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  1. #1
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    1st bike in 28 years; which one? (Thinking Soma Smoothie or ES)

    Hi,

    I used to work in a bike shop 28 years ago and I haven't ridden a bike since (school, work, kids, etc). I just moved to San Jose, CA and a friend who is really into riding (he has a couple bikes including a $5,000 custom one) has reminded me how much I used to love bikes.

    So now I have to get a bike for myself. Since it has been so many years I am not sure exactly what kind of riding I will be doing. I used to love to go fast and ride aggressively, but now I am out of shape, much older and much larger. I am 46 years old, 6'1", 217 lbs with a 34 inseam (I am thinking I need to be measured to know the ideal sized frame and components).

    I image I will be riding about 1 hour each day and several hours over the weekend (mostly with my friend and his fancy bike) and I think it would be fun to join one of the bike clubs around me to make some new friends who like to ride.

    I don't plan to race (but as I said, used to like riding fast) and my friend is suggesting that we try randoneer riding starting in October. Randoneering looks like fun, but who knows if I will like it or get a heart attack riding so many miles.

    Mostly I will be riding alone during the week for fun and exercise (I work from home so no commuting required), riding with my friend and maybe a few group rides. And I am looking forward to attaching a trail-a-bike so I can ride with my 3 year old daughter (now I have to walk behind her when she is riding her big wheel) and go on picnics.

    I know this may sound like I need a $200 Walmart bike, but I really enjoy a great performing bike. I have tried riding a few bikes at some local bike shops and I always liked the ride of the more expensive race oriented bikes rather than the sport recreational bikes.

    I am thinking I would like a steel frame rather than a new fanged carbon bike, also I am cheep (I told my friend maybe I would spend $300 bucks on a bike, now that I know better I am thinking $1,500 - $2,000 is more realistic) and I think it would be a blast to get a stand, some tools and build up the bike myself (as I used to do 28 years ago). Also, I just got a new Zinn book so I can get caught up on all of the new tech.

    The bikes I am looking at are the:

    Soma Smoothie (http://www.somafab.com/archives/product/smoothie) - This looks like the most fun, but I don't think it would good for randonee, if I decide to go that route since you can't put on fenders with the short reach breaks. and I am worried about hooking a trial-a-bike to it.

    Soma ES (http://www.somafab.com/archives/product/es) - This looks like the best compromise, more stable for pulling my daughter and taking a picnic with us, and better for rando riding (up to 28 tires with fenders) but I am worried that I won't like the performance as well as the Smoothie for my day-to-day riding.

    Salsa Casseroll (http://salsacycles.com/bikes/casseroll/) - Might even be better for rando riding (front rack, cani breask for larger tires with fenders) but may be less fun to ride. It seems to have a lot of people who love this bike.

    Surly Pacer (http://surlybikes.com/bikes/pacer) - My friend recommended this bike.

    VO Rando (http://store.velo-orange.com/index.p...mes/rando.html) - My friend suggested this bike too.

    Soma Double Cross (http://www.somafab.com/archives/product/double-cross) - Everyone says this is their favorite all rounder but does not excel at any one thing.

    Unfortunately I have not been able to find any of these in the local shops to ride. I went to American Cyclery in SF and road a few Soma bikes but they only had an ES in my size, which was very comfortable, but I liked the responsiveness of the Smoothie a bit better (but it could have been because it was 2 or 3 sizes too small for me).

    I can only afford 1 bike now and maybe another in a couple of years. One bike shop told me I should look only at the Smoothie or the Double Cross as the ES would be too middle of the road and I wouldn't like it in the long run, while I would keep one of the other two bikes after I bought a second bike. American Cyclery told me I could get any of the Soma bikes and they would make them fit. So I am confused as to which bike I would like best.

    I am leaning toward the Smoothie or the ES. If I got the ES would I like the performance? If I got the Smoothie would I have to get another bike If I start riding randos? Do randos prefer riding cantilever for bigger tires? If I ride in the winter will I want fenders (my friend says he never uses fenders). Should I just buy an off-the-shelf bike? How about used bikes? (I looked at a Lemond from Criagslist but it was rusted out and I don't trust that I can evaluate anymore if a bike is in good shape or not.)

