Soma Lugged CX Disc Fork Tire Clearance
A while ago I posted some pictures of the tire clearance for this fork using 700c wheels – it swallows a 700cx42 no problem. I received a message a few days ago asking about 650b clearance and since I’ve been running a reverse mullet on my gravel bike with no problem here’s some quick pics. Tire is 650bx2.1 and is exactly 53mm wide. Clearance is 3-4mm from the fork crown.
So go get rad with the Double Cross Disc because it’ll take 650bx2.1 in the back too no problem.
Looks funny, works great
I was able to purchase perhaps the only one of these built in 2022, between supply disruptions.
Here’s a link to the webpage for the current model, the FCXCC02.
Fall 2021 someone posted a link to the POS catalog on Paceline and I was taken aback at how good the POS cyclocross bike looked. I had been riding my Schwinn Crosscut a lot and enjoying the cantilever brakes and cyclocross style geometry immensely – but felt that bike hamstrung by very stout frame tubing and fork as well as high overall weight. I wanted an upgrade, especially in the FV-22 racing paint scheme. The other thing that really attracted me was the tubing specs listed on the site:
None of the other frames I considered in this price range listed tubing specs – with the exception of Fairlight, but I didn’t want another disc bike. I wanted cantilevers and something unique.
I equivocated for a few weeks but when the Yen crashed I convinced myself it was time and put in an order. A couple months later the frameset showed up, where I promptly put it away for a year. During the waiting period my focus has changed and I didn’t have money, time, or energy to start a new bike build. So it sat.
Over the next year I was able to crystallize my plan for the bike. I sought out parts and a wheelset and worked at figuring out how to increase the rear clearance. Once my 2022 season ended I had my brother weld a tool for chainstay crimping and got to work. It was much more difficult to crimp the stays than I expected but I was eventually successful and had a good fit with 38mm tire. I had hoped to fit a 42mm but once I started working I was too nervous to damage the frame and think I will be fine with the slightly smaller tire size.
Getting the frameset built into a functional bike was a process. I had been able to cold set my Schwinn frames by hand to 135mm but the Panasonic was impossible. The stays moved in 3-5mm during the crimping process and it was all I could do to spread them back to 130mm. So I ended up spending an entire afternoon finding an old axle, realizing it was the wrong size, cutting it down to the right size, rebuilding one wheel to 130mm spacing and cold setting the Schwinn back to 130mm. A few days to relax and it was time to build the wheelset. I have trouble with radial truing so had been putting it off but an excellent article from Wheel Fanatyk put me on the right track. I was able to build the wheels true enough for rim braking. December – January I ended up building four different wheels – wheel for Double Cross mullet, MTB replacement wheel, and rim brake wheelset for FCX. What a crazy period – I got a lot better by the end!
So I had crimped the stays – including dropping the tool and chipping the paint on the seatstay – converted the backup wheelset to 130mm so it would fit, and started working on getting the bike to fit right with my preferred 17° stem.
Immediately I fucked up and cut the steerer 40mm shorter than I intended. I was so upset I had to put my head in my hands for a minute and just sit. I couldn’t believe I’d made such a mistake. I had a very compact emotional rollercoaster as I slowly recalled that I could get a 28.6mm quill adapter so it ended up being no problem (just $20) but the bike is about 100grams heavier now because of my error. Oh well.
After this I took about a couple hours to modify and install the SKS Speed Rocker fenders – great fenders for gravel or monster cross bikes. They need adjustment to fit this bike since the brackets are designed for disc bikes and go right where the posts are – no problem to fix with a tin snips, drill, and some time.
Since this is only my second new, ground up build, with new parts I weighed everything and made a little spreadsheet. I completely understand why people are weight weenies, but it would drive me crazy. Save 100g here by spending $166 on this crankset, save 80g here by spending $40 on these bottle cages – I mean sure if I had unlimited budget but I don’t.
Not super light, but a very light build for me. I could spend $300 and get it around 22 pounds (or planned better and only spent around $200 more buying lighter first) but like I said, I don’t really have the budget. This is good, it’s a little lighter than anything else I have.
It ended up taking about two weeks from when I started until the bike was built and ready to ride. Partially I wanted to savor the experience and partially I crashed and got hurt and also had to do an MTB race. My first ride was today and it was everything I wanted. The paint is amazing, the frame and fork ride great. The 50/34 11-36 is excellent gearing. Everything works and fits great. I love it.
Funny that the rims aren’t that deep but I was getting pushed around a bit by the hellacious headwind today. It’s been a long long time since that happened. I’m pretty happy with the build but I think as funds become available I’ll change the rest of the parts to silver, it looks good in silver or black but I think silver would be fun with the classic look.
So finally it’s built. I’m going to race it as much as I can. I’ve never had a bike this expensive, built from the ground up with the parts I want, that rides so well. I can’t wait.
First Ride Impressions:
If planing is real, this bike does! Stomping on the pedals on a flat section with a huge headwind feels good. The bike responds well to low-cadence pedaling at most riding profiles and attitudes. Getting behind on a shift doesn’t feel as draggy and stuck as with my stiffer bikes.
Conversely, the front end feels a little wiggly. Much more supple than any of my other bikes – except the 1987 Schwinn Le Tour – it’s going to take some getting used to. With my Crosscut I can slam the bike into any corner, paved or unpaved, and it’s going to hold the line with almost all the upset coming from the tires only – so steering feels secure. The downside is comfort and power transfer suffers.
