Inside Trek – Heritage

A Humble Beginning

In the winter of 1975, two gentlemen met at a dimly lit bar in a classic Wisconsin supper club called The Pine Knoll. As far as Trek's founders, Dick Burke and Bevil Hogg, were concerned, they were simply performing a time-honored ritual of business in Wisconsin where friends and partners met over drinks to hash out the day’s events, plan the future, and debate ideas good and bad. Over a few beers, the men engaged in a deep debate over what to call their fledgling bicycle company. Hogg favored Kestrel, after the bird of prey. Burke preferred Trek because it called forth images of travel and adventure. He must have known there was something remarkable about the word, something that held the promise of longevity and freedom and exploration and quality.

Trek was never just a name. From the beginning, it was a summation of values.

Months later, spring of 1976, in a southern Wisconsin barn located halfway between their homes in Madison and Milwaukee, the pair of visionaries set out to make a business of building bikes of extraordinary artistry. Here, in the geographically convenient town of Waterloo, Dick Burke and Bevil Hogg's dream sparked to life.

There were five employees on the payroll when the barn doors opened in 1976. In its first year, Trek produced 904 touring frames. Steel tubing, lugged and silver-brazed, handcrafted and hand-painted with care.

A culture of craftsmanship and rebellion was fostered in the young American upstart. Every bend and every weld was charged with purpose, as each meticulously constructed frame broke the convention that all great bikes must come from Europe. Trek was out to change minds. At the time, we did not realize our next act would be to change cycling altogether.

40 years later, Trek's headquarters is a mile up the road from the original barn, in a much larger facility. The building we currently occupy has witnessed more bicycle technological progression than any other in history. The engineers and developers housed within its walls remain humble, because we know that the journey we are on is never one that is complete. Today the company is still family-owned and that sense of familial belonging extends throughout all of the employees and every person around the world who rides a Trek bicycle. The Trek Family is not just an idea. And although we have outgrown the barn, every bike we make is a testament to Trek's founding principles.

Relentless Progression

The four decades following our inception have witnessed greater innovation than the previous four hundred. Bicycles have not been immune to this explosion in technological advancement, and Trek has been at the forefront of the movement, continually challenging the limits of the bicycle's capability. Our commitment to relentless innovation while honouring our founding principles to build bikes that we love that we are proud to stand behind has led us to where we are today. But we know that there is so much more that we can do. This world needs the bicycle more today than ever before. And Trek is building a better world through this simple, elegant machine. Come ride with us.

The Driving Park

Eighty years before Trek's founders would make Waterloo, Wisconsin, the home of their new venture, the Waterloo Driving Park Association was formed in the town’s southwest corner. Preceding Henry Ford’s introduction of his first car by two years, “driving” held a different meaning — namely, racing horses and bicycles. Here, Waterloo residents gathered around a dirt track to commune, cheer and test themselves against one another in competition. Humans race for fun, for excitement, for the challenge. Competition is intrinsic to our nature. As long as there have been bicycles there has been bicycle racing. 84 years after the first intrepid cyclists battled on that oval of dirt, Trek broke ground on a new headquarters across the street. Today, Trek overlooks that storied land. The track is no longer there, but human nature remains. Racing has always been what we do.