1,000 bike for $250 and plan to get many many years out of it. Buying a used bike reduces the consumption pressure and is overall both a better value and better for the environment.

    There are also a TON of great resources out there on how to maintain a bike. I wouldn’t recommend a total newbie buy a “90% assembled” bike, but it’s really easy to learn how to do basic bike repair and maintenance.

  • zellyn

    Great article. It describes almost the perfect bike I’ve been looking for. Just one question: “Hey bike dork, what’s the best road-style bike for commuting/casual riding?”

    :-) I occasionally ride to work (10 miles), but mostly just around my neighborhood. My Gary Fisher hybrid is a bit heavy, although I enjoy not having to worry about hurting the tires jumping onto or off of a sidewalk.

    My question is: is there a similar class bike, but with racing-style handles? It makes it much easier to hang on the wall, because they are narrower. Also, I’m going to use clipless pedals anyway, so that’s not such an issue.

  • Steve Elliott

    One of my “perfect commuter bike” requirements was the year-round, through rain, sleet, hail and snow capabilities. This is going to (likely) increase the price of the bike but it’s almost a necessity if you’re going to be riding through crappy weather for six months of the year. This means disc brakes and an internal hub.

    The one I ended up with was the MEC Hold Steady and it’s been a fantastic choice.

    • cjohnson03

      That’s a great looking bike. Wish I had the budget for one, I grabbed the much less expensive Norco Indie 3 on sale for $550 instead.
      Doesn’t the Hold Steady have carbon fiber forks? That must be so nice for bumpy roads

      • Steve Elliott

        It does have the carbon forks, which is another “almost must have” requirement for where I live. Our pathways are covered with those little weed volcanos and rippled from frost heaves and covered in gravel. Occasionally they’ll repave a section of the pathway or the road and its like riding on a little slice of heaven. :)

  • MisterWhiskey

    Question: Trek also sells 7.0, 7.1, and 7.3 options. So, why 7.2 and not any of the others? Or bluntly, how far is the span of quality between the 7.0 and 7.2, and is the price difference justified?

    • Joby Elliott

      I just ran through all this myself, and wound up reaching the same conclusion as the writers here. The 7.2 is a hell of a bike. Having owned it for about a month now, I don’t have a single regret. I did step up to the 7.2 Disc, which has mechanical disc brakes (it was on sale for just $50 more instead of the usual $100, which made it a no-brainer).

      The 7.2 has significantly nicer tires on it. The tires alone are worth $75 or so more than what’s on a 7.0 or 7.1. It also has 8 speeds in the back instead of 7, with a nicer derailleur. The type of mechanism in the back is also much better and cheaper to maintain over the long term. The 7.2’s pedals are also much grippier, with their metal cages instead of cheap solid plastic platforms. Another big advantage over the 7.0 is that it has sealed cartridge bearings in the headset, which also makes for less and easier maintenance down the road.

      The 7.3 is almost indistinguishable from the 7.2 in most ways. It and above have 9 speeds in the back, and slightly different gearing in the front. The 7.4 has carbon forks…which is actually a dealbreaker for me. I don’t want to trust my fork to a material as prissy and delicate as carbon.

      Other than that the higher ones mostly just have shmancier components, like seatposts that weigh 8 grams less and say “Nebula” on them. Whatever. I commute on this bike, I don’t race it. I want dependability, low maintenance, and durability — not stupid Fredly crabon bits that crumple if you scratch them.

      • MisterWhiskey

        Thank you for filling in the gaps of the review. Great job.

    • The_Mick

      Read the section of the article “Why is the 7.2FX better than the 7.1 or 7.3?”

  • Derek Walsh

    “Women Specific Design” can be a little misleading. Most of the time WSD means a shortening of the top tube length, smaller all around sizing, and the addition of a women’s specific saddle, narrower handlebars, shorter stem, and maybe even a shorter crank length. These things account for the notion that most women have shorter torsos, longer legs, and narrower shoulders on an all around smaller frame than men. Realistically, we are all unique in our build. A woman of 5’10″ might be hard pressed to find the benefits of WSD. ”

    I’m not sure why that’s misleading. That’s exactly the benefit of a women’s specific bike. I would also argue that the benefit is much greater for a taller woman than it is for a smaller woman. Small women tend to have more proportional dimensions. A 5’10” woman is almost always all leg, and has an inseam close to a 6’0″ tall man. That’s when the short top tube becomes rather important.

