Trek Lime…did it turn out to be sour….

At a local bicycle retailer in So Cal, I have kept an eye on the Trek Lime. As you may recall Trek introduced the Lime over a year ago in hopes to tap into a market where people didn’t want to hassle with shifting. They had a real cool website that would remind you of an iPod commercial. The marketing was great, the products were hip and cool, but one problem…they didn’t really sell.

I’ve actually asked a few other Trek Dealers and found that the Lime’s aren’t moving fast out the door like traditional bikes like beach cruisers, mountain bikes and road bikes. Limes were priced around $500-$600…give or take a few. The concept was pretty cool, and even cute. The bikes were fully customizable with various colors, and accessories. My favorite part was the saddle where you could open it up and place your wallet, keys or whatever you wanted in there.

At one retailer, the Lime is placed right before the Electra Cruisers and Nirve Cruisers. But each day it gets passed up and customers want to check out the cruisers. Now I’m not so sure why the Lime hasn’t done well, perhaps people don’t like the idea of a bike shifting on its own…remember the Landrider….Or maybe the price tag was a turn off to people. For the same price you could get a really nice beach cruiser, an entry level mountain bike or a hydrid.

Don’t get me wrong, the Limes were cute bikes, very comfy, but personally if I had the $500 to buy a casual riding bike, I too would pass up the Lime and go straight for the Electra or Nirve…


  1. Moe

    More like a Trek Lame…. I think they totally missed their target with the pricing of that bike. The bike was designed for non-cyclists or for someone who hadn’t ridden in years, do you think non-cyclists will shell out $500 bucks for a bike? They would rather spend $65 bucks at a Wally World for a Bike-like-object.

  2. Russ Roca

    I really liked the Lime in theory…a bike for everyone… but I thought the auto-shifting really killed it and it’s too damn cutesy for a serious commuter….

    If someone is going to go for cutesy there are far cutsier crusiers out there for less…

    If someone is going to go for practical, there are far more practical bikes for less…

    It didn’t really fit a pre-existing niche. Someone that is willing to spend that much for a bike, probably has a good idea about bikes and the auto-shift would be a turn-off.

    Someone that doesn’t know anything about bikes probably wouldn’t spend that much for any bike.

    So I suppose their target market would be the mysterious class of people who know nothing about bikes but have lots of disposable income and are willing to spend it on bikes….the sort of Sasquatch or Easter Bunny of bike shoppers.

    In comparison, looking at Swobo offerings, they’re not too flashy, the price is reasonable and someone that knows something about bikes will understand their value and utility.

    Similarly, the soon to be released Civia line, though priced on the high-end of commuter bikes will attract people that know something about bikes (someone who knows what a Rohloff hub is and why they’re so killer!) and are willing to spend the dough.

    I do have to say that I liked the spirit of the marketing behind Lime…very “lifestyle” and definitely the direction bike marketing should go, but the product and the price point just won’t work with the current cultural perception of bikes…

  3. Quinn

    I have never seen an auto shifting bike sell, my LBS has a Raleigh that been sitting on the floor for like 8 months.

    I also think its the answer to a question that was never asked. If a person is too lazy to shift, they are to lazy to pedal, also that Raleigh is crazy heavy.

  4. Jim

    I spoke with my local dealership about the Lime, he ordered one and had to mark it down to cost to get rid of it. He thought the marketing was cool and the bike was nice but it was aimed at people who would consider 1/2 of the retail price expensive for a bike. I remember the pre release marketing and I thought it was neat until the price was announced, my first thought was “who is going to pay that much for that?”
    I think Trek missed the boat on this one.

  5. Pete van Nuys

    I’m a newbie to this site, but have commuted on and off for decades. I’ve also worked in the bicycle industry and have some quirky insights into why it does the things it does– like the Lime.

    The American bike biz is circling the drain. Company management has worshiped at the temple of lycra for so long they’ve alienated the majority of American consumers. Bike shops are notoriously elitist, even the best ones who try not to be. Once you so totally segregate the market it’s virtually impossible to reintegrate it.

    The commuting segment, as served by this site, is also exclusive. Can’t help it– you’re on the cutting edge. Most of the rider pix I see here, and I certainly haven’t seen them all, are of people who’ve used their own creativity to make solutions for themselves. That demonstrates a level of commitment far beyond the curve of mainstream America.

