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Trek 920 Disc review

29 Sep 2016

The Trek 920 Disc blurs the lines between road bike and mountain bike but theres no doubting it's an adventure bike.

Buy the Trek 920 Disc from Evans Cycles here

At what point is a road bike, not a road bike? Is it when the bars are no longer dropped? Is it when the tyres are knobbly? Wherever the increasingly blurred line is drawn, we’ve got to admit that the Trek 920 Disc stretches the limits of the definition (in the same manner as the Open U.P. or Cannondale Slate). But ignoring semantics for a moment - what the 920 is, without question, is a bike designed for adventure. Much like the latest crop of adventure/gravel bikes, such as the Specialized AWOL and Niner RLT9, the Trek 920 promises to take you miles off the beaten path with heaps of fun in the process.

At the heart of this adventure is a thoroughly modern, 100 series Alpha aluminium frame. Aluminium isn’t often seen on touring bikes, steel and titanium are usually favoured for their toughness, but it does have one key advantage: weight. The 920, even loaded up with racks, only weighs 12kg, which is 2.5kg less than the AWOL. While that might not seem much, especially when loaded up with gear, it does make a difference when you want to ride it unloaded for a bit of fun.

Trek 920 front rack

The frame has is absolutely covered in mounts. There’s full pannier mounts front and rear, plus mudguard mounts also. There are three sets of waterbottle bosses, plus two more on the fork if you opt for a low rider rack instead of the porteur-esque one that the 920 comes with. There are other modern touches on the frame too, such as bolt-thru axles for the disc brakes, which combine well with classic parts, like a threaded bottom bracket for durability. 

The wheels are the most controversial element for the road bike purists, as they’re 29er wheels straight out of Bontrager’s mountain bike line-up fitted with Bontrager XR1 29x2.00 MTB tyres. The Duster Elites are Tubeless Ready if you want to go that way, although they come fitted with inner tubes, and Trek is quick to point out that if the big knobblies put you off, you can fit some skinnier rubber. Also testing our roadie mettle is the SRAM groupset, which is made up of parts from its X5 and X7 mountain bike range allowing a low range of gears for fully-loaded excursions. The bar-end shifters though are pure touring and a welcome choice.

Money where your mouth is 

Trek 920 TRP Hylex

Since the Trek 920 is so bold in its adventurous claims, we took it on a fair few adventures, including a rather testing trip to the far north of Scotland. The trip involved lots of road miles, but with plenty of steep gravel tracks and some quite hardcore off-roading in places.

On the road, there’s no doubting that the big knobbly 29er tyres hold you back but as soon as you hit the gravel they’re a big advantage. Switch the tyres out to 30mm slicks though, and the 920 is as fast as any other gravel bike out there. It also helps shed quite a bit of rotating weight too.

While the SRAM X7 mountain bike groupset might raise some eyebrows on the club run, once the bike is fully loaded and off the beaten path it makes perfect sense. The 28/36 lowest ratio could get you up anything and the 48/11 is actually a fairly hefty gear to turn over, so you rarely spin it out. The bar-end shifters do take some getting used to, and they’re not the greatest in traffic, but you just end up riding in another gear for a few seconds until you find time to change.

The TRP Hylex brakes were faultless the entire test and the chunky grips that hide the master cylinder inside were comfortable for hours. It is quite a long reach to the lever though, so those with particularly small hands may struggle. Fully loaded up the bike handled well, never weaving or wobbling, and the bundled racks are plenty tough enough for all that you could throw at them.

As a bike to go touring where the roads are few and far between, you would struggle to find anything better, but I think where the Trek 920 really excels is just how fun it is to ride. Long after I had finished taking it on epic excursions, I rode it to work, bouncing up and down obstacles like a mad man. I even went mountain biking with a friend and apart from one hilarious incident when I beached it thanks to the long wheelbase it performed admirably, as long as you keep in mind that you’re taking it out of its comfort zone. It’s that change in mindset that is key to enjoying the Trek. It does make a great touring bike, of that there is no doubt, but if you accept that you might not go quite as fast as you could do on a road or gravel bike it’s great for everything else too.

Buy the Trek 920 Disc from Evans Cycles here


Trek 920 Disc
Frame 100 series Alpha aluminium
Groupset SRAM X7
Brakes TRP Hylex
Chainset SRAM S1000, 42/28T
Cassette SRAM PG-1030, 11-36
Bars Bontrager Race, VR-C
Stem Bontrager Elite
Seatpost Bontrager alloy
Wheels Bontrager Duster Elite
Saddle Bontrager Evoke 1.5
Weight 12.5kg

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