REVIEW – TREK Soho DLX Fail – Part 3

Winter De-Belted my Soho

My ultimate winter bike has one fault.  When riding in snow, ice builds up on the rear cog and promptly lifts the belt off the rear cog.  We’re not talking deep snow, just an inch or two of fresh snow produces enough build up of ice on the belt to pop it off.


Happened on day two

The first time it happened (day two of my Trek experience) I called up the cycle shop where I purchased the bike and explained it to them.  I got the impression they didn’t believe me.  So I turned to the internet, wrote my first post and placed some other reviews of bikers who had the same experience and sent it to them.

I also called Trek and explained it to the them.  William from Trek then told me they had mailed a rear cog (second post) with cut-aways to clear debris,  and were mailing it to the cycle shop.

Well a month later and after several phone calls, I got a message stating the part arrived (by donkey or something) but it wasn’t going to work.  As it turns out the picture William from Trek had showed was that from the Trek District and that rear cog doesn’t fit the Soho’s Shimano Nexus hub. Ziggy’s said to come in and they’d show me some silcone lubricant that should keep it clean.

Asked for my money back

That straw broke the camel’s back. I called up Ziggy’s and asked for my money back. They were like what are we going to do with a used bike … I was like ‘What am I going to do in the winter with a bike that won’t work in the snow’.

Compromise – a de-belted Soho DLX

The compromise we reached was to see if Trek would cover the cost of converting the Soho DLX to a chain driven bike. Here’s the end  result!


Found another belt drive cyclist who had to switch back to the chain –

16 thoughts on “REVIEW – TREK Soho DLX Fail – Part 3

  1. Graham! That is brutal! Can’t believe you had such bad luck and bad service. I hope the retrofit works for you.


    Check out the above post from a bike shop that had a customer with the exact same issue with winter riding that we experienced. Gates responded to them with a prototype rear cog. I emailed Gates asking for a prototype. They returned a very short, to the point email (with not a hint of apology) stating there were no more prototypes. Production would begin the end of this month and to check with my local bike shop so they could check with QBP and see when it becomes available. Not very helpful. Plus I didn’t buy it through a local bike shop….long story. So my local bike shop isn’t that much invested in my belt drive issue.

    1. Thanks for the info, I wish I knew about it back in December. It’s too bad manufacturers don’t back their products, now I really feel hosed I wasn’t able to get a full refund!

  3. Two things:

    1. I decided against the DLX when considering my next bike and decided on the chain. So now I can’t wait till I get my Scott Sub 35. :)

    2. Raleigh has a rear cog with cutouts. I saw it at the bike shop in Uptown waterloo. Don’t recall the make, but the guy said the cutouts were new to this years model.

    So Gates is full of shit. The cutout cogs already exist unless they prototyped them on the Raleigh specifically.

    1. Thanks, I’ll go check it out … King Street Cycles? The internal geared hub is an the alfine line where as the trek uses the nexus … does anyone know if there’s a difference?

  4. Heh, I’m not really surprised… belts on bikes would perform better if they were fully enclosed, much like chains… and at the point you put on a full chaincase like the hebie chainglider you might as well stick with roller chains and you can use almost any frame.

    Nexus aren’t as high quality as the alfine hubs, or at least that is how it used to be. Sheldon Brown’s site has a good breakdown of the hubs.

    For my money and my tinkerings with IGH, the Torker Graduate is a good place to start, though it’s only a sturmey archer 5 speed it has drum brakes. You could upgrade to almost any bar and shifter/brake combination you wanted. I don’t know if anyone sells them around here. I’ve been building up my own SA 5 speed commuter and I should have just started with the torker.

    1. Just did a search for the herbie chainglider – looks to be a great product! I wish I known about it during the winter. Going to figure out how to get it shipped to Waterloo.

      Thanks Charles – Great Tip

  5. Hi Graham,

    I ride a trek SOHO as commuter bike in NL. I have had exactly the same experience in snow as you described. I have ridden the bike for 2 seasons now but after the first winter the drive train became noisy after the rear cog has been filled up with snow and the belt popped of the teeth a few times. I have a lot of trouble with tensioning the belt correctly since. It has been to the bike shop 3 times, but every time the belt is re-tensioned, it runs fine until the ‘cracking’ noise appears after about 100km or so and I have to re-tension the belt again. I think the belt is damaged because I am running out of tensioning room in the drop-outs…..

    At this moment, I am in the process of deciding of replacing the belt drive with a new set (could fix tensioning issues) of switching it to a chain drive. If I switch to chain drive, I will install the chainglider as well because we put salt on the roads over here when the temperature drops to avoid icing. The salt/water mixture will destroy any unguarded chain in days unless you clean it thoroughly every day. Which I am not a fan of in the winter after cycling home in the cold for 1h :-). This was the main reason for choosing the belt drive in the first place.

    Because it is summer now, I am using my JanJanssen road bike to commute because it is less noisy.

    The chainglider is used in quite a few bikes in NL like this one


    1. Thanks for sharing your trek belt story. I’ve been causally looking for where I can buy a chainglider and I haven’t found a Canadian site/store yet. Seeing it yet again is making me think this will be a must have item for next winter.


  6. Graham – are you still following this thread? Do you know if the updated “Centre Track” version of the Gates Belt Drive reduces or eliminates the snow fouling problem?

  7. Yup, I’m stiil here and still bummed that Trek and my local bike shop wouldn’t give me a full refund for my defective bicycle :)

    I have become disconnected from the belt drive scene since I put a chain on my Soho. However, I’ve read good things about the Centre Track version of gates belt drives. Primarily from here, who also reported the snow defect in the first gates drive —

    I do like his approach of using a surly frame … gives a much broader range of component possibilities than a Trek. (My 2011 Soho can only go with a Nexus internal hub as the frame can’t take a disc brake required to upgrade to the Alphine hub.


  8. Hi

    I just purchased a scot sub 10, 2013 – green (very bright) in colour. Have ridden it for three weeks – and in the last week, I am hearing a cracking noise from the rear end of the bike as well as a clicking or creaking noise from the pedal. Am not sure what this could be. The bike is due for its first service in three weeks time – I am interested in what the bike shop will say about the noise. Other then the noise, I love the bike – although the seat was very uncomfortable. Got a new one.

    Will keep you posted as to the outcome of the creaking.



  9. Hi Lisa,
    Did you figure out your clicking / creaking problem? My guess is that the pedal needed to be tightened. It’s common for things to loosen up especially on new bicycles or as the weather turns colder.


    1. Hi Graham
      problem solved – it was the pedal – so am happy to be back on the bike commuting to work. No worries about the cold weather – am in Melbourne, Australia – in the middle of a very hot summer! Happy riding

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