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-   -   Soma Grand Randonneur (http://www.bikeforums.net/long-distance-competition-ultracycling-randonneuring-endurance-cycling/916991-soma-grand-randonneur.html)

Six jours 04-02-14 08:13 PM

I think mostly that all illustrates the point that we are all different. Pretty deep thinking, eh?

But I find that I really value stability in a bike. Even as a young criterium racer I wanted a stable bike that I could ignore if I wanted to. I took some rides on the aggressive "crit" bikes of the day and hated them, because they were so squirrely. I did once manage to build a frame that was too stable - it "plowed a furrow" and I had to force it to do anything but go straight, which was surprisingly disconcerting. That was a pretty extreme case, though, and interestingly enough, was greatly improved by fitting narrower tires run at higher pressure. At any rate, the truly low trail bikes that Jan says are perfection on two wheels are unpleasant to me. I have a harder time riding no-hands with those bikes than I do with "standard" trail bikes fitted with handlebar bags. C'est la vie.

The short version, I suppose, is that there is no such thing as one "perfect" geometry. I still am firmly of the opinion that "British" geometry perfected in the 1950s and 60s (73 parallel with two to two-and-a-half inches of rake) should be adequate for most people under most circumstances, but I wouldn't guarantee that, either.

I think you are absolutely correct when you note the issues with individual proportions and body weight. Most of my frames are built with 9/6/9 tubing, which is quite heavy, according to Jan. It is what I raced when I was 158 pounds, and I never felt that it was too stiff or flexible. And it also worked for me decades later, at 220 pounds, but capable of putting out far less power. When I built a bike with 8/5/8 (still heavier than Jan likes) I found that the handling was quite poor until I lost 50 pounds, at which point it performed perfectly. But any time I get beyond 190 pounds, it starts acting funny again, and I start preferring my 9/6/9 frames.

Which is all a long, drunken, rambling way of saying that I suspect it's possible to worry about all of it far too much. I really am to the point that I think Grant Petersen may have it all figured out when he says that he refuses to discuss geometry at all anymore. As long as we've got room for the tires we want to use, we should probably all shut up about it and just go for a ride.

Six jours 04-02-14 08:16 PM

Oh, and I am essentially a self-taught framebuilder. I bought a Paterek manual and just started goofing around, eventually ending up with functional frames. Nothing has yet fallen apart on me, but I still tell people they maybe shouldn't ride behind me in the paceline. :D

thebulls 04-03-14 11:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Six jours (Post 16636883)
Oh, and I am essentially a self-taught framebuilder. I bought a Paterek manual and just started goofing around, eventually ending up with functional frames. Nothing has yet fallen apart on me, but I still tell people they maybe shouldn't ride behind me in the paceline. :D

I still remember vividly one day when I was riding in a pack and suddenly there was a piece of shiny metal that bounced off the road and was flying toward my face. I managed to avoid it without crashing (or crashing into anyone), but it sure got my adrenalin going. Turns out the rack had come apart on a rider's Bagman rear rack.

Did you teach yourself to do lugged joints, fillet brazed, or TIG-welded? (Is there any other alternative to these three?)

Nick

rowebr 04-03-14 01:56 PM

This is an interesting discussion, its been informative to follow along. I will add my two cents based on my own experience.

I have only one road bike, a 1981 Bianchi Limited. I rode it for a couple years with 700x28mm tires. About a year and a half ago I converted it to 650B and have since been riding on 650Bx38mm tires.

The 650B version of my bike is better in all respects. The smoother ride and overall comfort difference is huge. What was surprising is the handling became more responsive so that it was easier to choose a line and hold it, and together with the extra traction and smooth ride I quickly became way more confident when descending. I used to be very tentative on descents but now I can really let it fly. Brevets are much more fun on the 650B version and I will never change it back to 700c.


For years I've carried my gear in a Carradice saddlebag. A few months ago the curiosity about handlebar bags finally got to me so I set up a front rack and got a Berthoud decauler and the Ironweed handlear bag. This experiment failed miserably. The bike handled like an overfilled wheelbarrow, it was even a struggle to take one hand off the bars to reach the downtube shifters. However, I can strap a U-Lock to the front rack and the handling is fine. I think the problem was that the geometry of my bike and the particulars of the rack and decauler resulted in the bag being pushed too far forward. Since the bike handles great with a ton of gear in the saddlebag I will stick with that setup.

