Monday, December 21, 2015

Guido's Double Cross with 1 x 8 Drivetrain

Guido built his Double Cross from a mix of old and new parts and it is beautiful. He went with a 1x8 drivetrain with a 36t front x 11-32 in the back with a downtube shifter. A simple versatile set up that is working well for him.

Even though 1x drivetrains did not hit mainstream until we nailed down good shifting 10 and 11 speed cassettes, some folks are more fine with fewer cogs in the back. IRD recently release 12-40 9-speed and 13-40t 8-speed cassettes for those want to maintain some simplicity.
(Guido is a cartoonist by trade.)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Feeling Lucky? Enter to Win A Set of Shikoro Tires

Bicycle Times Magazine is giving away a pair of our fast and tough Shikoro's in their weekly Give-away Contest. Definitely better chances to win than Fantasy Football or the state lottery.

The Shikoro is awesome for training, touring, commuting, and even light gravel and is very supple riding for an armored tire.

Distributor Merry Sales is already out our first run of Shikoro (folding bead) in 3 sizes, so it might take a couple of months for us to get the winner their booty, if they choose one of those sizes.

"Shikoro" is the Japanese term for the neckguard on the back of a samurai helmet.
Contest ends Dec. 9. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Guide to 650B Conversions on Soma Frames

Jason's Double Cross Disc 650b Conversion
[Parts of this article as been updated to reflect model changes] We get a lot of questions whether our 700c (or 26") wheel frames can be converted to 650b/27.5" tire size and what would the maximum tire width they can use, if it is possible. So we thought it would be nice to make a post covering this over our current line.

Model: Double Cross Disc    Convertible?: Yes
The Double Cross Disc (pre-2020) makes a great 650b conversion project. It's bottom bracket height is about the sames as our Grand Randonneur 650b frame, which means you can swap in 650b tires as narrow as 33mm and not worry about pedal strike while road riding. For light off-roading we'd recommend using tires 38mm to 47mm. You won't be gaining much in tire clearance as the Double Cross already fits 700 x 42c; maybe 3 - 5mm more. What you will gain is the ability to run fenders with 650b x 42 tires and more stable handling because of the lower bottom bracket. But a lower bottom bracket also means you need to be more careful about pedal strike on dirt trails.
Maximum tire fit with fenders: 650b x 45mm  
The 2020 Double Cross has a 4mm lower BB drop, so we recommend 650b tire at least 42mm wide. (updated 1/22)

Model: ES, Stanyan, 
Convertible?: Yes

The ES has been a popular bike for 650b road conversions. You would need to switch the brakes from 57mm reach brake to 73mm reach model such as the Tektro R-559. (Some rims may require 76mm reach brakes)
Bottom bracket height will be lower than with the average 700 x 23c tire no matter 650b road tire you choose, so avoid cornering like your doing a crit. We recommend 38mm to 42mm wide tires. Max tire fit with fenders: 650b x 38mm

Model: Wolverine 
Convertible?: Somewhat

Nearly any 700c disc brake bike can be used for a 650b conversion project. The Wolverine is no exception; however in our opinion there is very few compelling reasons to do.
It already fits up to 29 x 1.95" tires. Going 650b will not allow wider tires. Its bottom bracket height is more like a road bike than a cyclo-cross bike, so it's on-road handing is pretty good. Using a 650b x 38/42 will lower the bottom bracket height further where you may gain advantage in stability some desire for on-road loaded touring, but of course you'll also be reducing cornering clearance and off-road capability. Using 650b x 2.0" you get the about the same BB height as 700x32c CX knobbies ( just enough for some off-road fun). We recommend nothing smaller than 650b x 38mm. Best reason to convert is to be able to fit 2.0" tires with fenders. (updated 2/18)

Buena Vista Disc with 650b x 50 Cazadero tires

Model: Fog Cutter, Buena Vista (Disc)
Convertible?: Yes

Nearly any 700c disc brake bike can be used for a 650b conversion project. Using a 650b x 38/42 will lower the bottom bracket height slightly where you may gain advantage in stability that some desire for on-road loaded touring, but of course you'll also be reducing cornering clearance. We recommend nothing smaller than 650b x 38mm (updated 1/22)

Model: Buena Vista (Rim Brake)
Convertible?: Yes
42cm size (designed for 26" wheels): It is doable, but there isn't a compelling reason to do besides trying a larger, narrower, higher pressure tire. You would need to swap to 57mm reach road brakes, if the 73mm reach brakes you already have don't work. Bottom bracket will be raised, but it is a non issue in this case. There may be additional toe overlap with the front wheel. Max. tire size: 650b x  33  (fenders will not fit. This is a limitation of the brakes used; not the frame.)

