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Trek 820 Review - The Ultimate Bike For A New Rider?

Amy L

I tested and reviewed the Trek 820 mountain bike and compared it to similar models - is it any good?

As a huge bike fan, I love to get my hands on a bike and give it a good review. Find out the pros and cons of every bike...it's great fun!

Overall I found this mountain bike to be a quality ride and the 7-speed shifters were smooth when they needed to be but I did have a few niggles.

So without further ado, let's get into the trek 820 review!

Full Specifications

Build

Preview Frame Suspension Fork Headset Saddle Grips More Information
Trek 820 Trek Custom Steel  SR Suntour M-3030 1-1/8'' threadless  Bontrager Sport  Bontrager SSR  Check Price

Groupset

Rear derailleur Front Derailleur Crank Shifters Cassette Chain Brakes
Shimano Tourney TY300, 34T max cog Shimano Tourney TY500  Shimano Tourney TY301 Shimano Tourney EF41   Shimano TZ500, 14-28 KMC Z7  Tektro alloy linear-pull

Who Is The Trek 820 Aimed At?

The Trek 820 is for those riders who are looking for their first mountain bike, a newbie biker if you will.

As a starter bike, you're still getting high-quality features that mean the bike is still very functional and ideal for taking onto the trails.

For a beginner bike, it gives you the tools and confidence to take on tougher terrains and spend some time on the roads too. Think of this bike like a mountain bike finishing school. It will help you hone in on your skills so you're ready to graduate to a more advanced MTB.

The great thing about the Trek 820 is that it's forgiving, it allows you to make mistakes and if this is your first bike, you're going to make mistakes.

Overall, for riders wanting to dip their toes into the mountain biking world and get on a trail or two, the Trek 820 mountain bike can take you on that journey. I would also say that this bike makes for a good XC bike and would handle itself well on the cross-country tracks.

Key Features Of The Trek 820 Mountain Bike

There are some key features of the Trek 820 mountain bike that are worth noting - which is exactly what we'll do in this section of the mountain bike review!

Frame 

The frame on the Trek 820 is a Trek custom design steel frame. For mountain bikes, steel is a great choice, it's durable and performs well.

Alongside the frame, you get a front suspension, SR Suntour M 3030. It features a coil spring and this gives you the ability to hit the trails.

Why?

It increases the responsiveness of the bike and when you're getting to grips with a new mountain bike, that's exactly what you want.

Keeping in mind that this is an entry-level bike, the fork gives you 75mm of travel. This isn't huge or the best when compared to other mountain bikes but at this price range, it's more than acceptable and will allow you to take on moderately challenging rides - which fits the intended rider perfectly!

Shifters 

This mountain bike comes with a Shimano Tourney drivetrain. This includes Shimano Tourney EF40 shifters, giving you 7 gears.

Shifting will be smooth, which is perfect when you're off-road, on a trail, and need to make gear changes quickly.

However, Tourney aren't the best bike components, nor are they the worst. For a beginner, they're going to be ideal.

My first bike had a terrible set of gears - I envied those riders who had Tourney!

What I really like about the Trek 820 is that it's a full Shimano Tourney drivetrain. The front derailleur is Shimano Tourney TY500 and the rear derailleur is Shimano Tourney TY300.

Often on entry-level bikes, you get part of the drivetrain which is a decent component and the rest isn't. Trek hasn't done that with the 820 and that makes everything smoother. The components were designed to work together and that becomes clear when you're riding!

Bontrager features on most (if not all) of Treks' bikes. It's their components side of the business and they have a good name!

The reason I mention this is that the handlebars are Bontrager Riser. They're comfortable and you should find that the handling on this bike is solid and precise. The great thing is that the handlebar isn't too wide, making it good for the majority of riders. Sometimes I find that if a handlebar is too wide, you need to cut it down to get it to work well for you, and in my opinion, that can be too much work when all you want to do is a cycle!

Pedals are included too!

Brakes 

On the Trek 820, you get Tektro alloy linear-pull - a rim braking system to many riders.

