Thursday, December 22, 2011


Road to the Peruvian Andes. Photo: Jeremy Jensen

Ben Stuart Evans caught our attention when he sent us some breathtaking photos (shot by his riding partner Jeremy Jensen) of his epic trip riding from Oaxaca, Mexico to Caraz, Peru. They estimated to have ridden 3000 miles and gained a total of 50,000 vertical feet. They did these all on fixed gear bikes – Ben on his 2006 fiery red Soma Rush. He took his Rush [he says 'the Rush took him'] over countless mountain passes, through jungles and deserts, cities and hamlets, past glaciers and erupting volcanoes. They even did a 300-mile sailboat voyage across the Caribbean in hurricane season. What also struck us is that Ben is not just a simple adventure seeker, but has a passion for social work/public health. He was doing community health work in Oaxaca before his trip. On Dec. 4th he left the States to do work in Ecuador.

What's your name, age, and education background?

Benjamin Stuart Evans, 27 y.o., Masters of Public Health, Masters of Social Work; hometown St. Louis, MO

Jeremy Jensen; 29 y.o., Bachelor's in Construction Management; hometown Flagstaff, AZ

At the equator.

What kind of work have you been doing the last couple of years? Has it been more work or more exploring this past year?

My work over the past couple years has been a mish-mash of small jobs related to my field of study and totally unrelated work. I graduated in 2009 and immediately left Portland, Oregon for Oaxaca, Mexico where I worked with a couple of non-profit organizations. One of them, Puente a la Salud Comunitaria (Bridge to Community Health), works with families and farmers in rural Oaxaca to reincorporate a native grain, Amaranth, into the diet, agriculture and local markets of the region. My work with Puente, like my work with another organization that focuses on creating a space for children to lead their own community projects, was split between helping with organizational redesign and preparation for field work. I also taught English for a bit. One thing that I loved about each of those jobs was the ever-changing work environment--one day would be an hour-long meeting, the next would be a 16-hour day in the field. Since moving back to the states in December 2010, I've gotten my Wilderness EMT and worked on a fire crew with the Forest Service. [Editor: He is currently spending the winter in Ecuador working with a farming co-operative to identify mechanisms of social marginalization that affect their communities and thinking about how the co-op can start to address those inequities.]

Working with a non-profit in Oaxaca, Mexico

What is more satisfying/rewarding? Social work or riding?

Ay, I don't think I can quantify that one. They sort of feed off of each other. I'm a person who really needs that physical outlet, so I think I'm better able to tap into my creativity for work when I'm riding regularly. The flip side is that I am more motivated to ride when work is tough and I have ideas to process in the saddle. In that sense, work and riding are complementary for me, and mutually rewarding.

Canyon del Pato in Peru. Ben's "touring bike" is a 2006 Soma Rush. Photo: Jeremy Jensen

How did you train/prepare for long distance riding?

Honestly, my training was pretty sorry and Jeremy didn't train at all. I just tried to be in the saddle for at least 2 hours at a time a two or three days a week and ride really hard with weight for about a month leading up to the trip. We knew that the first few weeks of the tour would whip us into shape better than any training regimen, so we didn't worry about it too much. And frankly, sometimes, a midday mezcal was a bit more enticing than sweating up a mountain pass in the Mexican sun.

What ride/tour mistakes did you make you can tell us about to help aspiring touring cyclists to avoid?

Beware of expensive niche gear! I spent a lot of time and money researching the "best" racks for my handlebar bag and saddlebag, only to toss both of those pricy gadgets into a roadside trashcan when they failed two weeks into the trip. Keep it simple, bombproof and versatile when selecting gear. Use gear that you can replace or fix on the road (i.e.: broken plastic brace, not so fixable), gear that can serve a number of purposes, and then carry at least a couple of the most basic "refacciones" (spare parts; ex.: adjustable metal clamps, heavy weight zip ties, duct tape!) to get you through the most barren stretches of riding on your trip.

