Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Our Riff Hardtail Frame Gets An Overdue Update

 If you've known Soma Fabrications for a while, you know we don't go by model years.
We don't want to refresh our frames every January just to say we have this new thing to plop in front of your eyeballs. We don't like being forced to adopt every trend or new standard either, some of which we feel is planned obsolescence. We think changing colors every year is basically making folks who just bought our frame a few months ago feel they have something old. We will make updates when we think they will serve our customers.

What is the Riff?
This is our hardtail frame designed for 27.5" wheels. It is a nice, steel frame for a variety of trail-riding and for bikepacking and is designed around a 120mm travel fork. It has sliding dropouts, which lets you fine-tune your chainstay length, but it is mainly for allowing single speed builds without needing a chain tensioner. You can also build it for derailleur gears and hub gears (like Rohloff or Alfine), too.

Main Update:
Boost 148mm rear hub spacing. After nine years in the market, Boost 148 has become THE MTB rear hub standard. If you are shopping for a new wheelset, almost all or your options will have Boost hubs, and some of you may already have an old Boost wheel in your spare parts collection. So the main reason for the change is to make it easier for riders who don't have the patience to shop around for their ideal 142mm or 135mm wheelset.

For those out of touch with bike standards, Boost hubs have a wider axle and wider flanges which allows the wheel build to have more dish, which reduces flexiness in the wheel. It also moves the chainline farther away from the tire, which is nice when running wide 2.8" tires.

Additions and Subtractions:
• We have shortened our seat tubes to help with dropper seatpost use and the lengths chosen attempt to match other brands, so it is easier to compare sizes when shopping.
• We changed the down tube bottle cage bosses to a three-pack mount.
• We added a set of bottle cage bosses under the downtube.
• But we removed the seat tube bosses on the smaller sizes so you can use a longer dropper post. The largest frame still has the seat tube bosses.
• We have discontinued the belt-drive option, because of policies our Taiwan factory adopted during the pandemic. (Yes, Covid is still affecting us.)

What About the "Geo"?
How slack is it? Is it shreddier? Is it as progressive as a San Francisco school board?
Sorry, nope. The biggest tweak is a 1.6° steeper seat tube to improve climbing efficiency.  The bottom bracket drops almost 10mm mainly because those riding 27.5 wheels are favoring 2.4 or wider tires. But Steve of Hardtail Party would definitely classify the Riff as "old school", which doesn't mean outdated.... just a rig more purposefully designed for rolling trails and bike packing than for bombing steeper technical downhills; and also doesn't require a "modern riding technique" to get the most out of it. The 67.6° head tube angle should make it a good climber without the wheel flop and wandering of slacker machines, but still able to descend with confidence (albeit less speed) than an enduro bike.

Because we are not optimizing for downhill speed and big drops and hits, we can use lighter tubes for a more nimble and fun ride even on smoother trails. And the frame won't beat you up on rockier terrain.

Yes, that is a cable stop for a front derailleur. We haven't abandoned 2x.
The Riff also has rear rack mounts, because hardtails are still pretty popular for
on-road loaded touring these days. They probably add less weight than
our brass headbadge


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Adventure Cyclist Reviews the Soma Jawbone B-Type Bikepacking Frame


Northern California native Corey got a chance to review our Jawbone earlier in the year for Adventure Cycling Association's print mag for members, Adventure Cyclist.

We don't want to print the whole review, but here are some highlights:
[UPDATE: Adventure Cycling has the review on their website as of October 30.]

The B-Type is for parts-bin tinkerers, single-speed devotees, and world tourers who may be attracted to the internal hub compatibility and the simplicity

The frame felt responsively and pleasantly compliant

For a touring bike, the Jawbone climbs well. With the high-volume 29 inch tires, it felt playful and paved and unpaved climbs.

The Jawbone's stack is high, but not so high that you couldn't build it with a fair amount of saddle-to-bar drop.

... a reliable companion for spins around your local trails, and it'll really shine when you have a chance to sink your teeth into a big multi-day ride.

The bike was built with Shimano GRX shifters and derailleurs, IRD Vortex 46-30t crank (GRX crank doesn't fit a 73mm BB shell), Ritchey Butano bars, Newbaum's Cushioned Cotton Bar Tape, WTB saddle and Maxxis Rekon 29 x 2.25" tires set up tubeless.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

2023 Colorways for the Soma Wolverine

New Wolverine 4.1 A-Type Build
by Jon Bobel/Beat Cycles

The Wolverine, our gravel/monster cross model, is almost 10 years old!

