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Soma Saga for Gravel Grinder.....

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Soma Saga for Gravel Grinder.....

Old 01-31-15, 10:13 AM
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Soma Saga for Gravel Grinder.....

I'm looking to get a modern frame to replace my vintage gravel grinder frame. If I want to have a single bike for gravel grinding, loaded touring and commuting, is there a better option than the Saga?

I'm asking here because the Saga will work well for commuting and touring, I am wondering about how well it'll be as a gravel grinder. I don't race and don't plan on doing any cyclocross. I do ride 2x per month in the winter on gravel roads with my riding club. Our roads are packed clay with very small gravel size or clay track. 32mm tires are plenty wide for our conditions.

I want to swap all the parts over to maximize re-use and minimize expense. I also want to use this bike to for loaded touring and commuting with backpack. After much ocd web searching and charting, I keep coming up with the Soma Saga. I know it's a little heavy/non-compliant but I'm trying to reduce my bicycle footprint by doing a little n-1.

- Saga has lots-o-braze-ons and bosses, relaxed head tube angle, discs, sloping top tube (I want the option of using a Thudbuster).
- Double Cross is OK but I'd rather have a sloping top tube, lighter tubing is nice except for loaded touring.
- All-City Macho-Man disc doesn't have braze-ons and I expect it's a typical QBP overweight/stiff ride (like the Saga except no braze-ons).
- Disc Trucker has short head issues on frames that fit a Thudbuster (58cm's head tube is >30mm shorter).
- Vaya cost too much and isn't in stock.

Here's the existing rig, I plan to keep the drums for now:
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Old 01-31-15, 10:25 AM
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How much of a load for touring?

I had the Double Cross. It was great for everything from group rides with the B group to ultralight touring.

The Black Mountain Monstercross is also interesting. Black Mountain Cycles: Black Mountain Cycles Frames


Mile high Mark had the Saga, but didn't like it, if I remember correctly. You might PM him.
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Old 01-31-15, 10:42 AM
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Fully-loaded camping/cooking with front/rear bags, maybe 50lbs max with water. The old Raleigh is a lead sled, stiff as a board. I run the 32mm tires at 75lbs and it's not too bad.

Black Mountain Monstercross doesn't have disc mounts and has short headtube for a frame that'll work with a Thudbuster. Double cross and Disc Trucker are close seconds.
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Old 01-31-15, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH
Fully-loaded camping/cooking with front/rear bags, maybe 50lbs max with water. The old Raleigh is a lead sled, stiff as a board. I run the 32mm tires at 75lbs and it's not too bad.

Black Mountain Monstercross doesn't have disc mounts and has short headtube for a frame that'll work with a Thudbuster. Double cross and Disc Trucker are close seconds.
Got it. My Double Cross was too flexy for more than 30 lbs. Unless you absolutely want disc: https://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...-frameset.html
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Old 01-31-15, 12:07 PM
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I don't plan on using discs right away but I'm not buying a new frame that doesn't have disc tabs, I only have rim brakes on my road bike (for now....).
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Old 01-31-15, 03:16 PM
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S-A Drum brakes are Fine .. I got mine before the company was restructured and sold to Sun Race Corp Ltd.

they still work well. I ignore the cantilever bosses on the Old MTB frame I Used .




same company Maxway in Taiwan probably makes all of those on your List.

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Old 01-31-15, 08:13 PM
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I think it would be a fine gravel grinder bike - the chainstays are 10 mm shorter than LHT, and it has a bit more BB drop too - so it should ride pretty well and be rather stable. A LHT is a pig - the complete bike must weigh 28-30 lbs.

All you really need for a gravel bike is something that will fit fat tires (I like 42's - the Saga claims it will fit 47's), has low enough gearing to go up steep hills, and is comfortable to ride all day. The Saga should check all three of those boxes. It might be heavy though, and not handle quite that well.

If you can live with canti's, check out the All-City Space Horse. I LOVE mine as a gravel bike - the geometry is really perfect for a do-everything bike with a gravel focus. The geometry is a bit racier than the Saga, but still more relaxed than a CX bike.
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Old 02-02-15, 01:37 AM
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You didn't mention if the Thudbuster is an LT or ST. FYI, a Specialized CG-R seatpost only needs 70mm from saddle rail to seat tube, an inch less than the ST. Though the CG-R doesn't have as much travel as a Thudbuster it does provide rebound damping, which keeps bouncing on the saddle at high cadence in check, and limits body pitch after hitting bumps hard.

Are you aware of Traitor Cycles?
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Old 02-02-15, 01:20 PM
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I have both Thudbusters, I plan on using the ST version for this bike (100mm). I hadn't seen Traitor Cycles, very interesting. I ordered the Soma Saga frame from Universal Cycles, only cost me $471 (used VIP15 coupon code for 15% discount) and $8 shipping.
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Old 02-02-15, 02:43 PM
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I put thousands of miles on a SOMA Saga, and many of those miles were on unpaved roads/trails. The bike worked just fine.
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Old 02-02-15, 02:55 PM
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I think the Soma Saga would make a great gravel grinder. I got mine for commuting, loaded touring and riding on unpaved roads and trails. It has clearance for tires at least 40 mm wide. Mine has 32 mm Panaracer Paselas for commuting and road riding, but I have a second wheelset with Clement LAS CX tires, which measure 36 mm wide on my Dyad rims, and they have plenty of clearance. In fact, if I didn't already own a cross bike (Ritchey Breakaway Cross), I wouldn't feel the need to get one because the Saga can accomplish the same purposes for me. The Saga is also available in either disc or cantilever versions, so you can choose the style of braking you prefer.

One of the reasons why I got the Saga was my experience riding the GAP-C&O Canal trails last summer on my other touring bike, a Bob Jackson World Tour. Altho the BJ is a great bike and capable on unpaved roads with the right tires, it doesn't have clearance for larger CX tires (32 mm or more) and fenders. I plan to ride the GAP-C&O again this year on the Soma, with the Clement LAS tires and fenders. Sections of the C&O can get very muddy if it rains, so it really helps to have larger treaded tires and fenders.

Here are side shots of my Saga and Ritchey Cross, from the same vantage point, and you can see how they compare. BTW, my Ritchey has a Soma steel CX fork.
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Old 02-08-15, 06:11 PM
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The frame and fork fit/finish is superb for the price. The finish is defect free for the most part and decals are clear coated. I couldn't get one of the bottom bracket cups to thread in, I popped for having my LBS chase the bb threads and press in a Cane Creek 40 headset. I had to chase all the other 5x0.8/6x1 thread to install racks and lights. I'm still working on get the fit just right but the first 25 miles have made me think this is going to work. I am ordering the kit for a new tubeless ready disc/roadie wheels that should shave a few lbs over my preset wheelset. First club gravel grind ride is next Sunday, I'll post some pictures when i get the the new wheels built up (Alfine Dyno hub and bladed spokes).
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