    Also, the Cannondale Quick 6 is comparable to the 7.1 FX, not the 7.2. That being said, the 7.2 is still better than the Quick 5 (which is the next step up).

    • Eve O’Neill

      Hey Derek! I write other Sweethome commuter gear guides and can weigh in
      on the WSD issue. I think Thom just meant it’s misleading because WSD translates to “smaller” but not all women are “smaller”. It’s just sort of a sloppy band-aid on the much more annoying and complicated issue of proportion.

      WSD has always and forever been a problem for me. You don’t even have to be that tall for it to be a problem — I’m only 5’8″. But I have a very long torso. Like, I can wear those really obnoxious high-waisted 70s looking pants and look like a completely normal person. If you shorten the top tube length, I’m screwed. I also have really broad shoulders, so if the handlebars are narrower, similar problem.

      More importantly, I not an outlier. The shape or proportion of my body isn’t particularly rare or unusual. In fact, it’s such a common body type, it’s even been categorized and named — the Inverted Triangle:

      Even still, I certainly can’t ride anything “designed for women.” That’s why it’s a bit misleading.

  • Hoang Thi

    This is simply an awesome article.The Trek 7.2 FX is cool,but what do you think about dynamic and schwinn ?

    • Hoang Thi

      I would love to include this article in my hybrid bike review blog of course by asking for permission. :) Thanks

  • Joby Elliott

    There’s also a Trek 7.2 FX Disc model for $600. You don’t have to step all the way up to the 7.3. I got a 7.2 FX Disc model on sale for $550 about a month ago, and have been extremely happy with it so far. There was also a sale at the time that netted me a free rear rack.

    The thing is now about a set of fenders away from being my absolute ideal commuter.

    My main motivation for disc brakes (even mechanical ones) is the lack of maintenance. I hate futzing around with rim brakes all the time as the pads wear down and the angle the contact the rims at changes. I also like the sleeker look of disc brakes, and having the mount points on the frame so that I can upgrade all the way to hydraulic someday if I ever want to.

  • preston

    I tested most of the bikes on this list and ended up with the Coda Sport. It had the best ride by far and is a good price. Defiantly worth checking out before you buy. Steel rides so much smoother than aluminiumaluminium.

  • Rackone

    I own a Trek 7.2 for 2 weeks now and I am very satisfied with my new bike. Realy they did a great job with puting it togheter, they used good quality materials and I am realy impressed by the breakes on this thing.

  • Kevin

    Up here in Canada, and this bike is $589 (CDN Tax) but to add disc brakes is another $30. I see the note re: not needing them if you’re a casual summer biker, but at $30, is it worth it?

    • tony kaye

      This is what our experts had to say-

      “No. Disc brakes have less stopping power, especially cheap ones. They perform consistently in the rain/wet conditions though, which is the only reason to get them at this price point.”

      Hope this helps!

  • Matthew Tse

    Great, extremely informative article! I had a few questions about other models out there. What do you think about the Gates Carbon Belt Drive? It’s relatively new, and would it be worth it for the ease of maintenance? REI has a Novara Arkham that goes for $850 with the Carbon Belt Drive. I’m wondering if that model is worth it.

  • J F

    About the Jamis Coda – you stated that it’s the only steel bike in your rundown, and thus “bound to be significantly heavier.” It’s not. The Coda’s frame is of good quality chromoly steel, not standard cheap and heavy high-tensile. It also weighs only about 1-2 lbs more than the Trek 7.2 you talk about throughout the article.

    I guess I’ll be the devil’s advocate here amongst the glowing comments. Are you connected to Trek somehow? For starters, the right bike for someone is the one that both feels the best and has adequate components.

  • Suzie Que

    I personally have a Motobecane Cafe Latte that I purchased over 5 years ago from and I absolutely loooooove my bike. I ride it to the store, I’ve ridden it in charity rides and my shop is happy to do tune ups on it each spring. I am so happy I purchased from Bikes Direct b/c I truly did save several hundred dollars, my shop even told me so.

