Trek FX3 Disc Review (A Good Investment?)

If you’re trying to decide whether the Trek FX 3 Disc is the right bike for you, then you’ve come to the right place.

Picking a new bike is never easy, so I’ve got a range of information in this guide to help make the process easier for you – a one-stop-shop for everything you need to make the right decision for you. I’ve got a full specification list for the FX3, so you can see the details of every single component. I’ve then got a full write-up for the bike, including my own thoughts on the FX3.

First though, a spoiler:

Need to make a fast decision to either buy or not buy the FX3 Disc? Here’s my topline recommendation. If you want a light bike to go fast on smooth pavement or roads, then this could well be the perfect bike for you. I’ve looked at the FX in detail and it’s an awesome range of bikes and you can’t go wrong with any model in the range. I’ve compared the FX to the Dual Sport (which is perfect if you want a hybrid that can also go off-road occasionally, downside is that the DS is heavier than the FX). I’ve also compared the FX3 to both the FX4, and the FX2, and in both cases my favorite bike was the FX3 Disc.

If you’ve got time to stick around for some more in-depth analysis on the FX3 Disc, let’s dive in and take a look.

Component

Product

Current price

Frame

Alpha Gold Aluminum

Fork

FX Carbon

Front hub

Formula DC-20

Rear hub

Formula DC-22

Rims

Bontrager Tubeless Ready

Spokes

14g, stainless steel

Tires

Bontrager H2 Hard-Case Lite, 700x32c

Shifter

Shimano Acera SL-M3010 (2 spd), M3000 (9 spd)

Front derailleur

Shimano Acera T3000

Rear derailleur

Shimano Alivio M3100

Crank

Shimano MT210, 46/30, 170/175mm length

Cassette

Shimano HG200, 11-36, 9 spd

Chain

KMC X9

Pedals

Bontrager Satellite City pedal

Saddle

Bontrager H1

Seatpost

Bontrager alloy, 27.2mm

Handlebar

Bontrager Satellite Plus IsoZone; 600/660mm width

Grips

Bontrager Satellite IsoZone Plus, lock-on, ergonomic

Stem

Bontrager Elite; Blendr compatible, 90-110mm length

Headset

1-1/8'' threadless, sealed cartridge bearings

Brakes

Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc

Bike weight

M: 25.88 lbs (11.74 kg)


Trek FX overview

Trek’s FX range of bikes are a type of bike known as a ‘hybrid bike’ or ‘fitness bike’. I’m a huge fan of this bike type and, in particular, the Trek FX.

If you’re new to hybrid bikes, then it might be helpful to imagine a spectrum of bikes which goes from road bikes at one end to mountain bikes at the other. Road bikes are the type you’ll see that have very skinny tires. Their riders will probably be wearing tight spandex outfits and will be hunched over the handlebars zipping at high speeds along roads and pavements. Mountain bikes, at the other end, are much more rugged. They’ve got big gnarly tires, suspension on the front and maybe back wheels, and their riders will have loose-fitting bike outfits possibly teamed with a full-face motorbike style of helmet. They’ll be negotiating rocks and roots on steep uphills and downhills along backcountry trails.

Hybrid bikes occupy the large center area between these two. They’re bikes that are great for a wide range of activities. Family weekend bike rides with the kids in the park, picking up groceries, trips to the beach, commuting to the office. They’re versatile. Hybrid bike riders might be wearing anything: button down and slacks for the office, short and T-shirt, swimsuit and flip flops for the beach. Great for anything and you don’t have to get all dressed up to go out riding on one.

Sure, you might not go as fast as on a road bike (although you might if you’re on the FX6) but anyway you’ll be much comfier and most folks don’t look their best in spandex. You might not even be able to go onto the gnarliest of single-track near-vertical bike trails. But then you don’t have a death wish either.

To my mind, hybrids are bikes with lots of upside and very little downside.

The FX range comprises 14 different variants, with different specifications and various frame styles, including unisex/male, low-step, and women’s. At the top of the tree you have the FX Sport 6 (highly-responsive, light on its feet, and very, very fast – but not cheap) right along to the entry-level FX1 (which punches above its weight for the component list vs the price). Let’s take a look at the FX3 Disc and see if it’s the bike for you.


