TREK Soho, £750,


Beneath its sleek, battleship-grey exterior the Soho hides a battery of new technologies. It uses a carbon-composite belt rather than a regular chain (like the District we tested in the last issue) which is both quieter and requires less maintenance. The eight-speed Shimano Nexus hub gears, controlled by an Alfine thumb-shifter, feel direct and their broad range is suitable for the flatness of Fulham and the hills of Hampstead.

Brakes are Shimano IM50 units, fitted inside the hubs, reducing maintenance further as no moving parts are exposed to the elements. Stopping requires a fairly heavy pull but they do the job and you still only need to undo the wheelnuts to remove a wheel. Saying that, puncture-proof 32mm Bontrager tyres are unlikely to see many flats.

Other useful features include chainguard and mudguards, and mounting points for a rack. Novelties include a pair of top-tube rubber bumpers to stop the bike falling over when you lean it on something, plus you get an insulated coffee mug that fits perfectly in the bottle cage!

Overall, the Soho is a stylish, sensible all-rounder which feels chunkier on the road than sportier hybrids, though it’s ideal for year-round urban use. Available in five sizes (15in to 25in).

PROS Low maintenance
CONS Could be lighter