- A versatile city electric bike with sturdy paint-matched aluminum fenders, a bright and aimable headlight as well as a flashing backlight (both are powered by the main battery), and mounting points for a bottle cage and rear rack
- Surprisingly comfortable, the wider tires provide cushion and stability, the saddle and suspension seat post reduce back pain, and the adjustable angle riser stem works perfectly with the swept back handlebars and ergonomic grips
- The most affordable electric bike model from Trek, it comes in three fun colors, two frame styles (high-step and step-thru), and three sizes each for optimal fit, hydraulic disc brakes require less hand strength and have adjustable-reach levers for smaller hands
- Uses the proven Bosch Powerpack 400 battery (the mount is compatible with the Powerpack 500), smaller Purion display is simple and durable but not removable, compact portable charger, efficient Active Line motor with shift detection
EBR charges a service fee to manufacturers to produce ebike reviews and videos, this began in 2018. It’s the same flat fee for each bike, and it helps us to keep the site going while limiting ad clutter. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you with our opinions and data but respect your right to know that we receive compensation :)
Trek is one of the biggest, most trusted, bicycle companies in the world. Since ~2003 they have been developing ebike systems and I first saw them enter the US market around 2015. The bikes they put out are usually purpose-built around custom frames, available in multiple sizes that use leading components and come with excellent dealer availability and support. You get what you pay for, but that means their electric bikes tend to cost more… The Verve+ aims to lower the entry point price wise, without sacrificing a lot of feature. To be honest, it’s my favorite model in their line right now! This thing isn’t the fastest or most powerful, but it is extremely lightweight at ~45.6 lbs (especially considering that it has aluminum alloy fenders), and it’s very comfortable and safe. Trek marketing told me about their ABC’s campaign (always be seen) and I definitely noticed the integrated lights and shiny metallic color schemes with white accents. This is a neighborhood / city oriented product with efficient hybrid tires and upright geometry. It allows you spot for traffic while staying visible, and I would recommend a light colored helmet and reflective clothing if you do plan to ride through traffic regularly, especially at night. The headlight produces 400 Lumens, which is very bright, it’s aimable to let you see where you’re going as well as be-seen, and the rear light produces a strobe flash pattern that is attention grabbing. So many e-bikes use basic lights that aren’t bright and don’t flash… but there is one compromise here. The headlight is built into the steering tube vs. mounted to the fork or handlebars, and that means it doesn’t aim where you turn, it just goes straight. Given the toughness of these lights, the fact that they run off of the main battery pack, and the option of adding your own aftermarket light on the handlebar with the Blendr plastic mount… it’s not the end of the world. Let’s say you’re someone who might get groceries occasionally or commute to work with a laptop and other gear. the Verve+ will not only keep you dry and seen, but it can help sherpa your load because it has bottle cage bosses and rear-rack compatibility. I was told that it supports the Bontrager (a Trek brand) BackRack Disc which can be found here. There’s so much to say about this electric bicycle, even though I was given a grey high-step frame to test ride (because I’m a 5’9″ guy) there’s also a mid-step grey frame that would be easier to mount and stand over… and it looks pretty masculine. For those who like the bright fun colors, there’s a bright red option in step-thru as well. The tires are a bit wider and softer than average, which provides stability, and they have puncture protective layers to help reduce flats. I was able to ride around Fort Collins, Colorado through some snow, puddles, grass, and bumpy sidewalks without issue, even riding with no hands to test stability. The bike works great and is very quiet and smooth.
Part of what makes the Verve+ lightweight, efficient, quiet, and smooth is the base-level Bosch Active Line Cruise motor. It’s rated from 250 watts to 295 watts and can deliver up to 40 Newton meters of torque. Mid-drives tend to be more powerful in practice than their numbering portrays, because they rely on your gears to maximize torque or power. If you shift to a lower gear, not only will it be easier for you to pedal, but the motor will also get a mechanical advantage and have an easier time. The 9-speed cassette offers more than enough pedaling options for urban use and the mid-level Shimano Alivio derailleur is crisp and reliable. Unlike some the off-road and high speed motors that Bosch produces, the Active Line and Active Line Plus have a one-to-one chainring that does not require a reduction gear. This means that there is no friction if you decide to pedal with the bike powered off, or if you work hard and pedal beyond the top assisted speed of 20 miles per hour. As a Class 1 electric bicycle, this bike is allowed in the most places, and is treated as a bicycle vs. a moped, so you don’t need a license or insurance to ride. Trek has gone out of their way to disable the walk mode feature that Bosch usually offers, in order to avoid having regulators and cyclists feel like there is any kind of throttle support. I admire their purist bicycle background, and I feel that this motor choice is perfect for the Verve+ platform. Trek has many other city or hybrid city+trail models worth exploring, but they all weigh more and cost more. When you’re able to go from an 8.8 lb Bosch Performance Line motor to a 6.4 lb ActiveLine, and you make some compromises on the battery, display, and are able to produce ultra lightweight hydroformed aluminum frames… you get a good end result.