Trek FX3 Disc review

The FX3 seems to me to the hit that sweet spot in the FX range where the component upgrades vs the entry-level bikes aren’t met with price hikes. It’s like the Trek team said to themselves, “Let’s cram in a whole pile of extra cool features on the FX3 and hope no-one notices we haven’t upped the price to match”.

Can you tell I’m a fan?

I often finish up a review by talking about the colors that a bike is available in. But this time I’m going to kick off with them because I love them so much. There are are two colorways for the FX3, Dnister Black and Rage Red. Here’s the thing, these two colors, by themselves are the biggest difficulty I have in hitting Buy Now right away on this bike. Dnister Black? Looks awesome. Suave and yet beautifully understated (much like myself, ahem). But I also love the Rage Red. It’s vibrant. It’s powerful…It’s a tough choice either way, frankly.

Under the hood of those two classic paint jobs we’ve got a component list to-die-for.

The frame is Trek’s Alpha Gold Aluminum. The aluminum is light and flexible and one of the biggest factors in bringing down the FX3’s overall weight to sub-26 lbs. The bike’s geometry (a fancy way of describing the frame size and shape) gives a riding position that is upright, without the hunched over style that you see road bikers having to hold. This, teamed with the flat handlebars, makes for a very comfortable position that is easy to maintain for mile after mile.

Arguably the biggest upgrade that the FX3 has over the FX2 is the front forks. The alloy forks on the FX2 having been swapped out for a carbon set. This, for me, is one of the biggest reasons to get the FX3 and justifies the price difference over the FX2. The carbon strips out a decent amount of weight from the bike and that lightness allows you to pedal even faster. At the same time the carbon has more flex to it and this has the benefit of soaking up more of the unevenness in the road surface. All told, that gives you a smoother and faster ride.

Next up, let’s take closer look at the drivetrain. This is a significant upgrade for the FX3 Disc with a move up to a Shimano system. This is smooth-running set with all the gears you’ll need for easy cruising up hills and fast flats and descents. There are 18 gears – 2 cogs at the crank and 9 on the rear hub. This is worth highlighting as it’s a step up from the FX2 which has 3 cogs at the crank. That may not sound like much but it has two benefits. Firstly, it helps cut out weight and, more importantly, it makes maintenance easier as it’s an easier job to adjust the front derailleur so that it catches 2 cogs rather than 3.

When you’ve got a bike that is light, responsive, and capable of going as fast as you want it to, you also need a brake system that can get you out of trouble when vehicles swerve in front of you or squirrels dart across the road in your path. For that, Trek have fitted the very squirrel-friendly Shimano MT201 hydraulic disc brakes. The entry-level FX1 has linear-pull brakes (which are effective but can be impacted by rain and mud). The FX2 moves to a more superior system – mechanical disc brakes. The FX3 then brings out the big guns with hydraulic discs.

Linear-pull brakes have a hard time in wet conditions because the brake pads pull against the wheel rims and these can get slippery in puddles, snow and mud. Not so with disc brakes as the brake pads pull on a separate disc which is up high near the wheel hubs. Mechanical brakes use a cable to pull the brake pads, but a hydraulic disc system uses brake fluid which is both more responsive and lighter (so it saves on bike weight).

The FX3 Disc is a 25.88 lbs thing of beauty.

It’s a great bike. But is it for you? Well, if you’re going to riding on smooth pavement or roads then a hybrid bike is an awesome choice for you. There’s no need for any suspension here because the terrain is smooth anyway. If you like riding in an upright relaxed position, then a hybrid is also great – why be hunched over when you don’t need to be? Leave that for the road bikers. The FX3 is the one to choose if you like all that and you like getting places quickly – that might be the office, or it might be outpacing the kids on a family cycle. Smooth, stylish, powerful. And that could be the bike or the rider I’m talking about.


Conclusion

Of all the FX range from Trek, my favorite is the FX3 Disc. You can see from the spec list that you get a whole heap of bang for your buck. Aluminum. Carbon. Plenty of Shimano. And all this at a price tag that’s around $150 less than the next model up, the FX4.

I like the FX3. I like it a lot. And I think you will too.

Happy cycling.