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Soma Double Cross Commuter build, finally finished!

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
This year, I’ve evolved from being a sedentary cycling newbie into a 120 mile/week rider, and I’m enjoying the benefits. I’m primarily a commuter, but will take 40 mile fun rides several times a month. My commute is a 25 to 35 mile RT. Cycling 100 plus miles a week will change your ideas, not only about bikes, but about transportation in general. I’ve also lost 20 lbs and expect to be down a dozen more before winter. However, I’ve been considering an upgrade from my low-cost hybrid to improve the quality of my cycling time.

I formed a criterion for selecting a long distance commuter with the following statement: A good long distance commuter should be tough, comfortable, cheap & fast. So my choice came down to a steel framed touring or cyclocross bike. Only a few touring bikes can accept really fat tires larger than 700 x 32, so I focused my search on Steel framed Cyclocross bikes. After looking at a few Surly models, I decided on a Soma Double Cross due to its better steel tubing and slightly lighter weight.

Next issue, fit.

I’m a 6 foot Clydesdale at 230 lbs. Almost every bike model has a size large enough for me, but how do I know what models will be better than average in terms of fit? Bike fitting is a specialty, and most shops don’t offer in-depth fitting. In Chicago, Get a Grip Cycles provides a complete fitting for a fee. Considering that I would be spending 10 hours or more on a new bike every week, the cost of the fitting seemed like a good investment.

See here: http://getagripcycles.com/page.cfm?pageID=93



The goal during the fitting was check the angles of the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders elbows & wrists as I rode upon a test bike. These were measured both while I was stationary and also by camera while pedaling.

After measuring my physical dimensions and range of motion, Adam was confident that fitting me to a bike would not be problematic. It was explained that the rider is positioned on the bike at three points, the pedals, the seat and the handlebars. Position those points correctly and the rider is comfortable, efficient and fast.

The Soma Double Cross in either a 58 or 60 frames size could be made to fit, but the 60 was closer to ideal. The fitting revealed that the 58 size would have required a well extended seatpost with rearward offset, this would have put my hips rearward of the ideal position to drive the crank. The solution was the 60cm frame size. The seatpost selected would have a zero offset to put the hips in the right place over the BB. The handlebars would be positioned by a 120mm stem positioned at a normal height above the tall Soma headtube.

Sourcing;

Since I would not be buying a complete bike, sourcing components would make or break the project. Finding a frame is easy enough, but as a newbie, every other component required detective work and the advice of this forum and multiple other on-line resources.

Fork: I wanted the weight savings and damp feel of a carbon fiber fork. I soon discovered that most economy priced carbon forks are not lighter than the standard steel Soma Double Cross fork. I found a new Ridley 4ZA Zornyc fork that was uncut, a recent take-off from a new bike. Ridley builds some outstanding carbon bikes, so I expect the fork is well made. It is approved for off-road work, including CX racing, and it saves significant weight over most steel forks.

Components: I struck gold, finding a new 2007 Felt F1X Cyclocross bike on eBay to be used as a parts donor. The seller is a bike shop purging NOS. The price was right at $820.00 plus shipping. I sold the frameset on eBay and recovered 2/3 of the initial cost.

Build;

I decided that Get a grip should build the bike. They disassembled the Felt, applied Framesaver the Soma, installed the BB & headset, finished the assembly and installed a computer for $150.

The result;

Below: Ridley 4ZA Zornyc carbon CX fork, Cane Creek headset, Felt 1.3 6061 Butted Alloy Bar, Felt 1.2cm 3D-Forged Stem, Shimano 105 brifters, Tektro Oryx brakes with Tektro RX bar-top levers, Mavic CXP-22 Double-Wall Rims and DT Doubled Butted Champion Spokes, Felt Precision Sealed-Bearing Hubs & 700x28 Continental Gatorback tires



Below: 175mm Sram S300 GXP CX compact double crank with a 46 X 38t ring pair, Shimano CX SPD pedals, Ultegra derailleur



Below: Ultegra derailleur, 105 11-25 cassette



Below: FSA seatpost, Felt 1.1 saddle



A view of the cockpit



Below, Disc brake bracket

post #2 of 25
That's a fine looking ride. I hope you continue you bike commuting for many years.

I rode to work for about 20 years on this:



My best guess is somewhere north of 80,000 miles. Just this week I've come to find out I have a collectors item. I have begun to restore it to it's 1976 form.

BTW anyone out there with late '70s Campy Record parts they want to sell?
post #3 of 25
I had a Soma back in the 70's. I liked that bike.
post #4 of 25
I would have gone one size smaller on the frame.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
I would have gone one size smaller on the frame.
And that should fit you better.
post #6 of 25
Hiding most of the seatpost in the frame and using a short, low-rise stem makes it fit you.
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesmith7 View Post
That's a fine looking ride. I hope you continue you bike commuting for many years.

