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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-06-11, 12:33 PM   #1
rohaco13
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Is Trek Soho DLX the right bike for my commute?

I am a road cyclist who usually rides 75 to 100 miles per week (finally I'm off the trainer and back on the road) on my Specialized Rubaix...decided to make getting to work part of my normal weekly rides and am looking for a commuter bike to cover 12 miles each way with panniers for the laptop, change of clothing etc...

The ride has a couple of fairly hefty hills on the end nearest my house...I want to make the ride in less than an hour...yes I understand the will depend on me primarily...I normally train on my road bike at about 17mph, including the rolling hills of PA....

I really like the low maintenance of the 8 speed Shimano Alfine gear set, disc brakes and carbon belt drive on the Soho DLX....don't know if the gearing and bike will be a good choice for my needs...the local Trek store does not carry the bike in stock, so to see it or try it, I have to buy it...

My second choice would be a Specialized Sirrius, with disc brakes, fenders and racks...but I really like the functional Urban cool looks of the Soho DLX better...

Please share your opinion on this topic....greatly appreciated....
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Old 03-06-11, 12:43 PM   #2
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Based on your needs the Trek would be fine ...

Take a look at this thread for a detailed evaluation:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-Drive-is-here!

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Old 03-06-11, 01:06 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response....how far is your commute and any experience with the Soho vs a drop handle race bike in terms of speed?
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Old 03-06-11, 01:18 PM   #4
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Sweet choice, you glorious bastard! I was eyeing that one myself but unfortunately they don't import it here (got a German Cube instead). The only reservation I would have is the drum brake in the rear. Hopefully someone with experience can chime in. The only other reservation is the obvious one with a cutting edge bike that repairs could be expensive. Probably not a problem in the states where they're more accustomed to the latest kit. Although I've only a month of experience with the Alfine 8 I think that it would be more than sufficient for most commuters even with a few steep hills. The lowest gear feels is no more effort than walking with my loaded bike. The highest gear gets me over 20mph. Changing gears is buttery smooth with the benefits of shifting after a sudden stop or at the lights. Good luck on your decision!
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Old 03-06-11, 01:38 PM   #5
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Seems Trek fixed the drum concern with a disc on the 11' model...took a look at your cube...sweet bike...
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Old 03-06-11, 05:03 PM   #6
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Since your used to drops, you could take a look at what Civia has to offer.
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Old 03-06-11, 05:30 PM   #7
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Hi, I have a 13-mile-each way commute with a couple of hills and should be able to provide some insight since I've had a Trek Soho for the past year. I've put about 2,000 miles on it so far. It's a cool bike in many ways, and the DLX fixes two of its major flaws (discs in front, and a carbon fork to smooth out the ride). But I am still lukewarm on it overall.

I think is the perfect commuting bike "in theory." In theory it should require no maintenance, and much of the time it doesn't thanks to the belt drive, internal brakes and gears. But heaven help you if anything goes wrong with it. Rear flat? Compared to a derailleur bike it's an ordeal to remove the rear wheel and swap a tube (I'd try patching first). Took me two hours (with help) the first time I did it, and I messed up the belt tension. No I'm not the world's greatest mechanic but changing a tire shouldn't be such a pain. I live in fear of flats with this bike (though luckily, I haven't had many of them).

Also, I found myself unable to figure out how to tension the belt properly and ended up paying the LBS to do that. Even after they tensioned it, if I pedal hard it still "pops". Of course that may be more of an IGH problem, which brings me to the IGH. Again, in theory it is wonderful but in practice I've had to take it in twice for a not-free "oil bath" to get it to function properly. Moreover, the range of the Nexus is weak for big hills - I have a couple as well - and the spacing between 5 and 6 is way too big. I frequently found myself spinning in 5th just so I wouldn't have to make the big jump to 6th.

The last thing is that it's just a slow bike. My commute is 50 minutes on my road bike, 52 on my folder, and 57 on the Soho. Yes, you read that right, my folder is faster than the Soho. Considerably. The brakes, IGH, and frame are all heavy and when you load commuting gear on top of that it's a real tank.

Also, I hate the grips and had to spend $$ to upgrade them. My fingers are much less sore now.

Lastly, I should point out that the Soho uses the Nexus IGH *not* the Alfine. THat is why it still has drum brakes in back. It's also not the "red band" version of the Nexus but the standard one. I hear that the Alfine is an improvement over the Nexus but haven't tested it myself.

Btw, the drum brakes suck rocks and this is one of the reasons I rarely use the bike anymore. THe rear brake is at most useful for controlling your descent on a hill, but it's useless for stopping. My v-brakes are better, even in the rain. Of course the DLX has a disc in front, but you still have the drum brake in back.

Good luck with your decision. If I had to do it over again I would get a cross bike with disc brakes like the Motobecane Outlaw. That said, I am very very happy with my Xootr Swift folding bike. Don't know where you are in PA, but if you are anywhere near PHiladelphia or Scranton you owe it to yourself to look at a Xootr Swift. It is just such an amazing bike
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Old 03-06-11, 09:30 PM   #8
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Mtalinm brings up some good points of concern but Im much more upbeat about the Soho. I've got about 7000-8000 miles through 6 seasons (18 months) on a commute that runs 17-25 each way.

24 miles a day should be no problem with the Soho but fair warning that Soho's lowest speed will not keep you in the saddle with full Panniers for steep hills. (At least not at my weight, with my normal bike load, and slow tires)

I've had to change a few flats and found them to be slightly more annoying than normal if you have the correct tools. 1/2 hour first one, 20 minutes the second but the biggest problem was the weather. You need to carry a 15 mm wrench like any IGH rider would have, and two small wrenches (Or wrench and screwdriver) to take off the back brake link if you want to replace the tube.

