- A streamlined, feature-complete, commuter style electric bike with Class 3 high-speed operation (up to 28 mph), available through a wide network of dealers
- 11-speed Shimano SLX drivetrain offers plenty of range for comfortable pedaling at low and high speeds, Shadow Plus one-way clutch keeps your chain tight
- Integrated 1,000-watt Supernova M99+ headlight and 3-LED rear light help you see and be seen, large Bosch Powerpack 500 takes you further and is removable
- Sturdy 15 mm thru-axle, strong tapered head tube, stable Schwalbe Super Moto-X 2.4" wide tires, lightweight carbon fork dampens vibration, available in four frame sizes
Trek is following in the footsteps of other premium high-speed electric assist manufacturers like Stromer and Specialized with their new Super Commuter+ 8S. It’s a well balanced, stiff, and stable e-bike available in eye-catching Viper Red with black accents… including the Bosch battery and motor hardware. It just looks great, and the attention to detail holds up when you really start to dig in, there’s a high level of quality that justifies the $5k price point. You can get the Supercommuter in four frame sizes to maximize comfort and control and it’s available through one of the largest networks of bicycle dealers in the USA. This is Trek after all, a the leaders in bicycle innovation and distribution. They have produced some of the earliest electric bicycles I have seen and reviewed here in the States. But unlike the early FX+ and Transport+ pedelec models, I feel like the Super Commuter is going to resonate with a larger audience really shine. Those early models incorporated rear mounted hub motors and battery packs that created frame flex and weren’t nearly as efficient (for long distance riding) or fast (for quick commutes) as this new generation. With the Super Commuter+ 8S you get an all-Aluminum frame with a rigid Carbon fork, a sturdy tapered head tube, and a rigid 15 mm thru axle for maximum stiffness and power transfer. Comfort and stability become important as speed increases so I was happy to see wider 2.4″ Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires and ergonomic Bontrager grips. If you’re just riding for fun or prefer a messenger bag or backpack, the black tubular fenders and one-piece rear rack+fender setup is sleek and quiet… but it’s easy to clip on panniers and turn this thing into a speedy commuting platform. Large hydraulic disc brakes offer smooth, easy stops and ultra-bright integrated lights keep you visible day or night. Because this is a Class 3 electric bike, the lights stay active at all times and the Supernova M99 Pure+ has an automatic day to night switch. It’s aimable and I’d recommend mounting it below the handlebar vs. above as shown with the demo bike. This will allow you to aim the light down and avoid blinding oncoming cyclists and automobiles. In short, the Supercommuter accomplishes everything that other Bosch Performance Line Speed ebikes does but manages to integrate the battery in such a way that it looks nicer, provides room for two bottle cage mounts, and improves stability and handling with lower weight positioning. The only question mark is comfort, and you can address this by swapping the fork for a suspension setup, adding a seat post suspension, and slightly lowering tire pressure.
Driving the Super Commuter Plus 8S is a Bosch Performance Line Speed mid-motor rated at 250 watts nominal with peak torque rated at 60 Newton meters. I believe this motor can reach 570 watts but the torque rating is more interesting because it combines with the eleven-speed cassette to help you reach high speeds quickly. The bike feels zippy and allows you to shift smoothly with motor controller shift detection, so you don’t mash gears and wear the chain down. The chainring is a 20 tooth design which spins 2.5 times for every crank arm revolution. This requires an internal gearbox and I was told by Bosch that the smaller ring allows the chainring to grab pull more securely. In my own experience, the chainring starts and stops extremely quickly, making the Bosch Performance Line one of the most responsive motors on the market. I love that it can assist up to 120 RPM because I tend to enjoy spinning and revving to reach high speeds vs. shifting down and lumbering along. The motor controller measures rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque 1,000 times per second and you can really tell it’s working on a bike that costs so efficiently. The bike feels smooth and fast, but the motor does produce a noticeable wine at the higher RPMs when riding in the upper levels of assist. On some ebikes, mostly mountain models, the whine is masked by knobby tires and the sounds of gravel and organic material along the trail, but you really hear it on smooth pavement and that might annoy some people. I definitely appreciate how compact the motor is, how it’s mounted up and into the frame, and that Trek designed a smooth alloy skid plate that they call “Motor Armor” to protect it from any tall curbs or other urban obstacles you might encounter out in the real world. This motor combined with the Shimano SLX, which I would consider higher end, produces a great riding experience and you get access to an adjustable one-way clutch to tighten the chain for bumpy terrain. This feature is usually reserved for mountain bikes but makes sense on a high speed model. Note also, the upper and lower slap guards to keep that lovely red paint from getting banged up.