Avoid trip and route planning like the plague: I know it's hard not to plan, but seriously, just fly by the seat of your pants. The greatest fun on our tour was giving in to spontaneity 100% and enjoying the flexibility of riding for the journey, rather than the destination. Destinations change. Cranking through the rolling hills of Southern Mexico, Jeremy and I were stoked to be on pace for a 150 mile day and bent on making it happen when someone pulled over to chat with us roadside during a snack break. That someone ended up inviting us to stay the night on his brother's extravagant colonial hacienda just behind us--one of the most memorable events in 10 weeks on the road. We thought of the trip as a holistic adventure, not just a cycling one, and were repeatedly rewarded for that outlook. So take a load off, and forget the plan--the unforeseen will probably be far more spectacular than anything you can devise.

Sailing toward Cartagena, Columbia. Photo: Jeremy Jensen

Why did you choose to ride fixed? Just riding a geared bike would've been challenging enough.

We rode fixed out of necessity and love... which I realize sounds super cheesy, but it's fitting, really. Have a conversation in confidence with anyone who rides fixed and they'll explain to you the romance in it. It's just a special way of riding. We both had fixed gear bikes and no money to build anything different, but we had this amazing trip idea; it was going to happen. And we did it because we love riding fixed, it's simply an incredible feeling. The bike becomes a part of you. I'll be watching a sci-fi movie and people are jumping into futuristic robotic suits and using crazy mechanical body extension tools and such, and I always think, "Yeah, I already know what that's like." Jeremy had rode fixed from Bend, Oregon to San Diego the summer before, so when I asked him if he wanted to ride to Peru with me, we were both pretty decided on doing it fixed from the outset. The simplicity of it is so appealing on a long, remote tour. There's so little to break on the bike, and we matched our gear ratios so that we could sync pace and draft. And we never worried that we were in the wrong gear. It was the only gear! [Editor: Though he loves riding fixed, he did share that there are difficulties and unique challenges with touring on essentially a track bike, like carrying enough food/water or not having the comfort of fatter tires when riding gravel roads. Mr. Evan's views expressed in this interview are his own and are not necessarily those of Soma.]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Soma San Marcos Frames Back In Stock

Build from FreeRange Cycles (Seattle) from the first run.

Our main distributor Merry Sales has all sizes in stock. They will be shipping backorders this week to shops and other distributors. Thanks for everyone's patience.
The San Marcos is our sport touring frame set featuring Rivendell lugs and designed by the man behind Rivendell Bicycle Works, Grant Petersen.

New to the Soma Shop. Cardiff Ltd. is now doing bags. The Killgetty Roll Bag can be used as a bar bag or a seatbag. And will look great on a Soma frame. Heavy weight water-resistant cotton canvas with leather accents.

Also newly available just in time to stuff a stocking or two is this MKS t-shirt that collects 10 of its more interesting pedals they've made over the years. Can you ID them all? In heather gray or black standard fit t-shirts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Xinjiang Traffic Jam

Eleanor Moseman and her Soma Saga made their way into the city of Urumqi this week -- in Xinjiang Province in Western China.
And she shared this video on her Facebook page. (Gets more interesting at the 50s mark)
The place is generally very arid so I am surprised to see all the snow. You may remember this is the place with all the riots a couple years back between the native Uighurs and the Chinese. Xinjiang is also where they filmed The Kite Runner, though that was in a different city. "After 10,000 miles toured and 3 years lived in China, Urumqi gets my vote for the best city with night markets and street food."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winning Entries for our Anniversary Photo Contest

Mamuang Thai House names his Buena Vista "Cha Yen". This won the "Staff Pick" award.
He has chosen a Soma Lauterwasser Bar as his prize.
A big thank you to all to submitted entries. You all will receive one our 10th Anniversary Posters. We must also thank those who helped vote for our winners. We enjoyed seeing all the awesome photos and the interesting bike builds.

Bum Arrifin took this shot in Singapore. It received the most "Likes".
Bum is going to get a Soma Porteur Rack w/Fence.