The larger Buena Vista sizes are designed for 700c wheels: You would need to swap in 73mm reach brake like the Tektro R-559 or Dia-Compe 750's. The frame has a low bottom bracket height to begin width, so stick with 42mm wide tires to avoid pedal strike or just learn to check your pedal position when cornering.

Model: Saga Disc  
Convertible?: Somewhat
We don't recommend converting the 700c models, because it will lower the bottom bracket height too much to ride safely.
For the 26" wheel model, it is quite doable without much consequence. A 26" x 1.95 tire has almost the same diameter as a 650b x 42b. However running a 650b x 1.95" knobby will definitely take away the possibility of using fenders.

Model: Juice    
Convertible?: Somewhat
You can swap in 650b wheels on any disc brake 29er, but there isn't a compelling reason, except maybe you want a lower bottom bracket for road/commuter use. But your center of gravity will still not be as road-optimal as on our our Grand Randonneur frame or CX frames. Pre-2018 Juice does not have clearance for a 27.5+ (i.e. 27.5 x 3.0" tires) conversion. 2018 and later Juices will fit 27.5 x 2.8" tires. (updated 1/22)  

Model: Rush  
Convertible?: No

There isn't enough clearance for 38mm wide tires. You might fit 33mm tires, but in our opinion there isn't compelling reason to convert it. Bottom bracket won't be high enough to run this as a fixed gear after conversion.

Model: Pescadero    
Convertible?: No
The Pescadero already uses long reach road brakes. A 650b tire would require even longer reach rim brakes which don't exist. (updated 2/18)

Model: Soma Saga (Canti)    
Convertible?: No
Most cantilever brakes don't offer enough adjustibility to fit 650b rims. Some have had luck using brakes with long slots. We do not have an official brake recommendation. (updated: 6/16)

Model: Smoothie   
Convertible?: Somewhat

According to one Smoothie owner, there is just enough clearance for 38mm wide tires with 23mm wide rims. We cannot confirm this is so on all sizes of Smoothies though. (updated: 6/16)

Model: Double Cross (Canti)    
Convertible?: No
Most cantilever brakes don't offer enough adjustibility to fit 650b rims. Some have had luck using brakes with long slots. We do not have a brake recommendation. (updated: 6/16)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Soma Cazaderos - A Favorite of the CX Magazine Gang for Adventure

Here's a short and to the point review of the Soma Cazadero tires out of Cyclo-cross Magazine.
Click on the image to read the whole thing. Glad to hear it is one of their "all time favorites for gravel and adventure" even though we are aware gravel is still in its infancy. We hope the Cazes live up to that statement over the years.

Cazaderos come in both blackwall and skinwall, 700c or 650b. 42mm width only (1.65").
Have you  tried them yet?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Ride On Review the Soma ES Complete

This is an excerpt of a review by Ride On for the ES complete bike built with SRAM Apex shifters and derailleurs, Sugino Alpina 50-34t cranks and Suzue wheels.

... It can be run very light, but I had it set up touring style with racks and mudguard. These accessories were no impediment to this feisty machine....Smooth speed is the natural expression of this bike... ES stands for "extra smooth" and derives from Soma Smoothie road bike...The smooth description however can only be relative to an out-and-out racing bike -- all day comfort on this machine is somewhat traded for thrills compared to the laid back randonneurs of this rider's experience.
A compact crankset with SRAM double-tap shifters ably provides  for gears. The rear cassette changes down to a 32 cog which seemed ample to provide all the luggage with which one might handicap this fine steed...the IRD dual pivot calipers did not pull you up as effectively as your would expect. Fine tuning and some softer pads helped...