    Lime is an attempt by the biggest bike co, totally enamored by Lance just a couple years ago, to connect with a market outside their usual demoographic. It’s not aimed at the folks already on this site, nor people who normally walk into a specialty bicycle store (as they like to refer to their dealers).

    Limes are getting dusty on bike shop floors all over the country. Why?

    Because Trek– and all American bicycle brands– and their dealers have worked together to beat all the value out of their product. They have listened to comments like those on this site, that $500 is too much for a quality bike that shifts automatically.

    Dealers are a lazy lot– they’re in retail but they hate to sell. So instead of defending the value in their product they usually just whine about price resistance to their suppliers.

    The product managers at those companies lie awake nights trying to figure out how to sell this year’s model, next year, for less money. Contrast that with automotive marketers who lie awake nights figuring out how they can sell this year’s model next year for more.

    Guess who has more money to promote their products (despite losing record profits….). In fact, the bicycle industry on all levels, has convinced itself that it has zero money for advertising. Outside a few niched enthusiast mags it spends virtually zip on marketing. A feeble page in Men’s Health or Women’s Fitness, maybe a cross promotion with a non-endemic brand, but basically zip. There has been no general advertising by a bike brand on TV since Kaptain Kangaroo.

    America’s not just a consumer economy, we’re a consumer culture. If we don’t advertise and actively sell a product, it looses appeal and value. Sad, but true. Folks on this site see beyond the BS– at least when it comes to transportation. But most Americans don’t.

    Americans will spend $500 for a golf club consisting of 5 parts cemented together, but not for a well engineered imaginative bicycle assembled from over 2,000 pieces– a product which can deliver more health, economic, social, and environmental benefits than all the golf clubs ever made.

    So the dealers, basically, gave up on Lime before giving it a chance. They took one look at the price, said “we can’t really be expected to sell that,” and stuck ’em on the floor. After they sit for a year or so, they’ll blow ’em out for cost. Which will, of course, reinforce Americans’ opinion of bicycles:
    They’re cheap.
    Must not be worth anything.
    Can’t really be taken seriously.
    Just toys.
    So I can behave like a child in traffic, ’cause everyone can see that I’m just bein’ goofy by even ridin’ this thing.

    And eventually that attitude comes back to bite all of us on the butt. Especially at 7:AM on my daily commute.

    Yours, too.

  6. Ghost Rider

    Pete — VERY interesting insights! Thanks for that…

    There is a lot more local bike shops could do to promote bicycling as transportation rather than merely an expensive plaything. Some get it, most just do not. Lycra is king and racers are sexy, and sex sells, I guess.

    I’ve often wondered why we don’t see TV commercials in the U.S. for bicycles. This definitely explains why!

  7. RL Policar (Post author)

    Hi Pete,

    Thanks for that great insight. You know what, you’re right as far as the advertising goes in the bike business. But I’m starting to see more and more companies tapping into the Internet world as a means of advertising. Just check out our sponsors, they told us that they wanted more Internet media, and rightly so it makes sense since more Americans are on the Internet while at work, home or at Starbucks.

    Internet marketing makes it easier to get people to look at a product by simply clicking on a banner, article or text ad on a site like ours.

    I’ve also noticed that dealers don’t like to spend money on advertising their shops either. I know of one particular chain of shops in So Cal that have since let go of their Marketing person, stopped advertising in the local magazines, has scaled down their presence in the field such as races, events and currently only has 1 sponsored rider…which by the way is an employee. But then again that could just be the current economy.

    Though it wasn’t a bicycle, the Trikke was a major hit when they did the infomercials a few years back….heck we even had one…Pete also sent me an email about the LandRider and how they sold so many of those bikes when they ran those infomercials.

    Perhaps some bike companies are missing the boat by not advertising on mainstream media…

  8. Holly

    I guess I’m one of those Easter bunnies of bike shoppers. I don’t really have a lot of cash to spend on a bike, but I’ve always heard how expensive the true enthusiast bikes are. I saw an article in Business Week about the Trek Lime and the relative price looked good and thought this might be the bike for me, a non-commuting, but want to ride and exercise gal. Sad admission: I don’t know how to use bike gears. So what does a beginner get that will last a while?

