Soma Doublecross Build

Every so often you make the decision to purchase a bike for fun. Not out of necessity, not to replace an outdated model, but just because you love the idea of having some new eye candy to roll on.

Buying the Soma Doublecross frame was one of those purchases. It wasn’t like we needed anymore bikes. I have a Raleigh RX 1.0, a Surly Cross Check, a vintage Raleigh fixie conversion, a vintage Peugot fixie conversion, Keri’s Fuji touring bike, and Keri’s Trek Lexa SLX. All fantastic options for going out and riding about town.

The purchase of the Doublecross frame couldn’t be helped. It was love at first site and with a bank full of tax refund, there weren’t any excuses not to buy. Once it was settled, I gave a call to the wonderful folks over at Merry Sales. They are one of few Soma distributors and work closely with the folks at Rivendell to import some quality bike goods. I placed an order for a 48cm Soma Doublecross frame, matching fork, purple IRD headset, a Suzue touring wheelset, and a Nitto front rack. The order was placed and there was no turning back.

The next step was ordering some items from QBP. A new triple crank from Shimano, a matching Hallowtech bb, Jagwire cables in white silver, a Sram 9spd chain, and a new Shimano XT 9sp rear derailleur. The rest of the parts were transferred over from the Surly Crosscheck.

It took a few weeks for the build to be completed. Tools to complete all the tasks were the biggest hurdle, so each week a tool would be purchased that was necessary to get the job done. The purchases would probably seem a little unnecessary to the casual cyclist, but since we plan on opening a shop and all…it’s going to end up being a write off anyway!

If there was one task that was the most difficult or I guess rather annoying…it would be setting up the rear brake. Soma went about placing not only a built in hanger for canti brakes on the frame, but also a braze on for if you wanted to use V brakes. The only thing is that with the noodle design of the Paul Mini Motos, you can’t really get a nice clean line coming off the noodle to the cable housing. There was lots of experimentation to be had with housing length. It seemed like the more streamlined/shorter it was made, the more difficult it was to set up the brake properly. In the end it was decided to leave the housing on the long side and just deal with it. Maybe someday when the schedule allows that issue will be tackled, but for the time being the bike works and so do the brakes, so that’s all a girl can really ask for.

This build was officially the first that was completed without the help of anyone else. Usually I grab a more mechanically inclined friend to assist, but I decided it was about time to suck it up and do it on my own. I knew how to install everything, I knew how to lube, grease, and tighten everything to spec. In most cases when it came to assembling a bike it was the lack of tools that really made me lazy. I’d take the bike into a shop or ask a friend if I could come hang out to work on my bike and they usually did all the work for me. Not this time. I’m proud to say this is the first of MANY bikes that will be built by me. My goal is just to improve upon my mechanical skills and hopefully pick up some tips along the way to make things a little speedier and easier along the way.

For all the bike nerds, I’ll list all the parts below.

The official build list is as follows:
Frame: Soma Doublecross 48cmFork: Soma painted to match
Wheels: Suzue Touring /Cyclocross
Skewers: Salsa Flipoff purple
Tires: Resist Nomad
Crank: Shimano Tiagra
BB: Shimano Tiagra Hallowtech II
Front Der: Shimano 105 triple
Rear Der: Shimano XT 9spd
Chain: Sram 9spd
Seatpost: Ritchey Classic (cut down to fit in the frame)
Seat clamp: Salsa Liplock purple
Saddle: Brooks Flyer
Stem: Dimension +- 17 degrees (give or take) 90 or 100mm 26.0
Handlebars: Nitto Noodles 41cm/42cm depending on source
Headset: IRD/Tange-Sekai purple
Brake Levers: Tektro short reach
Brakes: Paul Mini Motos
Cables: Jagwire
Shifters: Shimano 9spd bar ends mounted on Paul thumbies
Handlebar tape: Velo Orange leather
Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy C
Bottle cages: Velo Orange Moderniste

Last night the bike was tested around our parking garage and it was such a smooth ride. I don’t like comparing two different cycling companies, as they both have their strong suites…it’s just that the Soma was a great improvement from riding the Surly. The frame tubing is higher quality, the welds are smooth as butter, the paint is gorgeous, and using vertical dropouts instead of horizontal made for much easier assembly. The vertical drops will also be appreciated should a rear flat ever occur. The frame felt zippier and a little more responsive than the CC.

