If you have read my (Stella) review for my first adult bike, Giant Sedona DX W then you will understand how big of a deal it is with getting my second adult bike, the 2020 Trek Dual Sport 3 (Women’s). At the time when I had purchased the Giant, we were living in Green Bay, Wisconsin where I primarily rode it on the Fox River Trail in De Pere. It is a long, wonderful paved and crushed gravel trail that is mostly flat. The Giant was absolutely perfect for that type of biking, and it was an all around great beginner bike for me.
However, upon moving to Colorado, I quickly learned that the bike trails here are not flat, nor are most of the trails that we have biked on throughout the mountainous western states when we travel. Naturally, the bike trails are quite hilly, and the Giant was frustrating me because I was no longer able to stroll along with ease. I am in pretty good shape, yet everyone would pass me by like I was the biggest slug in the world, as I struggled on the simplest of hills. This fall, I finally got to the point where I had had enough, thus the search for a new, and more appropriate bike for hilly terrain had begun.
The Giant is exceptionally comfortable to ride, but its biggest downfall is the weight. It is a very heavy bike, roughly 34-35 pounds. So when Larry and I had begun researching bikes, weight was a top priority. However, I also needed a bike that would be capable of handling different types of road conditions (dirt, gravel, pavement, etc.). I am not a ‘road biker,’ so the type of bike most suitable for what I needed are classified as ‘Hybrid.’ Another important component of the new bike was a good shock system to absorb the impact of rocks and bumps, which the Giant does have.
I had researched a dozen different bikes and brands and was not finding anything suitable. Just as I had given up the search, Larry came across the Trek Dual Sport 3 (Women’s). The Trek Dual Sport comes in four models plus three women’s specific versions. Based upon my biking needs, Larry believed that the Dual Sport 3 in the women’s specific version would be a good fit.
Soon thereafter, I learned that the Dual Sport 3 (Women’s) has three different model years: 2019, 2020 and 2021. It was difficult to discern which year of this bike would be the best one for me. I reached out via chat to a Trek representative, who stated that there were significant upgrades between the 2019 and 2020 models, but the differences between the 2020 and 2021 models were miniscule.
I thought about that, and had initially decided to just wait till next Spring to purchase the 2021 model, but that quickly changed when the representative told me that it would not be available to Colorado retailers until Fall of 2021. Well, I certainly did not want to wait a full twelve months to get a new bike, especially since we are sometimes able to bike in Denver even in the winter months. Plus, I wanted to have it for next summer.
So, Larry and I searched for a local Trek retailer to see if they had any of the 2020 models in stock. One thing to note is that the 2020 models are made in XSmall, Small and Medium sizes. I reviewed the size chart, which revealed that the XSmall is the most ideal size for me. After calling around and searching online inventories, we found a local bike shop that had four of the 2020 bikes in stock, all in XSmall. I was ecstatic, to say the least!
Immediately, we went to the bike shop that morning to check it out. They also had one of the 2019 models, but since the Trek representative stated that the 2020 model is far superior due to the upgrades, I did not even look at it. I purchased the bike on Sunday (Oct 11), and had to wait until the following Saturday (Oct 17) before I had the opportunity to ride it. All week I had been so excited, and my first ride with this bike was nothing short of fantastic! The 2020 Trek Dual Sport 3 (Women’s) has completely changed my biking experience. We biked about sixteen miles in Cherry Creek State Park, which has some flat sections, combined with varying degrees of rolling hills, and lots of them. This bike handled it all with ease.
I do not know enough about bikes to be able to discuss the really technical details of this bike, but I can explain my experience with it, and compare it to the Giant (a Hybrid Comfort Cruiser) so that readers may be able to understand the differences between the two. It is my hope that this information will paint a good picture for those who may be interested in this bike, or one similar. I will break this review down into two broad categories (Comfort and Speed/Performance), and then discuss specific aspects within each category.
a) Ride: we tested the bike on pavement, dirt and different thickness of gravel. The shock absorption was great, and it provided a very smooth, comfortable ride on everything. However, the Giant is just a tad better in this area because it has a shock absorbing seat post, which provides further aid in this respect. But the difference was minimal.
b) Saddle (seat): this bike has a very different type of saddle than the Giant. The seat on the Trek is very narrow, and aligns more with traditional bike saddles on non-cruiser style bikes. I did not find the Trek saddle terribly uncomfortable for the sixteen-mile ride, but would it be comfortable enough for a thirty-mile ride? Not sure yet – time will tell. This is an easy item to replace if needed.
c) Riding Posture: the feature that I like the most about the Giant is that the stem (the bar that the handlebars sit on) can be raised really high, which allows the rider sit completely upright with the rider’s arms extended directly out in front. That is a very comfortable biking posture for my back, which is typical of a Comfort Cruiser style of bike. And that was the primary reason why had purchased the Giant years ago; it made me feel more secure and stable. After all, that was the first bike I had ridden in over twenty-five years.