I rode to work for about 20 years on this:



My best guess is somewhere north of 80,000 miles. Just this week I've come to find out I have a collectors item. I have begun to restore it to it's 1976 form.

BTW anyone out there with late '70s Campy Record parts they want to sell?
That should be a great vintage ride .
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
Hiding most of the seatpost in the frame and using a short, low-rise stem makes it fit you.
Yes, its the opposite of a compact frame. The headtube is 195mm! It provides a Grand turismo ride.

Michael
post #9 of 25
I'd put that horse in front of my trailer. It's nicer than anything I have. I just think you could get the same position with a smaller frame, but what difference does it make unless you are racing cross on it? And I wouldn't let the frame size stop me from racing it if I got a chance to do that. Go for it!
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post
And that should fit you better.
Center of BB to top of saddle 32"? That's my size!
post #11 of 25
What lights you putting on?
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post
What lights you putting on?
What do you recommend?
post #13 of 25
Night vision is pretty individual; I do tend to favor large, steady red rear lights (no blinkie) and something reflective to shine back with pedaling motion.

If your route is lit, you may be able to get by with just LED lights; look for something with a big Cree diode in it; the Luxeons are a bit past it.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
I had been using this upfront;

High Performance Dual Beam Halogen with High-Capacity Nickel Metal Hydride Battery for Endurance Ride
Features:
  • 16W dual beam halogen headlight
  • 3 beam patterns
    (6w wide, 10w narrow, 16w combined)
  • 6 hour run time on 6w single beam
  • Battery low L.E.D. indicator
  • Compact Nickel Metal Hydride battery
  • Exclusive high beam pitch for better road coverage
  • Side-to-Side swivel for excellent peripheral vision
  • Sleek, low profile, tough thermo-plastic casing
  • Quick release mount
  • smart charger included (100v - 240v)


The Night Rover NiMH Xtra brings performance, endurance and value into one powerful system. This dual beam headlight provides a 6w wide and 10w narrow beam for a total of 16 watts to choose the best amount and spread of light. The headunit is also outfitted with a battery low LED indicator and pitched beam design for runtime awareness and maximum road coverage. The super high capacity NiMH battery last up to 6 hours, on the 6w wide bam. Endurance rides and extended commuting is this Night Rover's specialty.
post #15 of 25
The light systems they sell these days are crazy, and crazy expensive. When I was doing this there wasn't anything like that available. I went to Home Depot and bought 12V halogen tract light bulbs. I think they were around 10W. I made a case out of plastic pipe and rigged up a lead acid dry cell pack. I road about the last 3 miles in total darkness except for what my light put out. It was decent but not great. 16W of light should be plenty. How much junk on the road to you have to avoid usually?
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
The Cygo lite Night Rover NiMH Xtra been a good performer and was less than $80 including an auto charger. I might add a better light as needs require. Twilight and street lights cause more problems and require better lighting than total darkness. Also, higher speeds can cause a rider to "out-run" most bike lights.

Michael
post #17 of 25
I agree, you need more light in semi-lit areas. That does sound like a good system.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesmith7 View Post
BTW anyone out there with late '70s Campy Record parts they want to sell?
Try Euro-Asia imports. You'll have to go through a bike shop to get at their stuff, but they have tonnes of old Campy stuff. I found the matching 1983 Campy front derailler for an old Bianchi I'm restoring at work, also matching hubs. Shipping takes forever, and they can be kinda pretentious, but they have lots of cool stuff. You may also want to try the yellow jersey, a bike shop out of Madison, WI that has a pretty good vintage selection. They sell online too. Slick bike!

Michael: I think think the Soma looks like a pretty good fit, especially if you're going for a long-distance bike. You're not too aero, but you have room to maniupulate things for comfort. Oh yeah, make sure you don't force the left hand shifter past the big ring, it'll jam and you'll be SOL. We've seen a bunch of the 105 shifters coming back from that.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
Hiding most of the seatpost in the frame and using a short, low-rise stem makes it fit you.
funny if you look at my old road bike there is much less seat post than what mike has here....and I wish it was alittle bigger so when in the drops I wasnt practically sitting straight up.

I bet this is way faster than the Giant and more comfortable as well.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
I bet this is way faster than the Giant and more comfortable as well.
Absolutely!

I've put 80 miles on the bike since Friday. The ride is silky smooth and feels very glued to the surface. On Saturday I took the North Branch from Chicago to the Suburbs. After doing the loop (a 30 mile trip), I was about 4 miles from the end of the path when I passed a "roadie", on a carbon fiber road race bike. A half mile later he passed me, but did not pull away. I easily passed him again. I maintained 20 mph plus for several miles after more than 1.5 hours of pedaling.

