Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Soma ES 66cm Custom Build

American Cyclery is our oldest dealer, and the shop we go to for technical advice. They build a lot of custom Soma frames and test most of the prototype frames we send out. One question that commonly comes up is what parts to use on our super large frameset, so I thought I would share this 66cm ES built for an XXXL rider.

The 66cm frames have a very long headtube, but most of our steel forks are fine for the job. This one was built with our Champs Elysees low trail fork. Normally the ES doesn't need this much rake in the larger sizes, because it already has plenty of toe clearance, but with this build we wanted to use the largest tires we could fit and still have room for fenders. Another benefit of the Champ Elysees forks is their integrated rack mounts that allow it to accept a variety of front racks for Randonneuring, bike camping or even loaded touring.

The ES currently comes with 57mm brake clearance. We are using Japanese made 35mm Soma New Xpress tires on 23mm rims so we needed brakes with maximum room. The Original Paul Racer, modeled after classic Mafac centerpulls, is perfect for the job, and will provide enough stopping power for heavier riders (no offence tall folks, but you need some good brakes).

This generation Champs fork has slightly more tire clearance than the original ES fork does so we have plenty of room up front.

We went with IRD 175mm cranks, which are shorter than some people would use on a bike this large. We feel that due to the wide range of gears on this drivetrain a shorter crank is better as it incentives spinning a high cadence rather than mashing up hills in the big ring.

The hubs are the sealed bearing Suzue High Flange light touring model. They're compatible with 8-10 road cassettes, which we prefer for their longer wear life. Newer models are available with 11 speed compatible freehubs, but 10 speed seems to be the best value for indexed drivetrains these days.

A Shimano 105 GS does a fine job shifting our IRD Elite cassette. MKS Sylvan road pedals and stainless toe cages give this bike a classic vibe. Since the ES has downtube shifter mounts as well this would be a good choice for California Eroica or the SF Randonneurs series. We offer the ES in such a wide range of sizes because it really is one of the most versatile bikes out there. For thousands less than most carbon bikes you get a machine that can take you almost anywhere and will last for many many years longer.

American Cyclery also offers custom paint, along with fitting and maintenance out of their San Francisco store front. Custom built bicycles can be made to order via their website or in person the next time you're in the Fog City.

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