Soma Fabrications Double Cross Disc

by michelle bontrager in , ,

Hand built wheel set, NITTO rear rack, dynamo light system

Hand built wheel set, NITTO rear rack, dynamo light system

Story of a Custom Double Cross Disc (CX) bike

These hot summer days are an exciting time for us at the bike shop, people are out of doors riding and walking by our narrow storefront from the time we open to the time we close.  We have fun chatting with fellow cyclists about their planned bicycle adventures for the months ahead. And these discussions inevitably lead to opinions of what the perfect bicycle encompasses.

Sometimes these discussions even lead to someone wanting us build a custom bicycle to fulfill a long held dream. We build bicycles utilizing steel frame sets since Steel is long lasting, stylish, and offers a comfortable ride. We have completed a wide range of custom builds over the last 10 years but the common denominator has been building a bike that will suit different types of riding conditions. We have built touring bikes, cyclocross bikes, all rigid mountain bikes, road bikes for fitness rides, adventure bikes, gravel bikes and many city transportation machines.

I really don’t like the gym. I like experiences, so I take any chance I get to go on a bicycle or on a hike.
— Blake Lively

Last year we struck up a conversation with a neighbor about his commute to work. It became obvious that he had grown weary of riding his single speed up and down our Highland hills to work every day. With so many bike choices available ranging from light weight race machines to super slack frames geared for touring together we chose Soma Fabrications’s Double Cross Disc (CX). This frame set seemed to be right in the middle of these extremes, a lively frame that accelerates quickly.

Here is a photo montage of his Double Cross.  Ever ready for what the road ahead may offer, it’s been a reliable machine for a year now.

Summary of key components:

  • NITTO handlebars
  • NITTO rear rack
  • MKS platform touring pedals
  • Brooks leather saddle
  • Shimano drive train and brakes
  • Shimano Alfine dynamo hub
  • Edelux front light
  • Shikoro tires
  • Velocity Aileron rims

Review of Wolverine v.3.0, Soma Fabrications

by michelle bontrager in

Soma Fabrications,  Wolverine v.3.0

Soma Fabrications, Wolverine v.3.0

“Let’s build a bike,” he said.

We know what he meant, a bicycle that he can lean upon like those summers before and the summers after.  A bike that he will ride city streets upon then those lonely paths that were once roads.

There will be Western adventures along mountain trails, canyons, and plateaus. Always at night a fire at camp will illuminate those tired, satisfied faces.  There will be those odd free afternoons in which a local single track will be tackled. He will be much torn to drive to the trail head only to ride out instead. Shan't miss out on that fun.

This lanky chap will appreciate the “just right” stem and the crank arms that are just that bit longer to suit his build. Every detail, to numerous to list, has be thought through, anticipating those adventures that lay ahead.

A bicycle is more than just its frame it’s the sum of parts, each tuned with the other in order to create a reliable machine.  Observe the balance of comfort and performance. But this is much more, it’s a vehicle built to suit the mood of this time.

A bike for all seasons a bike for all conditions a bike to journey with.

Yes I think you are right a Soma Wolverine will do quite well.

Rohloff Speed hub  each one is stamped with a unique serial number

Rohloff Speed hub each one is stamped with a unique serial number

Rohloff shifter mounted on stem for easy access, Cinelli gel cork tape offers comfort on all trails

Rohloff shifter mounted on stem for easy access, Cinelli gel cork tape offers comfort on all trails

Responsive ChroMoly frame by Soma Fabrications and fork, Chris King head set

Responsive ChroMoly frame by Soma Fabrications and fork, Chris King head set

White Industries cranks  and chainring, Soma Cazander tires

White Industries cranks and chainring, Soma Cazander tires

Brook's English leather saddle 

Brook's English leather saddle 

The Lowdown


Paul's Components Klamper brake

Your brakes system, so integral to your safety, should be simply reliable. Not too much to ask no? Preferring to avoid the whole mess of air pockets the line or other detrimental kinks that can occur in a hydraulic disc set-up we recommend Paul’s Klamper mechanical disc brakes. The precise engineering that stands behind the Klampers is just the solution we desire.

Rohloff Hub

This be-spoke wheel set features durable American made rims and a German manufactured rear hub. Rohloffs are hand built internally geared hubs that are incredibly durable.  Outlasting any drive train they are suitable for cyclists that prefer convenience or for cyclists that ride their bicycles incredibly hard. Impervious to snow, sleet, ice, or sand we look forward to any weather and all road conditions with our Rohloff hubs.  

White Industry Crank set

Doesn't everyone find the White Industry cranks sexy? Machined in California by a crew that cycles, these cranks are an industry standard that look great, offer versatility and perform year after year season after season. 

Phil Wood Bottom Bracket

When you are planning on riding up and down mountains a solid bottom bracket will hold it all together.  Phil Wood is the brand we turn to for solid, durable components. 

soma wolverine v3

First destination, Utah!

It was an honor working with our neighbor in order to build his new bicycle. We are anticipating performance reports back this summer. 


