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  1. #1
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    2011 Trek Soho DLX (The Belt Drive One)

    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...o/soho_deluxe#

    Hi everyone. I find myself continually going back to this as an option for commuting through Phoenix. I love (at least the idea of) the belt drive, IGH, flat bars, and included fenders/rack. Plus the front disc brake would surely help get through the mid-summer monsoon season that can often result in some pretty nasty monsoons. I know it is pricey, but seems like it was designed very well. I have a 4 miles each way ride if taking the bus, about 14 miles if riding all the way in to work. Anyone ride one of these? Unfortunately I haven't been able to test ride one yet, but would like to very soon. Happy trails!

  2. #2
    I ride bikes! UptownJoe60640's Avatar
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    Looks okay, I guess, but I would spend my money (and less of it) on another bike. I think bikes like these are designed for people who want to get into biking, they do not know anything about bikes (therefore they do not know any better), and the Trek name helps seal the deal. I would look at another bike but that is just me. Also, disc brakes are not going to give you any more stopping power. They are over prised and geared toward looks rather than real life benefit. Some will disagree with me on the disc breaks but I have ridden bikes with disc brakes and they do not stop any faster or better than any other breaking system. I think you would be just as happy with a $500.00 bike, purchase lights, frame pump, tire levers and extra tubes, a good lock and have some cash left over to go out and get something that isn't bike related or bike related if you want. That would be up to you. Just my opinion.
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  3. #3
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Now that you've heard from the Devil's Advocate, how about hearing some real-world experience? I resent the suggestion that I do not know anything about bikes. I have a garage full of them and I do all of my own maintenance. I bought my belt-drive bike after a year's worth of careful research, and the Soho was on my short list.

    The bike I decided on is a 2010 Norco Ceres. Very similar to the DLX in that it has belt drive, IGH, flat bars, and disc brakes. I commute through 4 seasons (which up here means ice & snow in the winter). The belt drive, IGH, and disc brakes were a godsend during the last winter's commute. No more frozen dérailleurs, iced-up cassettes, worn rims from grit-laden brake shoes, and best of all... no chain to clean! After the season was over I just hosed the bike off and wiped it down. Virtually zero maintenance all winter!

    Don't let the naysayers drag you down. Test ride the Soho. If you love it, get it! You may not see extremes of weather that we experience here in the Great White North, but you'll never have to worry about cleaning your drivetrain after riding through the rain, or worry that your brakes won't perform as well when wet. I'm all for saving a few bucks, so do what I did: Wait for the next year's model to become available and get a smokin' hot deal on last year's version!

    Last edited by irclean; 05-14-11 at 12:33 AM.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  4. #4
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    If you ride it then it's worth it. I'm looking at the Soho 7spd myself. I like the concept of belt drive but just don't want to pay the price and there is no way I would ride in the snow. I checked one out at my LBS and one thing for sure is you can't go wrong with it. While it's true a $500 bike would probably work for you, hey I'm doing well with a $300 ride, it's nice getting what you want and not what your budget or inner tightwad demands. Let us know if you get it.

  5. #5
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    I think it is an intriguing set up. I didn't see what it cost, and I don't know what it weighs, but I'm not in the market for another bike anyway. You can get by with less in a flat area like Phoenix, but if you like it and it fits you and your needs, go for it.

    OP, if you get it, I would like to hear a review. Like I said, I'm intrigued, even though I can't explain why.
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  6. #6
    I ride bikes! UptownJoe60640's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irclean View Post

    Don't let the naysayers drag you down. Test ride the Soho. If you love it, get it!
    That first statement could also be used against the bike. Just because others recommend it doesn't mean it's the best option. I will agree with you about one thing; If you love it, get it. The only thing that matters is you like the bike and are happy about your purchase. Remember, you are the one riding it. Not me or anyone else on this forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by irclean
    I'm all for saving a few bucks, so do what I did: Wait for the next year's model to become available and get a smokin' hot deal on last year's version!
    I think this is great advice. If you can wait, most people will not wait, get it when the new ones come out and you can save a bunch sometimes on last years model. But, that doesn't mean you will buy next years model. You might like the new one and it might cost even more. My advice is still a cheaper bike, all the accessories you want like lights, lock, tubes, tire levers and stuff like that. What happens if you spend $1,000.00 - $1,200.00 on this bike, ride it two months and never pick it up again? If you know you will ride the bike, you love the bike compared to others, you've actually ridden the bike and you want to dish out the dough for it.... go for it! My advice still stands and I think you would be just as happy. Enjoy riding either way.
    Last edited by UptownJoe60640; 05-14-11 at 07:59 AM.
    What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. - Christopher Hitchens

  7. #7
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    I have one bike with disc brakes and two without. When I ride one of the two without (one is cantilever, one side-pull) I notice how much less braking power there is, especially in the rain. (Oh, and I'm 52 and have been riding since my teens, so I'm hardly someone who is just getting into cycling.)
    The Soho and bikes like it are great for everyday all year 'round practical riding. I wish they made a mixte version. That would be the one extra practical feature that would get me to trade in my very similar Rocky Mountain Metropolis.

