- An efficient road-style electric bike with narrow slick tires and carbon fiber fork available in five frame sizes
- Integrated LED lights run off the main battery pack, lots of additional mounting points for fenders, bottle cages or a front rack so this ebike could be used for touring
- Rear heavy design with battery and motor at the back, battery pack is not easily removable for charging
The Trek FX+ is one of the higher end electric bikes I’ve tested from the earlier years for ebike technology in the US. It was introduced in 2010 and sold through 2012 with some units still available in shops but most now being offered second hand as used. Trek introduced a similar ebike in Europe called the Valencia+ that included fenders and disc brakes while the FX+ offered no fenders and standard linear-pull V-brakes. The real highlights of this ebike are its efficiency and advanced drive system. With narrow road tires, a forward geometry and a carbon fork it’s essentially a distance or commuting road bike but the rear rack and ergonomic grips add utility and take the edge off a bit. I love that they integrated LED lights which run off the main battery pack but I’m bummed that the battery is not easily removable or replaceable now because that makes the bike more difficult to keep running long term.
The motor driving this bike offers a solid 350 watts of power and is a gearless, direct drive configuration built into the rear hub. It’s super quiet and delivers regenerative braking functionality but can only be activated using the right lever. The motor is made by BionX and offers four levels of regen which can be useful for extending range (in the lower modes) or really helping you out with hills, wind and a heavy load. Trek rebranded the drive system here as Electric Propulsion Systems (EPS) but kept the first generation BionX display which has more options than the EPS display on the Transport+ electric cargo bike from the same time period. All in all, the motor is sturdy and reliable but suffers from being heavier than a geared configuration and also experiences light cogging while coasting (drag from the magnets repelling inside).
The battery pack on the FX Plus offers 37 volts of power with 9.6 amp hours of capacity. That’s pretty good for the 2011 time period and would be considered average in late 2014 (when this review was published). The cells contain a Lithium-ion chemistry that’s light weight, durable and long lasting. Unfortunately, these cells still wear out over time and I don’t think Trek offers replacement packs anymore. If this ebike has been sitting in someone’s garage or was unused at a shop for 3+ years without being charged every few months the battery may become permanently damaged and no longer hold a charge. Be sure to test this if you’re considering purchasing the bike used. If the battery is dead, you could remove the pack and replace the rear wheel, which contains the hub motor, to convert this into a regular pedal-power bicycle. If you really want to keep the electric drive system working you could work with a BionX dealer to swap in a new rear rack with updated 36 volt battery but it has to be from BionX and even then, I can guarantee that it would work.
Using the drive systems on this bike is relatively easy. Once you’ve charged the battery, just press the on/off switch on the display pad mounted to the right bar. From here you can choose from four assist modes and four levels of regeneration by arrowing up or down. At level zero, the display acts as a cycle computer showing your speed, distance and battery level. The display (like the battery pack) is not removable so it may take more wear over time if it’s parked outside at public racks. The rest of the cockpit on this ebike is fairly standard with trigger shifters on the left to control the three front gears and right to control the nine in the rear. With 27 speeds to pedal with, this bike is great at ascending and descending which makes it a candidate for distance touring. The rear rack and front rack bosses mean you could load it up and with two bottle cage mounts you’ve got plenty of water carrying capacity. When kept in the lower levels of assist this model can go ~50 miles per charge thanks to the efficient tires and large 700c wheels.
The Trek FX+ was an advanced product for the US market in 2010 and I’m sure the Valencia+ did much better in Europe where ebikes have become more widely accepted. If you’re a fan of stiffer, more efficient frame and wheel styles then this would have been one of the best and only choices around that time period. If you’re considering an older Trek Ride+ model including the FX+ electric bike just make sure the battery can hold a charge and keep your expectations low for how long the battery will last. Trek offered a two year battery warranty or 600 charge cycle guarantee (whichever came first). Some engineer hobbyist types may be able to rebuild the battery from one of these ebikes but this can be hazardous so approach with care.
- Standard gauge tubing on rear rack makes it compatible with a wide range of bags and clip-on panniers, side blocking tubes keep panniers from rubbing on spokes or wheels
- Regenerative braking helps to transform the added weight of the hub motor and drag of cogging into electricity that can extend the ride while saving your brake pads
- Integrated front and rear LED lights look great and add utility for riding at dusk or dawn, the front light can be angled up or down also has a built in reflector
- Narrow slick road tires coast efficiently but aren’t as soft as larger ones might be, the carbon fork and ergonomic grips reduce some of the road vibration
- Light weight at ~45 lbs compared to some of the other electric bikes available at the time, this varies by frame size and high-step vs. step-thru
- Available in five frame sizes and two styles (high step and low step) for improved fit and overall comfort when riding
- Lots of attachment points for fenders, a front rack and two bottle cages so you could set this up to tour with
- Rear battery is not easily removable, while some packs like this are designed to slide on and off the frame, this one is bolted directly to the rack but does have a keyed lock built in to deter theft
- No throttle mode, just pedal assist which is surprising given the BionX system is capable of using a throttle and this could be useful to start the bike from rest when loaded with supplies
- Fairly rear-heavy with large gearless hub motor and battery mounted higher up on the bolt-on cargo rack