Monday, August 23, 2010

The Trek Earl

Back in the old days, we scrounged parts to make our fixies. Armed with advice from Sheldon Brown, the Obi Wan of the fixie movement, I converted an old Peugeot PX-10 into a fixie and rode it damn near everywhere. I later replaced the PX-10 with a fixie Merckx that I also managed to put quite a few miles on. Bikes come and go in my life, but as near as I know both machines are still rolling down roads somewhere. And pretty much anywhere you look these days, you'll find fixed gear bikes.

Now, you don't have to build your own fixie. You can walk down to your local bike shop and buy one ready to go. The bike pictured here is the Trek Earl. I'm probably biased by working in a Trek shop, but I think it's pretty cool. The bike comes stock with a flip/flop hub so you can ride it either as a coasting single-speed or a true "it only goes when you pedal it" fixed gear. The dual top-tube not only looks funky, the gap is just the right size for carrying a U-lock. I also like that the bike doesn't fall for that "I don't need brakes" fashion and it's got decent clearances for fat tires and fenders if you want to go that way. You can even put a rack on it. It's a good, simple bike for well under $500.

21 comments:

cyclotourist said...

Looks like a very sensible SS city bike. I hope it catches on and sells plenty. Trek needs to get some pictures of Lance racing on one.

Jim Laudolff said...

Looks somewhere between a stealth airplane and a model T.

J. Bennitt said...

I'm intrigued - looks like a nice entry-level solution for single speed cyclocross. What's the weight like?

Kent Peterson said...

It's steel, and not very light. 27.5 lbs. in a 54 cm.

Larry said...

What size tires and tires with fenders will fit on there?

Kent Peterson said...

Larry, there's a lot of clearance there. The bike comes with 700*28 tires but I think you could probably fit up to 38mm tires plus fenders.

Anonymous said...

Would you be able to compare it to a Trek Soho ss? I have one now, but wold love to switch to a cromo frame. I'm not a "fixie", mainly a single speed rider, and might occasionally flip it over. Just wondering about overall feel and ride, if happen to know. I've looked at the geometry, and it seems a little different.

Thanks, Mike

dscott said...

Just ordered an Earl from my LBS in the DC area. Supposed to be here in time for the weekend. Can't wait!

Famille Mallet said...

Looks like a great bike !
I ride a Soho S for one year, mostly in single speed but sometime in fixed gear, in Paris, France.
Earl seems to be equivalent, excepted for frame material (weight).
Not sure it will be sold in France ?

Scott Redd said...

Nice writeup, Kent. I bought a blue Earl this weekend and put up some pics and notes here.

There's also a video on how to use the bottle opener... a nice touch by Trek, in my opinion.

Bruce in CA said...

I picked up an Earl today. I had the LBS put on a 39 tooth front sprocket on mine. The gears were too tall for my 47 year old knees. Mine is set up for SS/fixed.

Ely said...

great bike. took it for a ride today. sleeping on it tonight but i'm pretty sure i'm going back for it tomorrow.

i'm a big guy and the guys at the bike shop said it could take a beating compared with a couple of other bikes i was looking at.

Double Espresso Man said...

Hi all,

Thanks for the tips, suggestions and write up on the Earl! They have basically just arrived in Australia now and I am thinking this will become my city single speed bike. I have an old geared Shogun bike that has been upgraded all over, so it will be nice to get a simple bike, but also a reliable Trek branded bike. Here in Australia there are plenty of customisable SS's as I am sure you have, but I also want a Trek bike and at $599AUD, this is great price. And really no modification needed! I am really keen on the U Lock carrying bars! Thanks again, I am convinced. Happy cycling Duke of Earl Riders!

Ray said...

Thanks for educating me about the Earl and the fun of single speed and fixed gear riding! I finally got a blog of my own set up and my first post is about my Earl.

Anonymous said...

I've had the Earl for about 6 months now and have some comments. Be sure the hubs and crank are properly assembled and tightened, it took me a while to get it right. I also added fenders and slightly nubbyer tires for the winter (32 mm “rally” type tires fit well). Front and rear lights, and you're good to go! The gearing felt low to me at first (too hard on hills) but is becoming more comfortable as I ride more. Also, check chain tension so the chain does not hit the guard. I added some velcro tape (the soft, loopy side) to the inside of the chain guard to soften the chain hits and quiet the ride. Haven't used the bottle opener yet, maybe when the weather is warmer.

HKW53 said...

I am thinking about getting this bike. How tall are you, am wodering what size I should get- between the 54cm and the 57cm.

Kent Peterson said...

I'm 5'6" with a 30 inch inseam. Here's a link to the sizing chart for the Earl:

http://bit.ly/LQTVf3

Anonymous said...

I've had the earl for a couple of months now, i enjoy the fact that it's somewhat a tank but I've upgraded the petals and got some skinnier tires for it, i also got a deal at my bike shop for a set of bontrager racing wheels for only $300 which is a very good deal considering both wheels separately cost $200+ the rear one being around $280.

Anonymous said...

I know some people don't like how heavy it is, however I don't really notice it compared to the Kryptonite New York chain wrapped around the seat post and then through a small U lock through the frame. It's not a TT bike and the extra weight won't effect anyone over 120lbs carrying it up stairs or anything. Best single speed commuter set-up i've seen and I love owning it. Mines setup with slightly wider studded tires for winter and back to slicks when the roads clear up. Component choice isn't great but it's my commuter not my touring bike. Bolted axils provide peace of mind when leaving it outside all day.

Tim Watson said...

I am getting the Earl this week and I am looking for recommendations for a different set of pedals that have straps. What does everyone recommend for this model?

Anonymous said...

I've had an older Earl for a couple years now, and while it isn't the lightest bike I've owned? It can outrun, outlast, outride (whatever you wanna call it?) most of the featherweight builds I've done in the past. It's really well equipped, right out of the shop. I put a slightly higher gearing on my rear cog, if I recall it's a 15t now. It's fast as hell, not ALL that hard to pedal up to speed, and with the weight of the frame it actually holds a good cadence all on it's own. AND! Beyond the bottle opener, you can wedge a twelve pack in between your thighs on the twin top tube on the ride home. Unless you're a shaky-knee rider, it'll stay put