It’s been almost 2 months now since I first recieved the Soma Double Cross frame. Finally, it is starting to look more like a bike. From my first post you may recall that there were several build issues that I was starting to become concened about. Well, instead of pussyfooting around with what-ifs and practicalities, I made some decisions hoping to ride a new bike this summer.
Our friends at Cane Creek helped me out purchasing a 110 headset that was recently reviewed in Dirt Rag #142. That is probably the most sensible item I’ve picked up for this bike so far. 110 year warranty!? That will be smoothly turning corroded forks long after the zombie apocalypse.
The bars and stem where some of the most affordable items I’ve grabbed and have helped keep me in the black. There are of course benchmarks for bike fit, many of which have been discussed around the office (or lectured). Without actually being able to sit onthe bike and ride it, best guesses were made. I picked up a compact drop bar. Some of the critiques common of drop bars is that the lower hand possitions are too low. Raising the bars so the drops are comfortable then makes the brake hoods too high. A compact set of bars, with a shallower reach, will hopefully make for a larger variety of comfortable hand possitions. In hindsight, I wish I had chosen wider bars. But again, won’t really know till I can ride the bike and there isn’t much money invested in them anyways. Same with the stem. Not sure about the length so I grabbed an inexpensive 100mm 84/96.
The versatile Soma Double Cross DC frame has a 132.5mm rear hub spacing. Right inbetween a mountain bike (135mm) and road bike (130mm). This almost gives you too many options. Hense my previous concerns about chain line. This is primarily goin to be a commuting bike which I’ll be riding for a few cyclocross races.
I decided to go with a FSA double compact 175mm cyclocross crank and external bottom bracket. The thought is to use STI shifters with a 10 speed derailleur, cassette and short pull road disc brakes. Make a few decisions, and mistakes, so I can get on with the build. If it doesn’t work just right, I’ll change it. I’m hopeful that the 46/36 gearing up front with a 10 speed cassette will offer a comfortable range of gears that will actually get used. If anything I’ll lean towards the lower end since it seems like the majority of the commute is uphill.
Road bikes and disc brakes aren’t exactly synonyms, but luckily Mavic was able to help out with their Speedcity wheel set. Designed to be used with 26" mountain bikes as commuter wheels, these 700c disc or rim brake compatible wheels might be the perfect solution to a possible chain line issue. The Speedcity wheels are decently light tipping our scale at 1140g/970g with skewers. They are likely to be a great addition to the build. Here’s a link to some info and look for a review in an upcoming Bicycle Times issue. http://www.mavic.com/road/products/speedcity.995625.1.aspx
Right now I’m waiting on the important stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to update this blog soon with more info on the fit of the bike and the problems I’ve run into. Summer’s here and I’m looking forward to spending time on this bike.Tweet
Lately I have been updating readers on my Soma Double Cross build. While that is still an on-going project, I am gearing-up (pun intended) for another cycling adventure this weekend. Several of the Dirt Rag / Bicycle Times staff are now in California at the Sea Otter Classic, but I’m heading to northern Virginia for the Leesburg Baker’s Dozen 13hr mountain bike race presented by Plum Grove Cyclery.
The LBD is a grassroots endurance event hosted on private farmland. Last year it was my inaugural endurance event and first exposure to the course, which since then, I have also visited for the ‘09 Snotcycle race. I wasn’t planning on riding this event this year, and I’m glad I now have the chance to get back to the event that has spawned an interest in endurance mountain bike riding. The race organizers cap registration at about 400 riders to preserve the atmosphere of the race. The event was filled in about 3 days after registration opened. Kudos to the promoters and organizers! It’s a testament to the organization, venue and atmosphere. Last year there were serious race teams with full support and flashy matching kits a few tents away, and next us were a group of friends that cracked open a beer after every lap. It’s a great mix of competition and fun. My group of friends are somewhere in the middle. The philosophy I have adopted is to be fit enough to enjoy the event. I like competition, but competing with my friends is enough for me, just as long as I don’t have the slowest lap times. More then that and I think it gets too serious.
