Soma Fabrications x Action Bicycle Club: Grand Randonneur
Soma Fabrications x Action Bicycle Club: Grand Randonneur
Our Soma Grand Randonneur front loaded touring bike is a true low trail geometry randonneuring bike. Best ridden on weekends and leisurely trail rides. We’ve built this bike from scratch right here in Christchurch with the best components from your favourite brands. Velo Orange headset, wheels and crankset, Shimano Ultegra 10 speed gearing, Brooks saddle and bar tape. On top of that this bike will fit all the gadgets a good rando bike should have. The traditional diameter tubes lend to a smooth comfortable ride.
68mm, JIS square taper, English thread, 118 Spindle length
High Pressure Tape
Rear Wheel (650b)
Grand Cru Diagonale /w freehub body
Front Wheel (650b)
Grand Cru Diagonale
CS-6700, 10 Speed, 12-30
RD-6700, 10 Speed, Double Grey, 30T compatible
FD-6700, 10-Speed, Braze On, Glossy Grey
Front Derailleur Mount
Braze on mounting adapter
Cazadero Skinwall, 650 x 42B
Things to Know About Riding A Low Trail Randonneuring Bike
There are growing ranks of cyclists who prefer a low trail bike, primarily because of the way it handles with a medium front load like a handlebar bag. The Grand Randonneur has a fork offset 20mm or more than the average road bike. When carry a load up front the bike responds less to the weight of the bag while steering. The Grand Randonneur uses lighter tubing than our other road bikes and a fork with a more pronounced bend to create a more comfortable ride over long distances. Because of that and the low trail design, we don’t recommend it for fully loaded touring. It is a performance bike designed for carrying a light to medium front load in relative comfort over long distances.
These observations from Bicycle Quarterly and others may help you determine if you want to try it out and help fine tune the ride of your bike.
1) Low trail bikes ride best with tires at least 36mm wide and preferably at lower tire pressure (55-60psi). Some claim 42mm is ideal
2) These bikes handle differently than most bikes you’ve tried. It may take one long ride to get used to it or weeks or months – depends on the rider.
3) Without a load in front the steering feels light especially at low speeds. You can put on panniers or a loaded saddle bag on it, but the ride quality won’t be as good.
Don’t low trail bicycles suffer from “fork shimmy”?
A few riders with low trail bikes do experience varying levels of fork shimmy (aka speed wobble) during speedy descents. There isn’t a consensus on what causes it or how to get rid of it. Some riders seem more prone to it than others. Others say that shivering on a cold day or gripping the bars too tightly can set it off. Installing a roller bearing (aka needle bearing) headset may help get reduce it. Some say to avoid putting your seat too back or raising the bars higher than the saddle. Others say resting your knee on the side of the top tube during can help, too.
Specifications and Recommendations:
– Headset: 1″ threaded, external cup, 26.4mm crown
– Seatpost: 27.2mm
– Front derailleur: 28.6mm, bottom pull
– Rear hub spacing: 132.5mm (fits both 130mm and 135mm OLD hubs
– Tires: 650b x 38 to 42mm
– Fork rake: 69mm – Max chainring fit: 52-42-32t 45mm chainline. 53-39t, 48.5mm chainline
– Bottom bracket shell: 68mm wide, English threads
– Brake compatibility: Cantilevers or V-brakes
– Compatible with downtube shifters
– This type of bike rides best with a front load. You can ride it unloaded, but it will take time to get used to the steering qualities of a low trail geometry.
Cycle Seattle’s Quick Impression on the Grand Randonneur
The Soma Grand Randonneur designed by Mike Kone of Boulder Bicycle and Rene Herse fame, is a very compelling deal.
In my short ride, I felt immediately at home on the bike, and really felt some of the benefits of the different front-end geometry. It was quick handling, but forgiving – not twitchy. As I slowed, I noticed there was none of the flopping I have on my higher trail bikes if I let go of the handlebars. OK – that’s nice. The thing I liked more is that on a slow climb, I didn’t have the bars slightly twisting back and forth with my pedal strokes. It tracked well at low speeds. On turns, at medium and higher speeds, there was no uncertainty of where I was going. Perhaps it didn’t feel like it was “on rails” like my Rivendells, but there was no bad effects I could ascertain.
Handlebard’s Grand Randonneur Review
It’s a beautiful bike with clean welds, and light tubing. The colour, which I expected to be an aesthetic problem immediately grew on me. It’s unique, classic and even a sophisticated looking. Pump pegs, bosses for a third bottle cage, integrated rear brake stop are all nice features that add to the fit and finish.
