If you google Soma, you get women’s underwear first and bikes second.
Of course, the juxtaposition of these two competing Soma brands could be my personal google analytics kicking in, but something tells me the algorithm should know where my priorities are. Like any beautiful woman, the intimate curves and intelligent design of a Soma frame deserves all the respect and admiration I can muster. Soma hooked me up with the Double Cross Disc for the summer, and I built it up over the past week, a bit at a time. The Double Cross Disc is Soma’s steel cyclocross race bike, but the tall head tube, huge tire clearances, rack braze-ons, and (relatively) long wheelbase make it just as happy as a touring bike, endurance bike, or commuter.
That’s good: I need this bike to be all of these.
There’s a zen in home bike builds that makes me wish I could build up a new frame every month. I used Laughing Dog’s headset press and bottom bracket wrench to get the middling parts installed, and then built up the rest in the comfort of my living room. I might lose my deposit over the chainring marks on the carpet, if a steam cleaner can’t lift them, but I’m sure there’s a few paint drops on the floor of the Sistine Chapel.
The Build List
This bike is mostly a frame swap, but I took the opportunity to upgrade a few bits in the process.
- Frame: Soma Double Cross Disc, 58cm
- Fork: Salsa Vaya Classico Cromoly, 45mm Rake
- Crankset: SRAM Apex
- Chainring: Race Face 38T
- Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Long-Cage
- Cassette: Shimano XT 11-36T
- Chain: Shimano XT 10-speed
- Pedals: Shimano Hybrid Flat/Clipless
- Hubs: Shimano XT (135mm rear)
- Rims: Mavic 719 (36H rear, 32H front)
- Tires: Variable
- Stem: Salsa Guide Stem
- Seatpost: Easton EA70
- Seat: WTB Pure-V
- Handlebars: Salsa Cowbell 2, 42cm
- Shifter: Dura-Ace Bar End 9-speed
- Brakes: Avid BB7 Road Disc, Jagwire Compressionless Housing
- Levers: Cane Creek
- Racks: Racktime Top-it front, Axiom Streamliner rear.
I added an additional front brake lever to avoid hitting pedestrians during “rush hour” on UMass’ campus.
Soma uses different varieties of the Tange Prestige tubing, depending on placement. This variation in the characteristics of the chainstays, top tube, downtube, seat tube, and seat stays provides stiffness where it’s needed and flexibility where it isn’t. In other words, this bike was tailored for trips when your pavement transitions to dirt halfway through. Yes, it’s noticeable; compared to the super-tight geometry and thick tubing of my old Raleigh, this bike is butter.
WTB Pure-V is still my saddle of choice for everything. I may be love-blind, though, as I haven’t used anything else since I was 16.
The Cane Creek 40 headset stumped all three of the master mechanics at Laughing Dog for about five minutes. That’s a half-century or more of experience. The culprit is an additional ring underneath the bottom bearing, flush with the crown race. Why? Who knows. Put enough proprietary parts in something, and suckers (like me) are bound to pay more!
The stickers make it feel like “my” bike, and I know i’m a minority in finding the aesthetic pleasing. My original Raleigh got stickered up as a theft deterrent after it was stolen and, miraculously, recovered. I don’t think this bike is quite theft-deterring yet, but I’ll beat it to a scratched, dinged-up mess over a few trips.
SRAM Apex makes more sense to me than Shimano Sora. Less proprietary parts is a plus; the bolt on the non-drive side uses a standard hex wrench instead of the proprietary end cap on a Shimano crankset. There’s also much less excess material, and the standard English BB is easily serviceable. Having standard measurements on everything means I’ll have many more options to play around with for years to come.
I took my inaugural ride around Amherst last week, and spent last night ripping around Deerfield on my friend Tim’s sustainable tree farm. Miles of dirt roads and a herding dog to keep me in line — it just felt right. It’s a beautiful bike that fits me like a glove, and I can’t wait to start laying down the miles.