Trek Lync light bike review (2)

For longer than I can remember, there have been a lot of bikes in the garage (or dorm room, living room, where ever I could stash them). Since there always seemed to be one bike or another to take for rides around town, trips to the store, or to ride to the bar, the concept of yet another bike around the house as a dedicated city bike seemed a bit superfluous.

But when Trek offered to let us keep their Lync 3 for a while, I thought why not? In addition to the overall design and function of the bike being tailored to city riding and commuting, the Lync has another trick up its sleeve – built in lights. While it may seem like an unnecessary feature, the Lync proved better than expected in more ways than one…

Trek Lync light bike review (1)

As soon as the Lync was built up, something awesome happened. All of a sudden I found I was much more likely to run errands by bike within 10 miles or so from the house. It certainly wasn’t due to the lack of bikes previously. To me, it was the simple convenience of the Lync being ready to ride for almost any condition at  a moments notice. It wasn’t just the lights – having a bike with fenders, a rack, panniers loaded with ride essentials and a lock, flat resistant tires, and flat pedals meant a bike that I could just hop on and leave. There’s nothing worse than spending more time getting ready than you actually spend riding, and a bike like the Lync delivers a no fuss solution.

Trek Lync light bike review (3)

One of the biggest advantages specific to the Lync would have to be the built-in illumination. Choosing to take the bike to run to the store no longer requires searching around the house for lights that were both charged and then installing them on the bike. Once you get to your destination, there’s also no worry about someone swiping the lights since they’re built into the frame. Having the buttons for both lights in one location makes it easier to know you actually turned on the lights even if you started riding before remembering. And knowing the lights are always aimed properly and aren’t obstructed by your gear is a nice touch. To me the addition of lights seems like a no-brainer – if lights are going to be required for commuting, why not build them into the bike rather than resorting to something strapped to your seatpost or handlebar?

Trek Lync 3 (17) Trek Lync 3 (14)

As nice as the integrated lighting is, there are a few areas for improvement. I would prefer more options for the lighting modes which are currently limited to high and low beam on the front, and steady or flashing on the rear. There is no option to run just the rear flasher during the day, and no flasher option for the front which means you’re forced to run the front at least on low if you want rear illumination during daylight hours. Assuming that the front light is the biggest drain on the battery, adding at least a front flasher option would probably increase battery life greatly. That’s not to say that battery life was a problem, but with heavy use you’re likely looking at 1-2 weeks at a time before needing to charge the removable battery via micro USB.

Trek Lync light bike review (4)

Depending on who you talk to, the location of the rear light may also leave a little to be desired. While many riders are trying to position their rear lights as high as possible to make them as visible as possible, the Lync’s lights are fairly low – but it does ensure they aren’t blocked by panniers or bags on the top of the rack. I’m not sure it’s really an issue, as the lights are well aimed and seem quite visible from 50 to 100 yards behind the bike. Anyone who is really worried about the placement can easily add another standard flasher to the seat post for even more peace of mind. Considering the size of the rear lights, they’re impressively bright. There were a few days where I opted to add a set of stand alone lights to be on the safe side, but for most rides I found the built in 500 lumen front and unspecified rear lights adequate.

If you’re planning on riding your bike around the city, you’re also going to have to lock up. To help keep the frame fresh, the Lync’s top tube has a built in rubber bumper. The bumper does help when leaned against say, a pole, but if you’re locking up in a crowded bike rack the rest of the frame is still likely to get dinged. The wheels also lose the standard quick release in favor of bolt on skewers. Not exactly theft proof, but it does require someone to at least have an allen wrench to steal your wheels rather than just removing the skewer with their hands.

Trek Lync 3 (9) Trek Lync 3 (7)

Riders that want to see their cadence and speed as the race to the grocery store can take advantage of the built in Trek Duotrap S compatibility, which is a sleek replacement for the less-than-pro sensors zip tied to the frame. With Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility, the sensor pod can transmit to your phone or to your computer head unit that can be mounted to the Blendr compatible stem.