The ride is more reminiscent of my Trek 560ex than my touring bike, yet it is at least as comfortable to ride. My other bikes have been collecting dust since the GR arrived. (Ah, new love!)
It’s my first 650b bike, so I am loath to make too many comparisons. I’m just having fun on it. Fun riding up the volcano, a blast riding my favourite fast flat, a hoot getting my coffee in the morning. It’s even fun to look at while I drink my coffee.
One caveat. If you’re sniffing around Grand Randonneur as a touring bike, you might look elsewhere. The GR is purpose built for randoneurring. Further, the rider is farther back towards the rear axle than on an intended touring bike.
Climbing was actually fun, each pedal stroke was like getting a push from an unseen force at the rear of the bike. I wasn’t just going up this hill, I was accelerating up it. Jan Heine calls it ‘planing’ and it’s a result of a symbiotic rider and frame geometry. .
Better than a 700c bike with a front load
The low trail geometry makes the bike very sensitive to steering input. This would normally be too much, but paired with the 42mm 650B tire, it feels PERFECT, even with a front load. When I used to have a mid-trail 700C 38mm-tire bike with a front load, the steering was heavy and sluggish. It was very good at going straight, but not very good at subtle manoeuvres. What I have now feels perfect for my taste. I also have a beater that is a low trail 700C 35mm, and that also feels very nice. I’m sure a 700c low trail bike with 38mm tires would be quite good for me. But if you add to this how comfortable the 42mm tires are at low pressure, and they’re fast, I can’t imagine wanting anything different as I prepare and train for the PBP 2019.
Paul’s 1000 Mile Review
Paul wrote a lengthy thoughtful review. Below is just an excerpt. Read the full review here. And the verdict is It’s a great bike and I’m really enjoying it. As far as the things that are unique about this bike, I’ll take them one at a time.
Steel Frame This is a no brainer for me now. I’ve had aluminium and carbon fiber bikes in the past and now I know I prefer steel. The ride is always great, the performance is great, and I know I can trust it.
650b wide tires
I’m sold on this now. I feel like I’m not giving up anything as far as speed and agility while gaining comfort, stability, and the ability to ride on any surface. This is really a win-win for me.
Low trail geometry The jury’s still out on this one. I like the responsiveness and how well it holds true around a curve. I don’t like the possibility of shimmy at speed, or the twitchy feeling when going too slow. Once advantage of low trail is that you can carry more weight in the front. This is great but I can also load up my touring bikes with a front load and never have any problems. If the main advantage of low trail is that it handles better around the turns on really fast downhills, then this is something I don’t need. I’d be perfectly happy going slower for more stability. So this may be one feature that I don’t care for. The more I ride this bike the better I like it. It may be that I’ll come to appreciate the low trail more.
We designed our mixte urban city bike for you. From hand-selecting top of the range components to rigorous testing giving you the best riding experience possible. Our bikes are just perfect for everyday commuting as well as casual riding. Featuring puncture-resistant tyres, an elegant hi-ten lugged steel frame, chain guard and full fenders. Dual-pivot brakes with quick release, 3-speed Shimano Nexus internal gear, PU leather saddle and handgrips, sprung carrier and built in front and rear LED lights. We also went the extra mile to add alloy components where possible so you can ride rain, hail or shine. Bottom line is our bikes are built for living, riding, and thriving.
Ready to grab-and-go, this versatile, snug-fit sweatshirt is made of durable 100% cotton. It features both a front chest pocket and hidden zippered side pocket to put your small stuff in. On the sleeve cuffs you’ll find easy access thumb holes that allow you use the cuff to cover your fist, which is especially nice on those cold rides. With safety in mind, we’ve added a low-profile, matching colour reflective patch (yes, pretty cool).
The Pake Rum Runner track frame can be ridden hard and put away wet. Pake use Tange tubing, because it’s got a heritage of quality and a responsive feel. They know that the everyday cyclist needs a bike they can count on, day-in and day-out. From there they offered a bike that everyone could get behind: a solid platform for a multitude of fixed and single-speed builds. The beauty of the frame is that it keeps the track spirit, yet has never limited itself.
There are plenty of fixed gear frames that look like this to the untrained eye, but Pake feel their selection of tubing diameters and gauges offer the best blend of longevity, stiffness, ride quality and value for a hand-welded frame not made in China. (Pake’s are made in Taiwan)