Trek 3500: Ultimate Mountain Bike Review
Nothing quite compares to the joy and the freedom of mountain biking. Mountain bikes, also known as mountain bicycles, were designed for off-road cycling. They’re tough, durable, and dependable companions to all of your adventures into the wild. Nothing can match that feeling of scaling a mountain on your trusty bike and then looking down at the world below once you reach the top of the hill.
Another issue that you may run into when assembling your gear for mountain cycling is the budget. Some mountain bikes have horrendous prices that are not always matched by great quality. Fortunately, there are also cheaper models out there, such as the Trek 3500 mountain bike.
Don’t search reviews without any use – we are here to tell you all about this great bike that is ready for every adventure. Creating the perfect blend of affordable & reliable is not easy. Does Trek 3500 hit that elusive mark? In this Trek 3500 mountain bike review, we will cover all the ins and outs of this mountain bicycle.
The Trek 3500 is an entry-level mountain bike that comes in several frame sizes and colors. As such, you can be sure to find the right model not only to fit your needs but also to buy matching bikes for the whole family. Solitary trips are nice and all, but not much can compete with that beautiful view when seen in the company of your loved ones. We would recommend trying out different frames before committing to just one.
As mentioned, this great bike is Trek’s signature & flagship entry-level option designed to appeal to those that don’t want to spend too much on their mountain bike. Out of the entire range that the company provides, this bike is the cheapest adult option, regardless of bicycle type.
Considering that Trek 3500 is such a cheap bicycle, many pick up this bike even if they have no intention of mountain biking. What’s more, those same people appreciate this bicycle for how comfortable it is to ride around on, regardless of the location. However, even though it attracts many buyers due to its affordable price, Trek 3500 is still a mountain bike and can be used for exactly that activity.
Aside from mountain biking, Trek 3500 finds its uses in camping, hiking, exploring, road trips, long-distance biking, casual racing, and even simple city biking. If all you need is a bike to suit your morning commute to work, there may be other options. However, if you’d like to have a versatile bicycle that will both take you to and from work and accompany you on your next camping trip, this just might be it.
As far as mountain biking goes, Trek 3500 does a remarkably good job for a product so cheap. Trek is a renowned brand in the world of mountain bicycles and it shows — even their cheapest bicycle is still good enough to compete with other brands.
For an affordable, budget option, this mountain bike truly has a whole lot to offer. Let us first take a look at some of the build & quality of the Trek 3500.
Build & Quality
This bicycle features a sturdy frame and is well-built, even at first glance. The aluminum frame is light for nimble handling. The frameset consists of the frame itself, made out of alpha silver aluminum (aluminum alloy) with a semi-integrated head tube, mudguard, and rack mounts. The fork is an SR Suntour M-3030 with coil spring, preload, and 75mm travel.
The frame is joined by an aluminum fork SR Suntour. This travel suspension fork dispatches bumps along the road as if they are simply not there, making trail riding a breeze. When you add up the aluminum fork SR Suntour provides, the saddle Bontrager SSR produced, the seatpost Bontrager SSR also provides, and the set of Bontrager wheels, you have yourself a really great bike.
The frame is one of the most impressive parts of the Trek 3500 mountain bike. In our testing and reviewing, we found it to be designed with a great deal of thought. It has also been provided with a well-finished chassis. What else is there to say about the frame of the Trek 3500 mountain bike?
If you’ve ever had a budget mountain bike, you may have had to put up with constructional gimmicks and frequent repairs. Fortunately, Trek’s reputation precedes itself and this bike is just as good as you can expect from a reputable manufacturer.
The frame comes with a few useful things, such as a flared down tube, a slimmed-down head tube, and an open-ended gusset that improves the join between the two. The back of the frame features a wishbone seatstay, a rack, and a mudguard mount. All of those components are well installed and they sit safely in their respective parts of the frame.
All the cables required route along the underside of the top tube. This keeps them out of mud’s way. There are also two sets of bottle bosses located inside the main triangle on this mountain bike.
While Trek 3500 is an adult bike, it comes in a number of frame sizes that ensure you’ll be able to find a good fit.
You can purchase this mountain bike in the following frame sizes:
Such a diverse frame size range, from 13 inches to 22.5 inches, is not that rare when it comes to mountain bikes. However, it’s definitely a welcome addition and it makes it easier to pick the frame that best fits your height. That is an extremely important factor in purchasing a mountain bike.
