Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Forest and Me

There is a man A certain man And for the poor you may be sure That he'll do all he can Who is this one? Whose favorite son? Just by his action has the traction Magnates on the run Who likes to smoke? Enjoys a joke? And wouldn't get a bit Upset if he were really broke? With wealth and fame He's still the same I'll bet you five you're not alive If you don't know his name.

We have a lot of material to cover so bear with me. I know y'all are excited to see the pics from our Japan trip, but first I have an announcement from our local solar system regarding some things that have been happening here for the last couple hundred years. But first we need to backtrack a smidgen.

This part comes from Wikipedia. John Muir's Birthplace is a four-story stone house in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland. His parents were Daniel Muir and Ann Gilrye. He was the third of eight children: Margaret, Sarah, David, Daniel, Ann and Mary (twins), and the American-born Joanna. His earliest recollections were of taking short walks with his grandfather when he was three.[11] In his autobiography, he described his boyhood pursuits, which included fighting, either by re-enacting romantic battles from the Wars of Scottish Independence or just scrapping on the playground, and hunting for birds' nests (ostensibly to one-up his fellows as they compared notes on who knew where the most were located).[12]:25,37 Author Amy Marquis notes that he began his "love affair" with nature while young, and implies that it may have been in reaction to his strict religious upbringing. "His father believed that anything that distracted from Bible studies was frivolous and punishable." But the young Muir was a "restless spirit" and especially "prone to lashings."[13] As a young boy, Muir became fascinated with the East Lothian landscape, and was known to spend a lot of time wandering the local coastline and countryside. It was during this time that he became interested in natural history and the works of Scottish naturalist Alexander Wilson. The rest is a bit abridged, but you can do your own fact checking if you feel so inclined.

Anyway, at age 22 JM went to school in Wisconsin where he studied Botany. I'm not a historian so I'll just hit on what I think are the salient points so we can move on. JM didn't really care for the classroom very much. He preferred to be outside, where he could climb mountains and wade in streams and what not. He continued bumming around for a while, saw some stuff, lost his sight for a bit and eventually found himself in SF.

So by this point he was in his mid twenties, and let's be honest he was still kind of a dickhead. Don't get me wrong, he was into Robert Burns and Ralph Waldo Picklechips, but like most white folks back then he had some pretty questionable opinions. It wasn't until he visited Yosemite that he finally started to figure out what was really going on.

Back then the settlers were having a pretty good time of it. There was gold, timber, fields to graze in and just a ridiculous abundances of natural beauty. Let's not forget that before the 49ers showed up the Miwok people had been living in Alta California since before Jesus had thought of anything worth writing down. Francis Drake met some of them a couple hundred years before, and as far as we know that went over pretty well, but the folks that showed up after we definitely not very nice.

In the language of the Ahwahneechee Yosemite actually means yohhe'meti or Killers. Wikipedia says they were talking about the Nevada Pai-Ute but I'm going to go out on a limb and say they were dropping some shade on their new neighbors. At any rate, they're still around so you could just ask them if you really want to know.

So now that we've covered all that let's get into it for real. Our ancestors, yes you are included in this, believed that there were spirits inside every living thing. The Japanese know it, the Haitians know it, the Ghanaians know it, and deep deep down the Scots knew it too. So JM keeps going back to the Sierra Nevada and it blows his damn mind how feckin beautiful it is out here. He was the OG Spencer Harding and just decided he would walk from Oakland to Yosemite Valley. Why not, right? In 1911 he published a book called First Summer in the Sierra. I suggest you pick it up and read it, but check your privilege when you do because right off the bat he starts saying things that will make you think "this guy is a real dickhead". It gets better though.

So he does some more traveling, and learns a lot more about nature and at some point he starts meeting the nature spirits. They had been pretty quiet for a while (remember YT was cutting down the oldest trees in the world and launching flaming barrels off the waterfalls and other nutso shenanigans at this point) but I guess they figured this guy has potential so they start talking to him. He get's to know the Grand Bois, and the Bear spirit. He climbs the mountains at night and he knows it's his job, passed down from the Goddess Gaia herself, to put a stop to all the wypipo bullshit.

So in 1903 he meets up with Teddy Roosevelt in Coulterville (I assume at the bar, because let's face it there isn't much else to do in Coulterville) and he say "Sonny, let me show you some s*** that's going to blow yer feckin mind". And he does, and then they create the National Parks and the Sierra Club. Ansel Adams took some pictures. Everything was pretty chill, except it wasn't. People didn't listen. They have kept destroying the forests. They have kept taking native land. They have kept burning and drilling and eating themselves to death. Not a good scene. Now I know SF is supposed to me like a big Buddhist temple or whatever, but let me remind you that your drinking water still comes from Hetch Hetchy. We could argue all day about whether that was a good idea or not, but at the end of the day they built the dam and that's a fact. So my suggestion is maybe before you take your shower tonight stop a moment and say a prayer. It can be directed at whoever, but just take a minute. Mni Wicoini is a pretty good one. If you don't know what that's about I would just go ahead and Google it. That is all for now.

