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Designs from Trek World 09

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Posting twice in one day is rare for me, but a friend who was at the “backstage” event at Trek World 09 the last couple days sent me these photos of the Trek District (top), Fisher El Ranchero (middle), and new Trek Soho (bottom). The El Ranchero is just a design study, but the others are going to be production bikes. Anyway, I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to pass them along, so here they are.

Update 8/15: As a commenter pointed out, a different version of the District can be seen here on Trek’s “Life in the Bike Lane” blog.

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  1. Anonymous August 13, 2008 at 7:27 pm -  Reply

    Too bad the long bike is not going on the market. Looks clever, apart from being aluminium (i.e. fat downtube).

    Too bad the other two are aluminium too. God, I hate Trek for their ubiquity of aluminium. Good city bikes otherwise. Orange rims are a bit much.

    Saw these today: spendy but sweet.

  2. Lachlan Hurst August 13, 2008 at 11:32 pm -  Reply

    Am I seeing things or is that a belt drive on the District and Soho?

  3. bikesgonewild August 14, 2008 at 1:31 am -  Reply

    …good eye, lachlan & i do believe you're right…

    …anon 8:27pm…the orange rims set that bike off very nicely, in my opinion…i'd add some black fenders from 'planet bike' & that would be the first bicycle from trek i've admired in a long time…

  4. bikesgonewild August 14, 2008 at 1:43 am -  Reply

    …post script: gary’s ‘el ranchero’ is also pretty cool…took me a minute to realize that it was set up as a "kid to school & then pick up the groceries or ride to work" bike w/ only one crankset…interesting & might be the perfect vehicle for trek's electric project…

    …what ???…of course they are & you can bet on it…

  5. Gino Zahnd August 14, 2008 at 11:03 am -  Reply

    Interesting to see the big companies coming around to the idea of useful bikes with fenders and racks. Though, when do you suspect they’ll ditch the aluminum?

  6. k. August 14, 2008 at 11:40 am -  Reply

    That El Ranchero would sell by the hundreds in Portland OR, where I live. I think people everywhere are looking for bikes that really make leaving the car behind practicle. This seems to be one. Aluminum may not be the stuff bike geeks dream of but I doubt the target audience of these bikes would care that much. Trek is finally showing a bit of originality and inovation with these bikes. Good for them.

  7. James August 14, 2008 at 11:41 am -  Reply

    Lachlan, Good spot on the belt drive. Indeed it is. The pictures that I posted are much lower resolution than the ones I received, so it is a little harder to see.

    bgw, yeah, the el ranchero is pretty cool. I posted quickly and didn’t elaborate, but I do really like that bike. When I first looked at the image, I noticed the kid on the back on the backdrop picture before I noticed the extra seat on the bike. Anyway, I would love to see this go to production.

    Gino, I agree that it is great to see bikes like these from big companies, but I don’t have a problem with the use of aluminum as a frame material. Aluminum bikes can be designed to be pretty strong, so why do commuter bikes have to be steel? I have 2 bikes that I use for commuting, one steel and one aluminum. Even loaded down my aluminum commuter doesn’t take anywhere near the same abuse that my aluminum mountain bike takes, so I just don’t see it as a big disadvantage.

    To maybe get a bit off topic and elaborate on the steel vs. aluminum issue, I can say that over the course of many years cycling I have cracked frames made of both materials. The advantage of the aluminum frame (a Cannodale)over the lugged steel one was that it was replaced at no cost to me under the lifetime warranty.

  8. Blue Boy August 14, 2008 at 12:30 pm -  Reply

    Something I noticed that hasn’t been mentioned is that the Soho is belt driven with an 8 speed internal hub. Just thought that was cool to note.

    The Ranchero is a cool concept but probably wouldn’t work well in my community (NYC) but I can definately see it working in communities I have lived in before that are more suburban. There were a few other design concepts on display at the Backstage event but the El Ranchero is what really caught everyone’s attention.

    Trek is really pushing the Go By Bike campaign really hard and it looks like it will be a long term component of their marketing campaign in the future. So it is possible that something like it or similar will come to market.