Spring can really arrive any day now. The Doublecross is itching to get out on some road rides and rail trails. A full write up on the long distance ride quality will be added once we get some miles racked up. I’m still looking for a name for my new found love. The Surly was always lovingly known as Foxy Brown. Give us a shout on Facebook if you have any suggestions!

New Brakes- Paul Mini Moto, Mini V Brakes

Rear mount

Paul Components are manufactured in Chico, California and made out of some of the highest quality materials available. Bike nerds all over the world sing their praises and lust after their pricey products.

I took the leap and decided to try out the Mini Moto V brakes for my Surly. My decision to go with these brakes was not only that they came highly recommended, but because when towing my bike trailer or a heavy duty load, my old brakes just weren’t cutting it.

The bike not only received new brakes, but also a new seat post collar, new headset, and a new Surly fork. More on those items in another post.

My initial thought when I received the brakes was that they were BEAUTIFUL! It was really exciting to think of having an awesome new set of brakes that would actually stop when I pulled the lever. After having them on my bike for a few days I have some mixed feelings.

The brakes themselves aren’t too difficult to install, but tweaking them to get a good amount of breaking power with out a lot of lever slop has been pretty difficult.

Paul’s installation instructions are pretty straight forward…paulinstructionsI actually had an acquaintance at one of our local shops work on my bike and install the brakes. They seemed to be working out fine up until I decided to re-install my front and rear racks. I then ran into some major issues. The front rack wasn’t allowing the wheel to sit square in my fork and caused some interference with the brakes. I decided to nix the front rack idea until I got a better mounting solution figured out.(I’ve been told using locking skewers with flat heads will fix this. Looks like I’ll have to do a review on those!)

It took an extra hand from a co-worker (ex-shop wrench) to get the front brake back to functioning properly, but neither of us could really get a nice pull from the brake lever without it either being too tight and seizing up the brake or too loose with a lot of slop. Messing around with the barrel adjuster helped some, but it’s still not as nice feeling as my old FSA cross canti’s felt. (Pull wise that is, the actual stopping power of the canti brakes weren’t as good as the Paul’s.)

I ran into the same issue with my rear rack. The rear brake was actually set up quite nicely up until I installed the rack. It then caused the brakes to be entirely too tight. I had to loosen up the pinch bolt and adjust the cable tension as there was not even play in the barrel adjuster to get it to loosen up each side of the brake. That seemed to help and I now have enough play in the barrel adjust to help get rid of some of the slop in the lever, but it’s still not as nice as I’d like it to be. One of the major differences with these V brakes is that they don’t have the standard limit screw that say a Shimano, Tektro, etc. style has.

Feature: A nice place to tuck excess cable.
Feature: A nice place to tuck excess cable.

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have the best of luck when setting up new brakes. The brakes themselves have excellent stopping power still, so I may just have to keep experimenting to get things just right. There are a few write ups online about similar pull slack issues when setting up the Mini Motos. Some folks seem to not mind as the brakes themselves work fine. Others hate the way the pull feels and have since decided to go a different route.

For the time being I will continue to ride with them. I don’t see any reason for spending as much $$$ as I did and deciding after a week that they aren’t for me. As with anything new, they will just take some getting used to and some experimentation.

There will definitely be a follow up review after I’ve had to chance to ride with them a few months. I love the overall design and aesthetic of the brakes. I’m really hoping that some tweaking will do the trick.

I hope to try out some other Paul products in the future as they are all very beautifully crafted and designed. Oh and that whole made in the USA thing is pretty awesome too!