Friday, March 10, 2017

New Colorway for the Rush and Juice

At Soma we don't change colors every year. We like to pick colors we think you'll and then keep them for a while. If we forced ourselved to change colors every years, we may end up picking some you don't like as much or something too trendy.

For 2017 we do have quite a few color updates.
The Rush, our track frame, is now available in Gloss Graphite. We love this color because it has a pearly richness to it when you look up close, but from afar the color isn't a bike thief magnet as some louder colors might be.

The Juice, our 29er SS/Geared frame, gets a charming baby blue. Some may say isn't kind of pastel or girly. We totally disagree. It reminds us a faded blue pick up truck or VW van parked outside some taco stand somewhere in Baja, Mexico. That's why we call it Baja Blue. And we have seen plenty of manly custom hardtails and road bikes that have used a similar baby blue.
The Juice has also been updated to fit wider tires --- 27.5" x 2.8" to be exact.
More traction. More confidence. More fun.

Other color updates: The Double Cross Disc will come in Sky Silver, a metallic silver with slight bluish tint. The B-Side will come in Fiery Red.

Friday, January 13, 2017

What's a Pescadero Anyway?

The Low Down on the new Pescadero frame set:
  • Road sport/Endurance road geometry
  • Fits tires up to 700c x 42mm
  • Designed for Paul Racer centerpull brakes and 73mm dual pivot caliper brakes
  • Coming in late March 2017

A pescadero is a fishmonger if you didn't get that far in your high school Spanish class. It's also the name of a charming town down the coast a bit between SF and Santa Cruz. The town began as a rancho like so many of the historic communities in California did, but nowadays it's one of a number of eclectic little villages along the scenic Highway 1. Since the Fog Cutter was inspired by a trip to the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, we wanted our newest all-road bike to go with the theme of NorCal beach destinations.

TIG-welded using Tange Prestige heat-treated double-butted chromoly steel

So what's the deal with this bike anyway? As you may know our ES road sport frame was originally called the Smoothie "Extra Smooth", because it fit wider, more comfortable tires than our Smoothie road race bike. Believe it or not, it was the first Soma I ever bought back when I was first greasing chains and patching tubes at the local bike shop. And it's a great bike. It's been largely unchanged since we launched it aside from a new coat of paint every few years, but I would guess there are probably hundreds of ES that still get ridden every day.

Well we got to thinking, wouldn't it be sweet if the ES could fit the new 42c Supple Vitesse road tires that we make. Unfortunately 57mm road brakes max out at about 33mm wide tires. That was huge only a few years ago, but things change and sometimes you just need more in your life. As it turns out, the brakes were the only thing holding us back so we went ahead and made a frame set that fits 67mm reach brakes and voila! Without changing the geometry or the handling we were able to reinvent this classic Soma.

Designed for Paul Racer centerpull brakes in mind! Fits up to 700 x 42mm tires or 38mm with fenders

And I have to say, it rides great with these tires. If you've never ridden the Grand Randonneur 650b x 42mm tires then you might think a 42 would feel like a beast, but you'd be dead wrong. They're super fast and plenty light (perhaps the lightest tires available in this size).

If you can't afford the splendid Paul Racer brakes, these Rivendell/Tektro 73mm reach caliper brakes work well, too.
We positioned the brake bridge in a way to keep the pads high in the slot to minimize arm flex.

Some people feel that long reach caliper brakes just aren't quite responsive enough. I can't say I agree with that, since I've been riding them for years, but to those people I'd say you have two options to consider.

Option 1 is just go for the disc brake friendly Fog Cutter and embrace the future, man. But if you're the wool wearing, pipe smoking, Robert Burns reading type of cyclist consider...

Option 2. Centerpull brakes! Remember those? Mafac, Weinmann, Dia Compe? Even Shimano used to make them. Anyway, Paul Components up in old Chico, CA makes some and they are just bitchin. Great stopping power, tons of fender clearance, stiff as a metaphor and boy-oh-boy do they look nice. We even included a special cable hanger in the back so you don't have to use one of those dangly ones.

But wait, there's more! We got those rack eyelets, baby! It'll take a front and rear Champs Elysees rack, a Porteur Deluxe up front, a Nitto Mark's rack or one of these new Gamoh jobbies that's in the pictures. Now remember I said it's exactly like the ES, so it isn't low trail. We might do a different fork some day but for now this is it. That said, it rides great. If you want low trail you probably already know all about that stuff, so I won't bother getting into it here.

