Monday, October 16, 2017

Cape to Kapp: Cycling from the Southernmost Part of Africa to the Northernmost Part of Europe


Teresie Hommersand grew up near Stavanger, a city known as the oil capital of Norway. She remembers eating supper every evening off plates with the logo of the national oil and gas company on them. Somehow she became the "green sheep" of the family. She has lived in Uganda, Oregon, and Australia. She currently resides in South Africa. We did not sponsor her the Soma Saga DC she is riding, but will be donating to the charities she is trying to bring awareness to. Learn more about her ride and her charity crowdfunding campaign at 
cape-to-kapp.com. We will be posting some of her experiences here on the blog. She is already in Malawi at the time of this post.



I'm Teresie, a 31 year old Norwegian girl, and I'm cycling solo from South Africa to Norway! From the most southern point on the African continent to the most northern point in Europe!! All on my Soma Saga.
I love people's reactions when they see me. There's no limit to hooting, waving and thumbs up from passing cars and trucks. I've had people clap, blow me kisses, ask for my autograph and even say gravely that I'm going to die. While some propose, others become speechless. But above all, EVERYONE is so interested, excited and enthusiastic! Cycling becomes a dream with all of this support!


Your mode of transport really influences what you experience along the way, who you meet and how you interact. For instance, one late afternoon as the sun was about to set, I found myself on a dirt road in the Klein Karoo in South Africa. A dry farm country with hills and mountains and great distances between farms. I was getting a bit uneasy. I didn't feel like camping out in minus degrees. I had become an expert at being invited in to random people's homes after a whole day of cycling. However, there were no signs of human activity except for the corrugated and rocky road I was on. I raced the setting sun.

After climbing an uphill, I finally saw a farm gate! It looked decent. Well maintained. Let me try! I cycled down this road, looking for houses. Nothing. I was in the middle of nowhere. Then I saw something that looked like really big cows. I cycled a bit closer. They turned out to be buffalos! Luckily there was a fence between us. I cycled on. A house! Hurray! There were absolutely no one there. I started to mentally prepare myself for a cold night. Then I heard voices. It came from the farmworkers' quarters further ahead. Ok! At least I'll have company! As I cycled towards them I became aware of a group of trees. There was something amongst those threes. A building? Is that a road? Are those cars? I suddenly found myself in the farmer's driveway! A green oasis in the otherwise dry and dusty yet stunning landscape. There was even a braai (barbecue) area and a swimming pool! And there was the farmer, wondering who on earth had pulled up infront of his house on a heavily loaded bicycle. When I asked if I could pitch my tent in their garden, he said 'Are you mad? Come in!'.

As I was shown to my own room, I was informed that all the farmers in the area was also about to arrive for their monthly catch-up! Not only did I get to meet everyone in the whole area, but had I knocked on the door of any other farmer that evening, no one would have been home! I was so welcomed, so included and so full of the heartiest 'afrikaaner delights' that evening.
The Cape of Africa: Start of the journey

The next morning, as I was fastening my panniers to my bicycle, Wessel (the farmer) asked me 'Don't you wanna go for a private game drive on the farm?' I was already in cycling mode and had to take five minutes to reboot before saying YES! How often do I have this opportunity? We spent the whole day out together, in the best outdoor classroom, getting up close with and learning about the Impalas, Sable Antelopes, Rooi Hartebeests, Oryx, Ostriches, Elands, Water Buffalos and many more. Wessel knew all about the areas flora and fauna. It's geology. How the drought is affecting the area and the farmers. He and his son Izak even challenged me to a round of bokdrol. A poo spitting competition! Apparently, dry Impala dung is the poo of choice for this game. We only had Kudu poo. I lost.
I was made to feel so at home by the whole family that when they invited me to stay a third day, I almost did. For two months I cycled through South Africa. I only camped twice, and that was my own choice. The rest of the time I was invited into the homes of everyone I asked if I could pitch my tent in their garden. I am sure that a lot of this happened just because I rocked up on a bicycle❤️
Follow the journey on Instagram: teresiehommersand and Facebook: Cape to Kapp



When I asked if I could pitch my tent in their garden,
he said 'Are you mad? Come in!'.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Inspiration for Bringing Back the Stanyan Lugged Road Frame

The "ispirazione" first and foremost was when the L'Eroica organizers saw fit to bring their Italian event to Pasa Robles, California. The L'Eroica not only brings the "vintage bike feels" to us, but it is a great way for the cycling community to experience how it was to ride and compete on bicycles before there was 30 speed drive trains and carbon fiber and GPS. Some of the rules in this event is you can't use clipless pedals or aero brake levers. Most folks ride genuine vintage road racing bikes that are pre-1987.

