Monday, May 28, 2012

Soma Smoothie

Time for a "man blog" diversion. Why not? It's that time of year where we are all distracted from the shop, office, or what-have-you by the allure of the outdoors and it's specific, or general call to each of us. In my case: bike lust.
For a number of years I have wanted to replace an older road bike that didn't exactly fit me nor was quite geared towards the kind of riding I've been leaning to.
I had not been able to justify replacing it because I certainly do not make much for money and that I have hardly touched it for the last few years due to working myself ragged. After a hopeful barter with a bike rep fell through, I couldn't wait any longer. The bug had already bit. I decided to attempt what I like to call "a working man's bike build" with the good folk of the Angry Catfish behind the build.

Enter the Smoothie frame set from Soma Fabrications. Soma is a bicycle frame and parts manufacturer based in San Francisco who focuses on durability, and ride-ability at an approachable price. Being from Minneapolis one might ask "What about the likes of Surly or All City frames?" I would say that the tubing and geometry is worth the bit more than the Surly but to get a real appreciable step up I would need to spend at least twice that of the Soma.
At a price point of $550 for frame and fork (plus the $50 or so for professional chase and face), one cannot expect the world, but I was pleasantly surprised. The fit and finish of the frame exceeded my expectations with clean welds (to my eye), the clean white paint with a beautiful light pearl coat, subtle detail around the updated branding (a very welcome update), and so on. The fittings for racks and fenders are thoughtful but I would rather be without them. It would be nice if they had the option without them on this, their "race" frame.

Aesthetically I wanted to utilize the steel frame with its semi compact geometry to achieve a "vintage-modern" machine. One of course could make ties to the furniture and wood work I do.
For me this means clean, mainly silver/alloy components. I was a bit surprised at the limited amount of products that fit the bill! I had to do some searching but I came out with some good stuff.

Part of the reason I spent less on the frame was so that I could invest more into wheels and some more over looked parts that really do count such as the headset, saddle, and tires. These are the parts that can make or break your ride. When you are confident and comfortable you simply perform and feel better.

The Soma Soothie is certainly no feather weight by today's race standards, nor is it the most responsive frame on the market. However, it is a great bang for the buck. The frame comes into its own at speed. The modern race geometry delivers power and handling while the steel keeps me comfortable. Investing in the ride as a whole makes this a solid and confident machine uniquely tailored to my riding and aesthetic style, and budget.
For a person like me what it comes down to is riding, and wanting to ride more. I'm itching for another opportunity to get some miles behind me.


Craig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig said...

Hey Nick, the bike looks great! Looks like you'll have a great summer. Here's an idea: The summer session at Inside Passage is in full swing. Come join us for a visit! It's only a couple thousand miles! Your alma mater is waiting. Craig

Nicholas Nelson said...

How is it going out there? Although I would love to get out there I don't have the time, money, OR legs ha.

Craig said...

It's going great! Except I'm having a bit of trouble with material selection for my chair. The white oak I started working with may turn out to be unusable. Lots of honeycomb checking. I may end up using ash... will know more tomorrow after further study. ― Craig

Velouria said...

Your build looks fantastic!

Are you speaking hypothetically, or from personal experience when you say the Soma is not "the most responsive frame on the market"? Would love to know which bikes you are comparing it to.

Nicholas Nelson said...

Thanks Velouria,
I suppose I'm speaking both from experience and theory. I've ridden bikes of most materials, from varying grades of steel, aluminum, titanium, to different configurations of carbon.
The last road bike I owned was a Klein Quantum Pro which is an aluminum frame with large thin-walled tubes. That thing was a missile! The power transfer/response was instantaneous! However not the most comfortable frame to ride.
I can recall a ride with a Serotta build 853 frame that was very pleasing but such a build was not in my current budget. However with time I get more accustom to this build as a whole and am having some fun with it.

calvin eeng said...

Hello Nick, mind if you clarify what frame size this Smoothie is? A 52cm?