  • Camille Leverett

    I have a question for the group. What are your thoughts/recommendations for purchasing a used (1-2 years) Specialized, Giant, Trek or Diamondback hybrid bike from a reputable seller? Are there any specific bikes that you recommend from the last couple of years? I heard that I can get a higher quality bike if I buy a used one. Thanks!

    • tony kaye

      Would the bike come with any type of warranty?

      • Camille Leverett

        I’ve learned online that some of the bikes may not come with the original warranty. The warranty’s don’t transfer from one owner to the next.

        • tony kaye

          Well you could always purchase bike insurance if you buy the used bike. I guess it all depends on how much you trust the person/place you’re buying it from!

    • Raivyn

      Bike depreciate rather quickly, which is why you can get more bike for the money. The main issue with buying used is that you are not likely to get the manufacturer’s warranty. That being said, older models may be an even better buy because not only are they less expensive, but they may have better components. If you find an older one you like, you can always search the internet and there will be reviews if it is a good bike.

      • Camille Leverett

        @Raivyn thank you for your reply. I found a 2010 Trek 7.6 FX on craigslist in mint condition. I had it checked out by a mechanic and it’s great condition and it didn’t need any repairs or a tune up.

  • eaadams
    • tony kaye

      Thank you! Fixing!

  • Bill Stigler

    The 2015 model of the Trek 7.2 FX is either out now or will be soon enough. According to these specs from the Village Cycle Center in Chicago, here are the differences between them:

    2014 2015


    rear derailleur SHIMANO ALIVIO and SHIMANO ACERA


    current price* 439.99 and 499.99

    Could you explain these differences and are the differences worth the price ?

    * These are sale prices good until July 14th. See for the 2014 model and for the 2015 model.

    • Bill Stigler

      Sorry about the messed up formatting. But when I hit the button for post, the extra blanks were edited out so it may not be obvious that I tried to set up a three-column table with the data for the 2014 model in column two and the 2015 in column three.

    • tony kaye

      Being that this is pricing from a local bike shop in Chicago, we can’t really determine the differences, but I’ll forward this along to our expert and see what he has to say!

      • Bill Stigler

        Okay, thanks.

        Also, let me rephrase the question: All I would like to see is a comment on each of the three categories as to whether he considers each to be an upgrade or a downgrade from the 2014 model (which is the one he reviewed, I assume). Also, an overall assessment as to whether or not these three changes (assuming all else equipment-wise remains constant) in aggregate represent a net upgrade or downgrade from the 2014 model.

        Based on some web research I’ve already done, the frame type and pedals for the 2015 model to nongearhead me appear to be downgrades, while the derailleur appears to be an upgrade. (Which I find puzzling to say the least.)

        Also as far as the price goes, what I meant was: assuming he regards the three differences as a net upgrade, are they upgrade enough to be worth the price difference of about sixty bucks? Or would he take a pass on the deal and stick with the 2014 model?

        Thanks again.

        • Raivyn

          FYI the derailler change from alivio to acera is a downgrade, not an upgrade. The 2015 is a net downgrade unless you like the colors more.

          • tony kaye

            Thanks for the input!

          • Dnett

            Just found this and wondered if there is any additional comment on the downgrades from 2014 to 2015. Anyone road test the 2015? Wondering if they are significant enough to drop the rating on this bike, or cause some of the others in the category to surpass it? Just checked my local shop and they are still selling both. The 2014 is going for $549 and the 2015 for $489. You would expect the newer model to sell for more, so this has me somewhat worried about the 2015.


          • tony kaye

            This says it all-

            “FYI the derailler change from alivio to acera is a downgrade, not an upgrade. The 2015 is a net downgrade unless you like the colors more.”

          • Dnett

            I understand that it is a downgrade, evidenced primarily by the significant price reduction. My question is, Is the downgrade significant enough to drop the 2015 bike below the others that were tested and compared to the 2014 model. I actually like the new color, but I don’t see how that factors into comparing the value of any two bikes. I guess I could research the two deraillers to see if that makes up most of the price difference. But I’m a novice, so I asked here to get the opinion of those more knowledgeable than me. As I stated, I am concerned that there may be additional downgrades that I am not qualified to discern. That’s why I’m hoping to reopen the discussion.