  8. #8
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    I'll let you know in about 7 days, when I'll be taking delivery of one.

  9. #9
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    I love mine. I bought it in November of last year. I ride it most every day. I have 1,100 miles on it and haven't looked back. When it rains, I just hose it off and it looks like new again. So far, I have put 0 maintenace into it. The new disc brake is very adequate. The only complaint I have had is the cheap-ass coffee cup that comes with it. Btw, I have 4 bikes, so am am not a newb. I have been commuting for the last 7 years.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by UptownJoe60640 View Post
    Looks okay, I guess, but I would spend my money (and less of it) on another bike. I think bikes like these are designed for people who want to get into biking, they do not know anything about bikes (therefore they do not know any better), and the Trek name helps seal the deal. I would look at another bike but that is just me. Also, disc brakes are not going to give you any more stopping power. They are over prised and geared toward looks rather than real life benefit. Some will disagree with me on the disc breaks but I have ridden bikes with disc brakes and they do not stop any faster or better than any other breaking system.I think you would be just as happy with a $500.00 bike, purchase lights, frame pump, tire levers and extra tubes, a good lock and have some cash left over to go out and get something that isn't bike related or bike related if you want. That would be up to you. Just my opinion.
    This is incorrect. The advantage of disc brakes is there is no wear on the sidewalls of the rims. Also, on a loaded bike going downhill and working the brakes to control one's rate of decent it is possible to heat the rim to the point wear it will cause a blowout. My next commuting/utility/touring bike will definately have disc brakes.

  11. #11
    I ride bikes! UptownJoe60640's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
    This is incorrect. The advantage of disc brakes is there is no wear on the sidewalls of the rims. Also, on a loaded bike going downhill and working the brakes to control one's rate of decent it is possible to heat the rim to the point wear it will cause a blowout. My next commuting/utility/touring bike will definately have disc brakes.
    What made you think he would be carrying heavy loads down hill? Not once did he mention he would be carrying heavy loads down any hills! For the purpose of riding in Phoenix, in a mostly flat topography, even in rain, I see no added benefit to adding disc brakes to a commuter. Unless he states he plans on carrying heavy loads, which i doubt he will, I stand by my statement of there are no added benefits to disc brakes.
    What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. - Christopher Hitchens

  12. #12
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Since disc brakes are preferable in wet conditions (by most people), I have another question: what about in sandy conditions? I mean, wouldn't sand become embedded in brake pads and grind down the braking surface that much faster? If so, then I'd imagine that discs would be a wise choice...
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  13. #13
    I ride bikes! UptownJoe60640's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Since disc brakes are preferable in wet conditions (by most people), I have another question: what about in sandy conditions? I mean, wouldn't sand become embedded in brake pads and grind down the braking surface that much faster? If so, then I'd imagine that discs would be a wise choice...
    I ride in "sandy conditions" all the time by the lake and I have never noticed a decrease in stopping power after riding over sand. I have literally stayed all day at the beach and rode my bike all over sand for hours. I would leave the beach and most times head towards the city streets and continue on riding. Never once have I noticed a decrease in stopping power or the life of the pads or wheels. Now, the chain is a different story. I normally clean the chain and re-lube if I stay at the beach for a while. I will continue to use regular pads on my bikes because I see no added benefit to riding with disc brakes.



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    What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. - Christopher Hitchens

  14. #14
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    Well here she is.

    I basically did my commute (not a work day but the LBS is a block from work) plus about a mile or two extra for good measure. That's about 15 miles of riding so far.

    First impressions, and this is coming from a Liquid 25, which was a monster SUV of a mountain bike:
    1) It's light! (Lighter than the Liquid, anyway.) Steering was was far more responsive. She flicks really nicely.
    2) Faster. Definitely faster. I was the fastest guy on the MUP. Even with the headwind I was zipping right along. I need to put my speedo on to see just how much faster.
    3) The 8-speed hub was fine for my ride. There's one uphill and first gear was nice and easy. I was following a guy on a mountain bike and having no issues. I never needed the top 2 or 3 gears on the flats, but I can see using them on downhills. My ride TO work includes a more serious climb so I'll get a better feel for that on Monday.
    4) Brakes: Rear drum was anemic compared to the hydraulic disk on my Liquid. Not a surprise. Okay for bleeding some speed. Front disk is required for real-world use. All around, braking was good though. No complaints.

    So that's about it for now. If anything happens, bad or otherwise, I'll post. Oh yeah, there was one thing I decided I need: Toe clips.

    trek_belt.jpgtrek_rider.jpgtrek_bike.jpg

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    Great that you like that. I have a 3 speed with drums and they improve over time, never as grabby as V Brakes but will stop fine, you just have to be careful until they're broke in. That can be spooky with drums front and rear.
    Have you tried out removing the rear wheel yet. It looks like it would be time consuming though not overly complicated.

  16. #16
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    The LBS told me to just bring the bike in if I need to take the rear wheel off. Not helpful if I'm somewhere far from the LBS. I do need to look at how to do it before I go on rides where calling for a lift isn't an option. Apparently there's a c-clamp that people don't know they need to remove. Somewhere.

