REVIEW TREK Allant: My commuter cycle

In a previous post, I have alluded to the purchase of my current commuter bike, so I think it’s about high time to write a review about it. The disclaimer is that I am not now, nor ever have been, affiliated with the Trek Bicycle Corporation, and I was not compensated in any way for this review.

EDIT #1: New thoughts added at the end of the article.

EDIT #2: More thoughts

Let’s start at the beginning. When I first attempted to commute to work, I did it on a Raleigh mountain bike purchased at Canadian Tire. I made the purchase knowing nothing about bicycles, or proper fit, and I paid dearly for my ignorance through pain: back pain, arm pain, neck pain, and ulnar nerve inflamation. The bike just did not fit right, whether it was too big for me or another reason, but I did not diagnose this problem until this past September when I started to be somewhat interested in commuting by bicycle on a more regular basis.

Doing a Google search regarding proper sizing revealed a multitude of sources that told me proper fit is a must. I measured my inseam and did the calculation to find out that my proper frame size is 20.9 inches. Armed with this information, I started to research what kind of bicycle I would like to ride. Mountain bikes were out based on my previous bad experience, though now I can see that they have their place in the commuter’s arsenal. Road bikes are somewhat intimidating and they do not appeal to me that much. Due to these limitation, I decided to check out the many urban/commuter offerings from companies like Jamis, Giant, Kona, Specialized, Trek, and others.

There are some really nice machines out there, with great components like disk brakes, internally geared hubs, dynamo hubs, etc. Ultimately it came down to price, and as a student my budget was fairly limited, so I decided that I will view this purchase as an investment and as such I should determine how my investment will pay off. I covered this part in the previous blog post: based on the distance I drive to work and school, the cost of maintaining the car, and the cost of gasoline, I was led to believe that my bicycle investment would be paid off within 18 months, and as soon as 12 months.

Finally, based on the above criteria, I narrowed my search down to the Trek Allant which fit into my budget and had all the components I absolutely needed, among which are fenders, rear rack, swept-back handlebars for comfort, bell, kickstand, and 700cc wheels with 35mm wide tires. It did lack all the fancy gear I mentioned above, but that wasn’t a deal breaker.

Trek Allant
The ‘man’ version of the Trek Allant

The technical specifications for the 2010 Allant are no longer available on the Trek website, but the components are not top of the line. However, for the price, they are good enough. Shimano and SRAM feature prominently on the spec sheet, along with the required Bontrager, Trek’s in-house brand.

My only big beef I have about the Allant is that the frame is made of aluminum which renders a pretty stiff ride. This bike is phenomenal on well maintained and newly paved roads because there is no energy loss through the movement of suspension components. Gravel paths are also great if there aren’t too many bumps. These advantages do not apply to my commute so much because I usually ride on suburban side roads, and we all know Waterloo region’s roads are somewhat poorly maintained. There are lots of bumps along the way and I feel every single one of them, which means I have learned to stand while riding through a particularly rough patch. Over the past few years of riding this bicycle I’ve had to replace my rear wheel because it went out of true and could not be brought back to true. I believe this to be a cause of my weight and the rough roads I ride.

Despite this negative aspect, I am very pleased with the performance and the general utility of this bike. I am very comfortable in the saddle due to the upright sitting position, which means I am more likely to ditch the car in the morning. I can ride through puddles and stay perfectly dry due to the full fenders. I can carry anything on the rear rack with my panniers, such as my work clothes, lunch, and other gear. Shifting gears is a simple flick of a lever, as opposed to a twist dial, which means no more guess work with the gears. The little bell comes in handy on multi-use trails when pedestrians take up the whole width of the trail and I need to tell them that they’re about to be handlebar ornaments. Ideally, this bike would have had integrated front and rear lights powered by a hub dynamo, but I have purchased my own dynamo hub wheel and lights (see EDIT #1 below).

The bottom line is that the Allant is a joy to ride in the sun, rain, and even snow. The minor inconvenience of a rough ride through certain spots is certainly overshadowed by knowing that my pedaling power is not wasted through suspension parts. There is so much more to be said about this bicycle, but nothing beats a test drive at your local bike shop. I got mine at Ziggy’s Cycle and Sport but there are other Trek dealers in the area.

