Monday, May 5, 2008

Product Updates

- We will be introducing a new Pearl White version of our racy Smoothie frame. ETA: First week of June. (New shipment of Deep Sea Blue Smoothies has just arrived. Sorry that they've been scarce for so long.)

- We would also like to officially announce we are developing a heavy duty touring frame.
1. Flat crown fork with double eyelets at the dropouts. Low rider pannier mounts, too.
2. Thicker butted tubing than our Double Cross frames. Heat treated front triangle.
3. Spoke holder, pump peg, three set of bottle bosses.
4. No disc brake mount... keepin' it traditional
5. 54's and smaller will be made for 26" tires.
6. Name and color not chosen yet.
7. We have no official release date

We pretty much have decided all the specs and geometry, but if you guys wanna desktop coach us, please feel free to post comments.


StevenCX said...

Chromed dropouts!

nv said...

-As much tire/fender clearance as humanly possible.
-I don't see the need for heavier tubing. I ride a lightweight, standard diameter vintage touring frameset and I never wish it to be heavier, stiffer or less lively.
-True touring geometry.

Can't wait to see it!

alex wetmore said...

What you described sounds just like the Surly LHT? How will you differentiate it?

It'd be cool to see a lighter weight touring frame with a nice fork for front biased loads. Think Rene Herse camping bike, not Trek 520.

Phil Bickford said...

Ahh, come on, you're going to chicken out of the possibility of 650B wheels for those smaller frames ??

Jim G said...

Yeah, what Alex said. How is your bike going to be different than a LHT? Instead, make a bike like this in a normal range of sizes...

Somacisco said...

Thanks for your comments. Keep them coming. Original intent was a frame that won't let you down in the middle of nowhere and doesn't ride like a wet noodle when all loaded up.

Alex: The biggest primary difference would be heat treated CrMo vs standard CrMo. That gives us the option to build slightly lighter than the LHT or be more durable/reliable.

What would you consider lightweight for a sound touring frame, Alex? And what would you consider too heavy for even a heavy duty touring frame?

Phil: Unfortunately 650b is still a bit harder to find out in the boonies than 700c/26". If we made it disc compatible, these could be 650b conversions, but the main guy designing this wants traditional.

JimG: Didn't know Araya had this. What stands out about this IYO?

alex wetmore said...

somacisco -- glad to see you responding.

I'd like to see a bike made out of 8/5/8 heat treated tubing in a standard diameter (28.6mm downtube, 25.4mm top tube). With the right geometry and a front biased load such a bike is capable of fully loaded touring. This would be similar to the classic touring bikes made in the 80s. I tour on such a bike made out of 7/4/7 (Platinum OX) heat treated tubing, but I think that is probably too flexible to be acceptable to the general public and potentially too fragile for your warranty.

9/6/9 standard diameter (28.6mm downtube, 25.4mm top tube) would be an advantage over what is available in the marketplace today. I find the current mass market touring frames built with 9/6/9 oversized tubing to be uncomfortably stiff when climbing.

It Depends said...

I think Alex's suggestions are great. I also like Jim's idea of a production rando bike. If you decide to stick with a LHT-type bike, though, please consider using 26" wheels for all frame sizes -- a true "expedition touring" bike would be something a little different than the (fabulous) LHT, or anything else out there at a reasonable price point these days. I'd also encourage you to side with Riv rather than Surly on the small size seat tube angles -- keep them 73 degrees or under, even if it means accepting a little more TCO or making other design compromises.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Well, if you don't make it in sizes bigger than 60cm I don't care what you do.

However, if you do make it for us average-size-plussers, I'd like to agree with the slightly-lighter-is-better crowd. I also agree that the more tire clearance you can engineer, the better. Don't have enough experience with the low-trail thing to intelligently comment.

Harth said...

I agree with "anonymous" about sizing. I am only 6'1" and ride a 62/63cm, which means I cannot consider Soma frames. And I can imagine that a Soma touring frame would be a great value (assuming it is lugged, as usual).

Anonymous said...

Please don't preclude the use of downtube shifters by putting cable stops on the downtube.

Canti brakes. Rear cable housing stop.

Really long chainstays, like 18 inches.

Who cares about a spoke holder? Mounting for lights would be a better investment of brazing time.

I have not ridden a low-trail bike with front biased load. However, with rear-biased loading, I think my mid-90's Cannondale is about ideal. My 531 bike was too flexible.

Ability to carry a frame pump behind seat tube.

Mark G.
Longmont, CO

It Depends said...