A lot of mountain bikes come with disc brakes so this is a little disappointing that they don't feature on the Trek 820 but we do have to remember that this is a mountain bike on a budget.

Yet what you have to keep in mind is the price range and who this bike is targeted at. Rim brakes are ideal. They keep the weight of the bicycle down and for beginners, it's unlikely they will feel the true benefit of disc brakes anyway so it seems like a smart design decision all round from Trek.

Especially when you allow for the fact that the braking system is paired up with Bontrager LT3 26 x 2" tires, you should get all the stopping power you need.

Tires

As I've just said the tires are Bontrager and they work perfectly with the frame...as you'd expect as they're both Trek when it comes down to it!

But the size of the tires is ideal on a beginner bike. 26" is sort of unusual for a mountain bike these days but it's a great size and I admire the design.

26-inch tires give you a lot of control and great handling - this is particularly useful when you're going downhill on a trail. I'd say they're the perfect tire size for a starter mountain bike.

Saddle

It should come as no surprise to you to see another Bontrager part on this bike. The saddle on the Trek 820 is well designed and it appears to be comfortable, coupled with the well-designed seat post too.

I'm not going to say it'll be comfortable for everybody as saddles aren't a one size fits all type of thing but I think it does a good job of providing comfort to a high proportion of cyclists.

For an overview of the model, check out this video from Trek.

The Pros And Cons Of The Trek 820

Unquestionably, the Trek 820 comes with plenty of advantages and in this part of the Trek 820 mountain bike review, we'll look at those in a bit further detail however it's fair to say that there are some downsides too and it's only fair to cover those too.

Pros 

  • The frame on this mountain bike is lightweight and that makes everything easier! Controlling the bike, climbing hills, everything! Though as it's a steel frame, it's still incredibly durable.
  • The front suspension fork on the Trek 820 makes going off-road and onto a trail a joy. It's sturdy and very solid.
  • Tires are usually something that can be upgraded straight away, they're usually the compromise on the mountain bike but the tires that come with the Trek 820 give you a decent amount of traction, whatever the terrain.
  • As this is a Trek bike, it does open the doors to upgrading components easily as they have so many options and the best bit is that they aren't expensive.
  • The seat post provides that extra element of comfort, allowing you to stay in the saddle for long periods of time - perfect for that all-day adventure!
  • Regardless of your riding skills, the bike keeps you in a good riding position during your ride. This helps to prevent back and neck ache.
  • Suitable for off-road and on-road.

Cons

  • The suspension that this bicycle comes with could do with an upgrade. For the rough terrain and bigger descents, you may feel the value...or lack of.
  • In my opinion, there are a few places where you could upgrade the Trek 820 if you're wanting to seriously use it for downhill rides or rather rough terrain.

Trek 820 Competition

Trek Marlin 5

The Trek Marlin 5 offers stiff competition to the Trek 820 mountain bike - but how different are they and which one is the best?

Let's kick off with a look at the frames.

As we know, the Trek 820 mountain bike has a steel frame and that gives it extra durability when compared to the Marlin 5 which has an aluminum frame. Though that does of course mean it's lighter and honestly, it's still going to be durable enough for the vast majority of hobbyist cyclist.

When it comes to suspension, the Trek 820 mountain bike offers less in the way of travel at 75mm compared to the 100mm on the Marlin but you are getting smaller tires on the Trek 820 and if you're a cautious biker or just starting out, I do believe that's a good place to start.

Both bike models come with a Tourney drivetrain. The Trek 820 mountain bike comes with a 7-speed option, whereas the Marlin comes with a 21-speed. Which is the best bike for you, will ultimately come down to what type of riding you see yourself doing.

I know it's easy to think that it's better to have a bigger number of gears, especially when mountain biking but a bigger gear shifter increases the weight and if you're not going to get the full benefit of that, then you're better off not having it, make sense?

For someone who is going to be riding on light trails, I'd say that the preference and advantage go the Trek 820.

Stopping power can be a big feature and it's one I certainly consider. My preference and usually my advice is if you've got the money, go for hydraulic discs - something which you can do if you opt for the Marlin 5.