  9. Moe

    If you want a bike for pure exercise or to just cruise, you can’t go wrong with a single speed cruiser bike from Nirve or Manhattan. These bikes are from good quality manufacturers and the will not break apart in 3 months like cheap cruisers.

  10. Catherine

    I’m also one of the Easter bunnies of bike shoppers. I haven’t been on a bicycle since I was 13 (22 years ago), and I never was able to figure out the purpose of the gears on my 10-speed (my old neighborhood was completely flat), so when I asked my boss, a bicycle racer and enthusiast, a few months ago what a good purchase for me would be, he suggested the Lime.

    I went to the Lime website, became infatuated, and found a local dealer. It wasn’t a great experience. Most of the people who work in the shop are serious bikers — I expected that. But there’s a note behind the cashier stand that says that employees there are expected to share their love of and enthusiasm for biking with the customers, and what I got instead was a lot of condescension and and a tiny bit of reluctant assistance.

    Luckily, the person who was available to help me is a new employee at the store, so I guess he hasn’t gotten time to get jaded and irritated by the customer base, yet. The store had a couple of last year’s Lime Lite models, and he let me test ride one. It was GLORIOUS.

    My start was a little wobbly, but I went around the parking lot three times, laughing the whole time. It felt exactly like it did when I was 10, riding to my best friend’s house, or the playground, or to get some new-fangled frozen yogurt. I made them special order this year’s model in green (why get a Lime if you’re just going to get it in black?) with a basket AND a bell. The other bike shop employees weren’t able to hide their disdain.

    I think there are a lot of people like me out there: interested in getting back on the bike with some disposable income. I’m REALLY happy with my purchase, but I could have been a lot happier if the people at the bike shop had been a little happier to see me. I’ll go back for my first tuneup, which is free, but I’m going to try some different stores in town to see if they’re a little happier to see a bike newbie. From what I read here, it seems like that’s going to be hard to find.

  11. Jamie

    “…the mysterious class of people who know nothing about bikes but have lots of disposable income…”

    Well, since fewer than one quarter of Americans ride bikes on a regular basis, I’d have to wager that this “mysterious class of people” is quite large.

    As a non-cyclist who recently bought a Lime to ride to and from work on occasion, I’ve had mixed thoughts on it. I’m a big fan of coaster brakes, and that’s why I got the Lime: multiple gears without handbrakes. But the shifting happens at inopportune times — downshifting when going down a hill, for instance, because you’ve stopped pedaling, while waiting FAR too long to downshift going up a hill while you’re dying — and I’ve also found the seat relatively uncomfortable.

    Would I recommend the Lime to someone to ride around town? Yes. Was it a good going for a ten-mile commute, even on an occasional basis? No, probably not.

  12. Greg

    I’ve been reading the comments for 2 bikes on this web site, the Lime and the Day 6. My sister , a young 71, wants a Lime because she does not get the concept of shifting a bike. My daughter wants a Lime because at 26, her tiny hands can not grip the hand brakes nor have the strength to squeeze hard enough to stop the bike. So in both cases the Lime coaster would work for them. All the reviews I have read about the Lime are more positive than negative. The price is rather steep for a three speed bike but all in all for the pleasure and exercise we can all use I guess it’s worth it. On the other bike, the Day 6, most of the dealers I contacted either do not carry them any longer due to poor sales or they could get one if I want one, although I did find a dealer that had one old model single speed that I took a short spin on, it was great. There are 2 frame sizes, 3 different seat configurations and a 21 speed and 7 speed. How is a person suppose to decide which is the right one when they’re not in stock? This is another example of what was mentioned before about advertising. Never heard of a Day 6 or the Lime. My sister introduced me to the Lime, I think she heard of it because she stopped in a Trek store near her house and the Day 6, I stumbled upon searching the web for prices on the Lime, I wanted to buy the Lime for my sisters birthday, which took me to “comfort bikes” which I found an article on the Day 6 that peaked my interest. The only time you see an ad for a bicycle is when one of the “big box” stores have them on sale. In my search for information on bikes, I did not know there was so many different brands, if it wasn’t for the internet I would never have known I have all these options. Unfortunately going to a bike store is like going to a car lot with 1000 sports cars and only one sedan in stock for the average “Joe”. There are a lot of us average “Joe’s” out here.