        • tony kaye

          I think @disqus_1KOOSTgW0P:disqus might have answered this? If you want additional feedback, please let me know!

    • Jim Williams

      Thanks Bill. Purchased a 2014 from Village Cycle Center (highly recommended for those of you in Chicago) for $419.99 plus tax. Found a deal on Yelp – $25 for $50. List price for a 2015 is $499.99, compared to $549.99 for a 2014, so might be a downgrade, but who knows, as many factors contribute to price. I went with the 2014 because it has a proven track record and I prefer matte black to glossy black. Also, the sale price made it a no brainer.

  • Jacob Long

    So, a couple months ago I bought a Trek Verve 2 to be my entry-level hybrid bike. Did I screw up? Too late to rectify, but i want to be able to smarten up for any future purchases.

    At first blush, I see that you’re not as much of a fan of the suspension stuff that would make this bike more on the “comfort” end of the hybrids than the 7.2. I don’t mind it thus far, though you can definitely get to bouncing when it’s time to sprint. The lockable fork on my friend’s Giant Cypress would be useful there. Compared to the old road bike I rode for a few days beforehand, I’m not nearly as scared of taking a curb!

  • lottamoxie

    Hi there. I’m female & am ready to purchase a hybrid. What do you think of the Trek FX 7.6? What I’m specifically attracted to is the carbon fork and the upgraded components, which is why I’m looking at the 7.6 versus the lower number FX options like the 7.5 or lower. Hope you’ll see this post quickly as I want to make a decision within the week. ;-)

    • tony kaye

      Really sorry about the delay, but we didn’t look at the 7.6, so we wouldn’t be able to compare. However, I will forward this along to our researcher to see he says!

    • tony kaye

      Ok this is via our expert Thom-

      I’d say if you’re willing to spend the money on the 7.6, do it. It’s a much better bike. The carbon fork is probably going to lighten up the bike by a couple pounds and carbon does a great job of damping road vibration. The other big difference is the drivetrain (gear system). The 7.2 has a 3 X 8 system— 3 rings in the front, 8 in the back, while the 7.6 has a 2 X 10 system. You won’t have as low a low (easy) gear as you will with the 7.2 but a 34 X 36 gear combination (the easiest/lowest gear on the 7.6) should be more than adequate for even the hilliest road rides. You’ll also be carrying less bike weight-wise so it will be easier to get up climbs. The drivetrain on the 7.6 is much higher quality and will be noticeably smoother and more accurate.

      Definitely check out the bike comparison feature on Trek’s website:

      Hope this helps!

  • Richard Viders

    Thank you SO MUCH for the great and super helpful article, you are so right! I had a Trek 3700 mountain bike that I bought last summer and rode three times on the road, it was too heavy, had not needed shocks, slow tires and I thought I would be off trail! I went back to a wonderful shop in NYC and they took it back as a partial trade which they never do and I got the 7.2 FX and it is amazing, fast, light, great shifting, and the 700cc tires just fly and are so comfortable for my body( just hit 70) that is age not speed. I asked about disc brakes and they told me unless I like to ride in the rain forget it.
    I got the 2015 Model bike for $400 or maybe $450

    • Kong137

      What store did you end up getting it from?

      • Richard Viders

        Bicycle Habitat in Soho, great store and people

  • Joel J.

    How does this compare to a Trek 8.2? If they were the same price (with an 8.2 2013 on closeout), which would you buy?

    • tony kaye

      We didn’t review/test the 8.2.

  • Guest

    I have the Trek 7.2 WSD 2013 that I have ridden for over a year! This has been a great bike. I do it all mule! Love it! I have know purchased a road bike which is more like a fast stallion, I refuse to depart from my Trek 7.2. Just like you said, it is a great second bike to all those other things a road bike cannot.

  • Linda Williams

    I have a 2013 Trek WSD 7.2 that I have ridden for over a year. This is a great all around bike for riding 20 miles or less over various surfaces. I have now purchased a Road Bike and love that as well. The Trek 7.2 is the great bike that does it all and is like a mule. My road bike is wonderful for speed and distance but I will not give up my Trek 7.2 because it is so versatile!

