Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Soma Mixte Frame

This idea for doing a mixte crossed our conference table almost a year ago. Time sure flies.
And hopefully in 3 or 4 months, the first production will be here.

For most of you, we don't have to explain ourselves of why a mixte is desirable these days. For those who are going a "mix-what", here's the Sheldon Brown glossary entry:

"A style of lady's frame in which the "top tube" consists of a pair of small diameter tubes running more-or-less straight from the upper head lug, past the seat tube, and on to the rear fork ends. A mixte frame thus has 3 sets of rear stays, instead of the usual two. A variant on the mixte uses a single, full sized top tube running from the upper head tube to the seat tube, but retains the middle set of stays. A lady's type bike that lacks the middle pair of stays is not a mixte....
In French, "mixte" would be pronounced "MEExt", but normal U.S. bicycle industry pronunciation is 'MIX-ty'."

Though Sheldon and others may see the mixte as a ladies' bike, it was
actually designed to be uni-sex. 'Mixte' suggests 'mixed' use. And we have been seeing all types of folks tooling around on vintage mixtes rescued from garage sales or eBay. A mixte can make an excellent commuter and light tourer. You can load stuff on the top of your rear rack and not worry about how to get your leg over the load, because you can mount from the front of the seat.

Enter the Buena Vista:

While we wanted to replicate a thoroughly traditional mixte, we wanted to change two things.
1. Make this compatible with readily available modern components.
2. Give it a sport touring geometry instead of lazy comfort bike set up. If the owner puts drop bars on this, we want him to be able to crank on this.

A more genteel set up is still possible with the right bar and stem. This will be a frame and fork only and we imagine this will be a fun project build for many of you.

- Four sizes - X-Small, Small, Medium, Large
- The Small to Large will fit 700c tires with 57mm reach brakes
- The X-Small will fit 26" tires with 73mm reach (Rivendell Silver side pull/Dia-Compe Mod 750 center pull) brakes
- Both will fit 650b tires with appropriate swaps to brakes and wheel
- Eyelets for fenders and racks of course
- Compatible with road hubs or mountain hubs
- Primary decals will be on top of clearcoat and thus removable
- Tange Infinity double butted CrMo tubes

First batch will be 'Bacardi White'. Second run color is up in the air (maybe black or a dark color). Any opinions?

UPDATE 9-01-08: We have pushed back the release date of the mixte. Sorry to those who have been waiting patiently through the summer. We are looking at January 2009 release date now. The frame will be viewable at Interbike at the Bicycle Technologies Int'l (BTI) booth.
UPDATE 2-10-08: We hope to get a ship date this month. We apologize for the wait. We want these here more than you do honestly. Will let you know when we know for sure. Pictures of the prototype are up on our Flickr site.


Yokota Fritz said...

My wife almost always rides in a skirt, but she doesn't like the hefty fat-tubed women's bikes that are way too heavy for a woman to handle. I applaud your move to a somewhat performance-minded mixte frame!

Did you guys catch any of the crazy fun in the City today with the Olympic torch scavenger hunt?

Stan said...

Thanks. We were looking to source a skirt guard (nice possible accessory), but aren't finding any we are too thrilled about.

Torch? No, our noses were to the grindstone. I was going to try to watch it streaming on the news, but didn't have time. But I here moms drove their kids out from the boonies into the city to catch it...and of course couldn't.
Actually one of us didn't make it in. Maybe he went hunting. I'm thinking being on bikes couldve been a great way to chase the torch down.

systemBuilder said...

The second batch of frames will be offered as a special, signed, limited edition, in chartreuse with chromed lugs and fork crown. They will all be hand-signed on the top tube by Bradley Woehl.

Stan said...

Cute, Don.
What year was that Raleigh brochure from?
I think one of Brad's ideas for the mixte name was something like "GranSport". I thought it sounded way too much like a Raleigh model.

Anonymous said...

I am all aflutter about this frame! Would just be great to see a Mixte frame that doesn't weigh a ton, or handle like it's designed for someone who doesn't know how to ride a bike. Gimme, gimme, gimme!

Unknown said...

I love the idea of building up a mixte porteur with front and rear racks or baskets. A great compliment to that would be some kind of better-than-normal kickstand that would let you steady the bike while you loaded up the front and rear with groceries or whatever. Like maybe a double kickstand, or one of those touring kickstands that, I think, fold down from the top tube to stabilize a loaded bike?

Anyway, not that Soma would need to carry such a thing, but it was just the first accessory I thought of when thinking about how one could build a bike with this frame that would change the perception of what a mixte frame is for (i.e., girls).

And not that I want to say "meext", but do we have to say "mixt-y"? -- can't there just be a movement to say "mixed"?

Wesley said...


Paul Ledesma said...

The Mixte frame is a great idea!

This is the bike my wife and a friend of mine have both been waiting for. The second frame should be in your british racing green or black.

No lugs, no chrome. Keep it simple, afforadable, and functional.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us more about the geometry? Stand over, effective top tube length, etc.. I'm mostly curious about the xsmall.

veloChine said...

I am not sure if anyone at Soma subscribes to Bicycle Quarterly, but a recent article discussed Mixties. If I recall correctly, the twin top tube design suffers from too much flex. In any event the best design is for a single top tube with slightly overlapping seat stays that are connected to the top tube forward of the seat tube and connected to the seat tube. The Rivendell Mixtie is a modern example.

In case your design has not been finalized.

Unknown said...

me want one !!!!!!!
could build up a purrfect bike for me better half
the white sounds great
and i'll echo the early poster asking about smaller geometries

BC said...

Ohhhh, I want this bike. I have a Smoothie ES on order but I'll be buying this instead whenever it becomes available, unless the size range doesn't work for me. Is the 3-4 month time frame for prototypes, or will those bikes be for sale?