EDIT #1:

After 2 years with this bike, there are some things that need to be said in addition to the article above. My bike has undergone one slight modification from the stock setup, and I can’t help but feel that this feature should be included in the next model release. This feature, of course, is lighting. For a mere $150 I purchased a basic generator hub rim from Amazon, with rim tape, tube, and new tire from a local LBS. The lights I already had from a previous attempt at self-generated power, but a set of lights shouldn’t run more than $20 on Amazon. Why couldn’t Trek include this feature as an option on top of the base model? It would make the Allant the perfect commuter bike.

Another gripe I have about the bike is the handlebar grip design. For the first few miles of a commute they can be downright comfortable, but after that grace period they become really slick from sweat and are fairly uncomfortable to hold for extended periods. I suppose wearing a pair of bike-specific gloves would help, but that’s not really the point. The 2012 Trek Allant has different grips, but I haven’t been able to test them in a commute yet. I’d like to give the 2012 model a try for a day or two, if Ziggy’s will let me.

To conclude this edit, I think I made the right choice for the money I spent. I think the bike will last a long time with regular maintenance and care. Much of the maintenance I can do myself at this point, so it’s not a money pit either. The bike has repaid the investment in gas saved and improved health, and it’s all gravy from now on.

EDIT #2:

It is now close to 2014 and 3 years since I purchased the Allant. Trek tried to introduce a cheaper version of the Allant for 2013 with only 7 speeds and no rear rack. In 2013 this was the only version of the Allant that was available, but it looks like they came to their senses and brought back the original bike for 2014.

My first impression is that this new version has been improved slightly by the addition of a rack that is set further back. The implication is that there is less of a chance to hit your heels on the panniers mounted to this rack.

Regarding my bike, I’ve had to replace brake pads, chain, cassette (my choice), pedals (my choice), and lights. The brake pads and chain are parts that need to be replaced due to wear and tear. The cassette was replaced because I wanted taller gears for faster speed. I had to replace the cheap plastic Magten lights because I dropped one and it broke. The new lights were purchased from Dutch Bike Bits and are really awesome so far.

The pedals were replaced because I thought the originals made a weird clicking noise, which turned out to be a false assumption. I am now under the assumption that the bottom bracket is making the noise and will look into taking it apart and checking out the issue.

I have added some other accessories as well because I wanted to take my daughter out on rides. I got a Bobike mini child carrier from Dutch Bike Bits, and a Chariot double trailer/stroller. I am quite happy with both these purchases and my daughter loves to go on rides with me.

22 thoughts on “REVIEW TREK Allant: My commuter cycle

  1. I’m glad to hear that you ended up with a ride that works for you!

    Myself, I replaced my 20 year old beater this year with a Gary Fisher Montare, and have loved every minute of riding it. It’s sort of a light-duty mountain bike, complete with front suspension to spare my aging body from the worst of the potholes on the ride.

    Sadly, now that the snow has started to fly, the Gary Fisher has gone away for the year, and I’m back to the beater bike with the winter tires…

  2. I originally purchased a Specialized Sirrus for riding to work (Westvale – downtown Kitchener) but like you, I found the aluminum frame to be horrible on broken pavement…ka-chunk, ka-chunk.

    I installed drop bars on the Sirrus, and now it’s a weekend road bike. I switched back to a 18 year old GT with a steel frame (and ancient suntour parts), installing fenders and racks. No lights, I’ll look at this when I hopefully resume commuting in the spring.

  3. I had no idea it was so important to get properly sized. I wonder if my bikes could be better fitted.
    I don’t even get them from as pro a shop as Canadian Tire. I find a lot of my bikes in other people’s garbage. I guess I’ll start knocking on doors to see if the guy that answers is about my size!

  4. Start here: http://www.ebicycles.com/article/bicycle-frame-size-charts.html

    This is more advanced: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm

    You performance will depend on how well you and your bike fit together. The better the fit, the better the performance. You know this story, but for the benefit of all, here it is. After I bought the Trek, I started moving the saddle and headset up in increments to find the best position. My first commute took me about 50 minutes to work. The time has improved as I’ve changed the seat and handlebar height and now I can do my route to work in 35-40 minutes. That translates to a 20% improvement. Granted, some of that could be an improvement in my conditioning, but that can’t account for the entire improvement. When a bike fits well it is simply easier to move it. After a proper fit is established, you can add performance components to improve even more.

