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Old 03-22-10, 11:46 PM   #1
mcarrera71
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2009 Belt Driven Soho as a Touring Bike?

I just got a 2009 Trek Soho belt driven bike that I am using to commute to work. I have purchased a Tubus Cosmo rack and the Ortlieb Back Roller plus bags. My question is whether or not I can use this bike as a good bike for touring? I am interested in getting into bike touring, but my expereice is limited.
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Old 03-23-10, 01:28 AM   #2
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It seems OK for touring, with one possible problem: the lowest gear is 33 gear-inches. If you are touring in flat places, it should work, but it seems too high for long and/or steep hills. I use my lowest three gears (17, 19, and 22 gear inches) a lot when riding mountain passes, and I wouldn't really want to do loaded touring with a low gear higher than 20 gear inches.

Does anyone know the availability of different chainrings and cogs for carbon belt drive? Depending on what is available, and on Shimano's recommended lowest gear ratio (which I couldn't find on their website), you might be able to use a smaller chainring (a 40 tooth chainring with the stock 24 tooth cog would give you a low gear of 24 gear inches). You would lose some of the higher gears, but that would be better than not having the low end. Another way to get the low gearing would be to go to an 11-speed Alfine hub, but I don't know how cost-effective that would be.

Since you already own the bike, rack, and panniers, I would suggest loading it up with whatever you plan to take on your tour, then finding some hills. Based on how it feels to climb those hills, and on what you will find on tour, you can decide if what you have will work.
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Old 03-23-10, 08:17 AM   #3
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The brakes for the Trek Soho concerned me when I looked at it briefly as a commuting bike. It has something called "roller brakes;" seemed sketchy to me for going down steep descents with a load. Also, as I recall, you need to make you are carrying enough tools to change a flat (I think you have to unfasten the brake cables and use a wrench to take the axle off).

And, as mentioned above, the gearing is high.

Anyway, you can do short tours on anything, and long tours on anything if you're willing to make compromises. You should make sure you are comfortable with the stopping power and durability of the brakes, and give it a go. But it wouldn't be my first choice for a longer trip.
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Old 03-23-10, 08:53 AM   #4
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The brakes for the Trek Soho concerned me when I looked at it briefly as a commuting bike. It has something called "roller brakes;" seemed sketchy to me for going down steep descents with a load. Also, as I recall, you need to make you are carrying enough tools to change a flat (I think you have to unfasten the brake cables and use a wrench to take the axle off).
Roller brake just means it doesn't have a linear braking force because of rolling cams.
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Old 03-23-10, 10:43 AM   #5
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Roller brake just means it doesn't have a linear braking force because of rolling cams.
I don't know anything about roller brakes. I just did 15 minutes of research on them one day when I was mildly considering a Soho (I'd like to own a bike with a belt drive), and I found that roller brakes are a type of drum brake. There are a bunch of reasons why I don't trust drum brakes, some of which are memoralized in some scars on my right leg, which have been there for about 40 years now.

Wikipedia says:

"Drum brakes are useful for wet or dirty conditions since the braking mechanism is fully enclosed. They are heavier, more complicated, and often weaker than rim brakes, but require less maintenance. They are most common on utility bicycles in some countries, especially the Netherlands, and are also often found on freight bicycles and velomobiles. "

Among other things, I found this discussion, that apparently includes some of Shimano's own safety warnings about roller brakes:

http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=34273

Personally, when I looked at the Trek Soho I thought it was a cute but half-baked bicycle. I wouldn't ride one *up* a hill because the gearing is too high and I wouldn't ride one *down* a hill, especially with two full panniers loaded with touring gear, because I think the braking system is inadequate.

I'm 100% confident that Trek and your local Trek dealer would disagree, and any minute now a bunch of folks who own this bike will come along to say how much they like it.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 03-23-10 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 03-23-10, 11:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by mcarrera71 View Post
I just got a 2009 Trek Soho belt driven bike that I am using to commute to work. I have purchased a Tubus Cosmo rack and the Ortlieb Back Roller plus bags. My question is whether or not I can use this bike as a good bike for touring? I am interested in getting into bike touring, but my expereice is limited.
It's probably not ideal for long miles, difficult terrain, or heavy loads. I'd guess loads in the under 40lbs range should be pretty doable. Depending on your particular make and model of body, it may be that for long tours, you need to swap the bars so your wrists do not complain. The only way to find out if you need a bar swap is to get out there and ride, and see what happens.

You can tour at a leisurely 20-40 miles a day, or you can do endurance feats where you go well over 100 in a day. For the low mileage end, pretty much any bike can work. The harder you push, the better the bike needs to fit your body.

I'd check a map, find a state park or town about 20-40 miles from your house, and go see what you can do . Planning a tour is a lot easier when you can be specific.
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Old 03-23-10, 11:16 AM   #7
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I own a 2009 Soho and have taken it on a few long rides. Frame, brakes and riding position are great for touring, and it has a nice stout frame. The problem is with the gearing. Even not loaded, you're mashing pretty good on a climb like this: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/37316. That short 4 mile climb was totally doable unloaded and for a short period of time, but I can't imagine doing it all day. If you can find a route that is mostly flat, or with gradual inclines I would go for it. However, for prolonged steep climbs the gearing just doesn't go down far enough, IMHO.
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Old 03-24-10, 12:05 AM   #8
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Thanks for the great information. I will be touring in and around the Houston and Austin area. These areas are not too hilly, and from the various responses, I believe that it is doable in the Soho. I hope that the Soho frame is up to the task of carrying a good amount of weight.
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Old 03-24-10, 12:51 PM   #9
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Thanks for the great information. I will be touring in and around the Houston and Austin area. These areas are not too hilly, and from the various responses, I believe that it is doable in the Soho. I hope that the Soho frame is up to the task of carrying a good amount of weight.
Have fun! Despite what I said about the Soho, I think you can have fun on short tours with it while you get accustomed to the bike, touring, etc.

I did a tour in Hill Country west of Austin -- in and around Johnson City, Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Boerne, etc. Beautiful area for bike riding. I did in a racing bike with inappropriate gearing, and lived to tell about it....
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Old 03-24-10, 01:07 PM   #10
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If you don't ride any long sustained steep hills, then the gearing should be fine. I wouldn't want to tackle a 2,000 climb with the current gearing, but it doesn't sounds like you'll be doing that. The frame and wheels are very stout, and I'd have plenty of confidence in loading it down with 40-50# of gear.
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Old 03-24-10, 03:24 PM   #11
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I read parts of a journal about a girl touring on a single speed for many thousands of miles. She said she had 3 gears walk up hills, pedal on flat gound, and coast down hills, seemed to work for her.

Allen
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Old 03-24-10, 04:00 PM   #12
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http://www.carbondrivesystems.com/support.php?lang=us# The Gates web site gives a list of sproket sizes available. You may be able to chage out either front ( smaller ) or rear ( larger ) to get a more acceptable gear raito.
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