I agree with most of Mark G's suggestions:

-Yes to downtube shifter mounts

-Yes to cantis (consistent with the sensible fat tire requests) and rear cable housing stop

-Yes to long chainstays (18 inches would be great; 17.5 minimum)

-Yes to frame pump behind the seat tube (this should be easy, even with fat tires and fenders, using 26" tires)

-I agree that light mounts are a bigger deal than spoke holders, but what I'd *really* like to see would be integrated fenders and racks (Tubus Cargo or its equivalent on the back; rando style mini rack on the front -- something like in Jim G's link -- and mid-fork braze-ons to add front lowriders, if desired), with light mounting options for both battery and dynamo lights on the front mini rack.

Any chance you would consider posting tentative geometry for a "normal" frame size (56cm or 58cm, e.g.), and let folks offer feedback on that?

Jim G said...

Randonneuring bikes are today what sport-touring bikes were in the 1980s: Good practical everyday machines that suit most peoples' real-world cycling needs. Even if you never use the bike to ride PBP -- since it has fenders, lights, wider tires, plus front/rear racks and/or lightweight baggage, they are well suited to moderate load carrying which makes them excellent for commuting in all weather at day or night. Given that their frames are built with lighter-weight "road" tubing and distinct geometry (esp low-trail front geo for a front load and/or light steering even with 35+mm tires), they are still sporty enough for the weekend-warrior/century rider/organized tour/aidsride cyclist. Also, If you've paid any attention to the NAHBS for the past three years, you'll note the steady increase in the popularity of rando-style road bikes with fenders and racks (especially front-mounted). Finally, addressing the Araya bike specifically, I first learned of this bike when it was mentioned on the iBOB list last year. There was a high degree of interest (note that there are 51 messages!) in this bike, seen as a production version of a costly custom randonneur-style bicycle -- "Why wouldn't someone be able to sell a boatload of these in North America? It's a commuter/tourer out the door!" -- but many were frustrated since the frame is only available in small sizes (54cm and under) and Araya isn't interested in exporting these. SOMA has 75% of this bike already in the Speedster frame. Give it cantilever brakes, more tire clearance (35mm+ with fenders), a low-trail fork with lowrider mounts, a bit more BB drop, keep the light frame tubing, and maybe offer it with complementary racks and fenders, and I bet you'd have (another) hit. Call it the "MacGuyver" because it'll do almost anything well. ;) It seems to me that most folks who buy fully-loaded touring bikes (ala the LHT) never use them for unsupported touring anyways.

Jim G said...

See also.

Anonymous said...

I don't see a need in the market for yet another heavy duty touring bike, but a true rando bike -- with classic geometry -- would be great!

Jimbo said...

The LHT was on my short list of bikes but, I bought a Raleigh Sojeurn instead. Because it has disk brakes. I would rethink not putting on disk tabs. The LHT has the economy minded covered and the Rivendale Alantis is about the same for the upper end. Adding disk tabs would be and having the canti option would be Ideal. Had there been a frame set like this available I would have bought it.

Anonymous said...

Glad your doing a touring bike, look forward to buying it next spring as I have a Trek 4600 with great SRAM X7 components that I want to put on it.
Make it black, with smoke grey logos. Do want to see your brand but don't make it shout.

Anonymous said...

Sounds great guys, but please make the headtube extra tall......Maybe 1 and 1/2 extended headtube so most of us don't have to run a million spacers.(a little scary) One more request please make the rear stays just slighty shorter than the LHT.

CFG wheels

Craig Sinclair said...

I've seen too many people get turned off by the Long Haul Trucker because of the 26" wheels on the smaller sizes. Also, there's lots of couples that tour together, him on a big bike, her on a small bike, and they always complain about having two different sizes of wheels to carry spares for. Can't it just be 700c for the size run?

Anonymous said...

How about forgoing the canti brakes in place of long reach sidepulls or centerpulls? Like the Riv AHH. This would give easier setup, better pannier and heel clearance, but still allow fat tires to be easily installed.

And how about a 1" threaded stem? Being able to adjust the stem height easily is nice, and this makes it really easy to get a high handlebar setup. Not so easy on big frames when you run out of steerer tube.

Eric D
Dublin, OH

Anonymous said...

Yeah sounds a lot like the Surly LHT... which I also didn't buy because fully loaded front and rear racks and a loaded trailer deserve Avid cable disc's... let alone my 6'1" 220lbs load steps on. I'd like to see a Raleigh Sojourn, Trek Portland, Gunnar Rock Tour type bike in "reasonably" priced steel too bad it won't be a Soma.