I wish I knew more about why my 650B experiment went so well, and my handlebar bag experiment went so badly, so that I could make better recommendations to others who are interested in trying those things.

At least now there are bikes at decent prices such as the Soma GR that you know in advance will fit fat tires, fenders, and a handlebar bag and everything will work out nicely.

pokerbum 07-05-14 12:36 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here's mine; built up by Silva Cycles. Most of the drive-train is Campy Veloce except for the VO Grand Cru (46x30) crank.

Paul brakes
Miche headset
GB Decaleur & handlebar bag
Nitto campee rack
Son Schmidt dynamo w/ Cyo
Thomson seat post
Brooks Cambium saddle
Tubus airy rack
Ortlieb back rollers

http://bikeforums.net/attachment.php...hmentid=391317

It makes commuting quite comfortable -- haven't done any randos yet. I do have a complaint about the fork. It's heavy enough for a porteur, and has a bit of shimmy, so I'm having Silva construct a custom fork.

Note on the crank: the large chain ring suffered a catastrophic failure when starting at an intersection. This is unusual, apparently, as the guys at the bike shop and VO were both a bit freaked. VO replaced it without any hassle though.

Has anyone tried the Campy CX carbon cranks on a Rando? I might switch just to save some weight; although, it would mean going to a 46x36. Right now, I'm at 30.5 lbs without the handlebar and tool bags (but with panniers).

djm778 02-03-15 02:38 AM

Time for a bit of thread revival (for purely selfish reasons), as I'm considering a Soma GR as a first (affordable) foray into 650b.

I would be interested to hear more experiences of actual owners, especially of the smaller frame sizes 49.5cm & 52cm, and particularly in relation to handling, and shimmy - which according to the BQ review can be 'alarming', (although the size tested was I beleieve one of the larger), and handling with and without front loads.

Please try and keep posts to actual experiences rather than debates about the why's and what for's.

unterhausen 02-03-15 07:06 AM

good luck with that last part.

If they tested a large size, it's quite possible that they had the weight distribution wonky. I know someone with a GR, and he loves it. While I have a frame I like that will occasionally shimmy if I put my weight back at all, I think I probably would have heard if his GR shimmied. Seems to disturb people a lot.

djm778 02-03-15 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by unterhausen (Post 17524458)
good luck with that last part.

Yeah...I thought it a tad optimistic too :-).

After a bit of further research it looks like a 2nd generation fork was also put into production - with a nice(er), smoother bend rather than a dog-leg.

unterhausen 02-03-15 01:31 PM

yeah, I was part of the pile-on that convinced them they needed a more attractive fork

djm778 02-04-15 11:04 AM

Come on you Soma GR owners...there must be some of you out there, somewhere...(or perhaps you're all out riding?).

thebulls 02-04-15 06:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by djm778 (Post 17527990)
Come on you Soma GR owners...there must be some of you out there, somewhere...(or perhaps you're all out riding?).

I'm a Soma GR owner, size 58. You can easily find my review in the 650B randon group. No significant shimmy problems. In my opinion, Jan was riding the wrong size frame for him. He's taller than me and was riding a smaller frame.

Also ... have some patience, dude. Whiny second requests less than twelve hours after your first request are unwarranted. Some of us have a life. If we're not out riding, maybe we're at work.

djm778 02-04-15 06:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thebulls (Post 17529090)
I'm a Soma GR owner, size 58. You can easily find my review in the 650B randon group. No significant shimmy problems. In my opinion, Jan was riding the wrong size frame for him. He's taller than me and was riding a smaller frame.

Also ... have some patience, dude. Whiny second requests less than twelve hours after your first request are unwarranted. Some of us have a life. If we're not out riding, maybe we're at work.

As I said in my post I'm more interested in the smaller sizes, but thank you anyway, also, that wasn't a 'whiny' request, but a friendly one...dude!

vwchad 03-02-15 02:28 PM

I just ordered my GR this weekend. I was fortunate enough to be able to ride one at a LBS for a few miles first. I was quite impressed with it and I'm really looking forward to getting it put together.

