I have the 2011 version which is basically the same as the 2013 version except for the older generation Gates pulleys. I had find Trek Soho Dlx disappointing. Due to the weight, it's slow to start from a stop. I feel the weight going up steep hills. The disc brake is better than rim brakes in the rain but it's not as effective as other disc brakes. The pedals are small and slippery when wet. The frame is very stiff as a prerequisite to having belt drive. It's a jarring ride over potholes. The bike took so much fun out of riding for it's practicality that I had given up on it.
Then I came across the Gates website and thought I can change the front pulley to better handle the hills. I went with CenterTrack Front Pulley 46 tooth to replace the original 55 tooth. It made a big difference in the hills while still fast enough on the flats. I only changed the front pulley and belt. The CenterTrack belt works with the older rear pulley without any problems. The change in gear ratio along with newer version of disc brake pads have given new life to the bike. I've also changed the pedal, removed the chain guard, changed to lighter fenders and put Ergon grips on. With all the changes the bike is a pretty pleasant ride now. The belt drive requires zero maintenance and no messy lubricant. The internal gears also has been zero maintenance over the past 4 years.
Trek Soho Dlx is a unique bike. It's not a bike to fall in love with due to the ride characteristic. But with the modifications, it's become quite likable with the inherent strengths.
Date Reviewed: December 8, 2014
Strengths: I originally wrote a massive review but I found it was the same review I found everywhere. Yes, this bike is fantastic. It is robust and utilitarian in design. I think the geometry is simple and beautiful. The Belt drive is awesome. The 8 speed internal is very responsive. The bike is wicked quiet and overall wicked awesome. I love it. I strongly recommend it. I own 3 bikes and it is my favorite. I chose this bike based on a decision to commute all year round. The belt drive and internal gear proved to be low maintenance which is why I chose it. Be aware that this is a commuter bike, this means you sit more upright for improved visibility both for yourself and for others. As a result, you are not the fastest bike on the road.
Weaknesses: I'll start small and then get into the bigger issues.
- Could have been even cleaner if the cables were internal.
- Coffee cup that it comes with is silly and so cheap that it would be better if it didn't exist. Also the cage is not very impressive.
- Rubber flap at the end of the fenders are poorly installed. I caught it with my foot and tore one of the 2 mounting points off when turning at slow speed. My solution was to rip it off and crazy glue it to the outside of the fender rather than the inside.
- Pedals are not grippy at all. Every street shoe I tried slipped all over the place. It would be a good idea to swap these out. My solution was to put zip ties with small amounts sticking out like spikes.
- Poorly balanced where majority of the weight is in the rear. It's also quite a bit heavier than my other bikes. I've found that I yearned for an even higher gear for climbs more often than I ever used the lowest. I'm happy my regular route isn't one with large hills. It is difficult to hop obstacles on this bike and hitting an object is likely to end in a flat tire. I blew a tire going from path to grass at speed.
- As a commuter bike I would have liked to see a factory installed quality kick stand.
- I'm not sure if there’s a break-in period but I found that the tension on the belt wouldn't stay optimal. Although in the later months this stopped being a problem all on its own. I advise you learn how to adjust this yourself instead of going into a shop every time it drifts.
- Handle grips are subpar. I really like palm rests and this bike is equipped with them. However you can't torque them down so they spin around and I constantly have to readjust them. Get rid of them and put traditional grips or proper ones like Ergon GS1.
ran out of space. see Review summary.
The rear brake is a Shimano roller. This by far my biggest (read: only real) complaint. During the summer, I found I just had to get used to it. I like disc brakes and this in comparison was really spongy. I didn't like it but it wasn't a deal breaker, I think they put it on because you have better control of the bike while trying to stop. When winter showed up (note: you're gonna need a different pair of tires) this brake has become a massive frustration. It seizes up at a temperature of -2 degrees Celsius. Either the brake lever doesn’t budge or it will but the brake won't release and the lever moves freely. Whichever failure occurs, it’s terrible, the latter being worse. Less than 5 minutes of being in a warm environment and performance springs back to normal. I brought it into the shop thinking maybe some water found its way into the weather sealed mechanism. They did a full clean and checked over everything. Next ride, same problem. I called the shop and also contacted Shimano directly. No great tips. The shop had the bike for a week and I know they were talking to Shimano. Next ride, same problem. For winter riding this brake is DREADFUL. Currently I have not solved this problem. I've disconnect the rear as trying it as left me worse off more often than not. My next step is to remove it and put a disc brake installed but I'm not sure what that cost will be. Online reviews suggest that this is not a common problem and Shimano was a little surprised to hear it as well. All that being said, I've disappointedly driven my vehicle more often that I’ve cycled to work.