As far as design goes, Trek 3500 is pretty much what you’d expect from a mountain bike. It has a sporty style that differentiates it from typical city bikes. If you’re an expert, you will easily spot the fact that the frame is put together very nicely, in a tidy and reliable way that is sure to stand the test of time.
However, the thing that truly sets this mountain bike apart from other models is the paint job. It comes in a variety of fun, elegant, eye-catching colors that stand out from other bikes. You won’t have to deal with a typical, boring full-black paint job. Every one of the variants is vibrant and creative.
Possibly the nicest option is the Onyx Matte Orange. Combining a deep black with a strong shade of orange that dips into red creates a fantastic effect. The mix of colors is done very tastefully, which means that the end result is appealing as opposed to tacky.
The other color you can take into consideration is Black Titanite Fastback Orange — again, a mix of orange and black, but with a lot more black & a less vibrant, yellow-ish orange. There’s also a very funky color combo called Firebrand Waterloo Blue. This is possibly the most unique of all three, combining a sunny orange with a vibrant blue & a bit of black.
As do most mountain bikes, Trek 3500 comes with a few tricks that differentiate it from your regular, run-of-the-mill, city bike. While this is a budget model, which in itself forces you to adjust your expectations accordingly, there are still plenty of exciting things. Let’s talk about the gear on Trek 3500.
The first thing that will catch your eye is the color-matched fork, which is a very nice touch. The fork itself is pretty standard for this type of mountain bike. It’s an SR Suntour unit, made in all-steel. It also features thin stanchions, a welded-on brace, and uncomplicated spring/elastomer internal components.
The fork is rather on the heavy side. Despite the bulky built, it’s quite flexible and bouncy. If you’re not used to a high-quality suspension fork, you may not notice how bouncy this one is.
Trek 3500 has a Shimano MegaRange 13-34T freewheel. The freewheel features a big drop down the oversized, large sprocket. In the front, the Trek 3500 sports a 28/38/48T setup on its Shimano chainset. It also features a front derailleur Shimano model, a rear derailleur Shimano model, and a set of shifters Shimano produced.
The rear derailleur Shimano, front derailleur Shimano, and shifters Shimano are all marks of a great bike for trail riding. The gear makes easy work of the hills you may encounter, ensuring that this is a bike ready for every adventure.
The above causes the gears to be rather high. This can be a good thing, but not everyone will favor it. This setup, namely the 38T middle ring, means that you’ll spend a lot of time on the bigger sprockets in the back of the bicycle. As a result, you may struggle a little with steep climbs. On the other hand, lower gears are better for the trails.
Trek has an in-house component brand known as Bontrager, and they made the most of that fact in the creation of this mountain bike. Trek 3500 includes the huge Bontrager LT3 tires. Those tires are listed as 2-inch tires by the manufacturer, but they’re rather tall. The tread pattern performs best on hard surfaces. It features a shallow tread with some quite remarkable side knobs.
Riding & Handling the Bicycle
What could possibly be more important in a bicycle than how it feels like when you ride it? Trek 3500, while still a budget model, is enjoyable to ride on. The various ergonomic solutions employed by Trek during the creation process of this bicycle have certainly paid off. Many users all over the planet claim that this is the most comfortable bike they have ever used. Imagine that, a mountain bike!
If you too are used to mountain bikes leaving a lot to be desired, here’s some more info on how it feels to ride & handle the Trek 3500.
Tried & tested — back to basics
Trek has not been very adventurous when they created this mountain bike. Instead of experimenting with things that could very much end up a hit or miss, Trek went with some classic solutions that have been tried & tested on countless mountain bikes in the past. The result? A stable, reliable ride for all skill levels.
This is a mountain bike ready for just about anything. It makes quick work of rocks and roots with ease, helped by the tires Bontrager produced. Even rough trails pose no threat for this bicycle that has made a name for itself for being comfortable, steady, and stable.
The geometry in this mountain bike is maintained at a reasonable level. You can tell that Trek paid some extra attention to that aspect of the bike. The resulting ride is confident, trustworthy, stable, and surprisingly agile. Although the cockpit is not as long as in some of the competing bikes, that precisely makes it perfect for beginners. Super-experienced users may feel hindered by the shorter cockpit, though.