I'm sure it has been discussed here previously, but I'm going to ask anyway. What headset are folks using when building these up? As in brand, model, etc. I sueppose I could spend hours on the internet, but thought I may as well ask folks that have built one up.

Thanks

Darth Lefty 03-02-15 03:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by djm778 (Post 17524290)
Time for a bit of thread revival (for purely selfish reasons), as I'm considering a Soma GR as a first (affordable) foray into 650b.

I'd suggest that as an all-up bike, today you could get a Surly Straggler 650b. The disk brakes make it easy to convert between fatter tires on 650b or skinnier tires on 700c, which come out about the same total diameter.

The photo on the website shows the smallest frame size, 38.

Or you could get any kind of cross disk bike and do the same thing, though the wheel sets are easier to find if you start by having the 650 and buying the 700 rather than the other way around.

djm778 03-02-15 03:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty (Post 17597444)
I'd suggest that as an all-up bike, today you could get a Surly Straggler 650b. The disk brakes make it easy to convert between fatter tires on 650b or skinnier tires on 700c, which come out about the same total diameter.

The photo on the website shows the smallest frame size, 38.

Or you could get any kind of cross disk bike and do the same thing, though the wheel sets are easier to find if you start by having the 650 and buying the 700 rather than the other way around.

Hi Lefty, thank you for replying. I had previously considered what you have suggested, I have a Planet-X Kaffenback 2 it would work on (has the correct BB drop and clearances), and it is still an option, however, I really wanted to try the whole low-trail with front-load thing too, which is tricky as most disc/cross/mongrels inc the Surly are mid trail at best.

djm778 03-02-15 03:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vwchad (Post 17597350)
I just ordered my GR this weekend. I was fortunate enough to be able to ride one at a LBS for a few miles first. I was quite impressed with it and I'm really looking forward to getting it put together.

Hi vwchad - what size did you test ride, and what size have you ordered?

vwchad 03-02-15 03:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by djm778 (Post 17597472)
Hi vwchad - what size did you test ride, and what size have you ordered?


My test ride was on a 55cm, which is what I have ordered. With a 100mm stem it felt just right for me. I'm 5'10". The frame has slightly odd proportions, with that dropped top tube, but I thought it was quite comfortable and it fit me well. My ride was only about 20 min, but it included some time on a MUP and a couple hills.

Darth Lefty 03-02-15 11:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by djm778 (Post 17597469)
Hi Lefty, thank you for replying. I had previously considered what you have suggested, I have a Planet-X Kaffenback 2 it would work on (has the correct BB drop and clearances), and it is still an option, however, I really wanted to try the whole low-trail with front-load thing too, which is tricky as most disc/cross/mongrels inc the Surly are mid trail at best.

Less trail comes from more fork offset. Rather than an entire bike, have you looked for a fork that would do what you want, or seen what it would take to have one made? I think I saw here on BF recently that a Waterford custom fork is about $500. I don't know about a low trail disk fork but maybe someone else could chime in

thebulls 03-03-15 12:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty (Post 17598739)
Less trail comes from more fork offset. Rather than an entire bike, have you looked for a fork that would do what you want, or seen what it would take to have one made? I think I saw here on BF recently that a Waterford custom fork is about $500. I don't know about a low trail disk fork but maybe someone else could chime in

I had Waterford build me a low-trail fork for $400 a year ago. But since a Soma GR is only $579 (at Boulder Bikes) I think it doesn't make sense to get a fork made unless you have a bike you really want to ride as low-trail. In my case, the fork is for an S&S coupled travel randonneuring bike. Installing couplers is an expensive proposition so it makes sense to preserve that bike.

It used to be the case that low-trail, early-80's Treks were a cost-effective way of trying out low-trail, but the price on those seems to have risen enough that I think people are better off biting the bullet and getting one of the low-price, low-rake bikes.

Nick

Darth Lefty 03-03-15 02:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thebulls (Post 17599977)
I had Waterford build me a low-trail fork for $400 a year ago. But since a Soma GR is only $579 (at Boulder Bikes) I think it doesn't make sense to get a fork made unless you have a bike you really want to ride as low-trail. In my case, the fork is for an S&S coupled travel randonneuring bike. Installing couplers is an expensive proposition so it makes sense to preserve that bike.

