Garage cleaning + new bike: Soma Smoothie

I’m cleaning house. This is nothing new for anyone with a garage of accumulating cyclery. N+1 is true, but there has to be a critical mass trigger. I have not ridden the CAAD9 since last fall sometime around when I built the Paketa magnesium. I should ride it soon for comparison before I let it go during my garage cleansing. I decided to have one bike for a while that fits, rides nice, isn’t fatiguing and is a joy.

Currently, I have a cross bike, it’s stock wheels, two sets of pave’ Roval SL wheels and tires, the CAAD9-6 triple, with two mis-matched very basic wheels, all looking for a good home.

I tried to sell the Paketa earlier for the price of all it’s used parts and I only had one person trying to talk me down to, “make it worth the long drive up to see it.”

I’m sorry, I don’t give people gas money.

Regardless of the deal that it was for a cyclist taller than myself, I received only that one email. I now am changing tactics and going with my origional thought from even last fall. Build a frame that actually fits me, has wide acclaim of enjoyment, then sell the rest of my stuff. Enter the Soma Smoothie.

Why the Soma Smoothie?

I scoured the field of bikes that have good reviews and decent performance. Every time I saw one I liked and was somewhere near my price bracket, I wrote it down to investigate. I ran down the whole gamut of geometry figures and even had to learn a bit of basic calculus to figure out exactly what would be where. The bottom bracket height combined with the known vertical height of my saddle (cosign calculations used.) and then a base position of that saddle fore and aft combined with the “stack” and “reach” measure of the bike itself gave an evaluative position of just where the head tube top center was located. I also knew, from my Paketa experience, what seat tube angle I required for proper fitment. The result confirmed what I pretty much knew last fall.

Bikes I looked at: CAAD9-60, CAAD12-60, Soma smoothie-60 & 62, ES-58 & 61, Salsa Colossal 58 & 60, Soma doublecross disc 56 & 58, Fuji cross cop 58, Niner RLT9 steel, LeMond Zurich

The LeMond seemed like a nice used bike option in full 853 steel. The unknown was the max tire size as well as the future upgradability for new parts and wheelset I have. Also, t weighs the same as the Smoothie. I have a CAAD9 bike and the CAAD12 was a new geometry, both in aluminum, which I don’t want this time around but I used them for reference points for frame measure. The Soma ES bike is a much more relaxed endurance bike that can run gravel roads as well but the geometry was not really fitting. I found myself in-between sizes.  The Salsa Colossal 58 and 60 are nice and I found them to have troubles fitting 30c tires…the clearance was very close depending on the rim width and tire brand used, plus the 60 size had a much too far reach and the 58 size was just too small. I needed, again, a 59. The Doublecross disc would be nice but I’m not looking for disc brakes yet and that might still be the fall bike for next year when I return to cross. I own the Fuji 58 and used it for size comparison. The RLT9 is a great bike and would fit but is over a thousand dollars and out of my budget.

What about Rivendell, waterford, Gunnar, etc.? Honestly, the Gunnar is a touch heavier and not as lively, the others cost way too much and even then, for the price they’re not much lighter either. For the money, The Smoothie is one of the best deals. Here’s how I sized it up for me.

Out of the whole batch of bikes, I narrowed down the attributes I had to see to make the frame acceptable. The reach in addition to where my saddle would be sitting at 79cm vertical above the bottom bracket plane, and how far of a drop that height would be to the stack measurement. (That means how far I need to either stack up the spacers, or lean forward. I’d like to reduce both) In relation to the CAAD9 that was professionally fit to me and my experience riding it and where any further adjustment would be made, I was able to quickly see the three bikes that fit the desired profile of a long-range good riding frame. These are the winners:

Niner RLT9 steel:             The drop from saddle height to the stack height meant the head tube is structurally set up for endurance handlebar positions, including moving those back 10mm, allowing good choices for stem length.

CAAD12:                           The changes from the CAAD9 put it into a range of size that is actually better for me, however it is a $900 frame and fork set. A bargain even at that price. In addition, it’s aluminum. I don’t need that, even if it’s the best aluminum we’ve ever seen. I don’t need it yet. I’m wanting steel this time.

Smoothie 62:                   It’s much closer to the CAAD9 I ride but the stand over is way too high and the reach, although very similar, is still a bit longer than desired. There is easy selection of stem to fix any of those problems. That leads me to the

Smoothie 60:                   The winner because the reach is in the target area as well as the drop from saddle to stack height inn an ideal place that gives the stand over height a great position so I’m not squashing the furniture when I hop off the thing. The smoothie 62 and larger ES had the same problems. Besides, the weight of the frame at 4.1 pounds, plus my 580gram carbon/aluminum Ritchey fork in possession, means it will be under six pounds and that’s something the rest of these choices can’t do. Even the nice 853 steel Zurich. One downside is the ritchey fork only handles up to 25c tires, so for only $120 and another pound, I can have the steel fork and run 28c tires for the full effect. We will see. I’ll just try the 25s I have now and enjoy not spending $220 more on tires and a fork. What I have now works fine.

All of the other bikes examined had some strange measures that made them require major adjustment or major crotch interference along the way. I have an inseam about an inch short of what I should have for my height. All I need is $400 to order that frame, strip down the Paketa parts, directly use the exact same parts, and sell everything else. This bike will also be the kind that I can keep for a very long time. Steel endures over time and it’s hard to find any of these for sale second hand they’re loved so much. I hope to have good news to report on the next entry.

Wish me luck in clearing the whole house and going down to one good long lasting smooth enjoyable bike that still has some guts when I put the gas to it.

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