  • Linda Williams

    I ride a Trek 2013 WSD 7.2! It is a great all around bike for riding under 20 miles! I cannot recommend it enough. I have now purchased a road bike. My road bike is faster and is better for distances, but I will not get rid of my Trek 7.2 because it is so versatile!!!

  • kwf

    This is the best review on the subject I have read.
    Prior to reading it bought a Trek 7.6 fx. Very happy with the bike,
    like the carbon fork and shifters, but not cheap.

  • Samcopy

    How does it stacked against the Giant Escape?

  • clevermoniker

    you links are all broken

  • Deepak Bhawnani

    When the “Wait!” flag will go down :-) I mean when the coveted review for 2015 Trek 7.2 FX will be shared by Thom? i am all ears & eyes! Thanks in advance.

  • Emery

    Hi all–I’m trying to compare the Bianchi Torino and either the 2014 or 2015 7.2 FX. I can’t seem to find much info on the BIanchi hybrid as it’s mostly eclipsed by their road bikes. Does anyone have any info at all? I’m a total beginner, and I can use all the help I can get! :)

    • Eve O’Neill

      Hey Emery… after a very cursory glance at the Tornio specs – — the two most obvious ways I noticed it didn’t stack up against the Trek are:

      – aluminum fork (instead of steel)
      – nylon pedals (instead of metal)

      …and it’s only $10 cheaper. Nice lookin’ bike though.

      • Emery

        Thank you! I went with the Trek, but the yellow was tempting :)

  • Kevin Pratts

    Question: Is the 7.2 fx good for 30+ mile rides? Also, besides tires and fork on the Giant Escape 2 is there anything else that seamed to separate it form the 7.2 fx?

    • Eve O’Neill

      The 7.2 FX is great for 30+ mile rides. But my immediate next question is… how often are you going to do this ride? Maybe once a week? Maybe less? Twice a week in nice weather? Or are you planning on commuting 30+ miles, every day, rain or shine?

      If the answer is scenario 1, the Trek is fine. It’ll get you there, you’ll be comfortable, nothing is going to happen to the bike or the components. It’s rock solid.

      If the answer is scenario 2, I would onsider investing in a road bike. Something more in the $1,000 range. You can get a lighter bike, that will puts you in a position to use more power with your legs (and get you there faster), and things like shifters and derailleurs will operate more smoothly, all things that make the ride more efficient when you’re logging serious miles.

  • Kevin Pratts

    Question: Is the 7.2 fx good for rides that are 30+ miles? Also, you mentioned that the forks on the Giant Escape 2 were an issue because you felt road vibration. Do you know if they are better on the Escape 1 or 3?

    • Eve O’Neill

      Hey Kevin… I spent some time talking with my local Giant dealer yesterday. The fork on the Escape 1 is made of composite fiber (so a lower end version of carbon fiber) and the fork on the Escape 3 is made of steel. I took each one out for a test ride… and didn’t notice a difference in road handling.

      The carbon fork may seem like an upgrade at first, but carbon is just like disc brakes — not all carbon is created equal, and there are lower end versions and higher end versions. The carbon you’re getting on the 1 is actually composite, a thicker version of the carbon fiber on higher end models. That doesn’t mean it’s bad — it just means that the upgrade you’re getting form that extra $150 might not have as significant an impact as the stuff that costs lots of money.

      I took these three bikes out for a quick test ride, and found the difference in road vibration to be negligible. We (me and the dude whose job it is to try and sell me a Giant) came to the exact conclusion that Thom came to in his initial research… that most of the bikes in this category are pretty much the same thing.

      If you like it, it’ll serve you just fine, but the downside here is that every model in the Escape series requires some sort of compromise — you either pay $150 more for the 1 and get nicer (low-end) parts and a similar ride, get an aluminum fork on the 2 (why Thom ruled it out), or get the steel fork but an overall downgrade on parts on the 3 — whereas you don’t have to make that compromise with the Trek. Fwiw the 0 is being discontinued in 2015.