And so, the battery on this ebike is also lightweight, because it is one step down from the higher-level Powerpack 500. Bosch has been offering the Powerpack 400 since ~2013 in the United States, and it is highly trusted and appreciated by all of the shops and end-customers I have visited with over the years. There aren’t really many compromises to discuss here, except that the battery is visually obvious on the frame. It looks great on the Antracite Grey frame I was loaned for this review, because the top portion of plastic is grey… but it doesn’t blend in quite as well on the Coral Red or Deep Dark Blue. People might not be able to hear the motor, or even see it very well behind the standard 38 toot chainring, but they can see the battery. The upside however, is that the pack is easy to reach for charging and safer to mount and dismount. Yes, you can take it off to reduce weight of the frame or to charge it separately (away from extreme cold and heat if you can help it). This pack has a nice big loop handle at the top, making it easy and safe to carry. It has a little 5-LED power indicator on the left side, so you can tell if it’s charged up before mounting to the frame. And, it uses the same proprietary plug design as the mount, which means you don’t need to keep track of special adapters or extra wires. The motor, the battery pack, and the charger for this bike have all been specced down just a bit, and what that means for the charger is that it puts out 2 Amps vs. 5 Amps and may take longer to fill this 396 watt hour Lithium-ion pack. Something like 5.5 hours from complete empty, but the first half fills much faster than the last because the cells aren’t being balanced as carefully. You can extend the life of this battery by keeping it around 50% full when not using for months on end. And, if you break, lose, or simply run the battery completely dry after 1,500+ charge cycles, you will easily be able to find a replacement… or even upgrade to the 20% higher capacity Bosch Powerpack 500, because it’s built into the same case design, and fits into the same mount. Finally, a word of caution, if you are charging the battery on the frame, be careful not to move the crank arms because the charging plug enters near the left crank and could get snagged or bent.
Operating this bike is pretty simple, and fast. Once the battery has been charged and mounted, you can press the little minus sign on the left side of the battery or press the power button on the top edge of the compact display panel. This display is called the Purion, and it’s usually found on less expensive Bosch powered bikes or mountain models, where they want a sturdier and less obvious display. It’s not as large as the Bosch Intuvia, does not swivel, is not removable, and does not have an active Micro-USB port… which is sad, because that can be useful for maintaining a phone or other portable electronics, and there is a port, but it’s apparently only used for diagnostics by the shop. Even though we are already dealing with the lower capacity battery, and it’s running the lights here, it would be nice to at least have the option to charge mph phone for GPS while I was riding. Perhaps Bosch will offer this someday? Other than those gripes, the display is actually really good. It’s positioned within reach of the left grip, so you can click the + and – buttons while riding to raise or lower motor support. There are four drive modes: eco, tour, sport, and turbo, and they increase both the starting force and zip feel as well as the maximum supported speed. If you’re riding for fun, or maybe through a crowded area, the lower levels can be very satisfying. I have actually heard some people complain about how other electric bikes feel overwhelming or too fast, but that won’t be an issue here. Some of the other features of this display are that it has a faint white glow which is always active and helps it be read at night or in low lighting conditions, it can show your trip distance, odometer, and range estimate by holding the minus key, and it activates the front and rear bike lights by holding the plus key. For those who wish to have an even larger display with additional readouts and removability (perhaps for commuting situations), I have been told that some ebike shops will upgrade the Purion to Intuvia for $200+, but this will take up the space where the Blendr accessory mount would otherwise fit on.
In my experience, ebikes are the most fun when they are comfortable. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Verve+ because it has an all-Aluminum frame with a rigid fork. In practice, the slightly fatter tires, larger saddle, suspension seat post (basic as it is), and adjustable stem, won me over. It feels stable and maneuverable, the lighter overall weight makes it easier to walk with and lift when necessary, and the fenders and lights are so well done. Keep an ear out when watching the video review above, I was amazed by how quiet the fenders were. Perhaps Trek could offer a chain protector, to keep your pants even cleaner, but the alloy chainring guard is good enough. I love how frame tubing is molded to look cool, even flattening out where the battery mounts to keep it lower and appear more streamlined. some wires are internally routed, but not all, and I did notice a plastic slap guard to protect the paint on the rear right chain stay. This is an electric bike that could be fun for couples, or “imbalanced couples” where one rider enjoys non-electric cycling and the other stresses about wind and hills or has some hip or knee sensitivity as I do. Yes, the Active Line motor is weaker than some other brands and even some options from Bosch, but it still performs well and can climb. The maximum weight rating for the Verve+ is an impressive 300 lbs, which is above the average 250 lbs from other companies. Considering that this is Trek’s most affordable electric bike, it really doesn’t feel like they sacrificed on the parts that matter (the drivetrain and safety). One happy benefit of the smaller more efficient motor here, is that it uses energy slower, and should get 30 to 80+ miles per charge depending on your weight, terrain, wind etc. Big thanks to Lee’s Cyclery in Fort Collins, Colorado for receiving this bike and letting me hang out and review it. And, to Trek, for partnering with me on this post and providing other demo opportunities in the past. You can explore all of my Trek ebike reviews here and post your comments and questions below, or visit the Trek Forums here to connect with others. Ride safe, and have fun!