Anonymous said...

I am with Jimbo. I live in MN and the long months of salty slush chew up rim brakes. I am never buying another bike that does not have disc mounts.

I am also with Eric on the threaded stem.


Somacisco said...

Mark G: When you say light mounts, do you mean dynamo mounts on the seatstay or fork leg -- or actually a perch for a light?

Alex: Thank for the extra helping of feedback. I remembering reading you thought 40mm trail was good for touring...instead of 60-68 like some other touring bikes. What head angles and fork rake combos were you riding with to get better than avg front load handling.

Jim G" The rando style bike is definitely an interesting project. But we need to do some more research and maybe it might be more appropriate to pursue it as a lugged project instead of a TIG'd frame like this touring bike will be.

As these comments roll in, I am seeing a lot of diverse opinions, which is to be expected. All of them are much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

The Trek 720 and Miyata 1000 are among the most legendary and beloved steel touring bikes ever made. If I were going to put a new touring bike on the market, I would take a close look at some old Trek and Miyata brochures.

Dave said...

I did the C&O canal last fall, perfect weather and a holiday weekend and our group of three saw plenty of other mulit day cyclists out but as far as we could tell we were the only group actually camping, and self supported touring doesn't get any easier than the C&O. So I have to wonder if self supported touring is virtually dead.

Seems like there are plenty of sagged cycling vacations and multi day events though. Maybe a sport touring/ rando bike is the better direction to take. I did a Finger lakes Fall foliage supported camping tour the previous year and was only one of two people on bikes that could take fenders and 32mm tires that the chipseal and rain that week made very desirable.

On the other hand in todays market it seems like product drives demand not the other way around. So maybe the more heavy duty tourers that are advertised the more loaded touring we will see. So since this thread is about a "Heavy Duty Tourer" we should talk about that subject and keep the rando discussion for when soma decides to do make one of those too.

-Dave J

Dave said...

So here are my suggestions to differentiate the SOMA HD Tour bike from the LHT:
- 1" quill stem - It is so hard to get those clamp on stems high enough for all day comfort.

- 26" wheels up to 57cm frame size

- Size your frames in between the LHT sizes. 53cm, 55cm, 57cm, etc

- Slightly lighter HT tubing.

- Please used a curved fork!

-Dave J

Green Double Cross owner said...

Make mine orange, please!

Room for big tires and fenders. I can get Schwalbe 38's and fenders on my Double Cross. Make these bigger.

Long Chainstays.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you guys have the who's who commenting on your bike. You better listen. I agree, not another Surly LHT clunker. Think Miyata 1000, Centurion Pro Tour 15, or A Homer Hilsen. Slack angles, 435 to 455 chainstays, shortich top tube, standard gauge tubes, lively ride, light weight, three bottle cages, no lugs - tigged, just light, extended head tube, 132.5MM drop-out spacing, level or near level top tube, fender braze ones.

waded said...

I'm with alex and jimg on this one. "Loaded touring" is covered. Go for the sporty rando style nitch.

Low trail front end (40mm ?) with proper front rack and fender fitment, for tires up to 38mm or so.

Ed Braleys' 650b conversion of the Speedster is brilliant. The Speedster frame with a low trail fork option would be very cool.

alex wetmore said...

"What head angles and fork rake combos were you riding with to get better than avg front load handling."

For 700C wheels and lowrider panniers with a handlebar bag I think that 73 degree HTA with around 60mm of fork offset works well. This gives just over 40mm of trail.

Kogswell P/R is a production bike that was made with similar geometry.

It's worth trying that back to back with a high trail touring bike if you can get one of each to borrow. I could help with that, but I'm far away from San Fran in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

I think the plan sounds good. And I'm rather surprised by the responses. Soma announces plans for a "heavy duty touring frame," only to be told to make something else...

There are diverging opinions about what makes a good heavy duty touring frame, and you won't satisfy everyone.

Sure, you can copy a Kogswell P/R or a Singer instead of making a better LHT or cheaper Atlantis, but the P/R and Singer are not really "heavy duty touring" machines.

I ride unsupported on a LHT with 700x35's and fairly ultralight camping kit. I happily ride pavement, gravel, logging roads and some singletrack. The versatility, simplicity and robustness are key factors, allowing exploration beyond the beaten pavement.

Even with the stoutness of the LHT, there is still noticeable torsional flex with weight distributed on both the front and rear racks. I personally can't see why you'd opt to increase this flexibility and sacrifice durability at the same time when designing for heavy duty touring applications.