It used to be the case that low-trail, early-80's Treks were a cost-effective way of trying out low-trail, but the price on those seems to have risen enough that I think people are better off biting the bullet and getting one of the low-price, low-rake bikes.

Nick

$579 for a frame but then you have to build the bike too. The cost of converting the disk cross bike is only the fork and wheels.

thebulls 03-03-15 05:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty (Post 17600183)
$579 for a frame but then you have to build the bike too. The cost of converting the disk cross bike is only the fork and wheels.

If you already have a bike you don't want anymore, then you can move the build kit over. The advantage to getting a whole new frame/fork for $579 over getting just a new fork is that you know that it is designed to work together. A new fork alone may or may not be exactly right. For instance, low-trail bikes typically have a steeper head tube than you would otherwise expect. If you're going with 650B then it's good to have a bike designed around it, rather than one that will just fit. Good 650B design is non-trivial, as witness the first 5 years of bikes that Bicycle Quarterly tested and found wanting in one respect or another.

When I got my GR, I just moved the build kit over from my then-regular-650B-ised '84 Trek 610. Then two weeks later I realized that I had all the parts in my spare parts bin needed to build the frame back up as a studded-tire 700C snow bike. (By "spare" I really mean spare--e.g. the front derailleur was pulled off an '86 MTB because the pivot pin on the clamp had broken, but then I realized I could just use a nail instead, bending the tip and clipping it off.) So ... two bike for the price of one :-)

FWIW, the price I quoted was for a cantilever-brake fork. I don't know how a disk-brake fork would compare.

For rando purposes, some have argued that a disk-brake fork will result in an unnecessarily harsh ride because it has to be beefier than a rim-brake fork. I know there's a movement to go to disk brakes on road wheels; I'm just reporting the argument. I have disk brakes on my MTB but that's pretty non-comparable to a road fork for other reasons.

joewein 03-04-15 06:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thebulls (Post 17600697)
For rando purposes, some have argued that a disk-brake fork will result in an unnecessarily harsh ride because it has to be beefier than a rim-brake fork.

I have no practical experience with disk brake forks, but I doubt that in practice anyone is going to feel much of a difference (disk vs. rim-brake fork) with regards to ride comfort when running on reasonably wide tires. For 700x23C it may be a different story.

thebulls 03-04-15 08:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by joewein (Post 17602012)
I have no practical experience with disk brake forks, but I doubt that in practice anyone is going to feel much of a difference (disk vs. rim-brake fork) with regards to ride comfort when running on reasonably wide tires. For 700x23C it may be a different story.

Jan Heine is probably the strongest proponent both of 650Bx42 tires and of avoiding disk brakes because of the associated stiffness and harshness of the fork.

I don't know how much more stiff a disk brake fork would be than the GR fork. Bu from my own experience riding 650Bx42 on my Waterford fork and on the much-stiffer Soma GR fork, I can tell you without doubt that the GR fork transmits more road shock. And when I switch my headlight on, the dynamo buzz is noticeable on the GR, but can't be felt on the Waterford. I'm still fine with riding the GR on a 1000km, the difference is not huge. But as to whether you can feel the difference on reasonably wide tires, you definitely can.

Whether the other benefits of disk brakes outweigh the effect of the stiffness is going to be a YMMV. I think it mostly comes down to a tradeoff between safety and comfort. You can't finish PBP if you crash because your brakes couldn't stop you fast enough. But you also may not be able to finish PBP if fatigue from a harsh ride causes you to need to stop more often (or even makes you fall asleep and crash). Most crashes on PBP that I know of are either congestion-related (during the first few km) or fatigue-related (e.g. falling asleep). But maybe disk brakes would help.

Nick

unterhausen 03-04-15 09:14 AM

I'm generally not concerned with fork compliance. Having said that, I decided to build some road disc forks, and the only blades made for discs that are available to me are very heavy, and correspondingly stiff. So I am left wondering if I really want that on a rando bike. There are practical advantages to having discs, like swapping wheels. So that part is attractive. The fact that they stop very well is also desirable, but I don't see that much difference between discs and good rim brakes.

3sss 06-07-15 07:52 AM

I'm looking at the V2 version of the GR, in a 61cm. Has anyone got a picture of a V2 built up?


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