Score: 83%

Function: 32/40

Quality: 34/40

Price: 7/10

Appearance: 10/10

Monday, October 19, 2015

Introducing Two New Soma Tires

We are excited to introduce the Shikoro and Supple Vitesse 700c road clincher tires. Both come in widths that serve categories from racing and raining to touring and commuting (23, 28, 33, 38, 42c). Both utilize a mostly smooth all-road tread pattern and a High Mileage high carbon rubber compound. And as usual, we've tapped Panaracer's Japanese factories to produce these for us to ensure a high quality product.

The Shikoro is aimed at a wide range of riders that value efficient and comfortable road performance with durability and robust puncture protection. The bead-to-bead Dense Weave Polyamide breaker provides protection against both tread punctures and sidewall cuts. It offers better protection than the Hypertex casing used on our New Xpress tires and smoother ride quality. The tri-layer 4HD casing offers a nice balance of low rolling resistance and rigid support needed in cornering. We anticipate the Shikoro will be pressed into service for mostly training, club rides, and gritty commutes, but won't be surprised to see folks using them on gravel races where there's a lot of pavement. Available in folding and steel bead.

Soma Shikoro (700x28c shown): "Shikoro" is the term for the neckguard on a samurai  helmet.
Shikoro 700 x 42c

The Supple Vitesse is aimed at cyclists valuing a premium ride quality above all else. The heart of this tire is it supple tubular casing, which offers a high level of vibration absorption and road feel, plus very low rolling resistance. You will find the wider tires to be remarkably plush, but not slow at all. And discerning riders should notice the narrower models will be as fast and positive feeling as  high end tires marketed specifically for racing. We offer an SL (superlight) model as well as an EX model, which has a thicker tread for longer tire life. Skinwall and folding bead only.

A lightweight tubular casing offers the supple speedy ride of a tubular – but in a clincher design.

Five sizes and two tread thicknesses to suit a variety of riding needs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Treads Soon

One of our new treads is equipped with a "Tubular Casing" --Promises a plush and scary fast ride,
but it will get angry if you ask about its TPI.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

More Bikes For Tall People

We've been offering our Soma ES road sport frame in a super large 66cm size for many years now. Last year we started offering a 66cm in our Double Cross Disc and our Buena Vista mixte frame in a 62cm. We may only sell 10 per year of each, but still love offering this option, because there are frustratingly few choices for taller persons.

In 2016, we will expand their choices by offering a 66cm size in our Smoothie road race frame and our Saga touring frame. Spread the word.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Amazing Race: 9th Annual Bicycle Balloon Race

Gravel, schmavel! Here's a race that will really take your breath away. The event is part of the Warren County Farmer's Fair and Hot Air Balloon Festival. The premise is fairly simple. Bicyclists and balloonists pair up to compete against other teams. Participating pilots launch with a bike and bicyclist. After flying for a predetermined distance or amount of time, the pilot will land and let the bicyclist out, who then must cycle back to the Fairgrounds. The team who returns to the Fairgrounds first wins a cash prize. This year the proceeds went to Adopt a Soldier Platoon.

Meesh (riding her new Soma Wolverine) and Tracy (the balloon pilot) were able to raise over $5000 for the charity. Congrats on a job well done!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Where Are Them Wolverines At?!!"

One of Joe Bike's favorite Wolverine builds so far. With Genavalle shifter and three racks.
How's everyone's summer going. I know some of you were hoping to be smiling and perched one of these tasty pumpkin orange beauties --- maybe with dirt drops and monster cross tires or a belt drive and panniers. We apologize for that.

We are doing our best to supply demand. We did get two shipments in this month and hopefully by next week we will have sent out 200 of these to shops and distributors. We have suspended our sales on our online shop until we catch up with backorders, which hopefully will be achieved with our mid-August container. For those still waiting, thank you for your patience!

Updated version with split seatstay.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Best Bike For A Century

If you've done your share of centuries, you know you get all types of bikes at these events – carbon race bikes, recumbents, hybrids, fixed gears, even cruisers – which goes to show that as long as you are comfortable on the bike, it does not matter what type of bike you use. In long distance riding, everyone seems to be a little different, both physically and mentally. You need something that fits, and something that does what you want it to do, too. Some want to sprint, some want to use a steady cadence, and some change their minds all the time and just ride according to how they feel. If you are fit enough and motivated enough to ride one of Soma Rush track bikes with deep drop bars on a double century, more power to you!