Manny Acosta shot this on theroad going up Mount Diablo (SF Bay Area, CA - East Bay).
This got the 2nd most likes.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stumptown Coffee Rules

Thank you Stumptown Coffee Roasters for the thoughtful anniversary gift!!! They sent us some of their Hair Bender, which brings together coffees from three major producing regions (Indonesia, Latin America and East Africa) to provide the individual components of this complex sweet and savory blend which yields flavors of milk chocolate, caramel, jasmine, meyer lemon, apricot and pineapple. Sound great even though I don't know what a meyer lemon is. They also sent a jar of Finca El Injerto (from Guatemala).

Monday, November 28, 2011

SF Bicycle Coalition's Winterfest - Dec. 4th!

There's nothing mini about SFBC's Winterfest fundraiser bash which normally draws over 1500 bike lovers under one roof.....nothing except for the chance to bid on a Soma Mini Velo bike (a co-donation between us and American Cyclery. Also available is a Soma Double Cross frame donated by Citizen Chain.

Great deals on early bird tickets.
Get your tickets early--they're cheaper and and you don't have to wait in line. Cheers to that!
Bottomless drink glass — beer & wine — this year for only $20.
Art and bike auction catalog up now.

One of the artists showing work--Wendy MacNaughton

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Help Select the Winners in Our Photo Contest

Do it before you are in your tryptophan coma. Do it before you are waiting in line on Black Friday (or while you are waiting). Fellow cyclists need your vote in our 10th Anniversary Photo Contest

We selected about 30 or so entries and posted them to Facebook. You have the power to vote and help select the winners. Vote for up to 5 of your favorites.
Fifty folks get our Soma 10th anniversary poster just for entering. Entries and voting ends Nov. 27.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING: On the 2011 Photo Contest Page somewhere in the comments is a Promo Code that will get you 20% off anything on this long Thankgiving weekend on The Soma Shop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tenth Anniversary Sale Benefits SFBC

Get started on your holiday shopping this week at The Soma Shop and do some good at the same time. Save on not only Soma goods, but MKS, Nitto, Pake and other brands on the shop.
Some current programs and projects supported by the SFBC Education Fund include:
  • Connecting the City Campaign
  • Free Urban Bicycle Education classes & "how to ride a bike" workshops for adults
  • "Freedom from Training Wheels" for small children
  • Good Roads Campaign to help our city fill potholes and provide safe pavement conditions
  • Give & Get respect public education to all our 11,000 members and the general public
  • Frequent driver education (taxis, commercial vehicles, city-car share organizations, Muni bus drivers) on how to share the road safely with bikes
  • Bike to Work Day event hosting and promotion
  • Business consultation on how to make businesses more bike friendly
  • Valet bike parking at over 75 outdoor city-wide events & at all SF Giants home games

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bicycling Magazine Reviews Our Mixte

Sorry I don't have a larger photo.
See page 74 on Dec. issue.
We sent Matt at Bicycling a Buena Vista back in August. They put together a really knock-out build with with our 3-Speed II Bars, Yamada saddle, IRD Defiant Triple Cranks, New Xpress skinwalls, Deco rack and EuroTrip fenders. This is what Matt had to say....

While I admire the beauty of many cruisers and town bikes, some feel frustratingly sluggish. Meanwhile, speedier townies seem to sacrifice the good looks or loungelike comfort I consider essential. The Buena Vista bridges these gaps. It's essentially a road bike that's easy to throw a leg over, thanks to the mixte design. The Tange Infinity steel frame and fork and the high-volume tires ride smoothly on all but the roughest roads. The frame accommodates a range of components; I built mine with a mustache bar and a three-by-eight-speed drivetrain using down-tube shifters for a retro vibe. A drop bar and integrated shifters would look equally at home and would make the bike suitable for longer rides. A number of attachment points let you outfit fenders (it accepts up to 28c tires with fenders; 33c without) and racks, which I took advantage of, easily carrying light loads around town.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Soma Frame News for 2012

So what is being updated for 2012 you ask?