Maybe 35lbs in a front basket would work for some people, but it seems like you'd want to avoid this as your only loading option for a heavy duty touring application.

- If you want to make this a heavy duty touring machine, I think you know what you need to do.

- If you want to make a lighter sport tourer or randonneur, start with one of your existing frame designs like the Smoothie, and adjust the geometry for low trail, etc.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I support the less expensive alternative to the Atlantis approach. I have wanted one of those a while but I can't pull the trigger. At least not till the kids move out. I do not think the LHT is a less expensive alternative to the Atlantis. The Atlantis can handle bigger tires and for us larger folks, an adventure bike requires a tire larger than 42c with fenders. I want some Big Apples in there and fenders.

Anonymous said...

Having ridden a 56 Surly LHT, Trek 520 (2004, big tubes, & threadless) and a Trek 720 - Touring, not mult-track here's a few thoughts.

-Surly braze-on's are great
- The 520 was neat, but I'm dead between sizes & like higher bars due to shoulder issues. I could get it a bit below the seat so it worked but I traded it off when I found myself avoiding it when not on tour.
- The 720 - This is the best of all three frames, it's nowhere near as stiff as the LHT, but handles a load fine, & is quick & responsive when not loaded (not too bad loaded either all things considered). It lacks room for fenders with 27*32 tires on it, this is my main complaint. The bottom bracket's a tetch lower then I like but it due to my use of MKS touring pedals. I just have to be careful if powering through a turn but I'd like it up a bit. doubtless The low BB contributes to the overall stability of the bike at high speeds.

All that being said, for a pure touring bike the 720 is the best of the bunch. give it room for 700*35 tires with fenders & keep the tire size to 700c until about 50, maybe 52.
Building a more Euro style "trekking" bike with 26" wheels should be a second project & probably different geometry to allow for the use of the trekking bars styles vs. drop bars as on a traditional touring bike.

Home this doesn't ramble too much, & probably wont' influence ya much but it's late & I was disappointed to see what sounds like another LHT being built vs. something with it's own flavor..

Anonymous said...

Well you have a lot of comments and all I put in was color. Just for kicks I'd direct you to
Check out the Thorn Sherpa. Now thats a rugged touring bike. It has six sizes, short top tube for those whe want drops and long toptube for those who want upright handlebars. I can't advise you on geometry and I'll assume yours will be fine there. But check out how well that frame is equipped. Pump holder is neat. Mounts for dynamos and racks , fenders, microwave oven(runs off dynamo).Alright, maybe the microwave is overkill, but that's the frame I want. I think you could match it for a couple hundred cheaper. Anyway that's why I want it.

Brian said...

Quill stem. so very important. THe big thing for me would be decent tire/fender clearance and a quill stem. Cantis instead of discs- cheaper and less prone to problems.

As cool as heavy, loaded touring frames are, they are the 4-season tent of cycling- overbuilt for their actual use and loaded with mostly wasted capabilities. a decent middleweight is sorely needed. Rivendell has them but charges a fortune, and I'm not looking for a cyclocross bike.

If you chromed the entire frame I'd probably wet myself.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a version larger than 60cm; I ride an older 25.5" Trek and would like to see a modern bike (with a level top tube) that was about that big.

I think it would be awesome if your bike had 46 or 47cm chainstays and <73° seat and headtubes. I'd also like to see a touring-geometry bike with light tubing, 28mm tires, and dual-pivot brakes instead of cantis. I think there are WAY more people taking long rides than there are people taking loaded trips, and a stable, comfortable distance bike (that was still relatively lightweight) would serve them better than a heavyweight tourer that's only fully loaded a few times a year.

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something?

For all of you asking for a nice middle weight in a Rando style, the Smoothie ES and the Speedster both are very good. I agree both models could stand to improve with some modifications in the direction of a genuine randonneur, like Alex W and Jim G outline. In the mean time, lets all focus on giving them the best advice to dial in a loaded touring frame.

Erik E

Anonymous said...

For real, the comments about looking at a Miyata 1000 are bang-on - it's a fantastic bike, and does everything the LHT does with a lot more panache.

Every time someone I know asks what kind of touring rig they should get before setting off on their first/next great adventure, I tell them to try and find a used Miyata 1000, and barring that, get into an LHT if they're on a budget and can't pony up for one of the more exotic rigs out there.