But if you are interested in finishing those 100 miles reasonably fast and also feeling fresh enough at the end to enjoy the after-event festivities, the best bike for centuries from our line is the ES model, because it offers the best balance of benefits for long distance road events. The ES is our "road sport" or "audax"(as the Brits call it) model. It also falls into the recently coined "Endurance Road" category.

COMFORT with EFFICIENCY: It is double butted chromoly steel instead of carbon or aluminum. Carbon at our pricepoint is likely to be overly stiff. Comparably priced aluminum transmits a lot of road vibrations which fatigue the muscles. A quality steel bike smooths out road vibrations. A good  endurance road carbon bike can do a decent job at that, too, but the price tag for one of those will be much higher.
The ES also fits medium width tires. Most road bikes (even entry level) barely fit 26c wide tires, which is lame, since wider tires offer more cushion and shock absorption and handle rougher roads better. Centuries and fondos are not usually on the smoothest tarmac.  The ES fits up to 700x32c tires, which is a size most folks in the know says offer noticeable comfort without compromising rolling efficiency. Cyclocross bikes like our Double Cross can also fit wider tires, but have a taller bottom bracket height, so the ES edges it out in the stability and road handling department.

STABILITY with SPEED: The ES geometry is optimized for non-competitive long distance rides. A bike with race geometry may excel at maneuvering around the competition, but its quick steering makes it more difficult to go in a straight line without more course correction from the rider. (i.e. more difficult to ride in a relaxed manner). The ES has a medium length chainstay and wheelbase for sporty, but not twitchy handling. Still quite fun on a windey descent or drag racing for the county line.

COMFORT + EFFICIENCY + STABILITY + SPEED = A rider who can ride longer, with less fuss and fatigue and with more enjoyment.

The ES comes in sizes 46 to 66cm. Steel fork is optional. A complete bike with SRAM Apex and hill-friendly 11-32t cassette is also available to shops in limited sizes.

Useful Links
12 Scenic Century Rides
Centuries and Endurance Rides in California
Training for a Century

Steve Wagner's 2010 ES with fenders.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Librarian Quits Her Job to Ride Her Soma Saga Across America

Laurie Chipps says her goal for the trip was: "to encourage others to do what inspires them most, whether the smallest change or a similarly big adventure, not just to be envious. If you put your mind to something and follow through, you can make anything happen."

"I do want a career change, possibly empowering people to go on trips of their own or race bikes," Chipps said. "I'm hoping there are a lot of jobs in the outdoor adventure or tourism industry there. And if I can't find a job, Chicago will always be here."

Chipps has saved money for a year and gave away almost all of her furniture. Her last day of librarian duties was April 10, and this week she turned in her apartment keys.
She is currently on Day 53 of her ride near Pueblo, CO (where the sunset below was captured). We wish her the best.

She is  riding along the Adventure Cycling Association's Transamerica route
She is blogging about her experiences here.
The full interview with Laurie can be found on DNAInfo

Photos: Laurie Chipps

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Adventure Cyclist Review the Saga Disc!

Patrick O’Grady checks in on one of his favorite touring rigs as Soma adds stepped-up stoppers to create the Saga Disc. See his full review in the May 2015 issue of Adventure Cyclist magazine. PDF file here.

This was a pretty unusual build with 42c knobby Cazadero tires, 46-30t IRD Defiant Cranks and SunXCD derailleurs.

Monday, May 4, 2015

RIDER PROFILE: Norma Herrera of the Calfornia Bicycle Coalition

Norma is a proud new owner of a Grand Randonneur. She is currently getting ready the California Coast Climate Ride. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, specifically East L.A. And has lived in Oakland, CA for two and a half years.  

What kind of riding do you do? If you have one, what is your favorite ride route?

I've been car-free since 2010 and don't like waiting for public transit so bicycling is my #1 way of getting around. 

I also really enjoy night-time group rides, though I haven't been doing too many here in Oakland. Believe it or not, L.A. has a huge bike culture and those people are some of my best friends. 