- Double Cross: Our best selling frame gets a new color. The new Gun Metal Blue is not a traditionally classy as the Ivory, but the matte blue is neutral enough to go with a honey brown Brooks saddles as well as a variety of bar tape colors.
- Double Cross DC: The disc model with removable cantilever bosses will again be given old school downtube shifter bosses. The new color will be Slick Black.

Both the above models are available in small quantities now.

- Saga Touring frame: The new color is British Racing Green. We are also adding a 54cm size that fits 700c wheels for those who prefer them over 26" wheels (despite 26" wheels being easier to find while touring in other countries). The 26" wheel 54cm will still be available. This is an experiment. Available Jan. 2012

- Soma Juice: The popular Candy Apple Green will stay, but we will be adding Tange Stainless Steel Sliding Dropouts to our 29er. Available in February 2012.

-  (UPDATE) Trademan Cargo frame: They just arrived! 

- San Marcos: There have been a lot of inquiries regarding when are we getting a full size run? Probably in early December. Apologies for how long it's taking.

The Groove hardtail and Van Ness model are being retired to trim down the line.
There are no changes planned for our other models for 2012.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Products on the Soma Shop

Gran Compe GC-999 Cantilever Brake (by Dia-Compe)
In addition to its sharp looks, it has an unique height adjustment feature allows for more adjustment this type of design usually allows 
- Wide profile design
- Lightweight forged arms
- CNC-machined barrel adjuster
- Dia-Compe OP-12 brown brake shoes
- 167g per wheel 
- Includes cable hanger and straddle wire

The new Sugino COOL Messenger Crankset:
Two-sided graphics; hopefully one suits your personality

This deluxe version of the Messenger features a new forging for the arms, a new "chrome black" finish, new shotpeen finish on the chainring, and slick double-sided graphics on the rings. 130BCD, 46T ring.

Other upgrades over the standard Messenger:
- Includes a Sugino CBBAL 103mm bottom bracket with aluminum cups instead of steel
- Sugino alloy chainring bolts(black) instead of steel
- Overall better fit and finish

Friday, October 28, 2011

Update: Fund Raiser for Japan

Our Fundraiser For Japan through the Soma Shop and also from sales to our other distributors, we were able to donate over $11,000 to The Soma City Earthquake Disaster Orphan Scholarship Fund. Thanks to all our customers who helped out.

The city of Soma is one of the most damaged cities because of three major factors. The earthquake caused huge areas of land to sink into the sea, the Pacific sea coast was washed away by the tsumani, and the city is located only 25 miles away from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant #1. Soma has 48 orphans (under age 18.) “The Soma City Earthquake Disaster Orphan Scholarship Fund” aims to give $300/month to each child until he or she reaches the age of eighteen. These funds can be used for education and living expenses. The mayor Hidekiyo Tachiya handed out support money to the children on July 2. Our donation has gone to support one of the orphans for 3 years.

It's been over 6 months since the disaster. Most survivors have settled into newly built temporary housing, but there is still a lot of work to do to dispose of debris and restore farmland. As of last month, the target amount for the fund was only met half way. The orphans are also getting ongoing care from clinical psychologists for PTSD. If you would like to find out more go to J-Aid USA.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Supermarket Street Sweep Poster

We love sponsoring the Supermarket Street Sweep not only because it benefits a worthy local charity, but because the event isn't just about who is the fastest. You'll see it's got a good vibe for all cycling lovers.

Enter for a chance to win a SOMA TRADESMAN:
This year we are throwing down one of our new build-it-yourself cargo frames, the Tradesman. (A apt prize since a cargo race is one of the events.) This is constructed out of Tange Infinity CrMo butted CrMo tubing, not that high tensile stuff. It takes disc brakes and 20" wheels. Pictured is one of only 20 produced. SRP is about $699.