    Sorry for the long post. Hopefully you can help me narrow down my choices or give me some hints how to make my decision.

    Thanks in advance for your help and advice.
    Last edited by jrenda; 07-07-2012 at 01:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Not a rocket surgeon.
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    I ride a Smoothie and love it. I have owned a Pacer, Cross Check and a Casseroll. The Soma trumps them all. I ts a great bike.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tihsepa View Post
    I ride a Smoothie and love it. I have owned a Pacer, Cross Check and a Casseroll. The Soma trumps them all. I ts a great bike.
    Thanks for the input. Any worries about no fenders in wet weather as compared to the others?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrenda View Post
    Thanks for the input. Any worries about no fenders in wet weather as compared to the others?
    You can run fenders on the Smoothis with 23's and maybe 25's. The mounts are all there.

  5. #5
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    Looks like you've already decided on steel. Like you, I used to race and ride fast and took more than a decade off (though for different reasons) - and am roughly your size (a bit lighter and a bit longer legs). I was always a big fan of steel and Ti, but I'd definitely recommend taking a look at the various carbon offerings that are out there. I ended up buying a Specialized Roubaix Expert and put a few thousand miles on it last year and early this Spring purchased a Ridley Noah RS frame and built it up with 10speed Ultegra and am very happy with it too (very different bike from the Roubaix however). Steel is real, but it's hard to beat a material that can be finely tuned to the exact stresses and needs in each part of the frame.
    A road bike needs disk brakes like a fish needs a bicycle (with apologies to Ms. Dunn)

  6. #6
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    Volagi might be worth taking a look at.

  7. #7
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    Take a look at the All-City Mr. Pink,

    medium reach brakes..check

    Hidden Fender mounts...check

    Columbus SLX tubes....check

    Available as a frame or complete bike...check

    All-City Cycles Mr. Pink

  8. #8
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    The Jamis Quest is another one you might want to check out.

    2012 JAMIS BICYCLES - QUEST

    And if you don't mind mail ordering a bike, the Motobecane Century titanium bikes from Bikesdirect.com are some others you may want to consider.

    Save up to 60% Off Shimano Ultegra Titanium Road bikes | Motobecane Titanium Century Road Bikes

    Shimano Ultegra | Motobecane Titanium Century Road Bikes

    SRAM Apex | Motobecane Titanium Century Road Bikes

  9. #9
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    I'd get the bike you really want - the Smoothie. Worry about the Randos later
    Waxahachie, Texas
    Biciclette Gios

    "She loves to limbo. That much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"

  10. #10
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    Great choices. I would recommend a "professional" fitting to insure that the geometry fits the rider correctly. In many cases it's worth the bucks to have the shop fit you to the correct stem length, bar width, seat width and length and of course frame size.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tihsepa View Post
    You can run fenders on the Smoothis with 23's and maybe 25's. The mounts are all there.
    How long a ride would you take on your smoothie? Would you say it's just for short, fast rides or would you feel good using it for a century or a brevet? Maybe even a handlebar bag or a light rack? (Just trying to see if I can justify the smoothie over the ES).

    Thanks.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bremerradkurier View Post
    Volagi might be worth taking a look at.
    The Velogi looks nice but a bit out of my price range for my first bike (and it is not supposed to take racks not that I will necessarily need racks).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldChipper View Post
    Looks like you've already decided on steel. Like you, I used to race and ride fast and took more than a decade off (though for different reasons) - and am roughly your size (a bit lighter and a bit longer legs). I was always a big fan of steel and Ti, but I'd definitely recommend taking a look at the various carbon offerings that are out there. I ended up buying a Specialized Roubaix Expert and put a few thousand miles on it last year and early this Spring purchased a Ridley Noah RS frame and built it up with 10speed Ultegra and am very happy with it too (very different bike from the Roubaix however). Steel is real, but it's hard to beat a material that can be finely tuned to the exact stresses and needs in each part of the frame.
    You are right. My friend is die hard against steel, but I don't mind trying carbon. But that just opens up a whole lot more bikes to choose from, which will cause my poor head to explode with all of the choices

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Loving View Post
    I'd get the bike you really want - the Smoothie. Worry about the Randos later
    I agree with you. I think I am just trying to justify the smoothie. The big issue is my friend wants to go on our first brevet in October (only 3 months away). I would hate to have to need another bike in 3 months... (My wife would hide the credit card and check book). And I worried that while the smoothie would be fun, I couldn't use it for all of the more practical stuff (pulling my daughter, longer rides, etc.)

