Trek 820 Review: Is It a Good Bike or Waste of Money?

Trek 820 review: Trek 820 outside with custom graphics

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Trek 820 is the most affordable mountain bike from Trek. The question is:

Is it a good bike? Should you spend your money on it?

Trek 820 is a mountain bike suitable for beginners because it’s affordable yet well-made. This means it has a quality steel frame, Shimano components, and front suspension for absorbing bumps. In addition, it’s available in a step-through option suitable for women.

Below, you will learn more about it, and I will also explain how it differs from more expensive mountain bikes.

Let’s dive in!

Is Trek 820 a Good Bike?

Trek 820 is a good bike considering its price of $499.99 (when writing this review).

For this money, you get:

  • An entry-level mountain bike with front fork suspension for absorbing bumps.
  • A steel frame with a relaxed geometry for a comfortable riding position.
  • Shimano Tourney groupset and Bontrager components.

You don’t have to use it strictly for off-road riding. Many owners also use it for commuting on paved roads.

Trek 820
Trek 820 | Photo courtesy of trek_grando

However, if necessary, you can easily cross unpaved sections full of potholes, rocks, etc. The wide, knobby tires and front suspension will absorb them so you can enjoy a comfortable ride.

Another feature of why Trek 820 is popular is its gear range. Thanks to the 3X chainring and 7spd cassette, you can choose from 21 gears.

Trek 820 is suitable for riders 4’6″ – 6’8″ (137-203 cm) tall and has a weight limit of up to 300 lbs (136 kg).

Pros and Cons of Trek 820

Here I summarized the pros and cons of Trek 820.

Pros of Trek 820

  • Quality and sturdy steel frame
  • Available for men and women (step-through option)
  • Affordable price
  • Comfortable geometry, allowing upright riding position
  • Suspension fork
  • Available in a wide range of sizes
  • High weight limit of up to 300 lbs (136 kg)
  • Platform pedals included
  • Compatible with accessories like racks
  • Lifetime warranty and wide distributors (support) network

Cons of Trek 820

  • 3X drivetrain (2X and 1X are more popular thanks to their simplicity)
  • Rim brakes
  • Limited color selection
  • The higher weight of 33.7 lbs (15.3 kg)
  • 26-inch wheels

To fully understand the pros and cons, I recommend reading the following section where I compare its features with today’s mountain bikes.

Owner’s Experience with Trek 820

The following part summarizes the experience of the owner of Trek 820, who was kind enough to provide us with pictures and his insights. You can follow him on Instagram @trek_grando.

“It’s a steel frame bike with front suspension great for mild mountain biking. Suspension is definitely on the stiffer side and can bottom out somewhat easily.

My bike is almost entirely stock, minus the front wheel and grips. The saddle is also a factory replacement, and the decals on the front suspension are missing.

The bike and I were hit by a car last year. The front wheel was destroyed, and there were some heavy scratches on the paint. The decals on the fork were torn apart. I was able to hide the blemishes with some touch-up paint.

The bike was serviced after the accident, and only the front wheel and left crank arm needed replacement. So, needless to say, the bike is very robust and strong.

If I had one complaint about the bike, the gearing is far too short, and there are some big jumps between gears. But it’s a low-end bike, so that’s understandable.

Tires handle loose or muddy terrain fine but are very loud and slow on the pavement.

The Trek 820 is a robust, rugged lower-end / entry-level mountain bike. It’s dependable, relatively capable, and very comfortable.

I’d recommend this for someone new to riding, mountain biking specifically. It’s a great way to get out on some trails without breaking the bank. I feel I can take great confidence in knowing it is a solid bike that I won’t have to ever really worry about.”

Main Features of Trek 820

Below, I explain Trek 820’s features and how they compare to more expensive mountain bikes.

Durable Steel Frame

Trek 820 is one of the few mountain bikes based on a steel frame.

Steel is relatively affordable, durable, and stiff but heavy. So, if you don’t care about the bike’s overall weight and durability is your priority, Trek 820 is the bike to buy.

More expensive mountain bikes have aluminum or carbon frames. You can read my article dedicated to bike frame materials, where you learn more about their benefits.

On the other side of the spectrum are aluminum mountain bikes. For example, Trek 3700 and Trek 4300 have an aluminum frame.

Another thing I want to point out is the frame geometry. It’s relatively relaxed, so you will sit in a more upright position, which is suitable for beginners and people with limited flexibility.

26-Inch Wheels

Trek 820 comes with 26-inch wheels. These are more agile, accelerate faster, and feel more responsive than 27.5 or 29-inch wheels.

Trek 820 26″ wheels (tire and rim detail)
Trek 820 26″ wheels | Photo courtesy of trek_grando

But, they are not as fast and comfortable as the other two alternatives. On the other hand, 26″ wheels provide better maneuverability.

If you can, I recommend trying them in person so you can feel the riding difference.

Components

Trek 820 is equipped with Shimano Tourney (shifters, derailleurs, cranks, cassette), Bontrager, and other 3rd party components.

Of course, they are low-end because the bike’s price doesn’t allow for more expensive components.

820 also comes with rim brakes. Today’s mountain bikes mostly come with disc brakes. But they are more expensive and also heavier than rim brakes.

Another thing to mention is the width of the handlebar. Trek’s 820 handlebar is only 660-690mm (depending on the bike size). Modern mountain bikes come with 700 to 800mm handlebars.

Gears

The current generation of Trek 820 comes with a 3×7spd drivetrain, offering 21 gears.

This range is wide enough for various terrains. Just make sure you avoid cross-chaining. See the following illustration for more info.

Cross-chaining vs. good shifting - illustration of the wrong and right chain positions
Avoid cross-chaining to reduce chain friction and drivetrain damage. Follow good shifting best practices to improve efficiency.

The disadvantage of the 3X drivetrains is their complexity, more complicated maintenance, and higher weight.

More expensive mountain bikes come with 2X or 1X drivetrains that are much simpler.

You don’t have to think about the cross-chaining with them as much. They are also lighter and easier to maintain. That’s why they are more popular.

Suspension Fork

Trek 820 comes with a 75mm travel SR Suntour M-3030 fork (unlike the old Trek 800).

The travel of forks on entry-level mountain bikes ranges from 50 to 100mm. So, it sits somewhere in the middle.

This travel will absorb some bumps, but it’s not suitable for hard trails, for example.

In other words, it’s less forgiving than mountain bikes with longer travel and higher quality forks (that cost the same as the entire Trek 820).

Remember, SR Suntour M-3030 is one of the cheapest forks on the market. So you shouldn’t expect much from it.

Trek 820 Specifications

Below, I summarize the most important technical specifications. They differ based on the year the bike was produced:

  • Frame material: Steel
  • Weight: ±33.7 lbs (15.3 kg) depending on frame size
  • Wheel size: 26-inch
  • Brakes: Rim
  • Groupset: Shimano Tourney
  • Gears: 3×7spd
  • Fork: SR Suntour M-3030 (75mm travel)

What Size of Trek 820 do You Need?

To choose the correct size of Trek 820 (WMN) for your height and inseam, refer to the following Trek 820 sizing charts.

Trek 820 size chart
Trek 820 size chart | Source: trekbikes.com
Trek 820 WMN size chart
Trek 820 WMN size chart | Source: trekbikes.com

Trek 820 FAQ

Conclusion

Trek 820 (also available in a step-through option for women) is a mountain bike worth buying if you are a beginner.

It’s one of the bikes that you can rely on on various terrains. And you don’t have to be afraid of breaking it, thanks to its durable steel frame.

Its main shortcomings include higher weight, limited color selection, and rim brakes.

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