With the current cost of fuel and the omnipresent risk of wasting time sitting in rush hour traffic, you might be considering commuting to work by bike. We’ll presume you’ve already got the job to commute to, so now you need the bike for the job! That can be a bit of a minefield, so with the help of Trek's FX range, here's a look at some typical steeds that are ideal for the commute, and some top tips to get you on your way.
For many of us, with the right preparation commuting by bike is not only pretty easy, but also a more enjoyable and sustainable way to travel to work. It offers numerous benefits for your health and finances, and may even mean you can stay in bed a little bit longer.
Commuting by bike is a great way to get out in the fresh air and maybe even contribute to maintaining your fitness. Another positive of commuting by bike is that you can generally get closer to the office than in a car. There's not many people who like sitting in traffic and trying to find parking spaces in tight town centre car parks, not to mention that parking isn't free for most of us.
The growing network of cycling infrastructure that’s popping up in cities is also making it easier than ever to commute by bike. To help you find the best bike for your commuting duties, we've got our hands on Trek’s FX range. This also happens to be the American brand's best-selling range.
The FX range consists of sporty, lightweight hybrid bikes that can comfortably get you to wherever you want to go. The full range includes the FX 1, FX 2, FX 3, FX Sport and the most advanced, the FX+ 2. Each has three different levels: standard, step-thru or equipped. The bikes come out the box with all the accessories you could ever need.
Even with this simple naming structure for Trek's FX range, choosing the right one might still prove a complex task. So, how do you choose the right commuting bike for you and your needs? Let's look a little closer at each FX bike...
At the top of Trek's FX range is the FX+ 2, which is the electric version of their lightweight commuter. This makes it really suitable for longer or hilly commutes.
A commute to work by bike doesn’t need to be tiring, and an e-bike may be the logical choice for many. It means you can kick back on the motor and get to work more efficiently without getting too sweaty, while also saving some energy. Overall, an e-bike can be a more enjoyable experience, particularly on a hillier commute.
Having the helping hand of a motor makes a big difference when you’re stop/starting at traffic lights, as it gets you up to speed quicker and can help you keep up with traffic in rush hour.
Yes, this one is heavier, but it brings all the same versatility as the FX with an integrated rack, mudguards and lights, with the added electric boost to help you use less energy or go a bit faster on your commute to work. You might even be tempted to take the long route home!
The motor is located in the hub of this bike in the rear wheel, and the pedal assist system gives a natural ride feel. It will assist you up to speeds of 25km/h, and you can ride up to 56 kilometres on one charge.
Featuring even wider tyres than the FX 2 and FX 3, the FX+ 2 comes with 40mm tyres, and can fit up to 45mm with mudguards or 50mm without mudguards. This makes it even more capable of coping with riding off the beaten track, or on broken road surfaces.
Overall, this is a very practical commuter that brings all the versatility of the FX 3 disc equipped with the added bonus of being electric, meaning you don’t need to use as much energy!
Up next is the FX 3 Disc Equipped, which we feel really stands out in the FX range.
As the name suggests, it’s the jack-of-all-trades and comes fully loaded with all the accessories you need for commuting: a pannier rack, lights, mudguards and even a kickstand. This would be the easiest and most practical choice if you want to commute, because it's pretty much ready to go.
Let's start with the mudguards. To make a bike perfect for commuting, many people would argue that mudguards are a non-negotiable, as they protect you from the splash and spray of mud, water and debris and can help to protect your bike, and obviously your clothes. If you have a relatively short commute and are thinking of commuting to work in what you want to wear for the day, then mudguards really are a no-brainer. Also, the lesser talked about part of mudguards is that they can actually reduce your maintenance and lower long-term costs on bike servicing.
A pannier rack is also a great option for those longer commutes where you don’t want to be carrying a backpack, making it easier to transport things to and from work.
The frame itself is lightweight aluminium, with carbon forks and flat handlebars. The bike comes with hydraulic disc brakes, which provide great stopping power in all weather conditions.
It has a simple 1x drivetrain, which means it only has one chainring on the front. Ditching the front derailleur gives you one less thing to think about when you’re riding, and one less component to maintain.
The groupset is Shimano Deore 10-speed with an 11-46 cassette, which means despite only having one chainring on the front, you'll still have all the gears you need to ride up hills, and plenty at the top for riding on flat roads.
Moving on to the wheels, like the FX 1, the FX 3 Disc Equipped features wide tyres which are beneficial to comfort and grip. It comes with 32mm tyres and can fit up to 35mm rubber with mudguards on.
The Bontrager wheels are tubeless-ready, which means they're designed to be used without an inner tube. No one wants a puncture in the morning that’s going to make you late for a meeting, so tubeless tyres really make sense for commuting.
The increased versatility doesn’t come at a cost to the rideability, making this bike a very practical, fully equipped option if you’re thinking more seriously about commuting to work by bike.
The FX 2 is your entry-level, basic hybrid bike for commuting. It's simple but very adaptable, and nicely priced at £650 to get you going. There's also a standard or step-through design, which some budding commuters might find easier to mount and dismount.
Like the other bikes in the FX range, the frame is aluminium, which means that it’s durable and has natural resistance to corrosion. The frame can handle the stresses and demands of everyday riding, meaning you can bash it around and it’ll be less prone to damage than a carbon fibre equivalent.
The frame is designed for a more upright riding position for enhanced visibility and comfort, with flat handlebars. These bars are a popular choice for many city and urban commuters, offering more comfort and control.
When choosing a bike for commuting, it’s well worth considering tyre width. Wider tyres are beneficial for a range of road surfaces as they can be run at lower pressures, making it more comfortable and providing a wider contact area for more grip. This FX 2 comes with 35mm tyres, and can fit up to 38mm tyres without mudguards which is the sweet spot for many riders.
It’s also nice to see that even at this price point, you can get your hands on hydraulic disc brakes. They require very little servicing and provide excellent stopping power.
Of course, you can also fit those all-important mudguards. This really would make a practical and low-maintenance first-time commuting bike without breaking the bank.
Now obviously, even the cheapest of these bikes represents a fairly sizeable investment. So, what can you do as a commuter before buying?
In the UK there are cycle to work initiatives, which are run through the company you work for. Essentially, there are different vouchers on offer for different values, giving you a pre-tax saving. The money goes out of your monthly pay packet, and you can save anywhere from 20-40% off the price of a bike, which is a great deal.
Hopefully this article has helped you see that commuting by bike can be easy if you have the right bike for your needs and level of fitness.
If you want more information on commuting by bike to work, get in touch with your local bike shop - they’ll often be more than happy to help. If you like the look of any of the bikes that we’ve been riding today, then you can check them out over on the Trek website.
Which of these three bikes is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below...
Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.
Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…