The retro grouch buys a bike

Most people wouldn't call me an early adopter. I like technology that has been proven over years of use and abuse, so more than a few have been surprised to see me riding a new bike for past month. Trek's Belleville may be a new model, but it is a resurrection of technology that has been around for decades.

Part of Trek's ECO line of bicycles, the Belleville is a 3 speed utility bike. Like all the bikes in the ECO line, the Belleville has been designed to minimize the environmental impact of the bike, from manufacture and shipping to usage and the eventual end of life. Trek is following the Okala method to minimize the footprint of their Eco bikes and this is visible all over the Belleville. For example, most bikes are shipped in a cardboard box stuffed with Styrofoam and plastic. The Belleville, however, uses biodegradable terry cloth and string to pack the bike. This in particular impressed me because it shows that Trek is dedicated to being more environmentally friendly, even in ways that the customer will never see, nor probably even hear about.

The Belleville comes stock with a Shimano 3 speed hub in the rear, a Shimano generator hub in the front, front and rear dyno lights, a chainguard, fenders, racks and a beautiful blue powder coating over the entire bike, including the racks and fenders. I've been riding my Belleville over ten miles everyday for the past month and find it is just about the perfect bike for my day to day city riding. The porteur style front rack can carry a large pizza and a case of beer without any trouble while the back rack supports panniers and a rear trunk that together can hold 2 weeks worth of groceries. The fenders work just as they should, though I would like to see some mud flaps on them to keep the splash down a little more. One of the best parts about the whole package has to be the dyno lights. They just work. Its really nice not having to worry about batteries or carrying lights everywhere you go. The front is bright enough to really see the road on those streets without lamps while the rear has a capacitor to keep it lit at stop lights, even when the bike is not moving.

I especially like the fact that Trek has decided to use technology in the Belleville that has been proven over decades of use. The cromoly steel in the frame is the same material used in my 40 year old road bike and the rear hub has the same design that Shimano has been using for 35 years. In fact, my only gripe about the bike is also the one substantially new design component. The integrated stem and handlebar, which is modeled after boutique custom bikes coming out of Portland, lacks the adjustability of standard stems. For the vast majority of people, this isn't an issue, but some people this may put the hands at an uncomfortable angle.

Aside from the one gripe, I am very impressed with the design of the bike. At $659, the Belleville is much more moderately priced than the competition, and with the racks, lights and fenders it is a great option for people who need a bike to replace their car.