Friday, January 13, 2017

What's a Pescadero Anyway?


The Low Down on the new Pescadero frame set:
  • Road sport/Endurance road geometry
  • Fits tires up to 700c x 42mm
  • Designed for Paul Racer centerpull brakes and 73mm dual pivot caliper brakes
  • Coming in late March 2017

A pescadero is a fishmonger if you didn't get that far in your high school Spanish class. It's also the name of a charming town down the coast a bit between SF and Santa Cruz. The town began as a rancho like so many of the historic communities in California did, but nowadays it's one of a number of eclectic little villages along the scenic Highway 1. Since the Fog Cutter was inspired by a trip to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, we wanted our newest all-road bike to go with the theme of NorCal beach destinations.

TIG-welded using Tange Prestige heat-treated double-butted chromoly steel

So what's the deal with this bike anyway? As you may know our ES road sport frame was originally called the Smoothie "Extra Smooth", because it fit wider, more comfortable tires than our Smoothie road race bike. Believe it or not, it was the first Soma I ever bought back when I was first greasing chains and patching tubes at the local bike shop. And it's a great bike. It's been largely unchanged since we launched it aside from a new coat of paint every few years, but I would guess there are probably hundreds of ES that still get ridden every day.



Well we got to thinking, wouldn't it be sweet if the ES could fit the new 42c Supple Vitesse road tires that we make. Unfortunately 57mm road brakes max out at about 33mm wide tires. That was huge only a few years ago, but things change and sometimes you just need more in your life. As it turns out, the brakes were the only thing holding us back so we went ahead and made a frame set that fits 67mm reach brakes and voila! Without changing the geometry or the handling we were able to reinvent this classic Soma.

Designed for Paul Racer centerpull brakes in mind! Fits up to 700 x 42mm tires or 38mm with fenders

And I have to say, it rides great with these tires. If you've never ridden the Grand Randonneur 650b x 42mm tires then you might think a 42 would feel like a beast, but you'd be dead wrong. They're super fast and plenty light (perhaps the lightest tires available in this size).

If you can't afford the splendid Paul Racer brakes, these Rivendell/Tektro 73mm reach caliper brakes work well, too.
We positioned the brake bridge in a way to keep the pads high in the slot to minimize arm flex.

Some people feel that long reach caliper brakes just aren't quite responsive enough. I can't say I agree with that, since I've been riding them for years, but to those people I'd say you have two options to consider.

Option 1 is just go for the disc brake friendly Fog Cutter and embrace the future, man. But if you're the wool wearing, pipe smoking, Robert Burns reading type of cyclist consider...

Option 2. Centerpull brakes! Remember those? Mafac, Weinmann, Dia Compe? Even Shimano used to make them. Anyway, Paul Components up in old Chico, CA makes some and they are just bitchin. Great stopping power, tons of fender clearance, stiff as a metaphor and boy-oh-boy do they look nice. We even included a special cable hanger in the back so you don't have to use one of those dangly ones.


But wait, there's more! We got those rack eyelets, baby! It'll take a front and rear Champs Elysees rack, a Porteur Deluxe up front, a Nitto Mark's rack or one of these new Gamoh jobbies that's in the pictures. Now remember I said it's exactly like the ES, so it isn't low trail. We might do a different fork some day but for now this is it. That said, it rides great. If you want low trail you probably already know all about that stuff, so I won't bother getting into it here.



What else? Uh, Breezer-style hooded dropouts. Groovy fork blades. This sweet blue paint job. What more do you want? These will be coming in March I think. Hopefully. Anyway, if you want one your LBS can pre-order one through Merry Sales and you can just kick back and listen to some Electro Swing or whatever the kids are into these days. Cheers y'all!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Soma Photo Contest





We at Soma Fabrications are looking for photos of our Soma frames in their natural habitat to decorate our office.  The winning photo will be enlarged to 8' x 4' for our conference room and for that reason, it must have a resolution of 15 – 20 Mega Pixels. Runner ups will need a lesser resolution (12-20 MP) and will be enlarged to about 3' x 4' and hung throughout the offices. 

What are we looking for:   

1.  San Francisco or Coastal Northern California, i.e. West Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Santa Cruz, etc. involving fog and redwoods, etc.

