This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a list of the best gear for your home. Read the full article at TheSweethome.com.
After 50 hours of research and testing conducted over the past 2 years, we’ve determined that if you want a versatile bike for riding around town, a performance hybrid like the $490 Trek 7.2 FX is likely the right bike for you. In a world congested with countless nearly-identical bikes, the 7.2 FX is our top choice for the second year in a row, and it can work for anything from short road rides to commuting moderate distances to work. It’s nimble, lightweight, and better-equipped for the price than any other brand-name bike in its price range.
How we decided
As bike people with decades of combined experience working on, with, and riding bikes professionally and casually, the writers of this guide know a thing or two about bikes. But we also spoke to Sarai Snyder, founder of Girl Bike Love and CycloFemme; David Studner, project manager for Trek’s City Bike division; and the staff members at more than seven Bay Area bike shops, including Roaring Mouse Cycles, Missing Link, Bay Area Bikes, City Cycle of San Francisco, Mike’s Bikes, REI, and Performance Bicycle. We then spent hours poring over the spec sheets of all the fitness hybrid bikes we could find in the $500 range to pick out the small differences that separate the great values from the mediocre. We then threw our legs over about a dozen top contenders over the past two years to figure out which would be best for most people.
Who should buy this?
The linear pull V-brakes are basic, but they’re strong and responsive.
The fitness or performance hybrid is great for anyone buying their first bike—or first bike in a long time. If you want to get into cycling, start here. This is also the right bike for commuters. It’s able to cover moderate distances over varied terrain with ease and relative comfort. And if you want to go on long, leisurely weekend rides with your friends or family this is the bike for you. While it’s not as light and fast as a road bike, you will be comfortable on most recreational trips of roughly 25 miles or less.
Why we like this above all else
Small details, like grippier, metal-wrapped pedals are what set the Trek apart from other very good bikes in this price range
For the second year in a row, the 7.2 FX is the best fitness hybrid for most people because it feels like a premium bike without costing a fortune. That’s because it includes some crucial and basic features that make your ride more comfortable and reliable. It comes standard with some basic components, like metal pedals, that the competition will sometimes charge extra for. Its steel fork absorbs more road vibration than the aluminum forks that equip a lot of the closest competition. And it also has puncture-resistant tires, which saves you from spending (minimum!) another $60 to upgrade. Basically, the Trek FX 7.2 doesn’t nickel and dime you for important features that contribute to the comfort and quality of the ride.
It also comes in a women’s-specific design configuration (which you may not want—more detail on this here) and a disc brake model if that’s something you decide you need (but for casual street riding, we don’t think you do).
Flaws (but not dealbreakers)
The Altus/Acera shifter/derailleur combo is adequate. Well-tuned Altus feels as good as anything.
Trek made some minor downgrades between last year’s model and the new 2015 in the name of cutting costs, which is why it’s only $490 this year compared to $550 for the 2014 model. Specifically, the aluminum frame was downgraded from Alpha Gold to Alpha Silver (basically it’s a couple ounces heavier), and the rear derailleur has been slightly downgraded, from Alivio to Acera (though the shifters are still the same so you shouldn’t notice a difference). But at its core the Trek FX 7.2 is the same great bike we liked last year—just at a lower price.
If you don’t have a Trek dealer near you, or the Trek is selling for substantially more than its $490 MSRP, the Specialized Sirrus a good alternative. The only major difference between the Sirrus and our top choice is the plastic pedals, which won’t grip as solidly or last as long as the alloy cage pedals on the Trek. There’s also the paint job, which comes down to personal preference.
Wrapping it up
The Trek FX 7.2 continues to be our favorite hybrid bike for a second year in a row and offers features that competitors don’t. If you’re looking to make your entry into biking simple, or if you want to pick it up for your existing bike riding around the city, we think it’s the one you should get.
This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to TheSweethome.com.