First person who can find our logo on this gets a Soma cycling cap.

We encourage participants to not just show up to race. Please fund raise before, too. Anti-hunger programs will probably be getting cuts next year, so every little bit counts. Last year Matt King raised over $1000 all by himself. Dollars for Dinners, yo!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Soma Anniversary Photo Contest

Soma is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year and we want to take this time to learn more about who our fans are and what they do with their Soma's.
So we are doing our first photo contest.
Fifty(50) entries of our choosing will get a copy of our 10th anniversary poster when it is printed. (We like lots of winners.) We will pick 25 or so of the ones we like best and post them on Facebook fan page for the people to vote on. Top 2 vote-getters get their choice of our handlebars, saddles, tires or racks, including our Porteur Rack worth over $100. There will also be a "staff favorite" award.
Beach in Cadiz, SpainPhoto: Joaquin Sanchez 

Photos we are looking for:

1. Photos of Soma bikes out on the roads, in the 'wild', on your city streets, or in your kitchen...(if you choose "in your kitchen", it better be a stupidly killer picture).
2. Photos of Soma handlebars on your bike (any brand). We really wanna see how you use our bars. (We also will accept photos of our racks or coffee holder in use, but that's it!)
3. Photos of your most memorable bike-related experiences of 2011. 
Looking for beautiful or unique builds, nice composition/color/subject matter/story telling, creativity and "interestingness."

STEP 1. Submit your photo to somainfo(at) by November 20, 2011, 11:59 PST. Images should be between 1200 and 2400 pixel at their longest dimension.(Deadline extended to November 27, 2011)

STEP 2: Like our Facebook Page. Go to the album "2011 Photo Contest". We'll post our top 25  photos there (as soon as we get enough entries)

STEP 3: If your photo makes it, hit up your social network to vote for your photo and other photos they like. Voting also closes November 27, 2011.

THREE entries per person maximum (Must be your own photo, duh.) Descriptions of photos would be helpful for judging.
Your full name and working email address would be helpful in tracking you down if you win something. If photos have faces of your friends in it, make sure they are OK with their faces shown in a public forum. By submitting you acknowledge you are allowing Soma Fabrications (aka The Merry Sales Co.)  to reproduce the images for promotional purposes, which include using them websites, social media pages and other outlets). Photographer retains the full rights to their images. Winners will hopefully will get their awards within 4 to 6 weeks following close of contest. Void where prohibited.

Photo: Eleanor Moseman's portrait of her Soma Saga. 
Taken in China. Copyright Eleanor Moseman

Mona Caron working on the painting for the poster. I was surprised
she doesn't work on an easel, but remember she used to
working on walls of public spaces.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Job Openings

Our "parent" company, The Merry Sales Co. is hiring for some entry level positions. Small company vibe, year-round bicycling weather, just south of the great city of San Francisco, and easy access to some of the highest gas prices in the country.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Checking out the Pumpkin Fest

What else is better than stuffing yourself silly full of pumpkin pies?

Seeing humongous pumpkins weighing almost a ton. They're like pumpkins on steroids.

Only in America, where the pumpkins are overweight too!

This weekend we checked out the Pumpkin Festival at Half Moon Bay, about 20 minutes away from San Francisco without traffic. It's quite a gem in a mostly urban Peninsula as it is the only part where farms exist. And monstrous pumpkins like the one pictured above.

The festival was great. It featured artists throughout West Coast selling their crafts and wares. From glass blown pumpkins to fine handcrafted woodwork, this festival had it all.

Artsy glasswork

Exquisite woodwork

Go Giants!

Whatever these things are, but they look good though.

Tie-dye cloth

And of course, pumpkins of different shapes, colors, and sizes...

It was nice to get out of the city and into the Coastside. Although it was hot and muggy, it wasn't foggy. Hot and foggy (yes, it happens) sucks because of the humidity. We took a lot of pictures but unfortunately, we didn't bring any bikes with us :(

Halloween is coming up, YAY!