However, the Trek is not like that. The Trek places the rider in more of a forward bent posture, and it took about ten minutes of riding for me to get used to that. (The forward bent posture is not to the degree that one would have on a road bike). After a few miles, I found this to be quite comfortable, and it did not bother my back at all (I have back problems, which is why this is important for me).
d) Frame: as the salesman was discussing the different features of this bike, I hopped onto it to get a feel. However, when I had attempted to get off of the bike, my right foot caught on the crossbar and I tipped over and nearly fell. Fortunately, I was quick enough to have caught myself one second before my butt hit the floor. This happened because the Giant has a step through frame, and the Trek Dual Sport 3 (Women’s) has a mid step frame.
This means that the cross bar is much higher, so I can no longer hop off the bike with utter ease. Now, I have to watch my right foot as I lift it up and over the cross bar to make sure that it actually gets over the crossbar. It is definitely a concentrated effort. Because I am so short, this is a bit of a challenge. That situation in the store had been a good learning experience for me, and came as a bit of a shock, along with being a touch embarrassing.
e) Size: I briefly mentioned the sizes of this bike earlier. One of the reasons why the XSmall size is ideal for me is because the distance/ratio between where my body sits on the bike and the forward reach to the handlebars is ideal for very small people like myself. However, if only the Small size had been available, that would have been fine as well.
a) Speed/Gears: when Larry and I discussed the struggles that I was having with the Giant, he said that in addition to the weight, the Giant was also un-ideal because of the “gear ratios.” While I have no idea what that technical term actually means, I can say that the difference that I felt between the two bikes with regards to the gear system was truly striking.
For example, when encountering steep hills, I always had to set the Giant to the lowest gear, and even then would struggle. With the Trek, however, I was able to set my gear to 3 or 4, and was quite comfortable. The overall amount of effort that it took to go up steep hills was significantly minimized! And, when riding on flat areas, I was also able to pedal in a higher gear and did not have to exert near as much effort either, thus enabling me to ride faster than on the Giant. This is attributed to the gear system, or I suspect what Larry refers to as the “gear ratio.”
On the Giant, the gear shifters are located on the handlebars – you turn them in either a clockwise or counter clockwise direction. On the Trek, the gear shifters are little levers located directly above and below the handlebars. To change the gears, you simply click the levers. I came to really like this feature, and the transition between the gears was much smoother than that of the Giant. But since this is still new to me, I kept clicking the lever opposite of the way I wanted the gear to move.
b) Tires: the tires on the Trek are about the same diameter as those on the Giant. However, the Trek tires are completely different. They are much thinner, and have an unusual looking tread. The company states that the tires on the Trek are puncture-resistant and appropriate for dirt, gravel, pavement, etc. (Note: this does not mean they cannot be punctured. My back tire got punctured that day from Goat Head somewhere on the trail, resulting in the tubing needing to be replaced).
We rode on two different types of gravel. In one section, the gravel was mixed in with dirt, and it was level and hard-packed. In the other section, the gravel was really thick (like a gravel sandbox), and because the gravel was so thick it was not level at all. That was the place where I felt the tires slush around a bit, and I almost tipped over twice.
We do not ride on thick, slushy gravel often enough for me to feel the immediate need to change out the tires at this point. When I encounter that type of gravel again I will just be extra cautious. And when we took my bike in to get the back tire fixed, the repair man affirmed that the tires on the Trek are good tires, and he would not recommend changing them to something else.
c) Weight: this bike weighs under thirty pounds without any added gear. I plan to add a Trek kickstand and possibly a water bottle cage, but the weight of those items is minimal. I can say, with 100% confidence, that the lighter weight of this bike makes a significant difference! Even just lifting the bike onto the rack on the Tahoe was much easier.
d) Brakes: the Trek has hydraulic disc brakes, and the Giant has rim brakes. From my understanding there are significant differences between the two, but I did not notice/feel anything different. For me, as long as it slows down and stops, that is all I need. I guess I am pretty basic..
FINAL THOUGHTS: as I had mentioned above, Trek Dual Sport 3 (Women’s) has completely changed my biking experience. It is lighter, faster and overall easier to ride. I know that this bike will allow me to enjoying biking even more since now I will be able to ride on hilly terrain with so much less effort, thus enabling me to bike faster and further. If you are looking for an upgrade to a versatile bike that can handle it all, then I highly recommend checking out the 2020 Trek Dual Sport 3 (Women’s).
Overall: Excellent Purchase
Price Paid: $859.99 plus tax
Place Purchased: Bicycle Village (Aurora)
Link to Trek Website: Dual Sport 3 (Women’s)
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