The fast single track is the perfect venue for riders of varying skill levels. The flowy hardpack (hopefully) has just enough rocks, small drops and downed trees to make it interesting with hardly any climbing. I think there is only a couple hundred feet of elevation change throughout the course. Not a bad course to bring your cyclocross bike to, or the rigid singlespeed. It’s a great early season event. I’m hoping there will be some bluegrass and pizza as the sun goes down when I’m ready for a beer just like last year.
From what I can tell this seems to be a trend in mountain bike events. The endurance scene is gaining momentum compared to traditional cross-country races. I can see why. I can’t really justify driving all over to partake in a 3 hour race and spend twice as much time in a car. There’s a great sense of camaraderie that I get from events like this. Not just from my own team, but of all the participants.
[Image credit: www.gearshift.tv/blog/]Tweet
My Soma Double Cross DC just arrived yesterday. I was pretty excited to get it out of the box and take a look. The 60cm frame weighed in at 4.91lbs and the fork was 2.46lbs.
This build has been both exciting and fustrating and I don’t even have any parts together with a frame that only just arrived yesterday. This is my first build from the ground up and luckily there are staff here at Dirt Rag that have spent years in bike shops acumulating a deep knowledge base that I can tap into. Although I try to spend as much time as possible on a mountain bike and commute to work regularly there are things you can only learn in a bike shop.
Next on my list are wheels, a headset, stem and handlebars.
Headset will probably be first since its the easiest of the components to pick up. There isn’t much debate there, 1 1/8" and maybe a color. Since it’s a new build I don’t have to worry about how high or low the stack of the headset is because the steerer tube can be cut.
Stem and handlebars have a lot of options. To start off I’m looking at fairly inexpensive options for a couple reasons. The main reason, I’m not sure what I’ll like. There are several handlebar widths and shapes that can make choosing bars a daunting task. Stems are similar. They come in a variety of lengths and angles which will effect the fit of your bike significantly, not to mention handling. So for the time being, inexpensive. Cheaper on the stem and handlebars will also save me some cash for the fun stuff, like cranks, derailleurs, and shifters. The stem, bars and seatpost will also make nice upgradeable items for cross season when dropping some weight might seem like a good idea.
What has been difficult is the wheelset. The Double Cross is a steel frame with a rear hub spacing of 132.5mm. Right in the middle of road and mountain hubs. I can go either way. This might seem like a great option. Especially since I want to use dics brakes. Well, it’s been the cause of some fustration and has been the reason I’ve spent hours sifting through QBP’s website and the internet. Chainline. The once overlooked principle is defined by Park Tools as: the position of the cogs or chainrings relative to the center line of the bike… For example, a front crankset and/or front derailleur might be designed to have a chainline of 47.5mm. This means it will work best when the middle of the crankset is 47.5mm from the middle to the bike center line.Definitely more of an issue for fixed geared bikes or single speeds but it can effect shifting.
If either the front or rear sprockets are either too much inward or outward relative to the other, there may be certain shifting problems. The following are typical problems that may be caused by chainline issues.
- Chain jumping off large chainring when front derailleur is correctly adjusted.
- Chain riding off lower derailleur pulley when derailleur or hanger is not bent
- Chain rattling on inner faces of front chainrings.
- Chain derailling off inner chainring when front derailleur correctly adjusted.
- Front derailleur cannot be adjusted to stop over shifts while still allowing good shifting.
A ton more about chainline at Park Tool’s site: http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=110
The wheels I will likely be using are the Mavic Speedcity wheelset. They are 700c with disc and rim brake capabilities. They are designed as an urban wheelset for mountainbikes, perfect for the potholes and hills of my current urban jungle. Since they are designed for the mountain bike it means the rear hub is 135mm. With a 9 speed cassette I can start to messure the chainline to see what bottombracket width is needed for up front. If the BB is too narrow then there could be problems shifting.