What else? Uh, Breezer-style hooded dropouts. Groovy fork blades. This sweet blue paint job. What more do you want? These will be coming in March I think. Hopefully. Anyway, if you want one your LBS can pre-order one through Merry Sales and you can just kick back and listen to some Electro Swing or whatever the kids are into these days. Cheers y'all!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Soma Photo Contest

We at Soma Fabrications are looking for photos of our Soma frames in their natural habitat to decorate our office.  The winning photo will be enlarged to 8' x 4' for our conference room and for that reason, it must have a resolution of 15 – 20 Mega Pixels. Runner ups will need a lesser resolution (12-20 MP) and will be enlarged to about 3' x 4' and hung throughout the offices. 

What are we looking for:   

1.  San Francisco or Coastal Northern California, i.e. West Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Santa Cruz, etc. involving fog and redwoods, etc.

2.  Exotic places such as Nepal, Tibet, India, etc. 

3.  Colored photo or black and white, whatever suits the mood of the photo

4. There must be a Soma bike in the photo, but it doesn’t have to be prominently featured.

5. Photo captions must accompany all submissions, and should include

  • The location in which the image was taken
  • A description of the trip, circumstances, etc, that may be helpful for judges

One Winner will receive a name acknowledgement for the photo and a $500 credit towards the SomaFab Store.  The Runner Ups (up to 4), will also receive a name acknowledgement for the photo as well as a $100 credit towards the SomaFab store. The store credit will be good for up to 6 months from the date of issuance.

*Images can be emailed as compressed JPEG's.  Do not email RAW image or images over 15 megabytes in size as our email service will not accept them.  You are free to watermark your submissions; but we would like the images to be submitted at full size, if possible, so we can evaluate color and composition as well as the potential sharpness/noise when blown up to size. 

Please email submission(s) to jim_porter(at)

Last date to email your submission will be Dec. 31, 2016.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bikecamping With Our New Distributor in South Africa

Yes we have finally found some like-minded souls to represent Soma Fabrications on the continent Africa (Cape Town, South Africa to be exact). We are quite quite happy about that.

Here is some photo coverage of a week long camping ride they took outside of Cape Town with some fellow members of the "S24o Bicycle Microadventures" Facebook group. They are called that because most of their outings are sub-24 hours. Please visit the Everyday Cycle Supply site for the full photo essay of the trip.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sandworm: May His passing cleanse the World

Words and Photography by Spencer J. Harding

Essay by Edward Abbey "I Loved it...I Loved it All" from Ned Judge on Vimeo.

Go to that link, watch the first few minutes of that piece by Ed Abbey. After a week of cavorting around the Moab desert I started to appreciate what ole’ Ed had to say about the desert.

But we aren’t gonna get into conservation and all the politics right now, just look at what he’s driving. That beautiful Cadillac, not some souped up jeep, a classy as hell convertible Cadillac. When trying to review this frame it has been hard to figure out what to highlight, this is the most versatile frameset for off-road riding that I am aware of at the moment.

So this is the point I want to make, you could go buy the fancy carbon fiber plus tire full squish mega bike, but if you are reading this that is probably not your thing. You are a dignified off-road cycling enthusiast, and this my friends is your Cadillac.

This is a convertible Cadillac meandering down lonely desert roads kind of bike, its about looking damn good and feeling even better. Sure there are more specific bikes, but trust me, this bike can be made to handle almost everything (Captain Ahab was a little gnarly rigid but I managed). You don’t need to ride in the desert for long to be stoked that you have some plus sized tires, and you can run just about any tire you can image on this thing (26/27.5/29).

The chain stays are longer than bike publications would deem noteworthy (fear not this thing wheelies no problem) but, this thing is a freaking Cadillac, its not gonna turn on a dime, but you don't need to when you look and feel this good.

So get that stem up nice and high and put some wide bars so you can really take in the landscape, you don’t have to watch every rock and sand patch with this beauty, just let the 3”+ air suspension handle the imperfections. I’ve yet to see anyone ride this bike without a shit eating grin on their face the entire time.

Are the type of person who; likes to get way way out in the great outdoors, enjoys the challenge of crawling through spreadsheets of mountain bike parts measurements, rides slower than the average Strava roadie who just discovered mountain biking, has an appreciation for fashion over function, and wants to build up a plus bike that is so classy that even ole’ Ed Abbey would tip his hat?

Then my friend, the Sandworm is for you. THE SPICE MUST FLOW.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Soma Vitesse Tire Review from Velo De Route of France

We don't re-post reviews of our products too much here anymore, but since this one requires Google Translate and has such pretty pictures, we made an exception. View the full review here.
Joly reviewed the 42mm wide SL with an inner tube. He was interested in trying the tire after meeting us at Eurobike.

