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