Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rider Profile: Andrew Wracher, Bedrock Bags


Exploring the White Canyon complex in southeast Utah

Andrew Wracher is an avid cyclist and camping enthusiast living in Durango, CO.  A couple of years back his love of the outdoors and bikepacking led him to start designing and handmaking his own frame and bike packs. He calls his business Bedrock Bags. Earlier this year he became the owner of a 2014 Soma B-Side, our 650b hardtail frame.

What kind of cycling do you enjoy most?
I enjoy bikepacking in and around the Four Corners, as well as riding local singletrack around Durango during the workdays.

For the folks who might not know, what is "Bikepacking"?
Bikepacking is a unique form of bicycle touring that typically relies on rackless pack systems to travel lighter than traditional bicycle touring. Traveling without traditional racks and panniers allows the rider the option of traveling on rough terrain such as mountain single track or rough four wheel drive roads. Bikepacking can range from a recreational overnight to a 500 mile race on the Colorado Trail.

 
Andrew's B-Side frame does have rack eyelets, but in bikepacking
participants usually forgo conventional racks. Build highlights: 120mm travel
Fox fork, Stan's No Tubes wheels. Michelins in front, Schwalbes in back.

Great shot! See more of Andrew's
photos on Flickr.
You seem like an individual that can't get enough of the great outdoors. Why is that/where does that come from? What other outdoor activities are you passionate about.
I started backpacking at a very young age with my family. Since then being outdoors has become a way of life. It's just something I need. Canoeing, fishing, kayaking, rafting, cycling, backpacking, surfing...It's all a way to interact with and explore the world we live in. It doesn't get much more complicated than that.

What do you like about your Soma B-Side?
For bikepacking I wanted the ability to run adjustable dropouts in case the derailleur failed. If I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken derailleur I can run a single speed setup to get home. I also wanted wheels that would roll efficiently while maintaining stiffness. 650b (compared to a 29er) allows for greater clearance between the rear wheel and seat as well as a slightly larger main triangle. This is important for making room for bikepacking bags. The B-side is a great bikepacking platform. 
For my backyard single track I wanted a bike that could turn on a dime and manual off a drop with out feeling like a tobaggon. Short chain stays and fun geometry really make this bike a blast. Efficient, fun, flickable, steel, trustworthy. What else do you need?
What kind of research do you do come up with your designs?  
At first I just looked at what everyone else was doing. Lately I rely on my own experiences in addition to input from some seriously talented cyclists that are at the top of their game. To be honest, the feedback from these folks is invaluable. Almost daily some small detail of one of my bags is tweaked or refined to improve the product. 

I love providing people with the gear they need to explore places they have never been to. My part is small, what people do with it is incredible. I don't have a big fancy job, but if people can do great things with something I have made...well, that feels pretty good.


Do you have a background in sewing or industrial design? You didn't just wake one day and found you had a talent to make bikepacking bags, did you?
Open road in the Valley of the Gods, Utah
I have been sewing outdoor gear for my own needs for the last ten years. When I think of a new design I can see it in three dimensions. I can literally spin it around in my brain like I'm watching a video. One day I made a set of bags because I wanted to give bikepacking a shot and they worked out alright. I showed them to a friend who was the new owner of a bike shop (Velorution Cycles) and the rest is history.

What is your most sought after creation currently?
 At this point it is a tie between the Entrada Handlebar bag and custom frame bags.

[Soma did not provide a B-Side for his review. Andrew did not provide us any free bags to wrangle an interview, though we wouldn't refuse one if he offered. We are totally grateful to Andrew for the interview and sharing his photos.]

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Having fun on the Bay Trail

We couldn't resist taking the GR out for a test ride before boxing it up for New York, so we snuck out the back and hopped on the Bay Trail. The weather was great, so we took a few laps around Oyster Point.

















Be sure to get out for a ride this weekend!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Soma Fab is going to NYC!

Soma will be showing off some stuff at the Action Bicycle Expo in NJ the weekend after next. It's been a while since I've been to NYC, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to do a bit of bicycle tourism.


So, we retrieved the original Grand Randonneur prototype from the floor of American Cyclery where it's been on display for a few months now. If you're going to be at the Action show we'll have it on hand for people to check out, but don't stress if you didn't get an invite. 



I'll be dropping it off at it's new home in Brooklyn, 718 Cyclery. So if that's your neck of the woods be sure to stop in an check it out before somebody swoops it. There were only 2 Grand Randonneurs made in this color, and the other one belongs to Mike Kone, so it's a pretty rare beast.


If I may, lets take a moment to nerd out on this build kit. I would like to draw your attention to the Sun XCD drive train on this thing. It's sporting the Sun Exceed crankset with IRD Defiant chain rings. Very classic looking, but the chainrings still have the shift ramps and pins so you don't have to struggle to get into the big ring. And of course the matching Sun front derailleur works perfectly with this setup.


We used an IRD Rivendell 9 speed rear cassette which comes in a 12-34 gearing. In the past that would have meant using a MTB rear derailleur, but now that Shimano has messed with the cable pull of their 10 speed MTB group that trick no longer works so well. Luckily the Sun XCD rear derailleur has no problem handling that kind of range, and even has a built in barrel adjuster. Genius ;-)


When we began designing the GR we knew we wanted to make matching tires to go with it. We knew we needed an option that was sturdy enough to tour on, but with less rolling resistance than the other guys. The touring version of the GR tires with brown sidewalls is a perfect accent to the brown Cardiff saddle and leather bar tape.