  9. bikesgonewild August 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm -  Reply

    …i'll reiterate…the basic configuration lends itself well to e-lectric application…

    …& i guarantee you, all the biggies are looking at that right now…money to be made while the taste of expensive oil is on everybody's lips…

  10. James August 14, 2008 at 4:08 pm -  Reply

    I am with you bikesgonewild, this would be a great setup for electric assist and maybe that is why we won’t see it for ‘09. And yeah, I have no doubt that all the big names are working on it. Reminds me of this old post in fact. While I am pointing out old posts, I’ll mention this guest post from Michael Downes. No doubt he was right.

  11. Anonymous August 14, 2008 at 5:54 pm -  Reply

    Post the high res pics already! 🙂

  12. Anonymous August 15, 2008 at 10:28 am -  Reply

    Sorry, the Triton is at: ttp://

  13. C August 15, 2008 at 1:34 pm -  Reply

    Yeah, aluminum is a terrible material. Never mind the fact that most cargo hauling airplanes and helicopters are made from aluminum. Of course a C-130 or MH-47 flying around Afghanistan on a daily basis doesn’t see nearly the same level of abuse as a mighty bike commuter!! Seriously, people who say aluminum isn’t durable enough for a city bike are simply idiots.

    Ride quality is pretty much a moot point once you start putting on 30mm+ tires. Besides, aluminum is MORE flexible than steel, not less. Tired of hearing stupid/ignorant bike shop employees say aluminum is stiffer than steel. Yeah, right – that explains why track sprinters use steel bars. Duh.

    I think all 3 bikes look great. Also hope the Ranchero makes it into production in some form. The more long bikes, the better! Some people will always bash Trek simply because they’re big and that automatically makes them bad in the eyes of many. Snobs will be snobs.

  14. ELLIOT August 15, 2008 at 3:11 pm -  Reply

    Belt drive on the Soho with which rear hub, is it the Nexus or the Alfine? Anyway I’ve just got the Alfine for my Giant Trance and I’d love to be running belt drive with it although it would be unusable with a chain tensioner. The District looks very nice with the orange rims too!

  15. grrsh August 15, 2008 at 3:14 pm -  Reply

    Kudos to Fisher for heading into cargo bike territory with an innovative design. It is so common to see an Xtracycle (go scan flickr if you doubt) with someone riding on the bike, it was only a matter of time before someone put a seat back there, ala a tandem.

    The concern I have on this design is much the same as the Kona Ute. Why would Fisher purposely avoid the Xtracycle rack standard? There is a thriving aftermarket community built on this rack… why forge ahead with a new design and all of the attendant problems it creates?

    Also — astute viewers will note that while the El Ranchero has a backseat, in the picture behind the bike, the person riding in the backseat is NOT USING IT.

  16. Anonymous August 15, 2008 at 3:31 pm -  Reply

    “Tired of hearing stupid/ignorant bike shop employees say aluminum is stiffer than steel. Yeah, right – that explains why track sprinters use steel bars. Duh. “

    I’m sorry but do you know why Track riders use steel over aluminum ?

    Hint: it has nothing to do with them being stiffer than Aluminum…and everything to do with the fact that Aluminum fatigues and bends really easy under stress. Well that and steel is easier to fix after you crash..

    Ignorant or not everyone has their personal choices for liking a particular frame material; and for a majority of the commuters out there aluminum will suffice because its lighter and doesn’t rust, not because its “stiffer” or has a better ride quality.

  17. James August 15, 2008 at 3:58 pm -  Reply

    anonymous commenters, thanks for those links to additional district photos and the Fisher Triton.

    Elliot, I am only going by the photos, but I am pretty sure it is Alfine on the Soho.

    grrsh, good point about the Xtracycle standard and good eye spotting that she is sitting way back on the rack in the photo. I didn’t pay attention to that.

  18. ELLIOT August 15, 2008 at 5:34 pm -  Reply

    Nice, shame it’s probably impossible to fit a belt drive to FS bike but I’ll certainly keep an eye out for those on Trek’s stand at the London Cycle Show in a month or so.

  19. bikesgonewild August 15, 2008 at 9:34 pm -  Reply

    …grrsh…i'd venture to say that trek is doing it's typical proprietary 'thing' & they want to sell you their parts, at their trek store…

    …i don't see it as the "evil" some people do, but it is rather disingenuous…the more you "buy" into it, the more you'll rely on trek, rather than looking around at the market, when you need something cycle related…

    …i enjoy the freedom of a wide ranging choice, myself…

  20. Yokota Fritz August 17, 2008 at 12:37 am -  Reply

    The Trek Allant is steel, anyway. And the 2009 Soho has a steel fork (hi ten, no less!) The 2008 Soho is Alfine, but I don’t have info on what the ’09 belt drive hub will be.