  5. fantastic points altogether, you simply gained a logo new reader. What could you suggest about your submit that you just made a few days ago? Any positive?

  6. I recently purchased a Trek Allant… My friend and I call it “ass on flowers” because it’s such a sweet sweet ride! I commute to work as well (in Toronto) and I still can’t stop blessing the stars that led me to making this fantastic investment. We (my bike and I) are still getting to know each other, but I’m getting to love her more and more every day.

    1. Good to hear Kerry.
      It is a very practical commuter. It’s not fast, but that was never its intended purpose.
      One more gripe I have found is the quality of the stock wheels and brakes on mine. I hope they fixed those problems for the new model.
      I’m already about $220 in the hole for new wheels, and I keep having to re-adjust the brakes every 100km or so.

      1. I haven’t had my bike long enough to properly comment on the wheels and brakes (so far so good – it’s been about a month now for me over some pretty bumpy roads), but I do feel I should defend the speed on my bike – it’s SUPER fast! Maybe that’s a newer model matter as well? Or it could be that it’s just WAY faster then my last couple of bikes, but I do find that I’m able to pass pretty much anyone I like anytime. :)

    2. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a slouch. What I meant was it doesn’t compare to bikes that were built to be fast. On level, smooth ground, I can keep the Trek between 15 and 20 mph. Compared to a road bike, that’s pretty slow.

  7. Hi there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot!

    1. I don’t think we have a captcha plugin for the comments. It requires you to provide your details, but I don’t see a captcha box. Email/msg Graham Roe or Rob McIntosh. You can find them through the other blog posts on the site. They are the site admins.

  8. I bought the Trek Allant (2012 model) after reading this review. It’s the smoothest ride I’ve ever experienced, and I was really surprised at this bike’s cruising speed. I can’t compare it to road bikes built for speed, but I find the Trek Allant a fast bike – I’m able to keep up with the “Alpha Pack” during rush hour). I’m thinking of replacing the tyres with Marathon Plus tyres, perhaps after I get my first puncture. After reading some of the comments above, I may also look at getting better quality wheels. I just hope whatever changes I make do not change the dynamic of the ride.

  9. Can you tell me which size bike you ended up getting as at 20.9 in you fall between L and XL…..I have the same problem, I am female and 180 tall with an inseam of 31.5in. I will try out the bikes but thought I’d ask anyway as you seem very happy with your bike.
    Thanks.

    1. Sorry about the delay, I used the email function to reply to your message, but I don’t see my reply on here.
      I got the 20.5″ frame. I don’t know what that translates to in terms of letters. I would go to the store (hopefully you have one in your area) and get some help from them in picking a size. Most bike store employees should be trained on how to choose the right size for your body.
      I hope you found the review helpful. Unfortunately, it is a review of an old Allant model and not one of their newer designs.

  10. Hello, I have really enjoyed your blog. I am thinking about buying the Trek Allant. I am female, 1metre 69 cm and they have a male frame (sized 17.5, which I am pretty sure is OK for me) in my local shop which is heavily discounted. It is over a third less than the female step-through frame, which brings it neatly within my budget as I am new to cycling and must buy other important stuff too (lights, panniers, chain and a helmet, which is compulsory for insurance purposes here in London). I intend to use the bike for a daily commute which is 20km in total (10 each way). My question is whether I should buy the diamond frame bike. Will this ‘male’ frame be detrimental in any, way given the long commute? Many thanks :)

    1. Hi Marcia, it’s been a while since you posted this message and I must have missed it.
      I will put in my reply now, for future reference to other readers.
      The frame design is not set in stone for women and men. For example, just because I am male, does not imply that I should be riding only diamond frame bikes. There are plenty of males who ride step-through frames and vice-versa.
      The only advice I can give you and other readers who are looking to purchase a bicycle, is to make sure the frame fits you, regardless of design. Your local bike shop employee should be able to tell you if the frame is big/small or just right for you.
      Go ahead and give them a visit to try out their wares.

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