2.  Exotic places such as Nepal, Tibet, India, etc. 

3.  Colored photo or black and white, whatever suits the mood of the photo

4. There must be a Soma bike in the photo, but it doesn’t have to be prominently featured.

5. Photo captions must accompany all submissions, and should include

  • The location in which the image was taken
  • A description of the trip, circumstances, etc, that may be helpful for judges


One Winner will receive a name acknowledgement for the photo and a $500 credit towards the SomaFab Store.  The Runner Ups (up to 4), will also receive a name acknowledgement for the photo as well as a $100 credit towards the SomaFab store. The store credit will be good for up to 6 months from the date of issuance.

*Images can be emailed as compressed JPEG's.  Do not email RAW image or images over 15 megabytes in size as our email service will not accept them.  You are free to watermark your submissions; but we would like the images to be submitted at full size, if possible, so we can evaluate color and composition as well as the potential sharpness/noise when blown up to size. 

Please email submission(s) to jim_porter(at)merrysales.com

Last date to email your submission will be Dec. 31, 2016.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bikecamping With Our New Distributor in South Africa

Yes we have finally found some like-minded souls to represent Soma Fabrications on the continent Africa (Cape Town, South Africa to be exact). We are quite quite happy about that.

Here is some photo coverage of a week long camping ride they took outside of Cape Town with some fellow members of the "S24o Bicycle Microadventures" Facebook group. They are called that because most of their outings are sub-24 hours. Please visit the Everyday Cycle Supply site for the full photo essay of the trip.







Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sandworm: May His passing cleanse the World

Words and Photography by Spencer J. Harding

Essay by Edward Abbey "I Loved it...I Loved it All" from Ned Judge on Vimeo.

Go to that link, watch the first few minutes of that piece by Ed Abbey. After a week of cavorting around the Moab desert I started to appreciate what ole’ Ed had to say about the desert.


But we aren’t gonna get into conservation and all the politics right now, just look at what he’s driving. That beautiful Cadillac, not some souped up jeep, a classy as hell convertible Cadillac. When trying to review this frame it has been hard to figure out what to highlight, this is the most versatile frameset for off-road riding that I am aware of at the moment.


So this is the point I want to make, you could go buy the fancy carbon fiber plus tire full squish mega bike, but if you are reading this that is probably not your thing. You are a dignified off-road cycling enthusiast, and this my friends is your Cadillac.


This is a convertible Cadillac meandering down lonely desert roads kind of bike, its about looking damn good and feeling even better. Sure there are more specific bikes, but trust me, this bike can be made to handle almost everything (Captain Ahab was a little gnarly rigid but I managed). You don’t need to ride in the desert for long to be stoked that you have some plus sized tires, and you can run just about any tire you can image on this thing (26/27.5/29).


The chain stays are longer than bike publications would deem noteworthy (fear not this thing wheelies no problem) but, this thing is a freaking Cadillac, its not gonna turn on a dime, but you don't need to when you look and feel this good.


So get that stem up nice and high and put some wide bars so you can really take in the landscape, you don’t have to watch every rock and sand patch with this beauty, just let the 3”+ air suspension handle the imperfections. I’ve yet to see anyone ride this bike without a shit eating grin on their face the entire time.


Are the type of person who; likes to get way way out in the great outdoors, enjoys the challenge of crawling through spreadsheets of mountain bike parts measurements, rides slower than the average Strava roadie who just discovered mountain biking, has an appreciation for fashion over function, and wants to build up a plus bike that is so classy that even ole’ Ed Abbey would tip his hat?


Then my friend, the Sandworm is for you. THE SPICE MUST FLOW.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Soma Vitesse Tire Review from Velo De Route of France

We don't re-post reviews of our products too much here anymore, but since this one requires Google Translate and has such pretty pictures, we made an exception. View the full review here.
Joly reviewed the 42mm wide SL with an inner tube. He was interested in trying the tire after meeting us at Eurobike.

On the tarmac he had nothing out of the ordinary to report, but for the downhill...
<<In downhill the balance is strangely more mixed: admittedly, the section and the gum of quality offer a grip in curve, as braking, simply phenomenal, but the height of the bike does not fully exploit these assets. It is not the fault of the tire, but if you add the two centimeters due to the cyclo-cross frame and the tire, it is at least three centimeters higher than on a road frame in tire of 25/28 Mm. It starts to do ... In practice, the configuration photographed did not allow me to beat or even approach my reference time in downhill (established with Compass tires).>>

He noted his 42mm measured closer to 37mm. This was with a narrowish rim with 18mm internal width.
A 23mm internal width rim should get you closer to 42mm.