For this round of Stanyans we went with a threaded 1"steerer fork, not just because "that's what vintage road bike used" but it just looks better with lugged frames. Lugs limit how angled your top tube can be, so if we used a 1-1/8 threadless set up most of us would need to run a tall headset spacer stack. The original Stanyan we launched in 2008 was threadless.

We ditched the polished lugs for color schemes that fit right into the scene of vintage jerseys and dusty roads. The main thing that's not period correct is the 130mm rear hub spacing, since it is hard to find quality freewheels these days. You can run an 11-speed cassette, if you want.

The Stanyan '18 is available now. ...More than enough time for you to source those old parts and build your perfect "heroic bike" for next year's event.






Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Soma Double Cross Gets More Awesome



We aren't the brand that tweaks our designs and colors every year just because we are afraid of losing people's attention or market share (which we've never had anyway), but this year the Double Cross gets its first design change since adding to disc brake compatibility.
The Double Cross is our original do-all frame. It's capable for light touring, cyclo-cross, commuting, gravel and even some trail riding.

What are the changes?
1) We are using a lighter, stiffer Breezer style webbed dropout. The curved chainstay fits more types of calipers. The old design at certain sizes made it hard to get to the hardware of certain calipers. (Not all disc brakes are designed for placement on the chainstay.).

2) We also increased tire clearance slightly. The old Double Crosses always had more than enough clearance for cyclo-cross tires and most hybrid/commuter tires, but with new interest in gravel events we decided to make the DC more friendly to 700 x 40 gravel tires. You can squeeze in a 700 x 45 Panaracer Fire Cross if you don't use one of those Shimano long-arm front derailleurs. If you must use one of those long arm FD's, you will be limited to a tire like our 700x42 Shikoro tires (see photo below). Fortunately there are alternatives out there and even Shimano is redesigning.

3) We also tweaked the geometry on the middle to smaller sizes --- mainly shortening the top tubes slightly. This tweak allowed us to remove a size.




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Photo Contest Winners

A big thanks to those who submitted your beautiful images to our "Help Us Decorate our Office" Photo Contest. Below are the two runner-ups and winner.

WINNER: Matthew Browne – "My Soma Wolverine taking in the view from Lake Mountain in the Yarra Ranges, a National Park near Melbourne, Australia. This photo was taken about half way through a loop that starts in a river valley, takes in a beautiful gravel climb to an alpine hut, a bit of a hike along a ridge, some single track through the snow gums and down to the mountain ash, and a ripping pavement descent back to the start."




RUNNER UP: Dean Santos –  Dean with his Grand Randonneur in the Montgomery Street BART station underneath San Francisco's financial district. We were seeking photos with some local scenery. This one was our top pick for that.



RUNNER UP: Alex Brooking – Double Cross Disc on  3 night 4 day bike packing trip in Mount Hood National Forest



Matthew gets a $500 coupon to the SomaFab Shop. Our runner-up each get $100 coupons to the SomaFab Shop. Congratulations.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Plers Beiks!!!

Soma Valhallen. You've heard the name perhaps, spoken quietly in dimly lit speakeasies and alleyways. Who is this mythical warrior and what's with all the empty hair spray cans? We'll get to that.



The soundtrack for the video is Tape Waves and was used without permission, because it was already downloaded on my phone and it's a cool song. Maybe check out their Bandcamp and order a physical media. Now back to the story.