If soma were to get closer to the Miyata than the Surly, it'd quickly replace the LHT as my recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Here's my plea. Please, please, give me some disc brakes! I could care less about how traditional it is, or what it looks like. This is a bike to use, not gussy up and parade around town. I've had too many close calls with wet rim brakes. Keeping them squeak free is lots of fun too. Cleaning the aluminum paste off the bike after a few weeks of wet riding is even better. Put the spoke holders on the backside of the seat tube, and please, I beg of you, put some disc mounts on the fork and chainstay. Put canti bosses on too, everyone will be ecstatic! I'll ditch my LHT if you do.

Rhubarb said...

Whatever you build, please make it in large sizes. You all are the only folks I know of that build any production frames in sizes reasonable for us larger riders. I'm talking about the 66cm side of things to make it clear. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

When is this touring frame going to be ready to buy?

Anonymous said...

I'm on the verge of purchasing a Double Cross frame to build a sport touring bike, and I came across this blog post. If the new frame is to be a heavy-duty touring machine, as the original post implies, then it might not suit me. But I figure I might as well request the frame I want.

If it isn't sized up to 62cm at a minimum, it won't work for me. (I'm 6'5").

Basically, I would like something like the Double Cross but with a longer chainstay and a perhaps a slightly lower bottom bracket.

Room for 38mm tires at a minimum. Posts for cantilever brakes, room for fenders. A threaded fork/stem so I could put a Nitto Technomic in there would be fine, but a threadless system is no deal-breaker.

Spoke-holders and pump pegs are no big deal for me; there are other ways to store those things.

Front and rear rack options, of course.

Basically, I want a bike to ride 90-95% or more on decent pavement, but with the ability to try fire/forest road options with confidence. I'm not planning on riding across Siberia, so ultra-"heavy duty" engineering isn't that important to me.

The LHT is already out there. I think a good quality and affordable sport/touring/rando-type frame is something people are looking for.

Michael said...

Quill Stem, Minimal graphics, neutral light color, as light as possible.

tom said...

Another plea for large frame sizes (I'm 6'5")

Poppymann said...

I've got a Thorn Sherpa and it's a great frame.
But, I would suggest horizontal droputs so that if you want to train fixed in the winter, you can.
Light mounts definitely. Teh Sherpa has every braze-on known to man. I wouldn't put the dyanamo mount though.

fat&sloppy said...

Interesting Concept! Here is the rub. You have three different types of tourers responding with their ideas, and these ideas, are incompatible with each other.

The first type: the hard-core expedition tourist. This is the smallest marketshare. Plans to ride the bike in and outside of the USA. This necessitates a 26" design unless the tourer only plans to tour in USA and highly developed Europe. Thorn Cycles (UK) is an example of a bike company that truly understands this type of touring and requirements. You need a long wheelbase (around 1080-1150mm), long top tube (usually use flat/sweepiong straight bars, but not always), long chainstays (at least 460-480mm, and some degree of slope. This market is probably underserved in the USA.

The second type: hard-core USA tourist. 26" vs. 700c is a personal choice in this arena, since both are readily available in the USA. Some will want 26" because of comfort, strength and front center, others will want 700c for other reasons. Now this market is covered rather well, with the LHT, 520, Cdale T1/T2, etc. Good luck with making marketshare. The higher the quality of the bike, the more the cost, the fewer buyers (only an expedition biker will spend big big dollars).

The third type: Randonneurs. These bikes have specific geometric requirements, and for some reason, few inexpensive/high value models exist. Marketshare potential is betwen the other the two.

You need to define what you mean by heavy duty tourer - then design/market accordingly.

rickfi said...

did this concept ever get realized? right now i;m looking at the DoubleCross DC as a tourer.

Somacisco said...

We may be getting these as early as June. Maybe. Check the blog in late May.

We are happy with all the feedback, sad that we cannot please you all. Too much had been set in motion to adopt some of the more intriguing suggestions, but we have only asked for a production of about 150 and we will be open to changes based on what how people react to these.

Preview: Sizes 46 -54 will take 26" tires. 56 to 60 will take 700c
Tubing will have thicker butts than the Double Cross and Smoothie ES (more for durability and reliability, than greater load capacity) Fork will have low rider pannier mounts and double fork tip eyelets. There will be a mount for a double kickstand, which we don't see much popularity in the U.S. but makes a lot of sense for loaded touring. 450mm chainstays. TT Pump peg. 3 sets of bottles bosses.

We will post geometry in a month or so.

Anonymous said...

Please make the steerer tubes extra long, like at least 400mm, I am tall and find 300mm puts me in a pretty aggressive position for racing, not for riding all day. thanks!