High-speed riding translates into decreased range because air resistance produces drag, above 20 mph especially, you will see an exponential drop in efficiency. You can get a sleeker helmet, wear tighter clothing, shave your arms and legs, or get a larger battery pack! And that’s what Trek opted for with the Bosch PowerPack 500. It’s the highest capacity battery made by Bosch for electric bicycles at the time of this review and yet it fits into the same form factor as the Bosch Powerpack 400 and only weighs 0.3 lbs more. This pack is great because it uses the same charging port when mounted or being charged off the frame and has a plastic handle design at the top for safe, easy lifting. It locks to the frame securely but does require a strong push to click into place, and I noticed that the locking core was not spring loaded, so you have to turn the key back to locked while pushing the battery down or lock and remove the key before clicking the pack into place. I demonstrate the latter approach in the video and you can hear the pack really click down. Just be careful, because there was a cable in there that seemed to float into the mounting path and could get squished or bent (or just prevent a secure click in). If you take off on the bike while the battery is not completely secure, it could tumble out and cost you $900 to replace. Bummer. As mentioned earlier, you can streamline your body a little bit with clothing but the stem position is another point of consideration. The Super Commuter has an inverted seven-degree stem that sits on a 20 mm and 10 mm riser. If you put the stem on first and then slide the risers down on top, it will lower the handlebars by 30 mm and give your body a more forward, aerodynamic position. this is similar to a road bike setup where the bar has a flat, hood, and drop position. Lowering the bars here puts you into more of a hood or drop position.
Powering the bike on is a very simple process once the battery is charged and mounted… and the pack should fill relatively quickly because the Bosch charger pushes four amps vs. just two on most other ebike systems. You operate the bike using the compact Bosch Purion display panel which is mounted within thumb’s reach of the left grip. First, press the power button along the top, then click the plus or minus keys to raise or lower assist power. It’s really that simple, and you don’t even need to look down in order to hear and feel a click and know that you’ve made a change. I do not like the Purion as much as it’s big brother, the Intuvia, because this display is not removable, does not have a Micro-USB charging port (just a diagnostics port), and doesn’t show as many menus and readouts. Frankly, the buttons don’t feel as reliable or solid either. It’s nice to have such a compact display, especially because it frees up the center of the bars for that massive light, but my grips here are only in comparison to one of, if not the best, display panel/control pad systems out there. I guess you’ve got to make some trade-offs for that size. So here’s the secret, in order to navigate through menus on the Purion you just hold the minus key for a second (this shows odometer, trip meter, range, and assist level) and if you want to change from miles to kilometers you just hold the minus key and tap the power button (though it sometimes didn’t work and really confused me), and if you want to clear your trip meter, just hold the minus key when in the trip readout and then hold the plus button until you see RESET. It seems simple now, but when you’re out there on the path, it can become a little confusing… especially if the bike keeps shutting off with that minus and power combination. Trek has also purposefully disabled walk mode on their electric bikes, so the walk button at the base of the display just does nothing. This could disappoint some people who want the extra help pushing the bike while carrying groceries or ascending hills aside walking friends while conversing etc.
All things considered, I think the Trek Super Commuter+ 8S is awesome because it looks great, is easy to find and buy, and rides well. Those wide tires provide stability and comfort, that tucked in battery stays out of the way but is going to be easier to replace than some proprietary pack design, those lights might save your life, and the solid alloy pedals will keep you dry without bouncing all around making noise. It’s great to have frame size choices and part of me wishes there were also color choices or maybe a step-thru or mid-step frame for people who aren’t as tall. Maybe a future version will have a 12 mm thru-axle in the rear to create even more stiffness? Trek has a unique horizontal dropout system to keep their chains tight and keep the frame intact for that “lifetime warranty” compared to some other models. There’s even a derailleur guard that’s curved and nice looking vs. the standard tube style ones I see on cheap folding bikes all the time. A lot of thought went into this e-bike and as someone who appreciates the way the Bosch drive system feels but not always how it looks, this design really speaks to me. By the way, the 8S apparently stands for the spec level (eight being high and nine being the highest, usually in Carbon fiber vs. Aluminum here, and the s being for speed). I appreciate that Trek only produced one model here vs. the Specialized Turbo Vado which comes in four specs (two low-speed 20 mph and two high-speed 28 mph) because this is clearly a commuting platform meant to be efficient and most riders top 20 mph on pedal power alone. I would love to see a suspension fork option in the future for an additional $200 or something, an aerodynamic air fork please! Until then, consider the Lauf carbon fork that fits tapered head tubes and works with 15 mm thru axles :D
- One of the best looking Bosch Powerpack battery integrations I have seen, it’s sunk into the downtube but still easy to get off for charging, they even left enough room for two sets of bosses for a bottle cage and folding lock!