On the tarmac he had nothing out of the ordinary to report, but for the downhill...
<<In downhill the balance is strangely more mixed: admittedly, the section and the gum of quality offer a grip in curve, as braking, simply phenomenal, but the height of the bike does not fully exploit these assets. It is not the fault of the tire, but if you add the two centimeters due to the cyclo-cross frame and the tire, it is at least three centimeters higher than on a road frame in tire of 25/28 Mm. It starts to do ... In practice, the configuration photographed did not allow me to beat or even approach my reference time in downhill (established with Compass tires).>>

He noted his 42mm measured closer to 37mm. This was with a narrowish rim with 18mm internal width.
A 23mm internal width rim should get you closer to 42mm.

On gravel performance:
<On roads generally traveled in tires of the same volume but more or less clinging, with rubber flank, the difference of flexibility and yield is really impressive. The surface adheres very well, even on loose ground, and slightly damp, the grip remains very correct. The micro-slats that partially cover the surface of the tire are probably for something, and the adhesion is not less than with semi-slicks type "tip of diamond". In the mud ... it slips, normal. This is the obvious limit of a slick tire.
[On downhill gravel:]
There, it is a new (good) surprise. Once again the flexibility of the tire, and the absence of crampons [knobs] provide much less vibration than my usual tires. If it's obvious on the tar, it's also noticeable on a path. It seems that at equal volume, the absence of crampons provides better contact with the ground.>>
After a few tests I adopted pressures of 3 bars at the rear, 2.5 at the front whatever the ground, and so far without puncture. The lightness of the flanks is reminiscent of the first MTB tires of yesteryear, and therefore the specter of the pinch is very present in mind ... caution remains, but after 200 km of rustic gravel,

In the end, these Soma Speed ​​42 mm are the ideal gravel tires for dry conditions.
Their road performances are impeccable, and allow to drive in a group at high speed, as much as on a 150km turn.
But especially their performances along the way are really excellent. The combination of a large volume on a slick tire in my opinion provide the best versatility of a "gravel". Of course some extreme terrain or wet conditions require crampons, but always to the detriment of versatility and performance.>>

The writer makes an interesting note that tires in the 40mm and up range raise the BB of road bikes and CX bikes higher than what they are designed for. And thus you can't corner and steer as confidently, even with the added grip of these tires. Frame makers would need to make frames with lower bottom brackets. This isn't lost on us. We stay pretty conservative on our BB heights. Because ven though we are designing many of our bike to fit 38c and up, we have many customers and bike shops who will outfit our frames with 700x28.  This means we can't optimize the BB drop just for the largest tire size, because then the BB height will be too low for more common size tires. For folks wanting wider tires AND the lowest BB height with disc road/CX bike, your main option is to go with a 650b conversion. Second option...a custom frame.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Soma Stanyan 2017

It's been a while since Soma announced any new lugged frames. Well the wait is over at last. For 2017 Soma will be producing a limited number of totally redesigned Stanyan lugged road/audax framesets in black and white color schemes.

So there are a couple of changes since the last time, most notably the steerer tube is 1" threaded. That means the lugs are a teensy bit lighter and you can use the Soma Sutro quill stem (or one of the hundreds of Nitto options).

Another new feature is the rear dropouts. We went for a medium length semi horizontal dropout with adjustment screw. We chose this for two reasons. A. because it allows you to adjust the wheel position a smidgen, which can be useful when trying to squeeze the biggest tires into 57mm brakes with optimal fender clearance. And B. because we're not bringing back the Van Ness and we know there are a lot of folks who want to use single speed or internally geared drive trains.

The forks now have a little fancier blades than before. We kept the mini rack mounts from the last generation to allow you to mount small handlebar bags, as well as light mounts or long fenders up front. We didn't do anything to the geometry, so if you're worried that we frenched up the handling, chill, we didn't. That's not to say you shouldn't use a handlebar bag, just don't go full Manny and try to carry a lawn chair or something  and it should be ok.

If you've never ridden the Stanyan before, just imagine the ES with slightly livelier tubing. If you normally ride road bikes it will feel pretty familiar. If you prefer wider tires it will probably feel a bit more nimble than your touring or CX bike.

They do have rear rack mounts, but we don't really intend to load them down too much. If you really need to do some cargo hauling somthing like the Nitto 27r with low set panniers will work well, otherwise somthing minimal like the Soma Champs Elysees will work better. Just like the original Stanyan these have fender eyelets on the brake and chainstay bridges.

If you are in the bay area and fancy taking a spin on either bike be sure to stop by American Cyclery's Halloween Basement Crypt sale before somebody snatches them up.

If you were hoping for Fogcutter info, don't worry, you should be getting good news very soon.