I have two mixtes right now, both single speed conversions, and I love them. They fit me better than any road bike I've tried. I would just about kill for a modern mixte that I could build up with Chorus. I can't wait to see this frame.

Unknown said...

any chance we can order an unpainted or only primed frame and fork and then get our own custom paint job?

dr2chase said...

How fat a tire? I'd like to be able to run a 60mm tire (Big Apple) on a bike like that.

J Phillip Zweifel said...

I love the idea of a modern mixte frame, I have been thinking of how to build my wife up a mixte but always get stuck when it comes to components. This would alow me to use modern stuff with a frame design that my wife would find useful. Is the fork threadless or no? Thanks Soma!

Stan said...

Beth: Frames you can buy are 4 months, if everything goes to plan. First run is only 60 though.

drChase: that's a negatory on the 60mm. It will fit 38's I think, but is designed for 32's.

jerry: naked frames?...intriguing idea. unlikely, but I'll look into it.

andrew: the smallest frame is going to have 42cm ST and 52cm effective TT.

jphillip: threadless forks, yes. personally i thought threaded would give it a more traditional look, but we opted to try this first.

Thanks for your comments. Helpful and encouraging.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a shorter top tube on the small frames. 52 is still 700C wheel thinking. It could easily be 50cm with 26" wheels.

Ethan Labowitz said...

Please Please Please do the rear brake cable routing to the middle stays, and put the brake bridge on same. Y'all probably already got that down, but just making sure.

Anonymous said...

Is there really a demand for this style bike? I thought they went out of style in the 70s? How much? Does Soma think its really going to sell?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think this bike will be in high demand. I know for me, I am waiting to get one. I am short, 4'10" and I want a step through bike for my soon to be sunset years. But I want one that has some performance to it. This looks to the answer....Is there a way to get on a waiting list?

David said...

Yay! Great news this bike. I strongly second the mid-stay brake-mount recommendation. I'm down with the sporty geo, but you might consider doing a second fork (high-raker/lower-trail) fork, which would be more chill, and would also complement the front-rack-chic that's going around these days. The fork could be compatible with your other frames (Smoothie ES whatever the lugged one is called), so it could be a great after market item. Kogswell has one, but I don't think they (he) really wants to be doing high volume production/distribution(correct me if I'm wrong, please).

This will be a big hit! The skeptic wisely kept him/herself anonymous;-)

Anonymous said...

I want one. I'd also like to know if there is a waiting list.

Stan said...

For those wanting to get on a "waiting list", just ask your local shop to back order one with Merry Sales or one of our other distributors. We are thinking these may be ready for sale Aug. 1! I said MAYBE.

Mimi said...

This is great! a lot of us gals have managed to find older mixtes which fit us nicely but have funky old gearing, heavy wheels, and well, they're old. I think there is a market for this type of bike. but white? ew. I prefer bright colors although I know a lot of others who prefer black, grey and white.
maybe a non-color and a colored model?
good luck!

Anonymous said...

So there's a prototype out, why no photos on your site yet?

Unknown said...

Personally, the threadless fork kills it for me. I'd prefer threaded 1" for use with the Nitto technomic or lugged stem. Besides, a 650b bike begs for threaded. I'm not against threadless altogether (lest you think I'm a luddite) just not on this bike.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne said...

I have a Kogswell Mixte, built up (by me) as a single speed in Feb / Mar 2006. I have logged 9000 km since mid-June 2006, commuting and weekend riding. I love this bike and I recommend the mixte it to anyone who loves to ride. I built it up with components that fit, including drop bars. Don't get hung up on the details - get it, build it, ride it. Thanks, SOMA, for picking up on this - I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Anonymous said...

The limited run with the chromed lugs sounds positively amazing. Any idea on release date for that one, even approximate? And what about prices? Can you give us a ballpark estimate (fully realizing prices are on the rise on the manufacturing end)?

Thanks for keeping mixtes alive!

Anonymous said...

Orders already placed

Are orders already placed effected by the delay?

michael said...

This would be a great tourer with its stiffer rear end and step through frame.

when my orange bike bites it, I might pick thi up.

AV said...

How about either a graphite or a chocolate for the second run? (Chocolate with cream details would be fantastic.)

Anonymous said...

did the Buena Vista disappear or are they yet to arrive?

Austin said...

I think a forest green would be really effective color on this bike

Anonymous said...

Pearlescent Dk Purple for the second run!!!
[or black with purple metal-flake.]

Anonymous said...

my wife just went crazy when i showed her this. her crap ss conversions' days are numbered.

Anonymous said...

Someone a bit back asked about the flex on this frame.

I'm considering buying one to replace our family kid hauler -- an old Panasonic made Schwinn Le Tour II that was stolen. (boo!) I loved that Schwinn as it was a mixte style; but had a single top tube and was built a little stouter and was without the flex I've suffered on other mixte frames I've ridden.

I'd love to buy one; but what about that flex? It kinda' kills it for a kid hauler. The drop tube rocks for kid hauling -- easy on, easy off w/o having to tip the (top heavy) frame.

Please tell me that you've taken this perpetual design issue w/ mixte frames into account! (This side of) the world needs more utilitarian bikes like a mixte (or mixte style) frame can provide.

Stan said...

Todd: Thanks for the question. There exists more efficient ways to build a mixte/step-thru. We were after the traditional double top tube look. Without that I hesitate to call it a bike a 'mixte'. It becomes just a step-thru. We were after nostalgia.

The downtube is 31.8mm, so I think we add a little stiffness there, but it isn't going to be as stiff as a Soma Smoothie ES frame. Bringing the downtube to 34.9mm would add more stiffness, but would add a lot of weight to an already heavyish design.