- Beautiful wire integration and nice paint job, I like how they used the red sections of frame to intersect the black battery and motor to make the downtube look slimmer, I also appreciate how tucked and streamlined the motor casing is here
- Surprisingly comfortable considering it’s built around an all Aluminum frame with rigid fork, the carbon fiber materials of the fork dampen vibration and the larger Schwalbe Supermoto-X tires can be deflated slightly to absorb bumps and deep cracks
- The tubular fenders and rear rack are tight and sturdy, they didn’t rattle at all during my test ride, I didn’t kick the front fender when turning, and they just look awesome
- Nice alloy motor skid plate and chainring guard, they should provide more than enough protection against curbs and urban obstacles, this is almost mountain bike level armor
- Despite the stock photo only showing a top side chainstay slap guard, the demo model I tested had a lower slap guard as well, this combines with the Shadow Plus clutch to keep the chain tight and avoid chips along the right chainstay
- Very sturdy rims, they’re alloy, double wall, 32 hole, and have reinforcement eyelets to handle the high forces of ~28 mph speed-pedelec riding, I don’t know the max weight of the bike but would estimate 300 lbs based on similar models, the rack also didn’t have a weight rating but I’d guess up to 40 lbs
- The Trek Super Commuter is available in four frame sizes, so even though they are all diamond high-step style, you should be able to dial in fit and ride comfortably, since the rear rack is so slim and doesn’t have a flat top, you should be able to swing your leg up and over comfortably
- Awesome hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano, full 180 mm rotors front and rear provide plenty of smooth stopping power, I like the adjustable reach levers for people who wear gloves or have smaller (or larger) hands
- The Shimano Deore SLX derailleur and 11-speed cassette provide plenty of comfortable pedaling options at a wide range of speed… and you can do multi-gear shifts (like three at a time) when going from high to low gears
- Premium integrated lights from Supernova, the headlight produces 1,000 lumens and is aimable (I’d suggest mounting it below the bar vs. above so you can point it down and not blind cars and other cyclists), the lights automatically come on whenever the bike is on but the headlight has a sensor to only go bright when it’s dark out
- The ergonomic grips felt surprisingly comfortable and the narrow handlebar felt safe for riding in between cars and other tight spaces, I would consider swapping the 31.6 mm seat post with a suspension post from Body Float with a shim, Thudbuster, or SR Suntour
- Sturdy tapered head tube, 15 mm thru-axle with Maxle style quick release provides the kind of power transfer and precision control that you want at high speed… the quick release is useful for transporting the bike, I like that the battery pack is easily removable as well, to reduce weight
- Awesome derailleur guard (curved piece of black metal designed to protect it from side swipes or if the bike tips), I hadn’t seen this design before and it looks great
- Wide-open diamond frames like this are extra stiff, offering better power transfer and lower weight to strength ratio, it’s easier to lift and hang on some bike racks
- I love that the battery pack can be charged on or off the bike and uses the same plug port design so you don’t need any extra adapters (like with the Shimano drive system and charger on some other Trek models), the plug cover on the left side of the bike is also very secure and tight to keep dust and water out while riding
- I can’t confirm this but the detailed specs said that the locking core for the battery pack is made by ABUS (though the key I had said AXA), sometimes you can get the key code for the battery and get a matched ABUS folding lock like this
- The Bosch Performance Line motors can support up to 120 RPM pedal rotation which allows riders who like to spin fast a way to ride comfortably while still getting support, I have noticed some other motors drop out at lower RPM and then require you to shift to a higher gear to raise speed
- Clicking the battery into place was a little finicky, I made sure to pull the key out (so that the locking core was ready to catch) and pressed down firmly to hear it click, it seemed line one of the wires inside the downtube near the top of the mount was getting in the way so I also made sure to push it down before each insertion
- Only one color choice… and it’s quite loud! For those who prefer professional black, classy silver, or standard white, you may be disappointed for now
- The stock photo shows a larger adjustable-length kickstand but the demo model I actually tested had a non-adjustable alloy stand that let the bike tip pretty far to the left, this is a minor gripe but it wasn’t my favorite stand
- The headlight looks awesome, feels very sturdy, has a cool daytime running mode to conserve power, but wouldn’t aim down when mounted above the handlebar… and this could blind oncoming traffic or cyclists… so consider mounting it below the bar by flipping the stem clamp as shown in the stock photo vs. the photos I took of the demo bike
- The Bosch Purion display panel is compact and provides plenty of space for the large Supernova headlight, but it isn’t removable, doesn’t have a 5 Volt Micro-USB charging port, and doesn’t show power output or shift recommendation (but you can replace this with the Intuvia display panel if you pay extra and have it installed)
- This is definitely one of the more expensive electric bikes but you get premium hardware and a broad network of dealers to take test rides and get service, solid two-year comprehensive warranty with lifetime warranty on the frame
- My feet aren’t huge but I do appreciate wider pedals and would probably swap the narrow Wellgo M-21 cages with something like these Wellgo BMX magnesium pedals with adjustable pins, you can get them in black, red, silver, or white to match or customize the bike
- The current generation of Bosch centerdrive motors use an internal gearbox that spins the chainring at 2.5x per crank arm revolution and this creates a bit of resistance (very, very little) but also some noise, even when riding without power, and when it is powered up, you get a distinct high pitch whine, especially at higher RPMs