  13. Susan

    I went to a bike store yesterday specifically to see the Lime. I was kind of hoping for last year’s model or a mark-down as that price is a bit steep for me. I haven’t ridden in years and my old trek 12 speed is a pain for me to figure the gears. The people in the shop were less than helpful and answered my questions so fast with so much bike jardon that I was turned off and left. I’ll save my pennies and give it a try since I’ve only heard complaints about the cost, not the riding experience. It’s nice to read comments from other non-serious bikers who understand. I might check out those cruisers mentioned on this site as well.

  14. Molly

    I have a Trek Lime. My experience at my local bike shop is what sold me on the Lime. I had not been on a bike since I was a kid and the whole shifting thing was a little unnerving to me. I have really enjoyed my bike.
    The only downside is that I have enjoyed it so much that I want to take up cycling more as a form of exercise instead of just leisurely riding. So after a season of riding, I am looking to sell and upgrade to a road bike.
    I went to a different bike store and they were also very complimentary about the Trek Lime even though they did not sell them. They informed me that they have had several customers in my situation. They feel like the Trek Lime creates an enjoyable ride which ultimately leaves riders wanting and ready for more.
    I think this is a great starter bike.

  15. BAW

    What’s not to “get” about shifting gears on a bike?

    When you are going uphill, choose a low gear; when you are doing downhill, choose a high gear; when you are on the flats, choose a gear in the middle. How hard is that?

  16. Steve F

    I have the K2 Easy Roller. Its the REI version of the Trek Lime.

    I have another bike, Trek 9700 carbon, but I liked the simple, no shift coaster to quickly ride around town. I also am old enough to have nostalgia for the 2-speed kick back coasters in the 60’s.

    The Lime and similar is a problem for dealers. I believe all dealers want happy customers, and the Lime seems like a good choice for a newbie. But what happens when those newbies get a few months of riding behind them. Many will realize a coaster is a limited range bike. What then?

    The Lime a specialty coaster. It is not for newbies. Its for riders who know what they’re buying. I don’t think Trek identified their target buyer correctly for this bike.

  17. AR

    I bought a Lime Lite about a year ago and really like it. I too must be one of the Easter Bunny shoppers, but I don’t consider myself someone who has a lot of disposable income. I do however, buy things that are good quality and are going to last a long time so I don’t end up buying it three times trying to save a few bucks. The Lime was attractive to me because it looks good like a cruiser, has at least three speeds to get me up and down minor grades and is comfortable to ride. The autoshift mechanism has worked flawlessly for me. I live too far from work for commuting, but the bike serves me well for the purpose I bought it: a fun, easy to ride bike for getting me to Blockbuster, the post office, small amounts of groceries (I mounted a basket on the back) and general exercise. The only problem I have is that after having ridden my bike for the past year, I am getting into the hobby end of cycling and am now looking for an urban/commuter/comfort bike for longer rides of more than just leisure or errand running. Even though I’ll be buying another bike soon, will I put my Lime on the shelf? Not a chance. It’s simply too much fun to hop on it and cruise around town on a lazy ride. When life hands you a Lime, make limeade.

  18. Paul

    I’m also a commuter cyclist who bought a Trek Lime and much to my own surprise, it has become one of my favorite bikes to ride! I have a “fleet” of bikes, all multi-speeds with hand brakes and hoping on the Lime is refreshingly simple to me… it slows my pace down enough that I don’t work up too much of a sweat getting where I need to go, a very important “feature” as it’s 105 degrees outside today in Austin. I originally bought the bike as a “buddy” bike for me noncycling friends and family to ride while they visit me since I have gone carfree since 2006. I did get the Lime for a song, $200! Since then, I picked up the K2 Easy Roller for $270 at REI, too. I love ’em both!

  19. Reid Welch

    Am a middle-aged, not fat or stupid, e-biker at core.
    What I needed: a second bike, for when my self-built e-bike is under water (it is submarine capable), or when I’ve crashed it by my wild riding style; a back-up bike for vitally needed minor exercise. SEE, please, the link for my ongoing LIME review, dissection? I like this bike just fine so far. It is beautiful, simple, and promising to be lots of fun for this biker. I like clean and simple: the Lime is super clean and simple looking, and not boring-looking as a plain cruiser. Hub caps on a bike! Chrome or covered! Cool! Read my linked threads, please, at your leisure?