      I am currently working on your question about how far you can comfortably ride the FX 2…

  • David Alexander

    I recently bought a hybrid. Before, I read this article and quite a lot from various forums. Then I went to two REIs and tried a dozen bikes at varying styles and price points, while quizzing their (extremely knowledgeable) staff. This comment is to contribute back what I learned.

    To preface: there’s a lot to know to buy a first bike. You may not want what you think you want. I did MTB seriously a decade ago, but road-oriented riding was foreign to me. The knowledge I gained through firsthand experience was invaluable. I wouldn’t have done nearly as well buying used. Given the variety of models and high year-end discounts, the 1-year return policy, and the quality of the advice and the experience in general, I’d recommend buying your first bike at REI over any location or method.

    A few comments on components:


    Skip suspension of any kind. If you want to ride serious trails, buy a mountain bike. Anything affixed to a hybrid is likely to be heavy and poor quality, and will compromise it for the road and most bike paths.

    If you can swing for a model with a carbon fork, do it. They’re common in road bikes from $750-$2000. After $2000, the entire frame tends to be carbon. Carbon forks ride better than steel, much better than aluminum (“alloy”), and weigh less than both. Aluminum is fine for a bike with large, low-PSI tires (e.g., 35mm and 50 PSI), but will shake you to pieces with road-biased running gear.

    MTB-geometry will give you an upright sitting posture. More weight on your butt, less on your hands. Comfortable. It’s easier to see things. But the more upright you are, the harder it is to accelerate unless you’re out of the saddle, and the more wind resistance you can expect. That becomes a factor at speeds (or with a headwind) above 15 MPH.

    Fit matters. A lot. This is the most important reason to buy from a venue that’ll give you an extended test ride. A fast bike you hate will sit in the garage.

    If you expect to be predominately on the road for 20 mile+ trips, spend an hour test-riding a road (or cyclocross) bike with relaxed (for a road bike) geometry. The standard hand position above the drops will be more comfortable over time and faster than a flat-bar hybrid with equivalent geometry. Flatter grips and bar-ends will improve the hybrid. Don’t expect to be able to convert one to the other. A properly-sized hybrid frame has a longer wheelbase and top tube, and it’s not cheap to adapt the various control components.


    The three most important factors for brakes are power, modulation, and consistency. Of secondary importance, we’ve got weight, noise, and maintenance. Good power combines high ultimate stopping power with low hand effort. Good modulation results from long lever travel and linear action. Consistency implies the brake works equally well regardless of weather conditions or use.

    There are four major types: calipers, V-brakes, hydraulic discs, and mechanical discs. I favored them in that order.

    Calipers are the road-bike standard. They’re light, compact, simple, quiet, and mount at a single point directly above the wheel. They act on the rim, so they’ll never overheat (rare conditions with tandems aside). Power is very good in the dry. Modulation is excellent. Consistency is poor in bad weather: power is reduced in the rain. This type also tends to be limited to narrow wheels and tires.

    V-brakes were the mountain-bike standard until about five years ago. Same pros and cons as a caliper, but more powerful, able to accommodate wider tires, slightly heavier, and with merely average modulation.

    Hydraulic discs are the new standard for all bikes capable of going off-road, hybrid or otherwise. Excellent power, modulation, and consistency. The system is self-contained, very resistant to dirt, and indifferent to warped rims. It also tends to be noisier and need periodic adjustments that you won’t be able to do easily on a trail. Discs in general require more spokes and frame reinforcements that, in addition to the hardware itself, add weight. Overheating (and warped rotors or brake failure) will be risk for heavy riders on long descents.

    Mechanical disks are the same, but with less power and simpler maintenance.

    These judgments are subject to the quality of the item. An expensive model may mitigate much of the downside of that brake type. Expensive implies the sort of gear you’d see on a $1500+ bike. Almost every hybrid will have cheaper, more compromised components. This in mind, it costs less to make a decent V-brake than a set of hydraulics; if the bike comes with discs at the same price, they’ll either be poor or there will compromises elsewhere.

    At this price range, I was most impressed with calipers and least with the various discs. Calipers would make the bike endo if I wanted, though the superior modulation ensured I wouldn’t. Same with V-brakes. The mechanical discs I tried couldn’t do it. Hydraulics were fine (and required less squeezing force), but both sets I tried (from different manufacturers) made a lot of noise.

