Trek 2009 District


We’re meeting with Trek at Interbike and they asked us what we thought of their urban lines this year. So we’re asking you.

Tell us and we’ll tell them during the Mobile Social.

Our take on the 2009 District:

  • LOVE orange rims
  • LOVE orange rims with orange accents
  • Fender mounts, integrated lights?
  • Can we haz stel plz!

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like so many commuters that have sprung up this year, they are too forced to have any real style.

as you pointed out, them deep orange rims are sexy, but the hydro’d tubing doesn’t help. the forks are too deep, the geometry wrong.  who the hell puts a saddle like that with a head angle that looks to be about 65 degrees.

It’s a horrible bike.  Neither here nor there.  Trek need to make up their mind what they want their bikes to do.  This is basically a hybrid hybrid.  How derivative can you get?

Has anyone ever ridden a carbon drive belt before?  Are they notorious for slipping, or something?  If they don’t fall apart, I’d love to try riding one!


I wish hybrids had never happened—I don’t know that it’s “horrible,” but I see your points and I’m not particularly thrilled about riding around on Aluminum. It’s got sizzle and that sells and it’s a price point, but is it interesting?

Where are the integrated lights?

This [Paul Frank]( is my latest fav. I keep coming back to it. Maybe cause it’s got [a monkey face]( on it.

I’m with you on the orange rims and accents.  Love ‘em.  It’d be fun to get on one and try it out for commuting.

I rode carbon belt and had no issues with slippage even when really whaling on it out of the saddle.  So sprayed it with water - still no issues.  They have “teeth” like a chain and seem to engage quite well.

As far as the District comments - Aluminum and fixed is just not a good fit.  Harsh ride, lots of road buzz, etc.  You sit a lot on a fixed gear, so the more comfortable the material the better off you are.  I do like the brown parts and trim package.  Not crazy about the chain guard - there’s no greasy chain so why would you need it?

The Portland bike is one of the urban bikes in Trek’s lineup that doesn’t make sense.  It’s got disk brakes, so it will be good in bad conditions, but at the same time it’s only got half-fenders and no provisions (no front fork eyelet) to mount full fenders.  I can’t tell from the photos if it can take 35+ tires or not, but that would be a shame if it couldn’t.  It’s also got a triple crankset which is overkill in most cities.

The Soho S is cool, but I wish it had “real” disk brakes instead of the immitations they put on there.  The belt-drive is cool.  Wish it had drops instead of the flat bars.  I like the lines and the color matching fenders, but I’d prefer the bike without the internal hub.  Save that for the hybrids.

@RyanH - I had a Portland so I know it well.

The stock Portland’s fenders are mostly pointless, but it does take full fenders quite well.  There is a clever eyelet on inside of the fork that lets you mount your front full-fender, and the rear is super nice to setup with plenty of attachment points.

I also think the triple is too much, but they spec it with 105 shifters which can do both double and triple (I converted double with mine).

Ryan, when you say ‘real’ disc brakes, you’re not talking hydraulic are you?

I have to say that I think drum brakes or mechanical discs make far more sense for commuting than hydraulic. What commuter wants to bleed mineral oil, or pay to have someone else do it? Total overkill on the braking front too. V’s are just as good, but with mech discs or drums you can still wobble home if you break a spoke.

The deep V rims look cool, but I’d sooner have lower profile rims that won’t send me flying off the road when a truck passes, and up the spoke count to 36 on the rear (you can break two before you’re in trouble).

Eyelets and brazeons are important, fender clearance is important, a decent BB and double wall rims are important. Polished stems that point down with bars that swoop up ontop of a stack of spacers? Not important.

The job of a nice commuter bike is to make practical look cool, not sacrifice the former for the later.

I don’t understand why bike the big companies can’t make a decent commuter brake.

-It’s either got the eyelets but no included rack or fenders…
-Or it has no eyelets
-Or it has only one pair of eyelets
-Or it has eyelets in the back but not the front
-Or it has something utterly incomprehensible like a drum brake?
-Or they muck it up and put a carbon fork on a commuter bike…
-Or its got no water bottle braze-ons…

I mean, REALLY, wtf?  Put all the eyelets and include a rack and a fender and I’ll be happy.  Is it that hard?!

A few questions about the belt drive: How does it perform in the rain and road muck? How sensitive is it to misalignment of the rear axle? 

The rear drop outs are interesting.

Full fenders, disc brakes and eyelets for a rack would be nice.

“The job of a nice commuter bike is to make practical look cool, not sacrifice the former for the later.”

That is what Trek (and everyone else) needs to know.  Kudos to Simon for saying it so well.

No chain (belt) guard
No fenders
No upright riding position
No rack
No fenders
Is that seat for riding or a prostate exam?

How about some good old fashioned steel!!!!!!!!!!!!
There has got to be some lying around China somewhere.

Good convo all—a reader just sent us a closeup photo from Eurobike. Also see the convo on Flickr.

I think the summary here is that the industry needs to find a problem with Urban Bikes and solve it. For example, the reason iPods are so successfully is iTunes makes it very easy to buy, manage, organize, sync music. The killer app is the software, combined with outstanding industrial design. The problem Apple initially solved was “digital music is hard to manage.”