  20. American born

    iI just picked up a Lime st the local bike shop for $250. I too followed the introduction of the bike but passed on the $500 price tag. Great cruiser for around campgrounds and college campus. I think the original price killed this bike. Alot of baby boomers used to back pedalling brakes love this bike. The technology is tremendous but Trek priced the bikr out of the market. Too bad, it really is a great bike!

  21. Pingback: Trek’s Lime bicycle bucks bad reviews to become People’s choice at Design Awards | Design2o

  22. Larry

    My Trek Lime arrived in its’ box today. I bought it on eBay for $199. I was the only bidder. The components alone are worth the price. Looking forward to putting it together and riding.

  23. Larry

    By the way, Park Tool has a great web site about maintenance and repair of the “Cruising” system.

  24. Larry

    Sorry, “Coasting” system

  25. Larry

    The Trek Lime uses a front dynamo which puts out 6 volts 2.4 watts. I am thinking about converting the auto shift to manual and using the front hub to power a headlight. I don’t know if the autoshift unit would work properly with the added electrical load of a headlight but I may experiment. If it does not work correctly I could switch it to N while I ride with the headlight on, or replace the auto unit with a manual shifter.

  26. Larry

    Well today I rode my Lime for the first time. I set the autoshift in the middle position. Guess what…. I really liked it. I may try a click to the left, counterclockwise, to speed up the shifting, but overall I really liked the riding experience. I think it will make a great commuter bike for me. I had to think about not peddling backwards because several times I applied the brakes without wanting to but that improved toward the end of the ride.

  27. Kathy

    I just bought a Trek Lime Lite and love it. The seat is comfortable and riding is more much relaxing when I don’t have to deal with the shifting. It was a good price as it is last year’s model, and was the last one in town that was my size. I love it!

  28. Jeff

    As a cyclist who who has ridden everything from a Schwinn Sting Ray from the 1960’s to a Giraffe (elevated unicycle with high seat) to today’s commuter hybrids, I have to say I am very pleased with the Lime that I purchased the other day. I agree that it does have it’s pros and cons. It cruises like a dream and the auto shifting is pretty cool. Even though I do agree with the input that I read about it shifting at inopportune times. (sometimes it downshifts a bit late going up a hill, leaving the rider to stand up and struggle a bit more to get up a hill), I take this in stride because I just use it as a casual, slow riding bike. I don’t mind walking it up a steep hill if necessary because it’s not the bike that I use for my commutes back and forth to work and I don’t take it on long rides. If you think of it as just a casual bike, I think it’s well worth the money even at $500 to $600. I was fortunate enough to get it at what is probably cost- $259.00. The black model. I’m excited to do my short slow rides on it; but my main concern is how I would ever repair a flat tire and how dependable all that automatic speed sensing and shifting mechanism is going to be in the long run. I doubt that I will attempt to fix the flats myself like I do with some of the other bikes I have owned. I don’t want to mess with those hubs.

    I would be interested to hear feedback from someone who has had one for awhile on it’s dependability and how difficult it may be to try to fix a flat for someone who has never done anything but simple mechanical work on bikes.

  29. Andrew

    I have had two Trek Limes since they came out, for my wife and I. I really love the fact that it shifts automatically and the way the brakes work. I have gotten in better shape recently so I think I will eventually want something more advanced. My only real issues are it not downshifting exactly when it should and the number of gears overall. I just stop pedaling for a second and it will downshift for me. I would certainly pay more to get a bike this this with more gears so I can go uphill easier but it sounds like I am one of the only ones. It was a great concept and it is a great bike. As far as the flat issue goes, I have never had one, I believe the tires are made out of Kevlar.

  30. German

    I was a velodrome/road cyclist for a long time and let me tell you people the Trek Lime is an AWESOME bike. For those who say what’s not to like about shifting gears, well let me remind you most people don’t even know how to wear a helmet and it is clear they are overwhelmed with the 21 gear choices most mountains bikes have.

