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Trek Soho Review

Great Urban Bike

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating
User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

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Trek Soho Bike

Trek's Soho bike has an eight speed internal hub and brakes, a light aluminum frame and a ton of features for commuters and urban riders.

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 Soho S Bike

Trek's Soho S bike is their single-speed, stripped down version of the higher end Soho.

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

Bontrager Select City saddle

The Bontrager Select City Saddle used on the Soho S has abrasion-resistant side panels and a pad underneath the seat for throwing the bike up on your shoulder and carrying it up steps and other places you can't ride.

Eric Charnholm

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.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
3500 miles on Trek Soho S 2010, Member commuterdave

Trek Soho 2010 review – 20 months daily use I have a flat daily commute of 5 miles each way that I ride all year round. I was looking for a bike for the commute that would be comfortable and weatherproof as the narrow tyre cheap mountain bike I used needed continual fettling in the winter to keep it running reliably. I was attracted to the Soho primarily as it promised lower maintenance and should be a better commuting proposition over the current incumbent. I also liked the idea of no chain and no deraillier gears, plus it looks techy. Below is 12 months with the bike covering 2000 + miles. Initial impressions were the belt drive and gears did not seem unduly draggy, and time has shown it is a much quicker bike that the mountain bike which runs on 1.5 inch smooth tyres. One initial irritation was the bike appeared to have a noisy bottom bracket which was sorted by Southdown Bikes when I returned it for the 8 week service. On return the bottom bracket was quiet but after 3 miles or so I then noticed a creaking start. After much hunting I tracked this down to the hub area, running the pedals backwards you could see the belt wasn’t sitting evenly in the sprocket which may have been the noise source, although I think it was the hub itself. Southdown Bikes had a look and swapped the rear wheel complete with sprocket and hub. That sorted the noise and the belt seating issue. Once that noise was removed the bike was quiet for a few months. Gradually I noticed over bumps the hub brakes started to rattle. If you applied the brakes slightly, no rattle. By adjusting the brake to just not dragging the rattle stops. After 11 months the rear hub failed completely, I got no drive in any gear, much like a free hub failing. Back to Southdown Bikes who again changed the rear wheel free of charge. Interestingly the new wheel has a rattle free rear brake with lots of travel. So maybe the rattle comes with time. Indeed it did as after 1500 miles it is back rattling unless the lever is adjusted to almost no travel. Other observations good The belt drive is great, just works, is clean and has given no trouble. The hub gears are very good, slick changes, cables don’t stretch. The gear spacing seems much like a derailleur set up and is certainly adequate for my flat commute. The ride position is good. The mud guards are very good; keep me and the bike clean. The bike is a constant source of questions and interest from people. The brakes are consistent in the wet or dry Other observations not so good The grips are not very comfortable, I have changed them. The brakes are very weak, worse than the mountain bike V brakes. I have got used to applying the extra pressure required and using both brakes to stop. The saddle is a bit uncomfortable but not enough to warrant changing it yet. I can catch my leading size 10 foot on the front wheel if manoeuvring at very low speeds. I had to true the front wheel, but I do bump up and down kerbs so probably self inflicted damage. The belt drive has a cover which has a V shaped protrusion that ripped my over trousers nicely. I think I will remove it. Fixing a rear wheel puncture is very tedious… see below I have had two rear wheel punctures. Changing the rear wheel obviously requires a spanner for the wheel nuts however it also requires a Philips screwdriver and 10mm spanner for the rear brake reaction bar. Why the rear bar doesn’t follow the front wheel system which doesn’t need tools is a mystery to me. The gear cable drops into a slot, but it is very fiddly to fit, in the cold weather I am not sure I could fit it. One other observation, I normally perform my own maintenance on bikes, but so far the hub gears and brakes are an area of mystery I have left to Southdown bikes. So after 2000 miles or so, would I buy the bike again if I knew what I know now? Strangely given the above problems, I would. The benefits of no chain to oil, no derailleur to oil and adjust, no brakes to adjust and change and the cleanliness all outweigh the disadvantages. I think belt drive, hub gears and hub brakes are the future. Interestingly the latest version of the Soho uses a mechanical disc brake, would solve the braking issue, not sure how reliable a mechanical set up is versus a hydraulic. Going back the mountain bike, a derailleur seems very crude, I always get oily riding it and I have to keep fiddling and oiling to keep it running reliably. Update after 20 months use 3500 miles Changed the tyres to Schwalbe Marathon plus as a puncture every on average 3 month was too much. Had the rear brake fail last week, which turned out to be the nut holding on the brake to the hub had loosened so much the brake was not engaging with the hub splines. Tightening it up fixed the fault. Scary though! Interestingly the bike is quieter now so I think the rear wheel was slightly out of line with the loose brake. I have finally changed the front brake to the IM70 version from the fitted IM50. This is a drop in replacement although a new brake cable is required. Initial impressions are nice to have a proper brake! Might change the rear too if it will drop in. Have bought the hub service oil dipping kit as 3 shops have said they either do not service the hub gear or haven’t got the kit. The positives are still true gear change and belt run perfectly, bike still stays clean in all weathers.

92 out of 92 people found this helpful.

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