Sunday, February 1, 2009

Trek's Soho - First Review

The Soho will be available in March, but we got a chance to check the bike out...

Trek's Soho is a great commuter bike for the hills here in North County San Diego. With tons of features, these deceptively simple bike are still somehow chock full of the little touches that add up to the top bike on the market today for those urban riders who use their bike for getting around town.

Almost inch by inch up and down this bike, Trek's engineers have built a number of commuter specific items into the Soho to make this ride both comfortable and practical for getting you around town.

The first and most obvious touch is almost a comedic one to show you're a serious commuter. What is it? A coffee cup, of course! You need your joe in the morning, and so with the Soho bike you can get a stainless steel commuter coffee mug designed specifically for it that goes in your watter bottle cage complete with Soho label. The mug itself is a high-quality insulated container that is self-sealing to keep dirt out and your drink hot or cold for a long time.

Another brilliant and highly visible design element are long rubber bumpers implanted in either side of the top tube. The people at Trek who put these in are people who know the reality of riding in an urban environment. These strips, in addition to just looking cool, serve as a cushion when you lean your bike up against stuff, keeping your bike free from dents and dings in the paint. Also, if you've used a sign or another type of post as a bike rack, you know it's easy for your bike to slide and scoot forward and flop over. The rubber bumper helps keeps the bike in place because it's a better gripper than bare metal.

Belt-Drive - Durable Components and Easy Maintenance

The Soho ($989) has an intriguing belt drive set-up paired with the internal gearing of the 8-speed Shimano Nexus 8 rear hub. Using a Gates C-Drive carbon composite belt, Trek bills it as "brutally tough yet cleaner than any chain you’ve ever owned." The Belt drive is super quiet and easier to maintain that traditional chains, and the range of gearing will allow you conquer the steepest hills as well as max your pedaling for all-out speed on the flats.

The Soho uses an internal Shimano IM50 roller brake, again contained in the hubs, making maintenance a snap as your brake parts aren't continually subjected to dirt and moisture. Bontrager Hardcase tires with integrated reflective sidewall comes standard for safer night riding on the Soho; matching fenders are another nice plus for people who have to count on their bike to get them around in all types of weather.

The Soho is built on a lightweight Alpha Black Aluminum frame with built-in dropouts that allow mounting of a rack and fenders without special mounting hardware.

The Soho is the true commuter bike, it is going to appeal to most people who are thinking about the decision to buy a bike like this much as they would analyze a potential new car purchase. What kind of features does it have, and what do I need? The Soho has all sorts of terrific features that will appeal to commuters and urban riders for their true convenience and benefit they offer. Despite the fact that the nearly thousand dollar price tag is going to be a deterrent to many cyclists, the fact is that the Trek Soho is a great value at this price point given the innovative engineering built into it. The cutting edge belt drive and internal hub and brake system should save you a lot on maintenance, repair and replacement over the years, even with everyday riding in all sorts of elements.


  1. Sounds like a great bike. I am surprised that they have chosen not to integrate a good LED light and generator into the bike.

  2. Too bad the hub isn't Alfine... for the price it really should be! It this had Alfine with hydraulic disc brakes I'd be sold!

  3. I've had this bike for one week... I ride about 20 urban miles a day. The brakes require more pressure than I was use to but I have adapted. The shifting is fairly precise but misses occasionally. It may be my technique which needs tweaking. The carbon drive is smooth most of the time. Occasionally I can feel the belt vibrate. So far I've had a blast on this bike and look forward to every ride.

  4. The original soho 4.0 version had the alfine hub but it appears to me that they switched to the nexus 8 because it is a more heavy duty unit. I could be wrong it might be the cost but it appeared to me to be the case.

  5. I have had this bike for 6 weeks now and am sorely disappointed.
    I now see why the put a coffee cup on it, to attract inexperienced cyclists. Any serious cyclist who rides daily will soon realise this is a poorly specced bike. The hub gears are forever playing up as the belt stretches and the brakes are quite frankly dangerous (there should be some law passed on such inefficient brakes being sold)The design of the bike allows no room for manouevre with no disc brake mounts or even v brake mounts so you'll always be stuck with bad components. For 800 pounds I expected better and feel a complete fool for allowing myself to be seduced by the name TREK.