Relying on tube patching without removing the wheel is nice, but I always seem to double hole the tube or hole it in the worst location that requires a tube change. The stock tires are only good for about 1000 miles rear, 2000 miles front so then switch the known commuter tires that wear properly such Marathon Pus, or Armadillo, or Ultra Gators. Make sure you size them to fit the fender. Personally I am using a Continental Travel Contact in the back but its a bit too wide/big plus with thick inner tubes its a bit heavy. The Panaracer Tserve in front is also a slow tire. Next set I'll be going to the standards and try to ride without the thick tubes. Maybe a Crossroads Armadillo if my path riding increases.

As to tension, there is a device you can buy that checks the tension and works great. After a few checks with the gauge you can get awfully close by feel with your fingers. The gauge is a bit expensive but I had early issues with tension so felt better knowing the tension was correct.

As to the drum brakes - well, they are what they are. If you keep them well lubricated with the Shimano Black grease they are very low maintenance. I lubricated them within a week of ownership which suggests that you should check them on day one. Personally, I've commuted on 3 types of low end brakes and found the drum brakes give me the least hassle with the best wear.

If I could turn the clock back, Id definitely buy the exact bike again. But today, Id be trying to buying a similar setup with the Alfine 11 IGH. It may take another year before the Alfine 11 goes mainstream, though.

Edit: I guess I should say I am really sold on the belt drive. I will be the first to admit that there are issues, but there are plenty of places you can read bout the pros and the cons so I wont belabor em. If you dont go with the Soho, or Trek, and your price range is $1000-$2000 do yourself a favor and look at a variety of belt drive bikes.

Last edited by soho2009; 03-06-11 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 03-06-11, 09:44 PM   #9
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soho2009 makes a good point, the stock tires are pretty weak. my rear tire wore out after about 750 miles (though I'm heavy, so that may have contributed). also, despite many adjustments I couldn't get the rear tire to stop rubbing against the fenders. so I put 28s on as replacements, and they have been fine (and more punctureproof). if you buy this bike I would beg your LBS to put a punctureproof tire on the back so you don't have to worry about it.

glad you had a better experience than I did. i came pretty close to selling mine though I figure it was worth keeping around for show.
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Old 03-06-11, 10:00 PM   #10
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I like how the Soho looks as well, but for $1200+ it is pricey. I too would look to other manufacturers for something with at least an Alfine IGH if you are thinking of spending close/over $1000. What brands do the dealers around you carry? Would you consider mail order considering you would have to buy the Soho blind anyway?
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Old 03-07-11, 05:16 AM   #11
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The Alfine 11 IGH would be my first choice for the bike, local shops don't seem to carry much in the way of belt drive except the main-stream big brands....yes, I would consider mail order....what are you thinking..do you know a shop that either carries a brand the has the Alfine 11 or would build a bike up to my needs....I have ridden many different geometries over the years and I'm not too picky as long as the fit is right and I do basically know what measurements work and don't work....

Thanks,
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Old 03-08-11, 06:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rohaco13 View Post
The Alfine 11 IGH would be my first choice for the bike, local shops don't seem to carry much in the way of belt drive except the main-stream big brands....yes, I would consider mail order....what are you thinking..do you know a shop that either carries a brand the has the Alfine 11 or would build a bike up to my needs....I have ridden many different geometries over the years and I'm not too picky as long as the fit is right and I do basically know what measurements work and don't work....

Thanks,

Funny thing - The least expensive way to get a belt drive bike with Alfine 11 is probably to work over a Trek dealer with an inventory of last year's Soho's and then purchase an Alfine 11 with coupons discounts. That would put you in the $1600 dollar range.
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Old 03-08-11, 05:34 PM   #13
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I have been commuting on my 2011 soho dlx since December. So far I love it. My commute is 7.5 miles each way. Florida is flat as a pancake, so not much in the way of hills. So far, it has been pretty maintenance free. I had to tension the belt once but it was pretty easy. It looks easier on the 2011 than the older models. I haven't had to change a flat yet, but I added the required tools into my bag. I have an Ortlieb downtowner pannier and it mounts great on the Bontrager rack.
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Old 03-08-11, 08:12 PM   #14
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The 2011 Soho DLX looks like an awesome commuter bike. I'm glad they put disc brakes on it. The brakes on the 2010 (not DLX) I test rode weren't very good. Even so, I liked it quite a bit. The belt drive is cool. But then found a new 2009 Giant Seek 1 with Shimano Alfine 8 IGH and discs both front and back for several hundred less, so I bought it instead.

I'd worry about buying a bike I hadn't ridden though. Even with glowing testimonials from others, it's hard to know how well it would fit you or how well you'd like it until you try it yourself.
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Old 03-09-11, 07:12 PM   #15
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harrv, took a look at the 2011 Giant Speed "0" same config as you listed...very nice, except the price has gone up to about the same as the Soho DLX, but you do get the Alphine vs the Nexus, big difference from my perspective..more important than not have the Gates Belt drive for me....i'll go check it out at a local shop this weekend, thanks for the recommendation...by the way, how many miles each way in your commute?
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Old 03-14-11, 02:10 AM   #16
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My commute is half yours--6 miles each way. I'm still getting used to riding after not riding at all for almost 30 years. But after a few times out I'm up to 11 or 12 miles pretty easily, but so far carrying nothing. I'm still waiting for the fenders and rack to arrive by mail (the Giant Seek line doesn't come with them).
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