    That Fisher longtail — remember that the Simple City was also a concept bike, but Fisher/Trek went ahead with production because of huge consumer interest. According to Trek, the Simple City line has been a tremendous success for them.

  21. geefisher August 17, 2008 at 12:08 pm -  Reply

    Hey – We will make a long bike, E bike? RIGHT on!
    This is a concept bike, I have had a Extracycle and a pair of Bakfeits, one with the box and one with the long rear end for over 4 years.
    Ross from Extracycle is my bud. Your point on the rack compatabilty is right on, I am with you, the ID guys and girls get into there own ideas, this is good. It’s a proto after all.
    We will do steel.
    The new alloy that Klein developed has much more ductilty than before making Aluminum a better choice than before, however we have many years with steel, thats where we started.
    What is gong on with what I call “Bikes that do things” makes us excited because of the $$$ but thats not what we are about, we want to change the world.
    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
    Gary Fisher

  22. bikesgonewild August 17, 2008 at 8:20 pm -  Reply

    …very glad to see you weighing in here, gary…hopefully you'll come back often…james runs a good & informative site…

    *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
    …i wish to make a point for those who don't know gary's basic history & might think he's jumping on new bandwagons with his different & interesting future models (ie: “bikes that do things”)…

    …the advent of the mtb was only a stop along the way (albeit an important one) in gary's long, involved bicycle history…it goes back to being a racing cyclist when he was a kid…when it was not a popular american sport & serious cyclists were considered to be "oddballs"…

    …i take the time to mention this only because i'm glad to see gary getting props & recognition for being a long time bicycle advocate…his name, while being intrinsically linked to the mountain bike, has a greater depth, by the fact that, as he sez “we want to change the world” w/ the bicycle…

    …i guarantee you, that's been his thought since he was a young man…& we all benefit by it…

  23. James August 18, 2008 at 7:29 am -  Reply

    Thanks for commenting Gary. It’s great to get some insight about the bike straight from the source. As much as I like race oriented road and mountain bikes, “bikes that do things” are what get me excited from a design standpoint. I started this blog nearly 3 years ago for that very reason and it is really cool to see the industry gaining some momentum in that direction. It is definitely an exciting time to be dreaming of news ways to get more people on bikes. Anyway, I can’t wait to see the next iteration of a Fisher long tail bike as well as all of the other Fisher transportation oriented designs to come.

    bgw, thanks for reiterating Gary’s longtime interest in transportation oriented bikes. It is good to throw that out there for those who haven’t been paying attention for the last 20 or so years.

  24. danlatorre August 20, 2008 at 8:29 am -  Reply

    Totally agree about the need for the Soho to be a steel frame.

    I had a Soho S and loved it, however the aluminum frame really was too unforgiving in NYC streets. I work in Soho actually and found it funny that the Trek Soho bike isn’t made for where it’s named.

    On urban streets you need steel. I’ve tried both, and it’s pretty obvious.

    Have my eye on a Torelli Tipo Uno now:

  25. -p August 21, 2008 at 1:42 am -  Reply

    Perhaps that rubber pad on the Soho frame can make hipster foam tubes obsolete.

  26. deerfencer July 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm -  Reply

    Pretty funny to read the pro aluminum backlash posts by the ignorami among us. The early Cannondale beer can-sized aluminum mtb frames were famous for 1) their brutal ride and 2) cracking/failing under moderate stress. Garbage is garbage, and warranty replacements are no excuse for what was essentially a flawed engineering decision.

    Years later, CAAD puter tweaking and various chemical tricks have gotten aluminum out of the garbage heap and into the mainstream, and I'll admit the new frames have their place, especially on suspended bikes. But to discount high-tensile steel as an "arrrogant" poseur is just ignorant IMO. The fact remains that steel is superior both in ride quality and ultimate strength.

    Aluminum and carbon fiber continue to rule the day for their fashionably light weight but they will never approach the long-lived robustness and sweet ride characteristics of quality high-tensile steel frames, period.

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