Trek's Soho bikes -- either the Soho or Soho S singlespeed -- are a commuter's dream. With tons of features, these deceptively simple bikes 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.
Built With Manners and Civilized Style In Mind
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. Plus the mug is nice and heavy too and will make a good dent when you chuck it at somebody's car that buzzed you too close in traffic. (Just kidding - don't do that. Unless you're really ticked.)
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.
Single Speed or Belt-Drive - Durable Components and Easy Maintenance
Trek has two Soho models. The Soho S ($599) is a straight-forward single-speed bike, built with simplicity in mind. The higher-end 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." Belt drives are quieter 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 S single speed has alloy dual pivot brakes while the higher end 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 S comes with basic Bontrager Race Lite puncture-resistant tires.
Both Soho models offer a comfortable, upright riding position married to a balanced, centered feeling where you feel stable and steady, able to handle a variety of terrains and maneuvers in confidence and ease.
Other Things You'll Like
Both of Trek's Soho models are 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 S features the Bontrager Select City saddle with abrasion resistant side panels and a shoulder carrying pad located under the seat so that you can sling the bike up on your shoulder for easy carrying up flights of stairs or through other areas where you can't ride.
Also, the paint scheme on these bikes is a simple yet elegant black or gray finish that looks classy but isn't likely to catch the attention of bike thieves eyeing a line of bikes in a rack.
Soho S vs. Soho
So you might now be wondering, should I get the cheaper Soho S or go higher end for the Trek Soho? It's a $599 purchase for the one vs. $989 price for the other.
In truth, this is not a question at all, as these are two very different bikes. You should get the Soho S if you want a single speed bike. This is a pretty unique ride, stripped down, no gearing, just a basic bike for buzzing around.
The higher-end Soho is the true commuter bike in this pair, the one that 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.