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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know it's formally a hard tail MTB, but heck I mainly commute on it so here's the skinny. I bought the Groove from my LBS a couple months ago. Frame only. Then I ordered a custom fork from Waltworks in CO. I wanted a rigid fork with lots of rack bosses, and custom was only about $50 more than OEM.

Sorry the pictures are a little distorted - the point & shoot was set on wide angle and I was too lazy to adjust.
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Groove / Waltworks

The fork is "suspension corrected" for an equivalent 80mm fork. All that means is I can swap it out for a 3" sus'fork and the handling/geometry will be the same. Walt was a pleasure to deal with. Professional and courteous.

I don't recall asking for a disk mount on the fork, but Walt probably included one just for future flexibility. A funny thing happens to the dropouts when a fork is disk-specific. Can you tell what?

The upper and dropout bosses are custom matched to a Bruce Gordon front "mountain" rack. The middle boss is located to accept a Tubus Tara traditional lowrider rack. I'll follow up another day with photos of the BG rack and commentary.

I love the "segmented" fork crown. It's a bit medieval looking. The gap isn't so big with fat 2" knobbies mounted.
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Soma Groove / drivetrain

I migrated some parts from my old energy sink (mtb), and bought the rest of the parts "new old stock" at about half the original retail prices. My guess is that the XT drivetrain is a mix of mid 1990's components - the FD is older than the RD and crank. My wife's Rock Lobster has a full XT 739 kit, which is a lot better looking than the slightly newer versions I have here.

Sorry there's so much dirt on the frame - but you know how it goes with black paint. Also proof that it was virtually raining in LA last week (see my post from then).
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Groove / cockpit

Here are some shots of the cockpit. The moment I saw a photo of these new "Midge" dirt drop bars from On-One, I knew I had to try them. Guess you could say I'm a roadie at heart, and the old flat bar just seemed so limited both on asphalt and in the dirt. If you want to learn more about the Midge, go over to the MTBR forum and search for "Midge" and you'll learn a lot. The drop totally changes stem rise/reach requirements, so it looks odd at first but then the position is perfect.

These bars are wider than road drops. They're great for offroad such as singletrack, and also great when climbing unseated or with loaded panniers. They're a little wide for road riding since it puts your arms in a Superman position (catching a lot of wind), but for 20 mile commutes it's a non-issue.

You may have noticed the SON dynohub in previous pictures. I mount the headlight high on the handlebar so it's aimed right in motorists faces/windows/mirrors. The safest way to commute on the street is in their faces!
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Groove / why?

So why did I retire my old energy sink and get a Groove? Well my KHS Alite 4000 hardtail really treated me well and it was a fine ride. Fast, light and nimble. Got about 8 years out of it. But without rear rack bosses there was always a lot of sway with panniers - no matter how solid the p'hooks. When we did a dirt road pannier tour last year, I decided that I wanted a true luggage hauler instead of a nimble aluminum race frame. Then I thought about it for a year before finally committing!

Last year I spent some big bucks on a semi-custom sport/tour road frame. Paid extra for custom paint and couplers. The jury's still out on that investment, if you happened to read my post on that subject. Anyway, I just couldn't justify breaking the bank on a glorified commuter bike (would always be my second love, not first). So given that I wasn't looking for a lugged frame, the Soma was simply the nicest, simplest, low cost Reynolds steel frame meant to haul luggage. Frankly I can't believe how clean and well executed this frame is. My photos don't do it justice. The Tig welds are almost as nice as Double-A's full custom. I think the stays are identical. And the handling seems pleasantly neutral (Soma says laid back - who knows - maybe it is).
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Groovin' with luggage

So here's a better look at the caboose. Those are my bright blue Jandd "economy" panniers (a.k.a. briefcases). One holds U-lock, cable lock, tools and change of clothing for the office. The other holds a tube bag with keys, wallet, sunglasses, phone, thumb drive, subway change; plus work papers, a bound pad or two, and other stacks of paperwork that gets hauled around but rarely needed. I carry that pannier every day, regardless of whether I ride, drive or take the subway.

