Soma Double Cross Updated Build!

Anyone who has followed this blog has seen the various iterations of my Soma Double Cross. I posted about the very first build and wanted to share the updates I’ve made to it within the last year.

I retired my bar top shifters and upgraded from a more touring based 3×9 setup to a more modern 1×10 drive train to drop some weight and make the bike a little more simple.

Here’s the current list of components featured in my video above!

My custom build is as follows:

Soma Double Cross Frame & Matching Fork Size 48cm
(I’m 5′ 5″ for sizing reference)

Handlebars: Nitto Noodle 40cm
Stem: Dimension 80 or 90mm
Headset: Tange Seiki Annodized Purple
Stem Cap: Kustom Caps
Front Rack: Nitto M18 with long strut kit
Rack Bag: Lone Peak Micro Rack Pack
Seatpost: Ritchey Classic 27.2
Seatpost Clamp: Salsa Lip Lock Anodized Purple
Saddle: Ergon SR Women’s Road
Fork light mount: Paul Components
Bar Tape: Lizard Skins DSP
Brifters: Sram Apex 10spd
Cable housing: Jagwire Cables Road Kit in Silver
Cables: Shimano/Sram aka whatever was in my parts bin
Brakes: Tektro CR720
Rear Derailleur: Sram GX 10 speed
Cassette: Sram GG1070 11-36t
Chain: Sram PC1071 10 speed
Crank: Sram Apex 42t Wide Narrow
BB: Sram GXP
Wheels: Suzue Road Wheelset
Skewers: Salsa Flip Off Purple Anodized
Tires: Compass/Rene Herse Barlow Pass 700x38c Tan Light Casing
Tubes: Vittoria Latex
Rear Rack: MSW Porkchop
Panniers: Axiom Monsoon (discontinued model)
Tail light bracket/light: NiteRider Sabre 80 USB rechargeable

Soma Doublecross Build Longterm Review

A year ago I had an idea for a fun winter project, build my own bike up from parts. I’ve had some experience wrenching on my own bikes over the past few years, but never built a bike from the ground up. I was looking for a bike that I could use as a commuter, light tourer, and something I could use for century rides.

I had a Surly Crosscheck in my stable, so it may not have made sense to buy another steel framed cross bike. The Doublecross is a bit of a different slightly different breed. The frame itself is about a pound lighter, the geometry is slightly more slack, the quality of the powder coat was noticeably better, and the frame also had more included braze ons. To be fair Surly has since improved upon their powder coat and newer models also come with more braze ons, but I owned an older model and had been lusting over Soma’s frames for a long time.

I pulled the trigger on the frame. This was before Soma offered any complete bikes, but I’m glad I went with a custom build as it allowed me to a) learn new bike skills and b) allowed me to spec the bike the way I wanted it.

Over the winter months I started buying up parts for the bike. I knew I wanted to reuse some of the existing parts that came off of my Cross Check and also source some reliable, classy bits for it as well. If you’d like to see how the build started, click HERE.

My final build list is as follows:
Frameset- 48cm Some Double Cross (I’m 5′ 5″ and it fits nicely with a 90mm stem)
Wheels- Suzue RXC Touring Wheelset (Incredibly smooth bearings and true out of the box)
Skewers- Salsa Flip Off Purple
Tires- Resist Nomad 35c (Supple, fast rolling tires- not a lot of flat protection though)
Crank- Shimano Tiagra Triple
BB- Shimano Tiagra
Pedals- Crank Brothers Candy 2 Orange
Front Der.- Shimano 105 Triple
Rear Der.- Shimano XT 9 spd.
Shifters- Shimano Bar End Shifters 9spd
Chain- Sram 9spd
Cassette- Shimano 9spd
Shifter Mounts- Paul Thumbies
Headset- Tange Sekei Purple 1 1/8″ (Very nice looking and smooth bearings)
Handlebar- Nitto Noodle 41cm (Much more comfortable than the Randonneur bars)
Handlebar Tape- Velo Orange Leather
Bar End Plug- Fyxation Locking
Stem- No Name Silvery Goodness
Brakes- Tektro CR720
Brake Lever- Tektro Short Reach
Cables- Jagwire
Seatpost- Ritchey Classic
Seat Clamp- Salsa Lip Lock Purple
Saddle- Velo Orange
Front Rack- Nitto M18
Front Light Mount- Paul Threaded Braze On Mount
Fender- PDW Origami (I swap these from bike to bike as I hate full coverage fenders)

I’m extremely happy with the build. The only real changes I made from the original build was the saddle and the brakes. I wanted to re-use the Paul Mini Motos I had on the Cross Check, but the way some of the cable routing was on the bike…I just couldn’t quite get them set up as they way I liked. They are currently living in my parts bin awaiting a future project or I may opt to sell them off.