In this line of urban bikes and others where’s the breakthrough must-have design, the killer app? There isn’t any. It’s all derivative of what messengers and urban cyclists are building themselves.

That’s why I keep saying, “Drop Bar Nexus.” Let’s forget Coasting and the mistake that was and go back and ask, “What does an urban cyclist need?” I bet it’s a 2 x 3 drivetrain or something like it. Urban drivetrains are a good problem to solve.

Another example: any cyclist that has spent more than an hour riding in the rain would know that you need fenders that wrap almost the entire wheel and mudflaps that drop to the pavement. Or for this bike, they could’ve integrated lights into the frame . . . getting caught at dusk on busy roads is a design problem to solve, like this.

Civia or Novara Fusion are good starts.

Also note that I do think this bike looks fantastic and the sales-floor sizzle works. It’s also sparking lots of talk!

This bike is so confusing. I can’t figure out who the target market is. It’s not really all that useful of a bike, seems more like a novelty toy for people who “just need another cool bike in the garage.”

The belt drive seems promising. I wish Trek would make a real, fully equipped commuter around it (and no, the SOHO doesn’t count either). Actually, I just wish that Trek would make bikes for a specific purpose at all. Other than their straight-up drop bar road bikes, they are just completely all over the place.

I am convinced that no matter what Trek does it will never be right to you people.  Go to their website.  They do have commuter models with racks and fenders.  And they make racks and fenders to buy aftermarket at the dealer.

contrary to what everyone seems to be saying if you happen to be making a commuter bike, please do NOT include fenders and racks. Please make your bike easy to mount fenders and racks on, but by no means stick on whatever house brand, or lowest bidder accessories.  Racks and fenders are a good thing, but quality varies so much, I want to be able to decide for myself which I ride.  I like my sks full fenders, but I destroyed my planet bikes, so if i was forced to buy a bike that had them stock, well I wouldn’t be happy about that. Leave it to the consumer, we’re smart enough

why a fixed gear? this is the 21th century; get a life.

I know this post is a little old now (I’d like to know how that talk goes), but DL makes an excellent point.

Problems to solve;

1) Hub gears w/drop bars (totally). There was something on Bike Rumour recently about a company making a thumb shifter for Rohloff hubs, so perhaps bar end shifters aren’t far off..

2) Integrated lighting - dyno hub to front and rear lights with cables running inside the frame perhaps? People rag on dynohubs, but a Schmidt really is a thing of beauty. Road racers are scared of them due to the (very low) rolling resistance, but we are seeing a new breed of commuters more likely to take their cues from Tourers and BMXers - i.e. they don’t actually give a damn about shaving seconds off of their commute. Civia have recognised this.

3) Fenders without all the rattle and scrape, that don’t make fixing a flat an hour long exercise. Discuss.

4) Seat and wheel locking solutions - i.e. Pitlock nuts. Perhaps somewhere specific to store or clamp your D lock.

5) Integrated speedo with soft LED backlight (run via capacitor hooked to lighting system). Not necessarily a must have, but it’d certainly be cool.

6) It’d be nice to have a bike designed so that in the event of the most typical commuter accident (T-boning a car that turns in front of you without looking) the front fork takes the impact without flipping the bike (and you) or cracking the headtube. So far, I don’t think anyone designs a bike with crash safety in mind.

I’d like to add that while I don’t agree with every decision Trek makes (weird headsets, no steel anywhere etc) I find their Soho brand to be one of the more sensibly spec’ed commuter ranges.

Also, marketing is important. Phil Wood hubs, White Industry hubs, they sell like crazy because the websites say ‘we made these decisions to make your ride better in the following ways’. Rather than the typical marketing ‘cruising the town with your pals looking totally awesome’ guff, they need to say ‘these tyres because of this, these hubs because of that, etc’.

Nice, two thumbs up!  Way to go, Trek!

I wish the Soho S (carbon drive, internal 8spd hub, fenders, etc.) had the loud orange details of the District.  The extra gears w/o a derailleur are appealing, as are some of the extra features like fenders.  The Soho S styling is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the District.

I love the looks of the District.  Sure it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that a dream commuter would, but that’s not the point.  The District is really more aimed at the hipster crowd. It’s smooth enough for a commuter, but cool enough for the cool fixie crowd.

I figured it has about a 65 inch gear…ok for flat but how do you get it up a hill? Looks cool no denying.

You don’t, without real big, strong legs . . . and your point is well taken in the Seattle area for commuter bikes, single speeds, fixed, and cargo. Weight, climbing are all issues. That’s one reason we support e-bikes for power assists and our reviews keep the hills in mind.

So is anyone hacking together a steel frame with one of these drive trains? On the market even?

I don’t like anything Trek does. It is obvious they are more concerned with profits and they can’t even get decent aesthetics out of anything they do.

Their commuter bike is another bicycle industry disaster.

I caould never understand why anybody not riding a MTB would want straight bars. Trek put some damn drop bars on the thing.

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