I need to do more bike camping. My old bike (a late-80's single-speed conversion Bianchi) didn't really allow for too many camping trips. I'm excited to get some racks on my Grand Rando...I anticipate a lot of bike camping this season.

My favorite ride route is actually my commute to work. I get to ride alongside the water by Jack London Square and it's always really calm and quiet. Great way to start a work day. I also like to ride the Iron Horse Trail.

What kind of bikes have you had before or still have? If you have a ton, just share the most memorable.

My aforementioned Bianchi has been my only regular bike for five years. It was actually given to me by a really good friend, so it's not my size but it has done me really well.

However, my most memorable bike is this thing: 

Meet GOAT, a 70's Schwinn cruiser cut-up, flipped and welded onto a unicycle wheel. If you've never built a freak bike, I highly recommend it.

What made you choose a Grand Randonneur and/or how do you like it so far?

It's by far one of the prettiest bikes I've seen and one of the few that comes in my size. So far, I'm loving how easy it is to ride...going from a SS to gears is one of the most life-changing experiences I've ever had! And having a bike that can handle dirt and gravel is amazing. 
Norma's got her 49cm Grand Randonneur  built with Soma Three-Speed Bars.

What you excited about doing, trying or going in 2015?

I'm definitely excited about the Climate Ride in a couple of weeks (you can donate to my cause here.) It's the first time I'm doing a multi-day, hundreds of miles tour and it's especially exciting, because I'm doing it on behalf of my organization, the California Bicycle Coalition.

I'm also excited about working in bike advocacy and all the exciting things we're getting done. More people on bikes = positive change in our society. 

Is there an activity, hobby or cause that you are involved in now that you would like to share?

For the time being, my biggest cause is getting more people on bikes. I volunteer for all sorts of events when I can (Save the Bay clean-ups and Sunday Streets are two of my favorites) I also am starting to work on a huge build project for Burning Man, which is very exciting. 

What's on heavy rotation on your MP3 player/streaming service?

Lykke Li, Hot Chip,  and Sia.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hand-painting Crane Suzu Bells

Handpainting Demo of Crane Bicycle Bells from somafab on Vimeo.

As you know art isn't easy. Though some artists sure make it look easy.
Here is Nami, the artist who hand paints those exquisite Crane Suzu bells showing us how she does it. These bells come in 10 different classic Japanese design. Available in bike shops all over and on our SomaFab Store. My personal favorite is the Japanese maple.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Gator Bar Can Swallow the Junebug Bar!

We are introducing a fun new dirt drop/alt bar called the Gator. It's wide. It's alternative. Offer extra leverage. Lots of room in the grip area. And the 190mm grip area tapers from 23.8mm to 22.2mm, so it can take mountain grips and flat bar levers. Will take aero levers, too.


- 6061 butted aluminum
- Width: 655mm at ends, center-to-center
- Width: 505mm at front of drops, center-to-center
- Width of flats on top: 340mm
- Center: 31.8mm
- Drops flare out at 20° angle
- Weight: 400g
- No cable grooves
- Shotpeen finish
- Black or silver

The Gator's reach and bends are similar to the Junebug bar (and its 26.0mm cousin, the Portola). There is a a little more flare in the drops.
Not sure how to convey its exact "drop", since we usually run these bars with the drops angled, so it depends on where you position your hands and what angle you set the drops in. We expect some folks would maybe trim the drops down if they don't need all that space, but if you wanna run grip shifters, this is your ticket.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Juice and B-Side Gets A Gates Belt-Drive Option

The Juice (29er) and B-Side (27.5er) hardtails are now available with a split Tange Sliding Dropout for compatibility with belt-drive systems. Build them SS or with Rohloff (or other internal geared) hubs. Colors are the same. The only other design difference is with the drive-side chainstay which has a flat plate to make sure there is clearance for 2.4" tires and the thick Gates front cog.

The standard models are still be available. The belt-drive ones are only available in small quantities this year.

Stock we have now have a split in the dropout for the belt.
Future 2015 production will have a split in the seatstay.