The original saddle I had on the bike was a Brooks Flyer. The saddle had been good to me over the years, but it’s heavy as hell and has started not being as comfortable. I adjusted the tension on it somewhat just to see if that would help and it hasn’t, so it’s going to be used at wall art in my home office or at the shop when it opens. I received the saddle as a gift, so I don’t want to sell it off.

The new Velo Orange saddle is incredibly comfortable right out of the box. The only thing I’ve done to it was put a little proof hide on it to protect it from the elements. It’s a big improvement from the Flyer. The textured top and laminate they use to help the saddle hold its shape make a big difference. Also, you can’t beat the price! The saddles aren’t made of English leather, it’s Australian, but the quality matches Brooks for a fraction of the cost. I would definitely buy the saddle again and recommend it to anyone who is leather saddle curious.
The handlebar tape I have on the bike is leather as well. Kind of fancy, I know, but I really wanted to build a beautiful bike. There’s nothing like having a matching saddle and bar tape. The bar tape is actually Velo Orange branded as well. It’s the same color as the saddle and is super comfy. Much like a saddle, it does take a little time to break in, but proof hide helps. Once the tape has been broken in, it feels like an old baseball mitt. It just feels right on the hands. I’ve been working on learning to ride without gloves over the past couple of years and have enjoyed it so much better with this bar tape. It’s not super padded, but for me that’s a good thing because too much padding actually pinches and doesn’t feel good on my hands.

The Paul thumbies have made me really happy. I used to nail my knees on the bar end shifters when I had them on my Cross Check. They’d also get scuffed up and were just not in a great spot. Having the shifters mounted on the top of the bar makes for a cleaner look. I also don’t have to worry about real estate on the handlebars as Paul makes a super kick ass light mount that threads into braze ons. The shifters themselves are in friction mode. When mixing and matching road and mountain parts, it just makes things easier. There’s not as much tweaking you have to do on the derailleurs, you can just use the shifters to trim as needed. I also like that I can dump several gears at once without having to index.

The bike rides really smooth and is extremely comfortable on long rides. The bike is a little on the heavy side. Mostly because the wheel set is a very sturdy 32hole build with a 24mm wide rim. The wider rims are nice for putting fatty tires on. I’d like to experiment with the new Soma Cazadero tires on it at some point, but I will probably wait for the weather to turn before swapping tires out.

I also have all alloy parts and absolutely no carbon on the bike. I do see the potential in the frame for being a good, comfortable cross racer. Throw a carbon fork, bars, seat post, and carbon railed saddle on the bike and it would ride like the wind. Currently I own an aluminum Raleigh cross bike, but it’s not the most comfortable thing to ride on weather beaten roads. Steel may not be the lightest material in the world, but it sure is a lot more forgiving!

Soma has done a fantastic job on their overall bike line up and the Double Cross is no exception. I get tons of compliments on the bike and the color of the frame. The pearly blue is extremely classy looking and the powder coat has held up incredibly well. The logos and the frame badge are also gorgeous. Color me in love with the bike and the Double Cross frame. I should note that the newest color of the bike is more of a gunmetal-ish grey, but still very beautiful.

If anyone reading this is debating between the Surly Cross Check and the Soma Double Cross, I would highly recommend considering the Soma. It does has a taller head tube on it which means it’s not as aggressive, but for the price I think it’s just a slightly nicer frame. That’s not to say I’m not down with Surly. I love them as well and would buy a dirt tourer or one of their many cool fat bikes,  but I just love the Double Cross more if doing a straight comparison. One other major plus, for me, is the fact that Soma uses vertical drop outs and not horizontal drop outs. I know why Surly uses horizontal dropouts and it makes for a more versatile frame, but they can be a pain in the ass when changing a rear flat. I also used to have issues with the wheel pulling to one side no matter how tight the rear skewer was on the Cross Check. I haven’t dealt with that what so ever on the Double Cross.

