I Bought TREK When I Should Have Bought SPECIALIZED

The other weekend I was riding my newer bicycle, a Trek Marlin 4 Silver Mountain Bike with the 19.5 inch frame, that I purchased directly from Trek's website in December of 2018.

It's been a "few" months (19 months to be exact) and I am experiencing an ongoing state of buyers remorse from having purchased this bicycle from Trek.  My big take-away from the experience is that Trek should support all bikes and components on the bike they sell. The should support the lower end budge bikes like they do their top-of-line models, but I don't feel like that's the case.

The internet experience of buying the bike was great. I found what I wanted and waited for a holiday sale. Boom... done. I had no clue what I was in for.

The bike seller I was had it shipped to, Palo Alto Bicycles (so they could construct it for me), was staffed with nice and then not so nice folks. The mechanic acted like an arrogant ass.

I got the bike and it was exciting to have a nice, new bicycle.

First thing that happened on my very first ride was that the bike would not stay in the top gear. When I contacted Trek, even though the bike was under warranty (Whatever that might mean) they outright stated that the derailleur is a third-party component and it is not covered in their warranty. So I was SOL there.  (It still doesn't stay in top gear.)

A few weeks later, the basic little reflectors that came attached to the bike wheels more or less disintegrated on their own and fell off. No, there was no hard riding on my part. All street, very few miles.

The disc brakes on the bike started to act out a few months after receiving the bike. The rear brakes started to sound like marbles in a blender. Then the front brake started to sound like an earthquake whistle on caffeine. I didn't bother contacting Trek... I have the presumption someone else made the brakes so I didn't bother reaching out.

[July 2020] 

--Today, my seat height won't stay put. No matter how TIGHT I make the quick release lever, the seat ever so slowly inches its way down. I had a mechanic use a tool to CRANK down on the quick-release lever.

--The rear tire tube failed. No punctures, no nothing, just failed and went flat.

--The plastic on the base of the seat has just started snapping and falling off. Eroding, if you will.

--I had a bike shop recently adjust the derailleur so I can get in to that last high speed gear, and now I can't gt it into the front-ring low gear, without having to turn the bike over and shift it by hand.

Despite being the kind of guy that puts up to 500 miles a month on a bike, after 19 months, I barely have 350 miles on the thing. I really don't have my usual eagerness to ride a bike any more because of this bike.

I had just kept the bike as a 'ride around work' neighborhood bike and I'm not even sure I could sell this bicycle to anyone, in good faith.

At this point, I'm honestly thinking I should have gone with Specialized.  No joke. Sure, I could have a more terrible consumer experience, but this is just frustrating.


I bought this bike because I have an old Gary Fischer bike that has held up to everything I've ever done to it. It has around 7,000 miles on it and I'm on my second, my third set of tubes.  I decided to buy from Trek because they bought out Gary Fischer and I was trying to stay loyal to the original brand. When a brand is bought out, I don't believe brand loyalty applies after that. Looking back, I guess that was not the best reason to buy from Trek. 

Sadly, when I bought this bike there were more Specialized bike sellers around me where I lived and I guess I should have gone that route because back then it would have been easier to get to a Specialized dealer. 

We live and learn, right? And my lesson here is that even though I know riders who swear by their high-end Trek models, some of us budget folks may not see the same consumer support treatment.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to afford a new bicycle again, but when I can, you know where I'm not going! Maybe this time, I'll make the right call.

This was consumer's food for thought gang.

-----> UPDATE/FOOTNOTE July 25, 2020

I had sent this post in a letter to customer support and all they said was 'it looks like your mind is made up."  

I sent the letter to see what they would do, but all they did was ask if I reached out to Shimano via my Trek distributor...  (No one from Trek told me I could do that) and then they said that it looks like your mind is made up.  

To be honest, it wasn't, until they said that. that my mind really wasn't made up.

Bummer. Now my bike is in the shop because the derailleur stopped shifting into the lowest (smaller) front gear wheel. The bike only has 349 miles on it.  Sigh.

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