Soma Double Cross Review

Soma Double Cross equipped with a Slick Black lugged crown fork.

Price: I’ve seen the frame start around $350 and up; the fork starts around $89.00.

Specifications
• Tange Prestige heat-treated butted CrMo steel front triangle; butted CrMo rear end

• Clearance for 700x38c tires with fenders

• Rear spacing fits road or mtn. hubs.

• Optional matching IRD straight blade disc fork available. If you want to run cantilevers, you can choose to use the Slick Black lugged crown fork that goes with the standard Double Cross.

• Rear disc mounts are located on the seatstay, so if you intend to use a rack in conjunction with disc brakes, you will need racks designed to work with disc brakes, which are available from Topeak, Axiom, Delta and us. Fits 160mm rotors only.

• 1-1/8″ size headtube – w/ extra height so you use less spacers.

• 7 sizes: 48cm to 60cm

• 4.2 lbs (54cm)

• Paint: Midnight Silver

When I got together with the folks of Soma Fabrications, I told them that I wanted to build a bike that could serve 2 purposes for me. The first was to be my commuter bike and second was the ability for it to be a great bike on the trails. In my local trail system, I’ve seen many riders who seem like they are always zooming past me on their cyclocross bikes. I have also seen plenty of bike commuters who use cross bikes as their “commuter bike.”

After I presented the idea to Soma Fab, they were pretty eager in wanting to help with this build project/review. They provided BikeCommuters.com a Soma Double Cross DC frame set for the build. Within a few weeks I was able to acquire all the parts that I needed. I was fortunate enough that one of my friends gave me a Trek 7.5Fx that he no longer wanted to act as the donor parts bike.

The 7.5FX had a decent parts list, but the drivetrain was worn out. . After replacing the previously enjoyed cassette, chain and rings and purchasing some Kenda Small Block Eight cross tires, I was off on my first commute. I thought about using drop bars on the Soma, but I opted for a flat bar feel. It’s more of a personal preference than anything.

After spending a few hundred miles on the bike — mind you this was a combination of street (commuting) and trail riding — I was felt very confident and comfortable on the Double Cross. On the road, the bike as a whole is an absolute joy to ride. It’s very light weight; the frame itself only weighed in about 4.2 lbs, but as complete bike I had it down to 21lbs. The bike handles nicely and it feels very stable and responsive. Since I had a flat bar on the Soma, the bike felt more familiar to me since I spend most of my time mountain biking. This made riding down singletrack a bit easier. I can only assume that riding on drops on some of the dirt trails I’ve been on would have proved to be more challenging.


What I fell in love with on the Soma Double Cross DC is the fact that it rode much like a road bike. Fast, nimble and downright fun. Personally I’ve always been a fan of 700c commuter bikes, I just think they ride better on the street.

To test the durability of the Soma Double Cross, the obvious way to do that was to ride it on dirt. I rode this bike through a number of mountain bike trails in Southern California. The Soma went to places where I’d normally ride my 5″ travel mountain bike. One trail I frequent with the Double Cross is the Fullerton Loop. I hit that up at least once a week with this bike. I’ve also been to Whiting Ranch, Woods Canyon, Cholla, Top of the World and Meadows.

If you’re familiar at all with any of these trails, then you’d understand that certain parts of them could really do some damage to a skinny-tired bike like the Soma. But through many rides and even a few crashes with the Soma, I have found that this frame is STRONG. I know that strong is a pretty generic term, but that’s the best way to describe it. It literally has been a strong frame from the get go. I weigh 210lbs and I have not seen or experienced any frame/fork issues with the Soma Double Cross. I actually inspect the frame and fork thoroughly before, during and after each ride to make sure there are no compromises with the set.

Lets delve into the ride qualities of the frame set.
-Climbing/Sprinting
Due to the light weight build (21lbs-light for me), climbing and sprinting on this bike has been nice. On occasion I’ll sprint out of a red light just so I can make it across the intersection and during this process it looks pretty violent. I’m tossing the bike side to side and there hasn’t been any noticeable flexing of any type.

-Braking
Under heavy “off-road” braking the fork does chatter a bit. But on the road, no chatter could be felt.

-Smooth or Rough?
On the road this ranks up there as one of the smoother riding bikes I’ve tested. Perhaps its the characteristics of the steel that smoothed out some of the imperfections of the road, but whatever it was, the Soma Double Cross is very forgiving. I wish I could say the same thing about my off-road experience. Granted this is basically a rigid bike that I’m riding through mountain bike trails, and I didn’t have the luxury of high-volume tires and a front suspension fork to absorb the bumps. But where I’d have to slow down on descents, I could easily make up time during the flats. The Soma can fly like a mofo!

Bike Commuter Friendly Features: Eyelets on frame and fork to mount racks and fenders.

I’d also like to point out that the UCI recently allowed discs brakes for cyclocross racing. So if you’re into ‘cross racing, the frame could be a formidable machine against more expensive ‘cross bikes on the course.

I’ve been REALLY happy with this frame set. The Soma Double Cross has proved to be a reliable, and fun commuter/cyclocross bike. I think what makes this build/project awesome is that I can have the same speed and efficiency as a road bike, yet similar functionality of a rigid mountain bike. The people that I ride with the most — especially my wife — can attest that I am pretty harsh to this bike to make sure I put it through the paces. One of our other riding buddies is always giving me a hard time stating that I am going to break the frameset in half. He’s seen how I ride and he’s been surprised to see lifespan on the Soma Double Cross DC.