    So the Lime solved that paradigm, the problem is people think 21 gears is better than 3 gears but the truth is the Lime was perfect for most people, including me and again I used to ride 80-100 kms everyday. In the Trek Lime you just slow your pedaling cadence and the Lime knows it needs an easier gear, want to go faster, pedal accordingly and the Lime shifts to a faster gear (though it does not have gears per se, I can’t figure out how Shimano did it), both my wife and I have a Lime and I can’t think of a better bike to cruise around.

    Sorry to see it go away though.

  31. Lisa

    My Lime is no lemon. I have ridden a Lime to work (when I can) for about 2 years. Rode a bike while a kid, and in college – at a time when “gears” were for rich folks. When I have tried to shift, invariably something goes wrong. With the Lime, I can enjoy my commute, the gears are adequate to help with the hills, and, as observed above, I arrive at work in a condition to cool down and change clothes without needing a shower.

    I’m not right; I’m not young. Not fat, but not ready to model for the bike wear ads. With my garment bag and briefcase over the back of my Lime, a good head and tail light, I’m fixed for many years. West Texas is a good place for Limes!!

  32. chris

    I busted my collar bone last week divebombing a hill on a touring bike and not paying enough attention. No bike in my fleet seems safe to ride for the forseeable future. I was thinking about getting a Lime for my recovery commuter since it possesses that valued flat foot tech the Electras brag about. I cannot drive my car and I am walking to work these days, have no ability to carry groceries home. $250 seems resonable to get me rolling again until I have recovered enough for two handed riding.

  33. john

    Just bought a pair of Limes. One for me and one for the wife. Sale price was $209 each minus the daily rental fee. They took another 15 off per bike. Didnt quite feel comfortable with the auto shift but after a few rides getting used to it. Too early to tell but for the price so far it seems like a decent bike for casual riding.

  34. meg

    I have a Lime. Got it two years ago and LOVE it!! Absolutely would not have anything else. Rides beautifully and have had ZERO problems with it. Paid $500

  35. Patti

    I have a Lime and I love it. I had “autobike” prior to buying this one and I loved it too but unfortunately it was too heavy for me to continue lifting. I had my autobike for over 20 years and never had a bit of trouble with it. I like that the Lime also has foot brakes. I have had my Lime for roughly 5 years and have never had any problems since I purchased it. It was well worth the $500.00 I never could figure out which gear I should be in for the terrain so a bike that shifts gears was just what I wanted. I have been riding bikes for over 40 years and plan to continue as long as I can. The Trek makes it possible for me to continue riding.

  36. Lynn

    I have had my Lime for 2 years and i love it. the only deal is I got mine on sale for $250. for that price it was a great deal. I would not have paid $500 for it. It is not a mountaim bike but it is noce for gradual slopes. I tshifts nice and smooth.

  37. steve reclusado

    I really like my lime. I guess new concept are slow to aquire. I ride with with some pretty heavy traffic that why I chose the lime. not so many things to have to do while riding…

  38. Bruce

    Bought one for my wife back when it first came out and it’s been a great bike. Wife loves the auto shifting, and I even use it when I just want to cruise around and have fun. No maintenance issues so far. If we’re talking about target market, I think it really resonated for people like myself, who were/are enthusiasts, and who understood the value of a lighter, quality bike, not for ourselves, but for other people in our lives who wanted to enjoy our hobby with us, but just found normal bikes with all the gears and stuff too complicated and uncomfortable. Definitely don’t regret making the purchase.

  39. Frank

    Bike runs good. Low maintenace. Forget about getting Lime specific parts. I can’t get the hub caps or the storage seat replaced. Trek is no help in finding repacement parts. They referred me to Shimano and they don’t have the parts. If anything needs to be replaced your pretty much SOL. Do not buy this bike used. Getting replacement parts may be too difficult .

  40. Rich Eubanks

    We bought a men’s and a women’s in 2008 and still love them. Our local dealer, in Ocala, FL, tunes them for us about every other year. If it’s possible, I might convert both to hybrid e-bikes in the near future.

  41. David

    Reading these I know the market for them. The RV community. These bikes are perfect for cruising. RVers have the disposable income to buy them. Light weight for carrying them. We have two but I would buy another one for our granddaughter. She likes ours too.

  42. Mary Lange Kalin

    I have a Trek Lime, the reason, I’m a casual rider and have arthritis in my hands, I can’t change gears or work brakes with my hands. I couldn’t ride with out these features. Everything has a place!

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