Urban Velo

Trek District Carbon

trek_district_carbon The $3400 Trek District Carbon was introduced at Trekworld earlier this week, upping the ante for the high end singlespeed crowd. Borrowing from the Madone line of carbon frames and the District belt-drive singlespeed, this is an ultralight blacked-out singlespeed bike for the unabashed roadies out there in love with all that new technology can offer. The frame features all of the carbon touches one would expect from Trek, like an oversized headtube and bottom bracket, sculpted OCLV tubes and internal routing for the rear brake. Gates provides the Carbon Belt Drive which is most definitely a love-it or hate-it proposition, with people on each side of the fence and the jury still out on the long term viability in the hands of the general public. The price to entry is high, but generally full carbon bikes aren’t cheap and are seen on roof racks of cars that are more expensive than many of our homes. For that crowd, this may be what they’re looking for. What this truly represents in the mainstreaming of singlespeed road bikes—as singlespeed mountain bikes worked their way out of the underground a similar series of products came available from the big players, legitimizing the bikes and widening the overall parts choices out there for everyone.


  1. RichardAugust 14, 2009 at 8:17 am

    interesting seeing a belt drive on a bike, personally never have seen that. It should hold up pretty well though, being from a motorcycle background i would never hope for a belt drive on my ducati but harley and beull have been using them on their bikes for a while so i feel if it works on something putting out that kind of hp then it should be good on a bike too.

  2. bradAugust 14, 2009 at 8:45 amAuthor

    The Gates Carbon Belt Drive has been around for a few years. The question is less if it will pull apart under load but more about efficiency losses as compared to a similar chain drive and long term wear and serviceability.

  3. JoshAugust 14, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Can you ride fixed with the belt drive or only SS? The belt isn’t stiff right? I’ll take one in a 53.

  4. steveAugust 14, 2009 at 9:32 am

    i thought the carbon bikes on the roofs of cars were worth more than the car itself.. at least that’s been my experience.

  5. GenghisKhanAugust 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Agreed with Steve, but there are those dentists and doctors out there with their 700 series BMWs and Pinarellos!

    As to the TDC, I like it! Trek, feel free to send me a demo anytime! ;o)

  6. tim zAugust 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

    hmm. not sure if i would spend 3400 on a single speed. carbon commuter? overkill. i guess it’s a nice bike if you don’t know how to shift and have money to burn. maybe i’m just poor but if i spent 3400 bucks i’d want some gears.

  7. TerryAugust 14, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I’d want a bright color that would help me be seen by people in cars.

  8. Pink RobeAugust 14, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I get the sensation that this is a solution looking for a problem. If I don’t tension the belt correctly, it will come off just like a chain would. It requires a specially-designed frame, and the gearing is restricted [current max is 2.75:1, and I typically ride 2.94:1].

    On this particular bike, it costs only $59 less than the Madone 5.1 [Ultegra], but lacks at least $400 in parts, so the belt and sprockets must cost significantly more than a standard drivetrain.

    This bike [and drivetrain] does not represent good value, IMHO. The belt drive is a good concept overall.

  9. MarvinKAugust 14, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    The Trek District has been around for almost a year, and the non-carbon 2009 and 2010 models both look much nicer than this one, and are <$900. I don’t think the belt drive is what is driving up the price of the carbon one.. since Trek’s cheapest Ultegra bike is dramatically more than $900.

    (btw: you can do a Madone 5 Project One w/SRAM Rival for $3400)

    You can get the Madone w/SRAM Rival for LESS than the belt drive. It’s purely an issue of pricing for the (understandable) lack of demand for this oddball model. Consider the regular District belt drive instead.

  10. Dan StanleyAugust 14, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Who Cares… The end is near the beginning of this era no one can define. Bicycles are for fun or racing, this bicycle accomplishes neither. Two snaps down…OVer It!!

  11. Dan StanleyAugust 14, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Or how about this… Have US framebuilder make you a frame with custom geometry and the sweetest wheelset you could imagine (please use real spokes nothing too Aero) for the same price and support a real artisan..Just Saying..

  12. JimAugust 15, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Yeah funny that someone could build you a full custom bike for cheaper than Trek can build a bike with all their resources. I guess they hope for a lot of people with more money than sense.

  13. HarryAugust 15, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I agree with Dan & Jim. If I had that kind of money to blow on a bike, custom steel with ace components would trump this. Bicycling magazine built up a Gunnar Street Dog with dream spec for about the same cost. Seems to me the Trek’s a “concept” bike more than anything else.

  14. ErikAugust 17, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I think that the bike is a killer idea and hopefully more will fallow, but unfortunately Trek has a bad habit of way over specking things and making the price almost stupid. If they would have gone w/ the oclv white frame and less expensive brakes and wheel set they could have stayed in the 2k mark. or put on a rohloff 14 speed internal hub and made one super clean super light road bike.

  15. djconnelAugust 18, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    The Gates belt drive is indeed claimed to be as efficient as a chain, and if it’s less susceptible to dirt, all the better.

    I applaud Trek for going for this aspect of the market. Is it perhaps excessive? Yes. But some people feel the urge for excess, and it’s a lot more affordable and less damaging for them to exercise that urge on a bike than on a car or motorcycle.

  16. creedeAugust 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I’ve been riding my belt drive District as a commuter for several months now and it has been amazing. Definitely as solid feeling as a chain. Unfortunately no fixed options yet. As far as pricing, a lot of what is driving the price up on all these belt drive bikes is the non standard rear dropouts. To have a belt you have to break the frame, which means redesigning the rear triangle. I suspect a lot of the price goes to R&D and non standard low volume production.

  17. NickOctober 9, 2009 at 1:38 am

    They did it just because the could. End. Of. Story.

  18. AiricJanuary 12, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I just got my Trek Carbon District it was born on 12/29/2009 built last week. I removed the stock bars and installed carbon riser bars and Paul levers, the bars were cut down 3 inches on each side. I live in Chicago and ride in traffic a lot and shorter bars help a lot for urban riding and getting through traffic. The bike stock out of the box is about 15 pounds in the 54 cm size.

    The bike is super nice to ride, very smooth, the belt drive is very quite, rear wheel is super easy to remove and install to change the rear tire. Only learning curve is getting the belt on and aligned/tensioned correctly – read manufactures notes for installing and alignment…if installed wrong ie: not aligned you can throw the belt which makes this really odd rubber band sound “BOUNG” but the belt does not get thrown into the wheel or spokes – I’m happy to say…that really was the only learning curve and now it’s set and things are perfect.

    It’s a really nice bike! My first Trek, carbon and belt drive…I ride a brakeless fixed gear most of the time – I’m 36 and have been riding brakeless in Chicago for 16 years…the belt drive is a really nice break from pedaling 24-7.

    Image included:

  19. AiricJanuary 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Image: http://www.erichalvorsen.com/beltdrive.jpg

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