- The frames are totally custom and purpose-built to electric, notice how some of the cables are internally routed and the downtube flattens to create strength for the battery mount interface
- I love that you can get the Verve+ in four sizes, four colors, and two different styles (high-step for taller people and step-thru for people who might have a hip or knee sensitivity and want easier mounting)
- It’s nice to have fenders to stay dry and clean, these ones were sturdy, quiet, and painted to match the frame color, I love how the light is built into the back fender
- The lights on this ebike are very nice, the headlight is aimable up and down while offering 400 lumens! both lights run off of the main battery so they are very convenient (just hold + to turn them on or off), the rear light blinks for added visibility
- For those who want to mount a Garmin GPS, GoPro, additional headlight or cycle computer, Trek includes a couple of “Blendr” plastic mounts that fit seamlessly into the stem cap
- The drivetrain is is pretty nice, nine speeds is more than most value city bikes I test and the Alivio groupset is three steps up so it will shift smoothly and require fewer tuneups
- The new Bosc Active Line Cruise motor is the lightest in the line at ~6.4 lbs and operates very quietly and efficiently, it felt satisfying to ride and always under control, starting and stopping quickly as I pedaled
- With the motor and battery mounted low and center, these bikes handle very well, I was able to ride with no hands for long stretches and the larger tires tracked beautifully
- As someone with a sensitive back and neck, the upright geometry here felt excellent, it allowed me to spot fellow cyclists, pedestrians, and cars as I performed the review ride
- Minor pro here, but the black spokes, grey accent on the battery casing, and traditionally sized chainring with alloy guard (which helps to hide the motor) look nicer than a lot of competing products, Trek pays attention to details
- Even without a suspension fork, the bike feels pretty comfortable because of the wide PSI range on the tires (60 to 80 PSI) and adjustable suspension seat post, I also like the ergonomic grips and medium-width saddle
- Performing maintenance should be easy with quick release wheels, the mid-drive motor stays out of the way of the drivetrain more than hub motor powered electric bikes, you shouldn’t get flats as frequently because the tires have “Hardcase Ultimate” puncture protection
- The pedals here aren’t my personal favorite because I like extra wide with metal pins like these for maximum power transfer and grip… but they are still a nice upgrade from cage pedals that bend easily, I like that they are stiff and have extra rubber tread for grip that won’t cut your shins if you slip off
- Weighing in at ~45 lbs, this is one of the lighter electric city bikes that I have seen with a mid-drive and metal fenders, it will be easier to walk with and lift up stairs etc. but you can also remove the battery pack easily to shave another ~5 lbs off
- So many electric bikes forego bottle cage bosses and don’t have extra mounting points for front or rear racks, but the Verve+ does! And you can use the official Bontrager BackRack Disc which is disc brake compatible for a guaranteed fit here
- With a maximum rider+cargo weight of 300 lbs, this electric bike can handle more weight than a lot of competing products, most others are rated to ~250 but Trek makes durable frames that are tested more rigorously
- The Bosch Purion display panel is sleek and durable, but you cannot remove it easily for protection and the smaller size makes it harder to read than the Intuvia display, it also doesn’t have an active USB charging port built in
- Trek has disabled walk mode on all of their electric bikes, this isn’t a big deal for a lightweight city model like the Verve+ but could still come in handy if you got a flat or were pushing the bike with a rack and a bunch of gear added
- As nice as the headlight is, the beam is permanently focused forward because it’s built into the head tube, it won’t turn as you steer
- The battery charger is slower than the other one Bosch includes with more expensive products, it puts out 2 amps vs. 4 amps and is only slightly smaller and 0.4 lbs lighter
- Minor consideration here… it would be nice if in addition to the chainring guard and fenders, the Verve+ also had a full chain cover to keep your pant legs or skirt from touching the greasy chain
- It feels like the new Bosch Active Line motors kind of stick when trying to pedal backwards and almost catch for a second when the motor cuts out, perhaps theres gearing inside that caries the spindle, chainring, and crank arms forward for a moment? Not a huge deal, but just not as smooth as the Bosch Performance line
- The Bosch Active Line Cruise motor only supports up to 100 RPM, so if you’re in a low gear or just trying to spin really fast, the motor won’t keep up as much as it would on the Active Line Plus or Performance Line motors… so you have to shift gears and keep your cadence a bit slower for support (many other mid-drive motors also cut out around 100 RPM, so this is par for the course with city bikes and an efficient drive system vs. speed or power setup)