So if you’re looking to build up a 2 in 1 bike, then you may want to consider the Soma Double Cross DC. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

We’re getting some extra help

One of the guys that runs Utilitycycling.org, Josh Lipton, has been tapped by BikeCommuters.com to provide us a few guest articles that our bike commuting readership would benefit from. Josh is also employed (he’s the President) by a few bike related online retailers: www.BikeTrailerShop.com, www.BikeBagShop.com & www.BikeKidShop.com.

If you’re not too familiar with their sites, I’ll give you a simple breakdown of each.

BikeTrailerShop.com-They have a huge selection of bike trailers like the BOB, Burley, Extrawheel as well as the world famous Xtracycle. BikeTrailerShop.com can pretty much equip your bike so you can use it more of a utility vehicle to carry large loads or if you simply want to get away to do a bit of S24O (pronounced “Es-Two-Four-Oh�).
BikeTrailerShop.com

www.BikeBagShop.com-This is a great resource for bike commuters in general because we all have to carry our stuff. You can pick up racks, panniers, messenger bags, handle bar bags, frame bags,backpacks and so much more!

www.BikeBagShop.com & www.BikeKidShop.com. -Personally I love this site. They have all sorts of accessories for your child to make their bike riding experience a great one. The site offers, bells, training wheels, Xtracycle child accessories, child bike trailers, iBert child seat as well as helmets.

Each site is pretty user friendly and have pretty much the same feel and look. The product categories on the left hand site of the pages allows the user to find what their looking for quicker.

Celebrate July Fourth With “Declare Your Independence From Oil” Bike Rides

For folks in the Tampa Bay area, a number of cycling advocates have put together an event for July 4th. Here’s the press release:

Celebrate July Fourth With “Declare Your Independence From Oil” Bike Rides

TAMPA, FL (June 26, 2010) – The massive oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is only the most glaring example of the dangers of America’s unquenchable thirst for oil. With images of the ongoing disaster on TV every day, the environmental (and other) benefits of using bicycles for transportation have never been clearer.

Bicycling is a clean, sustainable mode of transportation that produces no pollution. It’s also fun, practical, especially for shorter trips, and it improves health and fitness. By using bicycles, people can save a lot of money annually on gasoline, diesel fuel, motor oil, etc. Most importantly, using bicycles doesn’t require that billions of barrels of oil a year be pumped out of the ground and shipped around the world — with the constant risk of a disastrous leak or spill.

To encourage people to try bicycle commuting, local cycling advocates, joined by SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), have declared Sunday, July 4, 2010, “Independence from Oil Day.” To declare their own independence, people should leave their motor vehicles at home that day and use bicycles (or walk) to get around.

To help celebrate the day, there will be two “Declare Your Independence from Oil” bicycle rides, starting that morning from Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Ashley Dr. (between Zack and Twiggs Streets) in downtown Tampa. Both rides will start at 8 a.m., but riders should try to arrive at the park between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m.*

The shorter ride (click here for a route map) will be about 11 miles long and will go down scenic Bayshore Blvd. to Ballast Point Park, then head back to downtown.

The longer ride (route map) will be about 24.5 miles long and will also go to Ballast Point Park, then west on Gandy Blvd. and across the Gandy Bridge, turning back after reaching the Pinellas side of the bridge.

Declare your independence this 4th of July, and help free yourself and your country from its costly and dangerous addiction to oil.

(Since the theme of the event is “independence from oil,” participants are encouraged to ride their bicycles from home to downtown Tampa. To find a more bike-friendly route to get there, people can use the bicycle directions feature on Google Maps.)

*All participants in this event assume responsibility for their own actions and safety. By participating, they agree to absolve all organizers and sponsors of the event of all blame and liability for any harm, injury, or loss that may result from participating in the event. All bicyclists must wear a bicycle helmet and ride a bicycle in good operating condition.

Summer’s Here…

…and what a better time than to trot out one of our old articles on dealing with the heat! With record temps here in Florida (100 degrees and change heat index the past couple weeks), heat is on our minds. And, with some interest expressed in our article last week about basic commuter skills, this topic bears repeating.

Take a look at our round-up article published by Moe in 2008 by clicking here — that article contains links to other articles we’ve written on staying cool and arriving fresh at work.

Have any of your own tips to share? We’d love to hear them!

Critters

In 4 years and more than 12,000 miles of bike commuting, I’ve had my share of close calls with critters: snakes, squirrels, rabbits, and birds especially.  I’ve never actually run over an animal, though, until yesterday.

And what did I run over?

A 300 pound doe. Of course, I’m using the term “run over” somewhat loosely. I was on the only downhill section of my commute to work, moving along at a pretty good clip when a deer jumped out of some tall grass and skittered across the road, directly into my path. I’m not sure how fast I was going upon impact, but I flipped the bike, destroyed my helmet, tweaked the stem of my commuter bike, tore major muscles in both of my legs and lost about 10% of the skin off my body. I’ll spare you the road rash photos.

A motorist behind me saw it happen and called 911 as I crawled out of the road. I’m not big on telling people they must wear a helmet, but this makes a pretty compelling case for wearing your skid lid.

There is one tiny scrape on my scalp from the plastic part inside my helmet and two little rub burns on my forehead from the foam pads. I didn’t even notice anything wrong with my head until my wife and mother pointed them out.

What’s the strangest critter you’ve run over or had a close call with?