On gravel performance:
<On roads generally traveled in tires of the same volume but more or less clinging, with rubber flank, the difference of flexibility and yield is really impressive. The surface adheres very well, even on loose ground, and slightly damp, the grip remains very correct. The micro-slats that partially cover the surface of the tire are probably for something, and the adhesion is not less than with semi-slicks type "tip of diamond". In the mud ... it slips, normal. This is the obvious limit of a slick tire.
[On downhill gravel:]
There, it is a new (good) surprise. Once again the flexibility of the tire, and the absence of crampons [knobs] provide much less vibration than my usual tires. If it's obvious on the tar, it's also noticeable on a path. It seems that at equal volume, the absence of crampons provides better contact with the ground.>>
After a few tests I adopted pressures of 3 bars at the rear, 2.5 at the front whatever the ground, and so far without puncture. The lightness of the flanks is reminiscent of the first MTB tires of yesteryear, and therefore the specter of the pinch is very present in mind ... caution remains, but after 200 km of rustic gravel,

<
In the end, these Soma Speed ​​42 mm are the ideal gravel tires for dry conditions.
Their road performances are impeccable, and allow to drive in a group at high speed, as much as on a 150km turn.
But especially their performances along the way are really excellent. The combination of a large volume on a slick tire in my opinion provide the best versatility of a "gravel". Of course some extreme terrain or wet conditions require crampons, but always to the detriment of versatility and performance.>>

The writer makes an interesting note that tires in the 40mm and up range raise the BB of road bikes and CX bikes higher than what they are designed for. And thus you can't corner and steer as confidently, even with the added grip of these tires. Frame makers would need to make frames with lower bottom brackets. This isn't lost on us. We stay pretty conservative on our BB heights. Because ven though we are designing many of our bike to fit 38c and up, we have many customers and bike shops who will outfit our frames with 700x28.  This means we can't optimize the BB drop just for the largest tire size, because then the BB height will be too low for more common size tires. For folks wanting wider tires AND the lowest BB height with disc road/CX bike, your main option is to go with a 650b conversion. Second option...a custom frame.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Soma Stanyan 2017

It's been a while since Soma announced any new lugged frames. Well the wait is over at last. For 2017 Soma will be producing a limited number of totally redesigned Stanyan lugged road/audax framesets in black and white color schemes.


So there are a couple of changes since the last time, most notably the steerer tube is 1" threaded. That means the lugs are a teensy bit lighter and you can use the Soma Sutro quill stem (or one of the hundreds of Nitto options).


Another new feature is the rear dropouts. We went for a medium length semi horizontal dropout with adjustment screw. We chose this for two reasons. A. because it allows you to adjust the wheel position a smidgen, which can be useful when trying to squeeze the biggest tires into 57mm brakes with optimal fender clearance. And B. because we're not bringing back the Van Ness and we know there are a lot of folks who want to use single speed or internally geared drive trains.


The forks now have a little fancier blades than before. We kept the mini rack mounts from the last generation to allow you to mount small handlebar bags, as well as light mounts or long fenders up front. We didn't do anything to the geometry, so if you're worried that we frenched up the handling, chill, we didn't. That's not to say you shouldn't use a handlebar bag, just don't go full Manny and try to carry a lawn chair or something  and it should be ok.


If you've never ridden the Stanyan before, just imagine the ES with slightly livelier tubing. If you normally ride road bikes it will feel pretty familiar. If you prefer wider tires it will probably feel a bit more nimble than your touring or CX bike.


They do have rear rack mounts, but we don't really intend to load them down too much. If you really need to do some cargo hauling somthing like the Nitto 27r with low set panniers will work well, otherwise somthing minimal like the Soma Champs Elysees will work better. Just like the original Stanyan these have fender eyelets on the brake and chainstay bridges.


If you are in the bay area and fancy taking a spin on either bike be sure to stop by American Cyclery's Halloween Basement Crypt sale before somebody snatches them up.


If you were hoping for Fogcutter info, don't worry, you should be getting good news very soon.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Rehabbing a Classic Peugeot 26" Montreal Express

We're in the business of making frames, so it's not surprising that we focus a lot of attention on creating new things. But that doesn't mean that we don't appreciate well made bikes from the past too. Pedal Revolution in San Francisco refurbishes donated bikes as part of their mission to provides skills and opportunities for young people in the the community. While these bikes appear far more humble than most of what you'll seen on bike blogs and tradeshow floors, they offer a rare chance to improve and restore a bike that has proven it's self worthy of a second life on the streets of the city.