For its 10th birthday, we decided to bring back the popular Pumpkin Orange paint we introduced the model in. It just has a sunny, positive vibe that we always loved. The Pumpkin Orange is going on only the A-Type, non-belt-drive model that has adopted more modern hub and headset standards. It is slightly easier to find high end wheels or a carbon fork for this model.

The B-Type, the belt-compatible version, that also fits QR hubs and EC34 headsets, is now offered in a green-tinted gray, we are calling Lunar Rock. The B-Type will continue to be offered with two different matching fork options. The lugged crown curved blade fork is classier and more comfortable. The unicrown is less flexy and more confident at speed and during hard braking. You need to figure out what camp you are in.

The Wolverine has been praised by many as our most versatile platform and the variety of bikes that shops and individuals have built them into often amazes us. 

  • Gravel adventure bike 
  • Light touring bike
  • Endurance road bike
  • Single speed CX bike
  • Foul weather Commuter with Alfine internal geared hub and fenders
  • Ultimate tourer with Rohloff hub and belt drive
  • 700c wheels, 650b wheels, road bars, gravel bars, riser bars, alt bars, rando bag and mini racks, bikepacking bags, full front and rear touring racks.

Looking forward to seeing more incredible uses in the next few years.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Meet the Adventure-Ready Soma Jawbone

Over the years, we at Soma have been truly amazed at how the modern bicycle has allowed all types of folks to travel the across continents and be immersed and mesmerized by the great outdoors even as much of humanity is often living in more and more in urban and suburban sprawl. Whether you enjoy the camaraderie of a weekend bikecamping trip or are hooked on doing week-long solo adventures, we salute you. And your passion encourages us to build better tools for the experience.

While our popular Wolverine monster cross frame and our Juice and Riff hardtails are super-capable for the majority of cyclotourists and bikepackers, we recognize there are many of you - after being out a different trips on different terrain and riding different bikes - find themselves wanting more of one thing and maybe less of another. 

Basic idea: A drop bar bikepacking/touring bike that fits true mountain bike width tires (up to 29 x 2.25" and 27.5 x 2.6" with decent mud clearance -- depending on frame size and drivetrain choice). 

Why would I try this over using a Wolverine, a gravel or CX bike for bikepacking?
- More stability while loaded thanks to a longer wheelbase and slightly stiffer design
- Tackle more rugged conditions with fatter tires 
- More three pack mounts

Why would I try this over a Juice or Riff or other hardtail frame for bikepacking?
- You don't think you need a suspension fork and you want to run drop bars
- Slightly lighter in weight
- More room in the front triangle for gear
- More responsive handling on asphalt 
- More sizes for better fit
- Geometry has higher stack to make it easier to use the drops on drop bars

Why would I try this over a Saga Touring Frame or similar heavy duty touring frame?
- Not super stiff, so still enjoyable to ride off-road unloaded or to commute on.
(We don't tout the Jawbone as a traditional touring frame, but it can do the job, if you can live without a kickstand.)

While it seems the Jawbone might be simply a mash between the Wolverine and the Juice, the geometry is designed from a clean slate. Stack is higher than either to make it easier to build a bike where the riders can more comfortably run drops high enough so the drops are more practical to use. This also creates a large space in the triangle for frame bags and gear. Please look carefully at the geometry chart when selecting a size, even if you have owned a Wolverine or Saga before.


The Jawbone is offered in two versions. 

The A-Type is for those who feel a simpler design with less moving parts makes for a more reliable, thus better touring bike. It also adopts more current standards like thru-axles, which offer a stiffer connection to the wheel.

The B-Type is for those who like to tinker and appreciates practical bells and whistles. The Broski thru-axles allow to run the bike with derailleurs or geared hubs like Rohloff and if either fails on a trip, it can be run as a single speed. The sliders on the B-Type allow you shorten the chainstay to 435mm for a sportier ride or 455mm for a more stable ride.
The B-Type maintains compatibility with QR wheels standard. We know there are quite a few of you who find QR wheels quite reliable for long distance touring and gravel. It is the technology you know and it is still easy to find and cheap to replace.

Find out more at www.somafab.com

Optional fork for A-Type:
Steve Potts Type II-R MTB fork. Unique looks. Note: Unlike the frame having flat mount ,
the fork has an IS mount. This makes it easier to run a 180mm rotor, if that is your choice.

Optional fork for B-Type:
Simple efficient unicrown design. Has three-pack mounts angling rear and front.
Plus dedicated pannier rack mount on inside and outside the leg.

Jawbone B-Type Build (Size 54cm)