As everyday riders, our goal was to build new bikes that would meet the requirements of our daily commute while allowing us to take the same bike on adventures across the country.
A review by Ken
As everyday riders, our goal was to build new bikes that would meet the requirements of our daily commute while allowing us to take the same bike on adventures across the country. Our commuting requirements were bikes with relaxed geometries for when we saunter past the shops and through the parks. Mounts to take a front or rear carrier for transporting everyday goods and fenders for the wet. For our adventures, we needed bikes that would ride well with additional load and felt stable yet responsive with enough gears to handle more challenging or hilly terrain.
Charlotte, after a period of riding a typical diamond framed bike with a straight top tube, realised that style wasn’t practical for her so opted for the SOMA Buena Vista mixte frame. As she enjoys going off-road on the lighter trails or over the hills but predominantly enjoys casual rides around the city we built the bike hybrid style. Straight handlebars and Sogreni leather grips, a beautiful Brooks B17 ladies saddle in honey, to keep the bike elegant and comfortable and Shimano Sora 3 x 9 gearing to get her up the hills. Charlotte is very fussy with colour so to keep with the colour scheme of green, white and black we fitted 700 x 43 SimWorks The Homage (Panaracer Gravelking) tyres on a Shimano RX010 wheelset.
As for myself, riding road is something I quite enjoy but don’t do competitively so I choose the SOMA Smoothie frame from SOMA Fabrications with the Soma road carbon fork. It’s a semi-compact road frame that is agile and responsive but also comfortable enough for daily commutes. Simworks Wonderer bars make it easy to move into any position and the Shimano Ultegra groupset rounds out the roady side of the bike. The wider than your average Continental Contact Plus 700 x 28c tyres with visible tread on the DT Swiss 1600 wheelset makes the bike just as fast and racy enough as slick tyres yet having 28c tyres make the bike so much more comfortable. Although the bike does have mounts for rear carriers there’s simply no clearance to fit fenders so an AssSaver will be needed when I’m in my best clothes and it’s wet.
Over the New Year break this year we took our bikes to the Hawkes Bay in the North Island. We spent several days visiting family and riding the coast around Napier followed by a 2-day ride on Route 52. An old state highway now used as a cycle touring route. We started in Porangahau and finished in Masterton (160kms). An easy-ish route taking you over rolling hills populated with sheep and cattle farms. We both fitted a rear carrier with double panniers to carry our luggage of clothing + essentials, skipping out on any camping gear as this was a short ride with the plan to stay at a backpackers.
The bikes performed really well on our first adventure. Soma’s choice for Tange Prestige heat-treated tubing provides a stiff ride that aids in hill climbing while reducing jarring when rolling over bumpier sections of road. Having done the longer ride, Charlotte would prefer to swap her straight bars to something more suited for long distance touring so she can switch hand positions during the ride. Probably a drop bar with straight brake lever and bar end shifters.
In short, it’s great to know that our bikes will rise to the challenge for the long distance trips we plan on while still being able to ride them comfortably every day around Christchurch.