    Unless you have poor hand strength or plan to tour frequently in rain and mud, I see little reason for the weight and expense of any disc brake in a hybrid.

    Drivetrain —

    In Shimano-land, almost any derailleur will do. All models will shift with precision. Better models will stay in adjustment longer, require less finger force, shift more smoothly under power, and weigh less. MTB models (e.g., Deore) allow the use of larger cogs in the rear cassette (and easier gearing in turn). Road models (e.g., Tiagra) tend to be lighter and slightly more precise.

    Among the other components (e.g., hubs, cranks), the more costly levels tend to weigh less and have greater stiffness. Gearing is mostly irrelevant. Road-gearing typically pairs two cogs up front with 8 or more in the back. The third granny-gear small front cog is missing. You’ll only miss it if you’re going up extended grades with a heavily-loaded (e.g., commuting) bike.

    Wheels —

    The most important part than everyone ignores. Light wheels make a bike feel fast and responsive. Acceleration is superior. Heavy wheels feel slow and plodding. If you wonder why one hybrid rides better than another, that’s probably why. Weight matters in general for acceleration, but matters most when it’s part of the wheels. Tires (and tubes, if they exist) contribute. It’s difficult to evaluate wheel weight online.

    Skinny tires won’t necessarily make you faster (rolling resistance depends more on tread pattern than tried width), but they will accelerate faster because they’re usually lighter.

    All this is mind, I ended up buying from what was available at REI, which narrowed to Cannondale, Scott, Diamondback, and Novara. Novara is REI’s house brand. They and Diamondback tend to have superior components for a given price, but often heavier frames with more awkward geometry.

    I found the various Cannondale models (Quick 5, Quick Speed 1, Bad Boy 4 and 1, Synapse and Synapse Disc, among others) to be serviceable, but not special for the price. The Bad Boy series was the most fun to ride, albeit heavy and overbuilt for my purposes. I ultimately ordered a Scott Metrix 20 for a little over $600 that combines the Bad Boy geometry with a carbon fork and a ready-to-ride weight under 22 lbs. It’s a lot of fun and wildly quick on the road. The closeout model is still listed for $700 on their site; if you can spring the extra $200 and want a hybrid with a road-bias, I think you’ll appreciate the difference.

  • James Limborg

    -Now your guitar can sound like Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani and other guitarists studio album guitar sound with BOSS GT-10 Patches by James Limborg… Listen here:

  • wlkngmachine

    This is one of the best reviews I’ve ever read on anything, thanks so much! I am also considering the KHS Vitamin series, any comments one those?

    • tony kaye

      I don’t believe we looked at them, and if we do it likely won’t be until spring :(

  • Nicki

    This is an amazing review!!! I don’t know why it took me so long to find…I’ve been researching hybrid bikes for weeks and just can’t find any consistency on any bike or brand, probably because they’re all trying to sell me bikes! I appreciate your no-bull review. After a couple test rides, I’m going with the Specialized Sirrus or the Trek 7.2.

    • tony kaye

      Glad you liked it!

  • Luke Bornheimer

    When this review is refreshed, it would be awesome if you tested (and reviewed) the Vanhawks Valour (

    • tony kaye


      • Luke Bornheimer

        Thanks Tony!

  • Stacie Lindquist

    Could I use this bike to ride the MS 150 bike ride (70+ miles each day for two days)?

    • tony kaye

      Via our expert-

      Yes, you definitely could. A long ride like that is more about comfort than speed and you’ll definitely be comfortable.

  • Joonie Joon

    I ride roughly less than 50 miles per month, but I wanted to start riding more often with my son since I live near a recreational dam area. I had never bought a bike over 300 $ before. So for me, expensive road bike was not an option. I went to a local bike shop and they had 3 of the 5(or 6) models mentioned in this article. I tested out all of them and I find this article extremely helpful and it was dead on accurate on the assessment of the bikes mentioned here. I ended up with the trek 7.2FX for the same reasons mentioned here. (by no means, I live near the author or related to him at all, i’m in Los Angeles area) If you are in the similar situation as me, I’d highly suggest going for the trek 7.2FX. It was nothing like the bikes i’ve ridden before. Simply heavenly!