    I put all my commute stuff on and did a little 10 mile ride today. I found I could squeeze the rear drum harder and it was more effective. It will never be a disk, but it does work better with more force.

    Also, I read in the manual that I don't need to pedal to shift. How cool is that? It will take some getting used-to. For example, if I want to, I can go down a hill in top gear, stop, and just flick down to 1st. Upshifting is the same, but they warned to avoid shifting under load. I avoid doing that on any bicycle, so it's not a big deal.

    I realized coasting is a bit different. It's so quiet! No ticking. Just the whirring tires.

    Looking at the bike right now, I discovered I used a white wire tie for the cyclocomputer wire, and it happens to line up with the tire's reflective sidewall so the wire tie sort of blends in. Winning!

  17. #17
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Congrats on the new ride! Although the Trek's setup differs from my Norco, wheel removal should become a non-issue once you've done it a few times. Get your LBS to show you once, and then practice at home. Honestly it only requires an extra step or two.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  18. #18
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    I agree. I was gazing lovingly at it last night. Still in the honeymoon period. The brake side I've figured out. The gear side I haven't. It looks like there's a clip or something, connected to the cable, that has to unsnap from the hub. I will get the bike shop to demonstrate.

    I also see how to remove the belt, but the wheel has to come off first.

  19. #19
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    I have a 2009 Trek Soho, which is pretty much the same bike except it has drum brakes front and back and no carbon fork.

    In my experience it is a great bike "in theory" but not so much in practice. I find that the IGH / belt drive combo just doesn't have the same power transfer as any of my derailleur bikes. And although "in theory" it's less maintenance, heaven help you if you get a rear-wheel flat or if the belt needs tensioning or the IGH starts acting up. I've had my Soho in the shop so many times that it has been more trouble than it was worth. Sounds like some of you have had better luck than me...

    And the brakes suck rocks. They are worse than rim brakes, even in the rain. I hear the DLX replaced the front brake with a disc, which would be a major improvement. Good luck if you decide to do it, but proceed with your eyes open...

    Personally I would take the $1200 or whatever they are overcharging these days and pick up a Specialized Secteur or something like that. No disc brakes but just get yourself some salmon KoolStop pads and you'll be in good shape.
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  20. #20
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vtjim View Post
    I agree. I was gazing lovingly at it last night. Still in the honeymoon period. The brake side I've figured out. The gear side I haven't. It looks like there's a clip or something, connected to the cable, that has to unsnap from the hub. I will get the bike shop to demonstrate.

    I also see how to remove the belt, but the wheel has to come off first.
    Here's a great video; follow it step by step and it eventually becomes intuitive. Although the clip is 8 minutes long, it's just because the creator goes takes his time and goes into great detail. Once you've mastered it the process is no more difficult than removing any other non-QR wheel:

    Gettin' my Fred on.

  21. #21
    Senior Member mtalinm's Avatar
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    wish i could agree ... i never found this intuitive, especially with the belt drive. by comparison, I can have the rear wheel off of a traditional derailleur in a matter of seconds and with no tools.
    Trek Domane 4.5 (commute/distance), Specialized Roubaix (climber), Xootr Swift (winter/travel), Trek Soho (around town)

  22. #22
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
    wish i could agree ... i never found this intuitive, especially with the belt drive. by comparison, I can have the rear wheel off of a traditional derailleur in a matter of seconds and with no tools.
    Me too... that's why I specified "non-QR" with the above tutorial. I can now remove my Alfine-equipped, belt drive wheel in less than a minute.

    Sorry for your bad experience with the Soho, mtalinm. While my Norco Ceres has had a few issues, in comparison to what you've suffered it has been trouble-free.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  23. #23
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    Hey that's a great video. Thanks for posting.

  24. #24
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    I'm still considering the Soho 7 speed but I'm also checking out that Torker Graduate with the 5 speed. I've found the the SA 5 has almost the range of the Shimano 7. It appears to have horizontal dropouts like a BMX bike. For the price I'd add on a pair of Surly chain tensioners because the only reason I don't have an IGH ride is trying to line up the wheel when installing has always been a serious pain to me. I also like it has drum brakes as I won't have to worry about lining up brake pads and such. Drums aren't real powerful but from my experience they're plenty doable for what would be normal riding for me. Of Course the Soho 7 just seems cooler. I'm also considering a Xootr Swift too so I'll probably make up my mind sometime after they're all discontinued. I tell ya, checking out bicycles is almost as bad as porn.

  25. #25
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    Is there any specific instruction for wheel removal with a belt, vs an IHG with a chain?
    Does belt tension make wheel insertion in the dropouts difficult?
    Do belt-riders have any recomendation on the best style of frame, whether the tensioner should be an eccentric bottom bracket or sliding dropouts. can you even use horizontal dropouts with a belt?

    I am pretty well practiced at removing the Alfine hub with disk brakes. It is a bit more hassle than derailleur gears but not much.

    I saw a link a few days ago to a German company who sell rather nice looking belt-drive commuter/trekking bikes. Take a look at Rose.

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