Review: Trek Dual Sport 2 hybrid bike

A fine all-in-one path and trail hybrid package for commuting and weekend trips on gravel

Having recently found myself commuting to and from Uni (besides dropping by my nearby Tesco) a lot, it made sense to pick up a decent ride for myself. After some shopping, I went with the Trek Dual Sport 2, fourth generation, thanks to the friendly blokes at my local Evans Cycles outlet. This is a quick look at my requirements and how I narrowed down on my options, should a reader ever find themself in my position.

Why hybrid bikes

Most of my riding is done on roads. The city I live in has pretty good cycle paths, and even more so along the roads I frequent, which means I rarely need to step offroad. That said, I do find myself occasionally riding on gravel if I venture towards the countryside or ride down to my neighbourhood cycle shop, which means a combination of path and trail riding ideally describes my requirement.

That said, most people need hybrid bikes. This is the common denominator of bikes people should be looking to buy in my opinion. Street racing bikes are too niche for most everyday users who like to go to their grocery store or place of work by bike; and mountain bikes while better balanced are unnecessarily bulky for road use. Hybrid bikes ride the middle path—forgive my puns—brining the handling of the mountain bike and the comfort and ease of a street racer.

The Trek Dual Sport 2 in particular comes with wider tyres (40mm Bontrager GR1 Comp) than counterparts from Canondale (Quick CX) or Specialized (Sirrus X) or even Trek’s own FX which is more road-focussed. The Dual Sport 2 also comes with front suspension which is great for gravel and which can be locked while the bike is in use on roads.

Trek Dual Sport 2 front frame

Specifications

The Trek Dual Sport 2 that I bought is the fourth generation edition. It is worth noting that there is a fifth generation version too that does away with the front suspension. This is a curious move on Trek’s part and not one I fully understand, so I opted for the slightly older fourth generation model that also came with a generous discount.

The bike comes in three colours: a flashy red that Trek calls ‘viper red’, a classic ‘Mulsanne blue’ and of course the standard ‘Trek black’. My choice, like always, was the unassuming black because it keeps my bike inconspicuous and does not alert cycle thieves from two miles away like the viper red would (see picture above).

Tyres and rims. Both Bontrager, which is Trek’s own brand. The rims are Bontrager connection, double-walled alloys with 32 spokes. The tyres are all-weather Bontrager GR1 Comp 700x40c. These are wider than road bikes and have a deeper tread as well, but fall below mountain bikes as one would expect.

Saddle. One of the most important aspects of any bike, the Trek Dual Sport 2 comes with the comfortable Bontrager Sport saddle. It breathes well and disappears even with long periods of use, which takes half the pain away from cycling.

Derailleurs and shifters. The thing that makes the Dual Sport 2 such a great hybrid bike is its gear system. It allows for a ranger wider than almost any other comparable bike with a 9x2 system built with Shimano Altus shifters and an Altus and Acera pair of derailleurs for the rear and front respectively. What this means is you get a nice range for gear ratio that makes it considerably easy to climb uphill while also going pretty fast on flats; in other words, you get what you expect from a great hybrid bike.

Brakes. The Dual Sport 2 comes with two hydraulic disc breaks which means no worries in the long term. The braking has been effective in my brief experience.

The good and the not-so-bad

The thing about the Dual Sport 2 for me has been that it offers a lot of great stuff without skimping too heavily when it holds back. For instance, the drive train is the lower- and middle-tier of Shimano’s offerings and is paired with wheel hubs that are rather relaxed. Experienced cyclists might bemoan this but to someone like me who is more of a casual rider, this is really the perfect set-up.

The front fork is another oft-seen complaint (and probably why Trek did away with the front suspension on Gen 5) but not one that should turn you off this bike entirely. The SR Suntour NEX that this bike comes with offers movement of 56mm on average, which is alright for casual use again, not for pushing it to the limit. Forks are replaceable of course so you might accomplish the bike of Theseus with better forks and tyres before you give up on this bike ten or more years from now.

Lastly, the heft of this bike is not exactly negotiable. As a well-built person I can lug it up a flight of stairs but it would have been nice to have a lighter frame, especially after a long ride.

As for the good, the Dual Sport 2 rides smoothly, the gears shift pretty well in normal, everyday use (think rushing to work rather than officially competing), and the saddle system works great. The wires are almost completely internal, which means the bike looks good and chances of mehcanical failures are reduced.

I prefer flat handlebars which is what this bike comes with and they are incredibly well built. The Dual Sport 2 on the whole is extremely well put together and this shows in everyday use. The shocks come with a hydraulic switch which means you can keep your fork locked on on-road commutes and open it up when you hit the trails—you get the best of both worlds.

Looking forward

I am new to commuting by bike daily although I have been cycling for many years now. The Trek Dual Sport 2 is the ideal first bike for people in my position who need a bike for daily use but do not plan on riding mountains anytime soon. This is also a machine that is fit for comfortable riding as opposed to speeding through traffic, so if snaking past cars is your goal, look elsewhere.

The UK (and I assume certain other places) have bike registries that work with the local police to help trace your bike if you should ever lose it. I had mine registered on day one, which set me back about £25 or thereabouts. Trek also maintains a registry for warranty purposes to which you should probably enrol your new bike. That said, with my helmet equipped, golved hands and reflective gilet, I am thrilled in every way with the Trek Dual Sport 2 and see it as a great vale purchase for the long term.

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