    • tony kaye

      Glad we were able to help!!!

  • eidyx11

    This is an awesome guide. Obviously a lot of hard work was put into this, so kudos to the writer of the guide.

    I do have the burning question, though: Is the 2015 version of the FX 7.2 as good as the 2014? I’ve read that they’ve changed a number of components. As far as I can tell they’ve changed the frame and the rear derailleur. And also dropped the MSRP some, which I assume reflects a downgrade. I just wonder whether it was a meaningful downgrade that makes others options on this list more appealing, or not.

    • tony kaye

      Somewhere in this thread it’s noted that the differences made the 2015 a worse bike overall and the 2014 model is the one to get (if you still can). I’ll try to find the thread!

      • eidyx11

        Yeah, I found it, thanks.


    Do you have any thoughts on bicycles for permanently mobile people, such as myself? As a truck driver, a quality bicycle would be a boon (my doctor would be ecstatic). Unfortunately I have not found much information on the quality of folding bicycles.. Help!

  • Cattus ex Machina

    Do you have any thoughts on bicycles for permanently mobile people, such as myself? As a truck driver, a quality bicycle would be a boon (my doctor would be ecstatic). Unfortunately I have not found much information on the quality of folding bicycles..

  • Brent Harvey

    I just wanted to say thank you for this guide. I just bought the last 2014 Trek 7.2 FX Disc in San Diego county. I LOVE IT.

    • tony kaye

      You’re most welcome!!!

  • jay

    the jamis coda is a bike you should really should have ridden though….the ride on a steel frame is different and it’s a very popular bike

  • R P

    Bought a 2014 7.3 from a Trek store. More problems than I care to list (or anyone wants to read) all of which might be vaguely forgivable were it not for the atrocious service I received in the 30 or so trips back to the store to get the bike right as it should have from the start.

    This bike replaced a stolen 10 yr old Trek. What was is on longer and never another Trek. Never ever.

    • tony kaye

      Our EIC likes her 7.3 just fine, but the 7.2 is what we recommend.

  • Bram

    I was wondering if you guys could weigh in on the Priority bicycle. It’s got a lot of interesting features for a pretty low price.

  • Allen Millington

    I was interested in the Torker T800, but the nearest authorized retailer is over an hour away and I my only means of transportation would be Metra to Chicago. I’d prefer to buy online (unassembled) and ship-to-home. I also want the internal shifting hub. I was using my Dad’s old bike from the 80s until it’s shifting hub wore out. Had over 2K miles on it. I have a couple spare hubs, but I know they will wear out (pedal-back braking starts to slip and eventually completely fails). I sort of just want a new bike at this point.

    I decided to look at the The Globe Work 2, but it is no longer on specialized and the link in this article doesn’t work. I definitely need fenders. I occasionally ride when it’s raining and end up with a streak up my back on my current (temporary) bike.

    Is the wheel base long enough on these bikes to turn the wheel without hitting my foot? My temporary bike is a Schwin with such a short wheel base, the tire hits my foot if I turn with the wrong foot forward.

    What is the preferred tire radius? I would think the larger radius tires would handle bumps / curbs better.

    Also, it seems like TheSweetHome is having problems loading today (tried two different browsers and this article doesn’t fully load in either).

  • Lukasz Ignasiak

    Hi Tony. How do You see Giant Escape 1 2015 compare to The Trek 7.2 FX?

    • tony kaye

      Our update is coming this week!

  • JacobN

    This is an excellent guide! I think it would be great if The Sweethome made a roundup guide for the newbie bike commuter. Cover things like gloves, lights, pumps, storage racks and bags, fenders, apparel, gear for rain commuting, when to consider those fancy snap-in shoes, etc. I’m particularly confused about how I should dress the lower half of my body while biking…

  • JoshuaT

    I found a bike shop that still has a 2011 7.2fx on clearance for half off. Is the 2011 version of the 7.2 as good as the 2015? The components seem to be close to the 2014’s version but I was unsure if the frame design and/or type of aluminum was changed in between theses years.