If you’ve read my latest BT story you’re aware that I haven’t been too pleased with my commuting whip. I’ve decided to act. On route is a new Soma Double Cross DC frame which will be built as a my mullet commuting bike.
What’s a mullet commuting bike you may be asking. Well like a mullet, it’s goin to be all business up front, functioning as a commuter 9 – 5 (ish), Mon – Fri. A cyclocross frame makes a great commuter because of it’s versatility. Room for fenders, racks and durrable construction make the genre a nice fit for self-propelled commuting. But it seems like I have to start practicing my run ups since there will likely be some cyclocross in my future on the new rig. I can’t in good concious neglect to put the bike through it’s intended paces. Business up front and party in the back (or weekends anyways). Just like a mullet. Check back for some pics of the frame when it arrives and the build since this will likely be pretty extended project. For now, here’s a link to the Soma Fabrications site.
I had a hard time deciding what to tap out for this web editorial content that was due. So during my indecision, I’ve seemed to have made a decision. There’s a couple things cycling related on my mind and I’m starting to realize there’s an underlying issue at the root of two rants. I could have filled this spot with a loathing description of my time on the indoor trainer while in preparation for a pending 12hr race. It would have been great to see the title of this post as something like: F*%# Trainers. After a couple off-seasons suffering on one that is how I’m starting to feel. The notion might be a Dirt Rag right of passage. I’ve also started to look for a new commuting bike and Bicycle Times blogging would have been a great outlet for my initial thoughts. But motivation has been really low trying to maintain my trainer routines.
As the newest staff member I remember asking about training routines. I’m not an ultra competitive cyclist on any surface, but I like to be fit enough to enjoy the event. There’s something great about suffering through challenges with your friends that is fun for me, and odd XC or endurance events are great ways to get together with friends and have some good times. It also changes workouts into training. Working-out often isn’t goal specific, but once you have your sights set on an event to prepare for, it becomes more of a game, or challenge for me. It’s also great motivation to stay active and fit. Those events give you something to train for and might challenge yourself more then normal workouts to increase fitness.
So back to the training routines. The consensus around the mag was to forget about indoor training and just ride my bike. Coming from a lake-effect snow belt, that idea was a foreign notion a third of the year. So I championed my interval sessions on the indoor trainer another season. There’s a lot of evidence out there that suggests shorter more intense sessions are better for mountain bike specific results, which is great because it saves time and still kicks my ass, but riding a bike stationary, sweating my ass off, is still not fun, no matter what Peter Griffin is doing. It’s not all for nothing, though. The only time I catch my co-workers on the trail is when it turns uphill.
After this week I’m swearing off the trainer for the rest of the season. I still believe that intervals on an indoor trainer are great for a couple of reasons, but I’m starting to accept what I was told months ago by sages wiser than I.
So why haven’t I been on my bike, outside? Here’s the Dr. Phil epiphany. My bike for commuting isn’t that fun.
Well that’s not entirely true. When I bought the single-speed, it was perfectly adequate and quite enjoyable to ride in the city, a flat city, for a short commute. Now I live in a town with significant hills and about 3 times the distance as my commute. I haven’t looked forward to riding the current bike to work for sometime. When I do ride it, I view it as a training ride for mountain biking. The ride in is definitely a solid work out, and great for leg strength, but commuting by bike is a great way to have fun and training can often be looked at as a chore. I’ve always found it easier to neglect chores than a good time.
So at the end of this string of thought – commute on a bike you enjoy riding. Having fun is great way to start your day. Riding to work will help your fitness and of course naturally supplement any other training you think you may need. You can still hammer on your way to the office if you want, but make sure commuting is about the rewards AND fun of biking to work. Take care that you find a bike that is well suited to your specific needs and one that you wanna throw a leg over in the a.m and p.m.Tweet