Was I happy? You could say that!

Josh, thanks for encouraging the project. Even as the weather gets cool and the days are shorter, I plan on maintaining my 100 plus mile/week.

Michael
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
600 miles in 5 weeks, time for a review.

Its been said that a great bike is a bike you want to ride everyday. The Soma Double Cross scores a 10 out of 10 on that basis.

My initial impression on the bike was how big, but comfortable the fit is. It took a little familiarity and seat and handlebar adjustment, but the size 60cm frame fits me, and I’m just 6 foot. The zero offset FSA seatpost positions the seat at the right location and the 110mm stem brings the bars within reach. I’m on the drops about 50% of the time, the hoods are easy to ride and the cross bar is good to use at lower speeds and helps me look above the traffic as I commute. The very tall 195mm head-tube is golden. It puts the handlebar at just the right level without multiple spacers. It looks right, and the fit is great.

The ride quality is remarkable. It provides a smooth comfortable ride as the rider seems to float along. I was looking for long distance traveling comfort and the steel frame with a carbon fiber fork is very damp and plush. The bike also feels lively and accelerates well. I can sprint to 25 mph at will.

Handling is excellent and stability is also very good. The bike turns in quickly without feeling squirrelly. Stability is more than adequate. The bike will drift off line if the rider is daydreaming, but no issue IMO. It’s the kind of bike that wants to be driven hard at 20 mph or more. I’ll scrape the pedals while taking turns and accelerating out of the corners. Tons of fun to ride anywhere.

The drivetrain does its job. I changed out the compact 48 & 36t crank for a 44t single chairing, creating a 1X10. Here in Chicago the 1X10, using a 12-25 10-speed cassette, provides a broad enough range for the few hills I travel. Even uphill against the wind, the gear range is all I need. With a 1X10 there is no cross chain rule and no redundant gears. I can intuitively go up and down the range and instantly be in the right gear.

The Felt hubs and Mavic rims are strong and offer good performance. I added a second set of low cost Alex Ace 19 rims with Fuji hubs. Clearly a downgrade, but I was looking for a cheap set of rims for a pair of 700x32 Armadillo Infinity tires for puncture free winter travel. Well the rear Alex rim was damaged beyond repair on a steel flange that was hidden under leaves one night. I may just move the 700x32 Armadillo Infinity tires to the Mavic rims.

I’ve added a dual beam 16 watt light up front and a Planet Bike Superflash in back. I’m doing half of my 100 miles a week in the dark now. I‘ve also added a hard-case pannier to the rack.

This bike has become my second car.

Michael
post #22 of 25
Michael,

I registered just to post this..

Your Double Cross is the nicest looking one I've ever seen! It's gorgeous. Love the color.

What year is yours? 2004 or 2005?

Oh and congrats on being a dedicated commuter.

Awesome.
post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by roguedog View Post
Michael,

I registered just to post this..

Your Double Cross is the nicest looking one I've ever seen! It's gorgeous. Love the color.

What year is yours? 2004 or 2005?

Oh and congrats on being a dedicated commuter.

Awesome.
Thanks for the complement, Having a bike that I'm proud to own keeps me peddling!

It's a 2008 and a "DC" model. It features a flange for disc brakes. The midnight silver paint is available on the DC only.

Michael
post #24 of 25
That's a beautiful ride. I'm building up a double cross DC as a flat bar commuter now. If it comes out lookin' that nice, I will be a happy camper! Sound like you did a great job saving money. Do you mind if I ask what the final bill was and how long it took from start to finish? Cheers.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by toddwaddell View Post
That's a beautiful ride. I'm building up a double cross DC as a flat bar commuter now. If it comes out lookin' that nice, I will be a happy camper! Sound like you did a great job saving money. Do you mind if I ask what the final bill was and how long it took from start to finish? Cheers.


Thanks,
 

I'm very happy with the bike. I completed a 93 mile solo ride yesterday, and I've put 2000 miles on the bike since last October. For me the bike is priceless.

 

It took a while to plan the build, but once I got all the parts together, I had my Local Bike Shop build it in about two weeks time. I don't have all the tools, so the LBS was the way for me to go. I would like to build my next bike myself, however,

 

I have about $1400 in the bike. I wanted the softer ride of the steel frame and a 105/Ultegra mix. Having learned a thing or two, I could possibly replicate it for $1200 today. For example, the available Soma steel fork is very light and strong and a fraction of the price of a Carbon fork. Putting that money into very nice wheels, such as Mavic Open Pro w/ 105 hubs would have produced an even better bike.

 

Let me know if you have further questions and feel free to PM me.

 

Michael


Edited by WILDCAT - 5/23/2009 at 12:48 pm GMT
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