Just starting out as a cyclist? Walking into your local bicycle shop to pick out a new bike can make your head spin with all the choices you have. Those road bikes with their skinny little tires and sloopy handlebars are a bit intimidating to a beginner. The comfort bikes with their big wide balloon tires might be a bit too heavy and cumbersome for your purposes. The mountain bikes look familiar – maybe you rode one as a kid – but they’re too heavy and slow for riding on streets. You’re trying to find the right bike for the street, the local trails and paths, and maybe even one of those triathlons your girlfriends keep trying to talk you into doing. What to choose?
Trek’s brand-new women’s Neko dual sport bike may be just what you’re looking for. We got to take one out on a test ride this month and really liked its can-do attitude. It crosses from the pavement to multi-use paths, to dirt trails without a hitch. A long “29er” style frame length makes the Neko feels rock-solid beneath you, easily handling any rough pavement or trail obstacles you run across. The Neko’s medium width 700c tires give a good steady grip to the road or trail and the thumb shifting is familiar and intuitive to anyone who’s ridden a mountain bike as a kid.
To prevent fatigue from vibration in your hands, arms, and shoulders, there’s some light suspension in the front fork of the bike – just right for longer rides or bumpy trails – and that keeps the weight of the bike lighter than a standard mountain bike. The women’s specific aluminum frame has a curving top tube that gives it a low standover height so it’s easy to hop off the seat and steady the bike at stops. You’ll find your riding position to be a comfortable compromise – not too upright, so you can put more power into your pedaling and not too head-down so your ability to see around you is great.
Our model had 21 gears and regular side-pull brakes – an upgrade to the top-of-the-line Neko SL will get you up to 27 gears and mechanical disk brakes with their superior wet-condition stopping. If you have plans to purchase just one bike for all your riding needs, the Neko is a solid choice. It’s confident in a lot of different riding situations, on a variety of surfaces, comfortable, light, and quick. Take one for a test spin and we think you’ll love it.
Neko $529, Neko S, $599, Neko SL $839 trekbikes.com