While not specific to the Lync, the rest of build ensured simple reliability. The 1×9 speed drivetrain with 44 x 11-34 gearing proved to be just enough for our hilly terrain. Tektro Novela disc brakes are at the low end of the totem pole, but other than a bit of squealing, they performed well. Sturdy tires are important for a city bike and the Bontrager H2 Hard Case Lite treads proved up to the task without a single flat and a decent ride at 40-60 psi. Our bike’s fenders were damaged in shipping, but after some creative use of a hammer I got them back into shape enough to use. Once reinstalled, they functioned well keeping down most of the spray and making it much more enjoyable for quick trips in the rain or on wet roads. With a comfortable, upright position, overall the Lync made for a fun ride about town.

2016 Trek Lync 3
Photo c. Trek

Since the Lync 3 isn’t sold with a rear rack, we added a Blackburn Interlock rack which was a nice addition. Riding down to the local record store or grabbing some groceries was instantly more fun thanks to the ride there and the ride back. The 2016 Lync 3 gets an upgrade to a belt drive compatible Brown Bear frame and retails for $1019.99. For an even nicer ride the Lync 5 adds a rear rack, plus a Shimano 8 speed IGH drivetrain with a belt drive for $1,469.99.

Truthfully, I’m a little sad to send the Lync 3 back to Trek. Even with access to some of the best bikes around, the simplicity and convenience the Lync presents will have most riders reconsidering their ability to go by bike. With a few tweaks, the Lync 3 could be a homerun for someone looking for their next city bike.

For more details, check out our first post here.


  1. I think it’s a well designed bike. Theft proof lights are indeed a big plus, as long as there’s no resale value on the removable batteries.
    The only drawback is that you can’t install a front basket because of the light location, but that’s still worth it.

  2. I have a Kona MinUte which is very similar – came with racks and large panniers, low gearing and a relaxed position. I use it all the time for riding around town. It is very convenient to have a dedicated bike for short trips and carrying much more than what fits in a backpack.

  3. A good utility bike with lights, racks etc is perfectly sensible and right, naming it after Microsoft’s IM and conferencing tool is a headscratcher.

  4. A Dutch bike tailored tot city riding and/or commuting is usually a bit more bomb proof than this Trek. Where do you US people store your bikes in the city to prevent theft or annihilation?

  5. Is anyone familiar with the concept of dynamo lights? Counting the paychecks until everyone of my bikes has a dynamo system on it. Peter White hits it right, reliable lights makes for reliable transportation.

  6. Interesting design choices. Although in the Benelux collection there are some more bike equipted with these nifty features:

    for example for the city bikes.

    They are a common thing in the Netherlands, every body use these bikes in the way discribed.
    Public transport is so compact that we uses the type off bikes to ride from-to work and do the rest of the dailly things with it.



  7. I guess the author does not know about dynamo lighting, or he wouldn’t be so amazed with the ones on this bike. Dynamo lights have all the advantages mentioned in the article (permanently attached to the bike, always ready to use, etc.) while none of the inconveniences (never runs out of battery, no detachable battery needs to be carried on you to avoid theft, no proprietary system hard to replace when broken, etc.).

    No wonder why the giant American bike brands have a negligible market share in the commuter market in Europe. Fancy models like the one tested, costing over 1000 EUR, look great on the pictures of a magazine, but would last minutes parked outside any train station or dark street, where real commuter bikes spend most of their lives…

    A standard model with dynamo lighting (hub dynamo), mudguards, bike stand, chain cover, rear rack, bell (compulsory in many countries) should cost about 500 EUR. Plenty of money left for the best lock in town.

  8. Having ridden the Lync 5 I was very disappointed: for something that’s most distinctive for having integrated lighting, the headlight isn’t very good – it’s not bright enough for riding away from streets with plenty of ambient light, and because it’s mounted in the headtube and doesn’t turn with the steering it’s almost useless for steering around sharp turns with any kind of speed. If Trek couldn’t figure out a good way to move the headlight to the bars/stem, they should have put some optics on the light to make the beam pattern give better coverage to the sides, but they didn’t do that either.

  9. I have one of these – very good bike. I do 40km a day on it to work and back. Managed to hit an obscured post in the dark and broke one of the lugs holding the battery so now have a velcro strap around that (the battery assembly isn’t cheap), but it still works. The light is adequate although not great. Of the bikes I tried before buying, this was the most comfortable and I don’t regret the purchase.

  10. What is the max tire clearance for the lync 5 IGH ? In other words what is the fattest tire i can fit in this bike ? What is also its weight ?

  11. I need to replace the battery and am having great difficulty in locating one. I love the bike and the way it handles but the battery is a problem when they die.

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