I wanted a bulletproof steel rack and Tubus would have been ideal. But with so much black paint, I made efforts to get some polished components wherever possible. So when I saw the Nitto "Mt. Campee" rack at my LBS discounted almost a third, I jumped on it. It's beautiful, clean and classy, and almost as rigid as the Tubus on my touring bike. Plenty strong for 20 lbs. of camping gear and a short stack of fire wood on top!

The rear bosses on the dropouts are well positioned, and the rear disk mount doesn't interfere (but who knows what would happen if I used a disk instead of cantis). No photo - but the rear dropouts are a nice hooded type. The upper rack bosses are double sided, long and bulletproof. It's a solid system and I'm very happy with it.
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Soma wrapup

Oops - I ran out of pictures. Time to wrap it up.

This is a really nice frame - a sleeper in my opinion - that probably 75% of the hard tail riding public would like but won't ever see in a bike shop. What a steal at $370! The ride is smooth, balanced, and has that nice "steel feel". It might be a half pound heavier than my old aluminum frame, but it doesn't matter to me and I don't notice a thing when in motion.

I'll follow up later this summer with a review of the Bruce Gordon front mountain rack, and the huge Carradice Super-C rear panniers that I just got. Can't wait to go dirt road touring out on Catalina Island in July! Here's a teaser from last year's trip...
 

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3,129 Posts
I don't know how you do it--first you found that Co-Motion dealer, and now you found a Soma dealer in SoCal? I'll bite...who is it? I called every dealer they listed around here, with no luck. Sure like to get a replacement for my Double Cross.
 

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I think most custom made forks w/ disc specific or disc equiped bikes have forward facing dropouts. Sweet ride. What kind of bar wrap are you using. I"m also big fan of the Midges. Really comfy bar if you get it in the right position. That rack is cool!
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
exclusive custom bar wrap

Bicycle John in Burbank can order Soma frames. He's my LBS and he's a pleasure to deal with. John supports a lot of community events so I was inclined to give him a shopping list of components - but they fumbled some of the small stuff and I ended up mail ordering a derailleur and brakes. There's a guy at the shop named Scott who's really into touring, versatility, racks and steel frames. A refreshing change from the racer types.

The bar wrap is custom. The left side is 26x1.25 inner tube with ends cut off. The right side is 26x2.1 tube. The thinner tubes wrap better. It's a temporary provision until I'm sure the position/reach is correct, and I'm also waiting to install some Tektro interrupter levers. Once that's set, I'll probably wrap with cork tape first, and maybe cotton tape on top. Might be nice to have some extra cushion for offroading since that front fork is rigid...
 

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Big is relative
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11,901 Posts
Very Nice

I put a jogger sash/belt around my bag for visibility. I saw that you had ankle biters hanging from your seat. I found that putting the belt around the bag put it directly in front of headlights. Aren't Somas great? I love mine.
 

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N. Hollywood, CA
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754 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
illuminating thoughts (maybe!)

fbagatelleblack said:
...Tell me about that front dynohub, if'n you get the chance...
The Schmidt/SON dynohub ain't cheap to buy, but it's utterly reliable. The first service interval is ~30,000 miles. Replacement halogen bulbs cost about $14 and I haven't burnt one out in a year. I don't notice any resistance with the light off. Resistance with light "on" is reportedly equal to five feet of elevation gain in a mile (a slight effort = training). I flick that toggle switch on whenever passing through a conjested intersection, no matter how bright a day. I use the light more because I never worry about burning up a limited battery charge.

Now I have dynohubs on the roadie and the energy sink. I don't leave home without them. Those shiny machined hubs look really cool in the sunlight and they get nice comments from the cruiser crowd too!
 
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