Soma Fabrications builds bikes for the “everyday cyclist,” but this term comes with a qualification. Soma doesn’t mean “everyday” in the sense of being ordinary or run-of-the-mill. A more literal interpretation of the term is required: Soma builds bikes for cyclists who ride every day.
In these days of “horses for courses,” riding every day can require a fleet of bikes in your personal quiver, and Soma has you covered there, with frames and forks for cyclo-cross (and by extension, gravel riding/racing), loaded touring, mountain, road, track, and, uniquely, mixte-style frames.
Mixte frames were sometimes mistakenly referred to in the past as “ladies-style” frames, but that’s really a misappropriation of the mixte name. “Mixte” means, unsurprisingly, “mixed” or “unisex” in French. A mixte frame is a type of step-through bike frame, which is easier to ride if you’re wearing a dress, skirt or kilt, but it’s also convenient if you’re making frequent deliveries and getting on and off your bike a lot. In a mixte frame, two parallel smaller diameter tubes emerge from the head tube and align diagonally to an intersection with the rear dropouts along with the chain and seat stays. This makes for a firm ride and strong design that many riders of all genders prefer.
Soma began in San Francisco, which remains their home, and durability, comfort and smart design are their hallmarks. Frames and forks are all handbuilt from high-quality Tange Prestige steel tubing in Taiwan, which has become rightfully renowned for quality fabrication. Although Soma is a production company that doesn’t offer custom options, production numbers are fairly low (about 200-300 frames per model per year) and they stand by their products with a 3-year limited warranty for frames. Soma also strives to keep prices for its high-quality products reasonable and affordable.
While Soma’s cyclo-cross/gravel and mountain frames have gone full disc-brake, rim brake options remain for road frames, mixte frames and loaded touring models.
One of the standout models in Soma’s line-up is the Gran Randonneur frameset, designed with the help of Mike Kone of Rene Herse/Boulder Bicycles. It has all the hallmarks of a classic rando bike, designed for 650b wheels, with cantilever brake studs, mounts for three water bottles, rear rack and fender eyelets, and standard diameter Tange Prestige steel tubes.
The Gran Randonneur also features low trail geometry, which means it handles better with a front load – like the handlebar bags and headlights required by true randonneur events like Paris-Brest-Paris – than many other dedicated touring bikes.
Whichever frame style suits your fancy, Soma has a wide selection of parts available to build up your bike. And while you can order direct from Soma (at full retail price and no discount on shipping charges), they recommend that you order through their dealer network, or from your favorite local bike shop, who can do a special order with Soma.
Whether you’re toeing the line at Paris-Brest-Paris or hauling a load of laundry five blocks down the street, Soma Fabrications has a quality frame that will provide a strong base for many years of daily rides in your cycling discipline of choice.