Soma Brevet bars and Sutro quill stem with the Soma Double Row sealed bearing headset. An obvious choice.


So that's all for now. Check back later for pics from the trip!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Carbon Envy

We couldn't help but get a little pumped up when this new billboard showed up down the street from our office.


Normally we're more into steel bikes, but the folks down at Santa Cruz make some pretty cool stuff. I had a chance to test out one of their new 650b models a couple weeks back and hooboy, it was pretty fun. If you're in the area and you have the time make sure to stop by their showroom. Congrats on the humongous billboard guys! Keep up the good work!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Soma Buena Vista Fashion Shoot Photos



We are quite happy to see Iva Jean Clothing showing off a Buena Vista mixte bike in the latest promotion of their upcoming line. Iva Jean made a splash in the cycling world with chic tailored clothing that looked great at the office and functioned well on a bike. Her new line of minimalistic, versatile staples will be sewn in Seattle.

The previous line had been funded personally, through a line of credit from a fellow bike enthusiast, and a 2013 Kickstarter Campaign. In order to grow Iva Jean, they need your support.
Your contributions will fund:
  • Sourcing and purchase of fabric and product hardware
  • Production of six new styles including the City Legging, City Trouser, Raglan Short and Long Sleeve, Racer Tank and Tunic
  • Continued development of new garments.
Please check out her Kickstarter page for the details and support them if you are so enticed. 
(Soma did not provide this bike for the shoot. The Buena Vista happens to be Iva Jean creative director, Anna DeOtte Kaufman's personal ride. It was built by Back Alley Bike Repair in Seattle. For 2014, the BV is available to bike shops as a frame set or complete bike.)



Monday, April 14, 2014

Mick's Flat Bar Double Cross


Hi Evan,

I picked her up today looks beautiful, I thought you and the gang might like to see the end result.

I only rode it home from the shop, but so far so good, just a few height adjustments and bobs your uncle.

I may change the headset to red but thats all.

I will take a good pic down the beach for you and send through the specs.

Regards

Mick


Thursday, April 10, 2014

3 Happy UK Soma Bicycle Belles


I wrote to you a few years ago trying to buy a Soma Mixte frame. You didn't sell to the UK then. I kept thinking of ways to get a  frame here then discovered last year that you were supplying James at Fine-ADC in Edinburgh. So here are the results:  not only me (in yellow) but mother and sister too. We get stopped and asked where we got our bikes. We are all delighted with them. Everyone should have one Soma Mixte frame road bike.

Elizabeth,

Denham,
United Kingdom

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paragon Thru Axle Dropouts

So you have a Soma frame with sliding dropouts and you're itching to build up a shiny new Chris King thru axle wheelset?


Our bay area Neighbors Paragon Machine Works up in Richmond California have got you covered.


They offer a variety of Soma/IRD compatible inserts including these 135x12mm MAXLE pieces, as well as options for single speed, Rohloff, and post mount brakes in black anodized and raw. The quality of their parts is top notch, a fact that becomes obvious when you look at how many NAHBS show bikes are built with them. You can place an order directly on their web store, and their prices are really incredible considering it's all made in USA. Check it out!

www.paragonmachineworks.com

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grand Randonneur Build by Two Wheel Tango



We just finished putting this bike together today.  It has the new Soma Grand Randonneur tires, and all the trimmings.  The customer is super happy with it.

Thanks,
Dennis Pontius

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saga Disc and Rush Framesets Now In Stock

If you've checked the Soma Store recently you may have seen a couple new items pop up.

The long awaited Disc Brake version of our Saga touring frameset is now available. It features the same geometry as the Canti Saga, but uses disc specific dropouts which allow the rear brake caliper to mount to the chain stays for easier rack and fender attachment.



Like the new Saga, Stanyan, San Marcos, Buena Vista and Grand Randonneurs, the forks include braze ons for mounting a mini rack, in addition to two sets of dropout eyelets. The fork crown is the same as the Grand Randonneur, and provides ample fender and tire clearance.



In addition to great stopping power, another benefit to running disc brakes is that they allow you to run 650b wheels on either the 26" or 700c size frames. We tried the new Soma Grand Randonneur tires on a 56cm frame and found they fit with ample clearance, even with metal fenders.



The Soma C-line tires also work great if you want to run 700c wheels, while the 1.5" New Xpress is a good option if you go 26".

For the first time in 2014 the Rush is available as a frame and fork set, with a matching chrome threaded fork. We also reworked the rear end with some new chainstays and seatstay caps to increase the tire clearance. These new framesets can be built up using a true NJS approved parts kit, including a quill stem like the Nitto Pearl or Jaguar, and an ISO threaded headset like the Tange Levin. They could also be built up with front and rear brakes using the Soma Housing Clips and a Nitto Technomic or Soma Sutro stem and Lauterwasser Bars for a more upright "Path Racer" style build. How ever you like to ride, the 2014 Rush is designed to adapt to meet your needs.

Stay tuned for updates on the Champs Elysees forks, Wolverine Framesets and the Battle Axe fatbike project coming later this year.