It was a total blast with Mr. W. I think we succeeded in building a bike that suits his riding style and that will live up to his biking plans.  His performance reports back will be a treat to hear.

650b wheel size the new normal

by michelle bontrager in

Breezer's Doppler

Breezer's Doppler

  Plus sized tires, the new normal

Bicycle trends, every 6 months there is another one to question. New trends introduced as industry standards, typically originating from the racing community, leave me perplexed trying to justify their general usefulness. I suppose that bicycle manufacturers must meet the pressures of remaining relevant to the ever fickle consumer. One new trend that I do appreciate is the plus sized tires.

For the past 11 years, when customers come into our bike shop for new tires I have been recommending the fattest tire that their bike frame will accommodate. Riding on 700X23 tires? I’ll try to fit 700X28s, have 26X1.75 tires? why not try 26X2.0. A wider tire provides the ride qualities that city commuters appreciate such as;

  • stability
  • durability and
  • better grip for cornering.

Many bicycle manufacturers are finally outfitting new bike models with plus sized tires.

Plus sized tires on Breezer's Doppler Cafe

Plus sized tires on Breezer's Doppler Cafe

I certainly do not want to drag on any cyclist who enjoys commuting on their 700Xskinny tire but city streets are not getting any smoother. Most of us non-competitive types just want to get to our destination.  By riding a slightly wider tire you can avoid;

  • a jarring ride over pot-holed city streets
  • pinched flats, or
  • catching your wheel in a street groove.

A few years back I took this idea even further by following the trend, originating from Northern California, of converting a 700c wheel set to 650bs. This wheel conversion allows me to ride chubbier tires, adding a bit of versatility to my steel road bike. 650b wheels were the French touring standard decades ago. Later they could be occasionally observed stateside on a classic re-build or perhaps on a quirky hand built bike until now curious cyclists are converting their road bikes for the sake of a plus sized tire option.

650b wheels on my Soma

650b wheels on my Soma

Certainly mountain bike designers, based in Northern California, caught wind of this 650b trend. Since the early 2000s mountain bike manufacturers had mostly insisted that the 29er wheel size be embraced as the best choice for all-terrain bikes (ATB). The large 29” wheel diameter allows off-road riders to roll over obstacles with ease. Yet a certain nostalgia for the traditional 26” wheels that maneuver and accelerate quickly persisted.

First introduced in 2017 here is the 2018 Radar by Breezer

First introduced in 2017 here is the 2018 Radar by Breezer

Radar features big 29ers

Radar features big 29ers

In response ATB manufacturers re-introduced the 650b wheel size as the new “just right” wheel for all. They are not far off! 650b being slightly larger than the old 26” yet smaller than the 29er feels like a natural fit for many off-road riders. Suddenly the 650b wheel has moved from being the quirky European uncle to a possible industry standard, a standard that makes sense. The mountain bike industry wants this all-around wheel size to be promoted as a fresh idea so they label it the 27.5" wheel size.

Doppler's 1 X 11, sleek drive train

Doppler's 1 X 11, sleek drive train

In 2017 Joe Breeze, of Breezer bikes, introduced a line of fully rigid adventure bikes designed for on and off road riding. We brought in their Radar which, like most 29ers, simply glides over rough terrain. This year we added the newest addition to Breezer's adventure series, the Doppler.  The Doppler features a wide tire profile like the Radar but in a 650b wheel size. It’s stylish, comfortable, sporty, responsive….. could this be the perfect bike?!!

Joe Breeze must have had a Western mind-set when he designed the Doppler. You can ride this bike downtown to The Market for an early morning pastry then take it up to the mountains for a weekend of trail riding all with a smile on your face.

There is a quick and responsive feel to the Doppler. It’s Chromoly frame set provides the foundation for the Doppler’s ride quality but those 650b wheels… they are the core to the bike’s stable handling. Because of the Doppler’s wheel size Breezer was able shorten the chain stay with a lower bottom bracket drop for the most enjoyable new bike I have ridden this year.  It has a classic road bike touring geometry meaning that this is a bike you can ride for a day or for a week without experiencing road fatigue.

The Doppler’s achievements include:

  • heel clearance and braze-ons for fenders, racks, and panniers
  • steel frame is agile yet comfortable
  • plus sized tires absorb road shock, adding to its comfort.

I have had so much fun on my own 650bs these last 6 years I’m pleased that bike manufacturers have embraced this wheel size. If you are shopping for a fun and versatile bike I urge you to consider a 650b.

Breezer's Doppler Cafe

Breezer's Doppler Cafe

Fat Bike Handlebar Conversion

by michelle bontrager in

 We had the opportunity to perform a handlebar conversion for one of our fat bike customers in our shop recently. This well loved Pugsley went from a drop bar to the Jeff Jones H-Bar which will suit our customer well. He rides his Pugs in snow, around town, and for any other fun he can find.


Jeff Jones' H-bar and new thompson stem. Click on image for "before" picture.