As far as general weight goes, this is a lightweight bicycle and can be used all over, although it excels on trails. It may feel somewhat less lively than high-end, expensive competitors, but for its price range, it offers the best bang for your buck in terms of sheer performance.
Trek 3500 carries a lot of its weight in wheels and has higher gears than some other models. As the wheels spin, you are forced to accelerate them round AND forward simultaneously. This then means that the weight is mostly felt in the tires and not in the frame. Fortunately, the rubber in the wheels rolls well with no interruptions, so the ride is comfortable and easy.
Every mountain bike aficionado will tell you that it takes some time to set up your dream bike. You don’t just get one and ride into the sunset — you need to adjust it to your needs first. The same can be said of the Trek 3500.
While the bicycle is not hard to set up, you will have to do a few things before you head out. The main reason for that is the bar roll.
The step in this bike doesn’t’ simply go horizontally out & forward — it also has a tendency to slant up a bit. Paired with the high roll stem, you may expect a relatively high center of gravity. As such, part of the setting up process should find the perfect angle for your bars before you go for a longer ride.
Another frequent recommendation is to maintain the tire pressure around 28-30 PSI. This compensates for the suspension (which takes some time getting used to) and results in a comfortable, steady ride.
Who is it For?
Trek 3500 is affordable but equipped with a decent range of features that make it a good pick for almost anyone. However, if we were to point out just one group of users for this bike, we’d probably say that it’s best suited for beginners.
If you are new to mountain biking and cycling in general, you will appreciate how steady this ride is. It allows you to perform some basic drops and head out on the trail, but it won’t be the best choice for a mountain cycling expert.
Even if you’re not a newbie when it comes to mountain bikes, you may still opt to choose Trek 3500 over other bikes. It stands out with its geometry and reliable components. It’s rather sturdy which makes it a good pick for trails. Most of all, it’s cheap.
You can safely pick this up if you want a solid entryway into mountain biking. You won’t break the bank, but you will obtain a product that will serve you well for years.
Let’s talk about some hard numbers — time to showcase the full specs of Trek 3500.
- Pedals: Wellgo nylon platform
- Stem: Bontrager approved, 25.4mm
- Shifters: Shimano EF51 (speed 7)
- Seat angle: 73
- Seatpost: Bontrager SSR, 31.6mm with a 20mm offset
- Saddle: Bontrager SSR
- Total weight in lbs: 31.3
- Total weight in kg: 14.2
- Rear-wheel weight: 2700
- Rear derailleur: Shimano TX31
- Rear shock: not included
- Available sizes: 13″, 16″, 18″, 19.5″, 21″, 22.5″
- Headset type: 1-⅛” threadless. Semi-cartridge bearings, semi-integrated
- Head angle: 70.5
- Handlebar: Bontrager Approved riser, 25.4mm with a 30mm rise
- Front-wheel weight: 2100
- Front derailleur: Shimano TX51
- Frame material: alpha white aluminum
- Cranks: Shimano 131, 48/38/28
- Cassette: Shimano TZ31 13-34 (speed 7)
- Brakes: Tektro V with Shimano EF51 levers
Pros & Cons
We’re reaching the end of our Trek mountain bike review. However, we can bet your head is swimming with information. If you want a quick recap on why this is a great bike and why we would recommend it check out the pros & cons section.
- Sturdy, reliable build & great bike
- High-quality components
- Affordable mountain bicycle
- Ideal for beginners
- Good for trails
- Can also be used for various other activities, even as a city bike
- Capable bike for light singletrack and off-road
- Light-duty tires
- Not the best pick for an expert
- It’s not great at shredding downhill
- Multi-foot drops take some getting used to
Trek 3500 is, for all intents and purposes, a budget bike. If you want the best of the best, you may shop for something that costs hundreds, or even thousands of dollars more than Trek 3500. However, if you are looking for the best blend of quality and price, this bike ticks almost all of the boxes.
This is a high-quality bike that sits on an established frame. It works well on dirt and gravel and gives you the freedom to explore without any worries. The build is of decent quality, allowing you to simply ride without having to bother with potential repairs. It features nimble handling & easy acceleration, which is all you could ask for in such a bicycle.
As long as you want something sturdy — a mountain bike you can truly trust — Trek 3500 won’t fail you. It’s your one-way ticket to the joys & adventures of mountain biking!