Overall this bike is fantastic and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to put a lot of time maintaining their bike.
I bought my 2011 in 2014. It was "used" but had less than 50 km on it. The first thing I did was take it in for a tune up. The shop looked through it and told me to save my money as it was in no need for a tune. I then rode it like a bandit all summer. This bike is Fantastic.
Strengths: Soho Deluxe (2012): Absolutely magisterial ride quality, solid and stable. Turnkey drive train with adequate gearing for hilly city. Thoughtful extras. Anti-theft black paint. Rubber trim to protect top tube. Decent tires.
Weaknesses: Weight. Cost. Handlebar too wide and modern mustache style is ill chosen. Rear end not easy to service. Saddle more suited to a woman giving birth.
Buy it and ride every day to recoup your investment.
Strengths: Thanks to the belt drive the bike is quiet and stays clean.
The brakes work well even when wet.
Then internal hub is sealed well and again stays clean.
The rubber top tube bumper is great.
The Rainy Day Gray Color is beautiful.
Weaknesses: If you get a flat on the road you are somewhere between terribly put out, and screwed. The lack of ability to repair a flat on the side of the road is almost a deal breaker as much as I love the bike.
The bike is as quiet as a church mouse. Elegant lines. The rubber bumpers on the top tube are a huge plus, and attractive. The Gates Carbon Belt stays tight, and does not attract dirt the way a chain does. The Shimano Nexus internal 8 speed hub is wonderful and provides a wide range of gears even in hilly areas around town. The only complaint I have is repairing a flat, especially in the rear is a major pain and not something to do on the side of the road.
Strengths: All major mechanisms enclosed. Hub gear, roller brakes. No difference in braking performance in pouring rain. The ability to come to a rapid halt, then select a gear suitable to set off again in is great for traffic situations. Quite comfortable for a 2 hour longer ride as well. Comes with substantial mudguards. Attachment points for pannier rack.
Weaknesses: None so far. Assumption is that will require very little maintenance because of enclosed components. Real test will be level of reliability through British Winter.
I doubt I will be using the coffee cup much.
Price was £450, not $. List price £700 GBP. Got the 2009 Soho S with carbon fibre belt drive via cyclescheme, hence price difference. Main purpose is daily 8.5 mile round trip commute to work.
Initial impression very positive, gear shift positive, brakes effective, very little noise, belt drive much quieter than a chain, effortless steering. Sufficient gear ratios for all road situations. Durham (UK) is moderately hilly, and bike is fine for sustained climbs. 1st gear low enough for any hill, 8th quite high enough. Very much prefers a good quality road surface, though it's easy to zip around potholes, raised ironwork etc.
Hopefully a reliable commuting machine with no chain to accumulate vast amounts of muck. Cleaning a chain outside in winter is no joke.
Perhaps not so good for off road use, though should cope with cycle paths OK.
so, I bought a trek soho s and I love it, but I haven't taken it for a ride yet. I'm too scared I'm too heavy for the bike, at 250, I bought the bike for weight loss, but when I get on, I see the tires go down a bit because of the pressure, I'm scared after maybe 30 mins of bike riding with that muc ... Read More »
I bought a used Trek Soho S that I've been using as a fixie for the past months. I've decided to install a rear brake in conjunction with my front one. I bought the cable and housing. I asked the guy at the bike store and he said I should put the housing with the cable through the internal routing. ... Read More »
had the wheels on my trek soho 1.0 2008 stolen yesterday
i've decided that it's a lot funnier than it is upsetting
but it's quite annoying because i don't really have a bike available.
realised that I'd need to spend ~£150 for a new set of road wheels for this ****er, and at the same time ... Read More »
So I am thinking of getting something to ride around the city streets of Chicago and have two options that I am considering. Here are my pros and cons...
Trek Soho S - $420
Pros - Trek quality, great looks, great gearing, lighter, I've ridden it before, solid bike.
Cons - Smaller frame (I'm 6' ... Read More »
I am considering completing a century ride in the near future and am interested in your thoughts on riding my Trek Soho "commuter" bike. It is a belt drive, flat bar, internal 8 speed that is fairly heavy, but it is what I use for my training rides.
I am currently up to 40 miles averaging 15.5mp ... Read More »