Eons ago, when I was just a wee lass, I wanted a downhill bike. I worked at a shop in Reno called Bicycle Bananas and we sold a crapton of Iron Horse Sundays because Sam Hill was blowing up the UCI downhill scene. That bike was way out of my budget and I thought I was too cool for full suspension anyway, so I ordered up their top of the line hardtail the Waka Gashira. The thing was a beast, with a 1.5 fork (no tapered steerer tubes in those days). It was my dream bike. I rode it all over Reno and up in Lake Tahoe at the Northstar downhill resort. But after a season I was moving to Seattle and in need of some cash, so I sold the bike and that was that. But I never forgot how fun it was to ride a hardtail with a big ass suspension fork. Before long the company hit a rough patch, Sam Hill signed with Specialized and the Waka Gashira became a forgotten relic of the Pinkbike archives.

http://reviews.mtbr.com/fox-shocks-2013/fox_float_34_ctd
Flash forward to 2011, I got a job at IRD (Soma's parent company) and I came with a mission to restore the Hooligan Hardtail to it's rightful place in the pantheon of Gnar-shredders. It took a while to convince them that we needed another mountain bike frame in the line, especially since I was all hot and bothered for those weirdo 650b DH tires Pacenti showed off at NAHBS in Sacramento. For a while it looked like it would be just a pipe dream, but finally Fox introduced some long travel 650b forks and we were back in the game.


The Pacenti tires never did make it to market, but by the time we finished the geometry for our new bike WTB had announced their 2.8" Trailblazer tires and we knew it was only a matter of time before more manufactures got on board. We asked our buds at Panaracer to pretty please make us a 650b plus tire and before long they came out with the Fat B Nimble.


The project got put on hold for a couple years while we developed the Sandworm, which is more of a do anything adventure bike, but in 2015 we revisited the idea and decided to include some new interface standards that would enable our frame to offer more tire clearance and add strength and stiffness to the rear triangle.


We decided for the first time we would use a press fit bb on one of our frames. There are a lot of opinions about why you would or wouldn't want one of these, but our reasoning is pretty simple. A PF30 bb shell will let you run just about any cranks you want. Prefer threaded Hollowtech bearings? No problem, just pop in a euro adapter. Want to run single speed? No worries, there's an EBB option. Want to use a belt drive? Ok, get a Sandworm, but still, it's pretty versatile.


We also decided to hop on the BOOOST thru axle bandwagon. Why you ask, when our other frames already fit chubby tires? Two reasons. Firstly, it allowed us to use conventional hollow chainstays, which saves weigh and saves you money. Secondly, we decided to push the envelope and build in clearance for true 3.5" tires. There aren't too many options in that size yet, but the way things are going I don't think we'll have to wait too long.


So you want to know about the name? Fine. It's kid of dumb, but it's my favorite part. Remember back in the 90s when Cartoon Network was really good? I do. There was this show called Dexter's Laboratory created by Genndy Tartakovsky and Hanna-Barbera. Seth MacFarlane worked on it. It was kind of a Rocky and Bullwinkle for kids with social anxiety. In the grand tradition of self aware cartoon series it included references to all kinds of pop culture that was mostly lost on the sober viewers at that time. One bit they had was called the Justice Friends, a parody of the JLA/Avengers which featured the characters living in a sitcom apartment with classic hi-jinx and slapstick galore. I had really wanted to do a frameset named Odin, like our handlebars, but I guess somebody already thought of that. So I checked to see whether anybody had registered the trademark for the viking god of rock, and it turns out that nobody was using it. And Van Halen is ok, I guess. We should have frames in stock this summer.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Soma In Japan

Soma Fab visited Japan for the first time in 13 years. Of course Soma's parent company has been doing business in Japan for over a hundred years, but we mostly see our Japanese friends when they come to SF on the way to Interbike or visiting their California customers. So it was kind of a big deal to be invited to speak at Tokyo San Esu's open house. We were also invited to tour some historic Japanese factories who make some of our favorite products like Panaracer, Yokozuna, Izumi Chain, Mikashima Pedal, Ostrich Bag, Nitto and Honjo Kokken. We also visited several cool shops around Tokyo.




















































Stay tuned for more photos from the trip.