Built in Canada from Japanese Ishiwata steel, this bicycle represents another era of mountain bike design, perhaps closer to today's trekking and adventure touring models. The frame is lugged chromoly, while the fork is a TIG welded unicrown design. Both sets of dropouts feature rack and fender mounting eyelets, and the Shimano Deore V-Brakes we've installed offer plenty of clearance for the Soma New Xpress 26 x 1.75" tires.


We removed the original single wall 6 speed wheels and replaced them with a modern double wall 8 speed set. These will offer more reliability and an expanded gear range thanks to a 34 tooth cassette.


Another significant modification was replacing both the bars and the quill stem. This frame is much longer than it is tall, and would be difficult to fit with the original steel riser bars. We chose the locally designed Sycip Wonder Bars for their generous back sweep and their reasonable price. Paired with a Soma Fab Sutro quill stem we've elevated the cockpit to a more upright, commuter friendly position. These bars should play nicely with a front basket or cargo rack since they'll offer a fair bit 'o leverage.


In addition to the Shimano V-Brake levers we also installed a pair of IRD Power Ratchet friction thumb shifters. The original Shimano levers worked fine in friction mode, but were beginning to crack around the plastic casing so we opted to replace them. The IRD levers feature modified Rivendell Silver levers which work flawlessly paired with almost any drivetrain. The Sutro stem features our favorite SF landmark, which can be spotted from most parts of the city.


The original rear derailleur was not badly worn, but had been neglected and was covered in years of grime. A full disassembly, cleaning and lubrication brought it back to life and kept the Peugeot's retro aesthetic intact.


The wide range Sakae square taper triple cranks won't turn any collectors heads, but look fantastic and offer a much better range of gears for tackling the bay area's many climbs. As with the rear derailleur these too required a considerable amount of cleaning to restore their classic looks.


The original shop sticker marks this bikes south bay pedigree.


If you've got a classic ride that you've been dreaming about bringing back to life, or if you've got one bike too many and you want to donate it to support Pedal Rev's Youth Internship program you can call or email The Shop or better yet, stop by and say what's up.


Up next, we'll be rebuilding this New Albion Homebrew frame with a custom blend of components from the Pedal Rev collection. Stay tuned for more on that.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Rawland Ulv 650B+ Dirt Drop

Sean over at Rawland Cycles finally loaned us the prototype Ulv 650B+ trekking bike.


The frame is a little on the small size, so I swapped out the cockpit and the seatpost to approximate a slightly longer frame.


Normally with the Gator bars I would go with an even shorter stem, but for this bike an 80mm feels about right.


This frameset is designed around large volume 650b tires, and comes stock with the Panaracer Fat B Nimble.


Since the Ulv is a low trail bike, it works great with a loaded mini rack. We mounted the Ostrich F-702 handlebar bag to the Rawland Raido Verks rack.


The bag straps directly to the bars and rack tombstone and since the bars have such a generous amount of sweep there's no clearance issue on the hoods or in the drops.


We went with the Ostrich S-2 seatbag for a bit of extra storage space, since I'm running bottle cages in lieu of a frame pack.


This bike comes standard with wide range 1x11 Sram Rival components. We've used this kit for a number of Wolverines, so it was a welcome sight for this adventure focused build.


Rawland uses solid steel plates to keep the Q-factor very low without resorting to Boost specific cranks or a heavy chainstay yoke. The Panaracers have a decent amout of clearance mounted to WTB Scraper rims.


Although it's built up as a 1x11, it does have a cable stop should you ever want to run a wide range double or a MTB triple crankset.


Rawland specced their own Raido Verks 12mm thru axle hubs for these builds. The updated graphics were inspired by Runes, and carry the tradition of Norse mythology that has been a theme of Rawland's models since the original Sogn was announced in 2007.


The Sram Rival disc brakes are unbelievable. They offer so much control with a fraction of the hand strength required to stop mechanical discs. While not an aftermarket option, Rawland used post mount brake mounting to ensure backwards compatibility with mechanical calipers like the Paul Klamper should you ever need to swap them out.


Rawland plans to release 100 complete bikes this year, but we can expect framesets to be available through shops after the first run is delivered.