Modified chainstay: Looks different, but quite stiff.
Passes Gates/Rohloff frame stiffness test.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Photo by Mel Saldonido
We met Vincent on Facebook after he shared some beautiful photos of his Smoothie build.

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Vincent Lo, AKA VLO. Somehow the whole VLO thing got me into the VELO things. I have Midwest/Southern roots, and lived in San Francisco for about 6 years. Currently, I am living in Orange County, California.

What kind of riding do you do ? 

If you have one, what is your favorite ride route?: On the weekdays, I commute to work about 30 miles a day, 15 miles each way. On the weekends, I will ride with my local bike shop on some club rides or with some friends on more remote rides. I love riding in the city/metropolitan areas like LA, where there are a lot of cars and obstacles that you have to be aware of and dodge to make it to your destination. Keeps me focused and my senses heightened.

What types of bikes have you owned or still have? 

 I currently have 5 ridable bikes, and probably another 5 frames and parts that I have yet to build up. Top 3 are 2014 SOMA Smoothie Shimano 105, 1987 Panasonic DX-5000 Shimano 600, 2010 Mercier Kilo WT. I have a high-end carbon bike too, but my true passion is in steel bikes. My favorite is the SOMA Smoothie because it's fun to ride, comfortable, and handsome. 

Details: H+Son TB14 on White Industries T11 wrapped with Veloflex Master 25,
Shimano 105 5600 group, Brooks B17 saddle and handlebar tape. Photo by Vince Lo
[click on image because its worth the zoom]

What made you choose a Smoothie and why did you custom build it as you did?

What started out as building a low cost, do-it-all, everyday commuter from random parts and take-off's from my other builds, this SOMA Smoothie quickly became a pet project after seeing how beautiful and well built the frame was. I couldn't let it be any ordinary commuter anymore (i.e. one that I would ride everyday, to and from work, lock up at poles, get beat up and scraped, and risk it getting stolen). While keeping the “do-it-all” attitude, it be came a capable, agile boy racer that would tear through urban streets and tackle the highest mountains. The build pays homage to the city of SF, from which the SOMA brand originates from, and my first destination in my California life. Like the city, which has an eclectic design and architecture fusing Victorian and modern eras, this bike combines the look of the golden years of cycling with modern amenities and comfort.

 So you are a graphic designer and you obviously do some photography.
What are some of the more interesting creative projects (professional or personal) that you are working on?

By day, I am a graphic designer for a "black business bag" company, and by night, I take on cool random freelance projects (many of which I cannot mention at the moment). I am also trying to start my brand of cycling jerseys and accessories, which I am calling VELOPRIME.

What you excited about doing, trying or going in 2015?

Still seeking the big adventure in 2015. Last year we did the 4-day hike on the Inca Trail in Peru. We'll see if we can top that this year.

Is there an activity, hobby or cause that you are involved in now that you would like to share?
Sneakers. It's a bad addiction. I have a continuously growing collection of retro runners, Air Jordan's, Air Max, Dunks, all that good stuff. If money isn't spent on bikes, it's on shoes.

See more of Vince's photos here

What's on heavy rotation on your music player? Are MP3's still around?? I just stream stuff:, Groove Salad, Dubstep Beyond... and Taylor Swift. I can't start my day without Taylor Swift. Don't judge :D

What food or drink would you miss after the zombie apocalypse? Mexican Coke and burritos de lengua [Editor: Coca-Cola from Mexico contains real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Available at many Hispanic grocery stores.]

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bike Pack Testing Trip on the Soma B-Side

Bikepacking in the Southwest from Greenwater on Vimeo.

From 2014: Bedrock Bags testing some new bag designs in the Cedar Mesa area.
So damn beautiful out there. (The orange bike is our B-Side 27.5" hardtail)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Plan Out Your Dream Bike Build

Thanks, Jeff for sending a photo of his Soma Double Cross project.

In the middle of January, some of us are already thinking about spring riding. Some of us might be contemplating building a new bike with parts in the garage or more fun yet --- new parts you've been painstakingly collecting over the winter. Since we sell mainly frames, we know that a high amount of Soma are project bikes. We found this article in an Australian website pretty helpful. Check it out before you start your next project. "How to Handle A Custom Bike Build"