Review: Soma Fabrications Double Cross DC
While most bike companies are fighting over a small segment of the race-driven cycling market, Soma Fabrications has used the inspiration of everyday cyclists to create practical and simple products. The Soma Way is of individuality, simplicity and durability. And since Brave New World was a good read, I think it's a little about pleasure as well. Soma sees their steel frames as a platform for cyclists to create bikes that fit their specific needs.
My Soma Double Cross DC frame was chosen after careful consideration and a long debate with a panel of Bicycle Times experts. It started with a goal of building a new commuting bike that was better-fitting compared to what I had been riding. I had a few criteria: disc brakes, gears, fenders, and drop bars. With those criteria I could have gone in two directions—touring or cyclocross. I chose cyclocross because of the slightly more performance-oriented geometry. Both of Soma's cyclocross frames (the $400 traditional Double Cross, and the disc brake-ready Double Cross DC) have mounts for racks and fenders. The Double Cross DC frame offers all the features I was looking for.
My 60cm DC frame has all the eyelets and braze-ons of the regular Double Cross, and its cantilever brake bosses are removable. Tange Prestige heat-treated butted steel is used for the front triangle with a 72° headtube angle and 23.7" effective top tube length, while butted steel makes up the rear, creating a frame with 33.4" of standover clearance, all tipping the scales at 4.91lbs.
The rear hub spacing is 132.5mm, giving you the option of fitting wheels with either road- or mountain-spaced hubs by squeezing or spreading the rear dropouts. There is enough clearance for 700x38mm tires with fenders. My 135mm rear wheel with 140mm disc brake rotor fit without any problems. Just make sure you have enough foresight to use disc brake-compatible fenders, or be prepared with some spacers.
After a lengthy build process I couldn't wait to ride the finished bike. Coming off of a stiff aluminum bike, the Tange steel felt great. The ride quality of the steel was quickly apparent as it dampened just enough of the road chatter to smooth out my commute. Although the steel dampens vibrations the frame is responsive and quick, transferring my energy to the wheels and not side-to-side.
I would have preferred full-length cable housing on this frame. For a 'cross and commuting bike I thought it would be a nice feature, although hard to come by. The only problem building up the bike was with the seatpost clamp. Instead of the gap in the frame closing evenly, the edges curled inward. The seal wasn't strong enough on the post and resulted in a slipping and gouged seatpost. I wrote off the problem as either a post on the narrow-tolerance side, or a seat tube on the wide-tolerance side. I used a different post and have had no problems since.
The Midnight Silver powdercoat has stood up well to the elements so far, and the purply-silver has gotten a few compliments on the street.
So far the Soma Double Cross DC has been terrific as a commuting bike and plenty capable on a cyclocross course. From my time on the DC it seems that Soma has rightly kept a finger on the pulse of cyclists and is offering durable, versatile and smooth-riding frames ready for wherever their riders take them. Company website: www.somafab.com
[Ed notes: This bike review by Matt Kasprzyk originally appeared in print in Bicycle Times issue #4. Photos by Justin Steiner. Subscriptions make these web reprints possible. Please consider clicking here and subscribing to Bicycle Times.]
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