Yet, I'm struggling to totally stand by that note. Performance-wise, you do get better stopping power from discs however, I'm not sure how much that is needed given who the intended user is of the Trek 820 mountain bike and what the riding style will be.

Whilst both of these bikes are aimed at the entry-level market, they both serve very different purposes.

The Marlin 5 could be an MTB that could be with you for a longer time period and you could come to do more challenging rides on it. However, that does come at a price and ultimately you will need to upgrade to a higher spec mountain bike if you are wanting to take on some of the tougher trails and terrain - though it performs well on roads and light trails.

If you're wanting to get used to the idea of riding a mountain bike but not push yourself too much or have little interest in technical terrain, then the Trek 820 mountain bike is a great ride - both for mountain riding and road biking.

If you want to read further about the Trek Marlin 5, you can check out my review here.

Chris Clark offers a good comparison if you want to watch a video.

Giant Talon 3

Now let's see how it faired against the Giant...

The frame on the Talon 3 is aluminum, which I do like, I can't deny, alloy is nice to have and nice to ride.

However, for a hobbyist cyclist, the riding style and the design of the Talon could be too aggressive, whereas the Trek 820 is relaxed and comfortable to ride.

Both bikes feature Shimano, 7 gears for the Trek and 16-speed for the Giant. The Giant does have a better derailleur and overall drivetrain but how much will that impact the performance? That's down to your needs.

The wheels on the Talon are larger at 27.5 inches and do come with an alloy rim, I do like that and it does add an extra bit of value. Though for anyone less experienced on a bike, it could be those wheels are difficult to balance.

The Trek and Giant tires offer fantastic grip, traction, and support, which does make for a comfortable ride by all accounts.

Suspension is offered on the models, though only at the front as they are hardtail mountain bikes. Which is positive by the way! Full suspension bikes can be a difficult experience and if you're a beginner, you aren't going to get the performance benefit.

In conclusion, the Talon 3 rides well, the performance is decent, as every bit as good as the reviews suggest.

Giant Talon 3 Black (2013) (Frame Size: 39 cm) Hardtail Mountain Bike
Frame-System: Hardtail; Fork-Brand: Suntour; Fork-Type: XCM MLO; Gear set-Brand: Shimano; Gear set-Type: Deore

FAQs

Is Trek 820 A Good Bike?

For those looking for an affordable mountain bike, the Trek 820 offers a lot of features and is a good choice - one of the best to be honest.

When you look at the specifications, you can see that it's a great bike for those new to riding and mountain biking.

Yes, there are parts that could benefit from an upgrade but do you know what?

You have to start somewhere and the Trek 820 is a great place to start!

Is Trek Bike Worth The Money?

The Trek 820 mountain bike is a great bike and comes with many features you want to get started with mountain biking.

It does make a good bike for riders who want a mountain bike for the commute to work or college.

Yet it's important to keep in mind that the Trek 820 mountain bike is entry-level and isn't designed to be used for hardcore mountain biking - it simply won't stand up to it.

Are Trek Bikes Good Quality?

Trek on the whole produces really good quality bikes. As with any other bike manufacturer, they have their lower range bikes that aren't as good but generally speaking, you can't go far wrong with a Trek bicycle!

Final Thoughts - Trek 820 Review

If you're wanting to ride the trails then this Trek 820 mountain bike is a seriously good option - one of the best you're going to see.

With a durable steel frame, a comfortable seatpost, decent tires, and a 7-speed gear shifter - it's got everything you could want from an MTB...for a good price too!

The entry-level bike market features some stiff competition, including the Giant Talon 3 - want to know about it? Read about it here.

Overall, the Trek 820 mountain bike is more than just a load of specifications on paper - this mountain bike delivers on a budget.

Amy L
About the Author
I'm Amy, A writer and when I'm not writing, I'm usually found on two wheels! I own several bikes; my favourite has to be my faithful Bianchi Infinito CV. We've been through a lot together - we've even been to Paris together...twice!. My first carbon bike. My first love. Cycling is my passion and climbing is my thing, so if there's a climb out there you think I should know about - let me know!
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