To wrap things up,  I plan on owning my Soma Double Cross for years to come. The bike is an absolute pleasure to ride and is a true stunner. Keeping a steel bike in your stable is always a good idea, especially a cyclocross bike as they are incredibly versatile and can allow you to ride places your skinny tired road bike wouldn’t. So, if you don’t already own one…I highly recommend looking into a good steel steed 🙂

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!

Gift Guide

We had done a post suggesting local Wisconsin made products, but also wanted to give a few general gift ideas for the cyclist in your life.

First we’ll start off with Planet Bike’s Grasshopper Fenders. They retail for $134.99 online or at your local bike shop. The price tag is a little bit of a shocker for just a set of fenders, but believe us when I say they are some of the nicest around. They are made of sustainable bamboo, fit bikes with up to 35mm wide tires, and add a touch of class to any ride.

For the cyclist living in cold weather we highly suggest Bar Mitts. The makers of Bar Mitts have come up with a super easy way to keep fingers/hands warm while out riding. The mitts are made of neoprene and are wind proof. Most users claim they don’t even need to wear gloves with the mitts installed because they are so warm! A set of mitts retail for $64.99 and are worth every dime as they can be used for many years. Neoprene is also easily repairable should the rider ever crash and rip a hole in them. Shoe goo is what one our favorite blogger’s, the Lazy Randonneur, uses for his repairs.

USB re-chargeable lights are one of the hottest cycling accessories this year. More and more companies are getting into the market. Some of our favorites include Knog, Nite Rider, Light & Motion, and CygoLite. For the rider who needs to be able to see and not just be seen, go for a headlight that’s at least 200 lumens. Prices vary by manufacturer, but usually run anywhere from $50-$300. Keep in mind that the USB feature negates the purchase of batteries which can add up over time.

Lots of road riders, mountain bike riders, and commuters alike don’t have a kickstand on their bike. You’ll find that most bikes aren’t sold with kickstands anymore and that they are an add on that bikes shops will up charge you for. The Click-Stand solves that problem while being lightweight and sturdy. They have size options available and retail from $31-39 a piece.

Reflective bands are a great stocking stuffer. They are inexpensive and can be used as a leg band, around the tubing of a bike, attached to a pannier, attached to a backpack, used as an armband, attached to the underside of a saddle, or pretty much anywhere a cyclist needs a little more attention drawn to them. Reflective bands or straps are also great for runners. The most basic of bands start around $2 or so, but you can get ones with built in lights for $10-15. yellowracerTools. Any cycling enthusiast appreciates a nice set of bike tools to keep them rolling on the road. The best part about tools is that multiples are almost never a bad thing. In some cases having two of something actually makes it more handy for certain adjustments. Pair them with an instruction book like the Park Tool Big Blue Bicycle Repair Book or Zinn and the Art of Road/Mountain Bike Maintenance. To add to that, no one will ever turn down a nice bike pump or repair stand!parktoolA classy bag or panniers. Roadies and commuters alike love the timeless look of a tweed, canvass, or a Cordura bike bag. It can be a little under the seat bag, panniers, a handle bar bag, or a rack bag. There are tons of options, but I highly recommend Rivendell’s Sackville bags. Ironweed and Swift Industries also make some amazingly beautiful bag options. These tend to be items that most cyclists wouldn’t normally splurge on themselves, but would make a great gift.

Portland Design Works makes beautiful bike accessories. You can pretty much do no wrong by purchasing your friend, loved one, co-worker, or the general bike junkie in your life something from PDW. Our item of choice is their Takeout basket. It fits on a wide range of bikes, is super easy to install, comes with a bag already (sized to fit a 6 pack perfectly), and even holds a U lock. You really can’t go wrong. Add a Paul or other branded threaded light attachment in the mix and you have on hell of a great gift! The basket retails for $120 online or at your local bike shop.

Last, we come to one of the most important items for any rider to have. A Road ID or similar active ID bracelet. We like to support Road ID because they donate to a lot of events and charities. They donated a handful gift certificates to the Saris Gala and even sent along a TON of free shipping and $2 off coupons. You can usually find these in any race packet or even codes online to get either discount. I (Cassandra) have the Road ID slim which is the same size at any charity silicon bracelet, but has a small stainless steel plate with my important info laser engraved on it. You are able to fit up to 5 lines of info on the ID so I chose my full name, emergency contacts, and a popular medicinal allergy.*Full disclosure: None of the companies listed paid us to recommend these products. We support products we have used/owned or are familiar with. Spoke Haven strives to be transparent, fair, and honest about all products and companies featured on the site.