  15. #15
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    Three kids here and IMO the trail a bike is going to get old real fast. My girls were riding from 4 yrs old. I wouldn't choose a keeper bike based on a few hours of riding with your daughter. Seriously how much riding a week will you do with her? Buy a junker MTB for that. Forget that side of things and then you are just looking for a fast fun bike. Ride a few and let your wallet and smile choose the best one for you.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Less View Post
    Great choices. I would recommend a "professional" fitting to insure that the geometry fits the rider correctly. In many cases it's worth the bucks to have the shop fit you to the correct stem length, bar width, seat width and length and of course frame size.
    That is exactly what I am going to do. I spoke to a fitter that has a 2 phase fitting (pre-purchase to help you select the correct frame and post purchase to configure the fit). The fitting should help me narrow my choices to the most optimal frames (I hope).

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwisimon View Post
    Three kids here and IMO the trail a bike is going to get old real fast. My girls were riding from 4 yrs old. I wouldn't choose a keeper bike based on a few hours of riding with your daughter. Seriously how much riding a week will you do with her? Buy a junker MTB for that. Forget that side of things and then you are just looking for a fast fun bike. Ride a few and let your wallet and smile choose the best one for you.
    Great point. I will remove the trail-a-bike towing from my consideration. The only problem is that I can't ride most of these (no shops around me carry these in stock in my size) so I have to make a leap of faith (based on all of your input of course). Thanks.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrenda View Post
    Great point. I will remove the trail-a-bike towing from my consideration. The only problem is that I can't ride most of these (no shops around me carry these in stock in my size) so I have to make a leap of faith (based on all of your input of course). Thanks.
    Get the Smoothie, going fast is more fun than going slow. Get input on sizing B4 you pull the trigger

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrenda View Post
    How long a ride would you take on your smoothie? Would you say it's just for short, fast rides or would you feel good using it for a century or a brevet? Maybe even a handlebar bag or a light rack? (Just trying to see if I can justify the smoothie over the ES).

    Thanks.
    Its good for all day no problem. I have done a sub 5 hour century on it and also RAGBRAI. Its good for riding. However you want to ride it.

  20. #20
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    That double cross looks amazing IMO. Comfortable saddle and Aksium wheels. It might be heavier than the others but reminds me of my KONA jake the snake which is my daily commuter.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrenda View Post

    VO Rando (Rando - Frames) - My friend suggested this bike too.
    Lugged frame, nice fork and geometry, traditional top tube and a strong looking build overall. That would be my vote. I would go 32 spoke, 3 cross low flange in steel nipples double butted in a Mavic Ceramic rim with DT Spokes.

    The Velo ORANGE Blog: Rando Photos

  22. #22
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    I got a fitting yesterday and I am frustrated. The fitter told me that he could not tell which frame size was correct for me because none of the frames I was looking at listed stack or reach.

    Before I went in they assured me they would be able to pick out the frame and the component sizes I needed (stem, seat post, etc.). Below are the measurements he gave me. He told me to send my measurements to each manufacturer and get them to tell me which frame would be my best fit.

    Does that sound right to you? Or do you think he was not good at fitting me for a new bike?

    • Reach (from the center of the BB to the center of the head tube along the effective top tube line): 41 cm
    • Stack (from center of BB measured from bottom bracket to top of head tube): 64 cm
    • Seat Height (Center of BB to top of seat surface along axis of frame's seat tube): 79.8 cm
    • Set Back (Tip of the saddle to the center of BB): 5 cm
    • Seat to Handlebar Reach (Tip of seat to center of handlebar, parallel to floor): 52.8 cm
    • Center-line of handlebar to the floor: 97 cm
    • Drop (Top of saddle to top of bar: 4 cm
    • Bar Width: 44 cm
    • Crank Arm Length: 172.5 mm is ideal (can use from 170 - 175)


    Thanks.

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