On the FCX cornering feels a little less secure because the front end is effected by the fork deflection (and possible wheel?) as well. Combined with the stem/handlebars steering with high lean over rough terrain requires a slightly finer touch. I think I’ll get used to this quickly. For the gravel racing I’m planning pedaling comfort in a straight line or light maneuvering matters more. There’s almost no way (for me) to use maneuvering/descending to get a meaningful advantage.
Overall, as I said earlier, the bike is everything I want in a gravel race bike. 700cx38 in the rear, 700cx42 in the front. Supple frame and fork, cool paint, and lugs. It’s going to be great.
Second Ride Impressions:
This bike sucks! I had such a hard time getting on with it today. Prickly and confused, felt like I was in a fog all ride. Mystery click, bizarre handling issue, tire pressure giving me fits since my gauge didn’t fit. Just not a good ride.
Third Ride Impressions:
Stayed up a little late fixing things and getting fit dialed – determined the handlebars were mis-marked so the centering mark was ~5mm offset to the right. The “TR” logo should be centered under the blue line, not offset like below. I’ve had multiple handlebars with this issue, not sure what the problem is or why it happens but it’s common and irritating.
Corrected for this bias so the bars are actually centered, fixed the mystery creak, and fixed my tire pressure gauge to work with the short valve stems. Had a tremendous ride – this bike rocks! Rode 4 hours and missed almost all my 30 minute food alarms – was lost in pleasure. Planing all across the top end. I’ve been worried the handlebars are too wide but no longer. Had some great cornering on the gravel loop – even had a mild two wheel slide that was easy to enter and exit. I think with more aggressive front tire I would really be able to carve off-road. Have to remind myself this bike is to be bias towards straight line speed and courses with mild elevation changes. It’ll live with semi-slicks but the mind wanders…
Shimano Exage 300LX Front Derailleur Installation
All City Space Horse GRX 2022 Frame and Fork Weight
I bought this frameset earlier in the year as a backup in case my main gravel race bike failed. Now that it’s Autumn and I’ve had a successful race season to provide some clarity, I’ve decided to go in a different direction. Completely embracing retro-grouchery and planning the future around regular quick-release frames and wheelsets, PM/IS disc brakes.
No longer needing the All City with it’s flat mount discs and thru-axles, I sold it off. I weighed it before and woof.
55cm frame is 2550 grams (5.67 pounds) and the fork with 10″ of steerer is 1240 grams (2.73 pounds) – all weights without headset/seatpost/axles/etc. A shorter steerer would knock 100 grams off the fork, but otherwise that’s it. The bike is heavy for a gravel bike, about par for a modern “bikepacking” touring bike. The fork weighs almost the same as the Soma 29er MTB fork. There are a lot of mounts and things that add weight but even then the tubing must be so thick to get to such a weight. I wish I had the motivation to build it up and ride, just to see how it actually feels. But it’s a project I don’t need – and even if it rides great, it’s almost 2 pounds heavier than the Soma Double Cross in the same size. Who needs that?
Half a decade with the Fog Cutter
Would be interesting to have a longtime review of such versatile bikes, bikes bought years ago and ridden hard the entire time. Where’d they go? How well did they age? What life did they live?
The Fog Cutter fulfilled every wish I had for a do-everything, ride everywhere, anytime, any weather, bicycle. Sailing through the air on the first ride was a joy, and every ride since has been a pleasure. Choosing competition as the first testing ground I spent a few weeks riding criteriums with the bike. Bare of fenders and bags I rode round and round. My fat-tired, chrome fork’d, steel bike accepted by the racers – but stuck out like a sore thumb in the peloton.
Once proven in the crucible of 25mm tires, 53 tooth chainrings, and sprints of 40 miles an hour I pulled back and reconfigured the bike to reach it’s fullest potential. Fenders, never a hesitation to ride when the sky is dark and threatening. Lights for leaving at sunset on a whim for a 6 hour ride into the middle of nowhere for no reasons but all of them. A front rack and bag for carrying everything needed into the unknown maze of dirt and gravel along the Alabama Georgia border.
Everything I ever asked of it was done without hesitation. The bike rides as well as I day-dreamed – sitting in a noisy office, getting weaker by the day under fluorescent lights. Bursting out the door at 4pm to rush home so I could feel the connection to the world through my pedals. Master of everything on the road to happiness. Every second in the sun getting stronger, ready for another day.
We travel all over. A windy, dreary 200k in Southern Georgia, and then the next day in sunny Florida for a 70 mile ride all over Jacksonville. Across the country to the Northeast, riding through ancient Boston, lush green friendly Connecticut. Packed into a cheap Howard Johnson, closing the paper thin door to a sky ready to drop frigid late Spring showers, no problem with a handlebar bag ready for every piece of clothing needed. Always completely prepared for anything, dark streets through Holyoke Massachusetts bright beam of light guiding me on adventure. Day touring with friends on a blazing fast 150 mile ride to Chattanooga, quick turnaround and 130 mile ride back the next day. Legs screaming but the bike keeping me going up hill and dale.
Local rides to Atlanta, meeting friends, riding everything I can. Bouncing along active railroad tracks, flying through crowds next to the Beltline, exploring high and low points all over the city. Racing to Dallas and back in complete darkness under a full moon on the Silver Comet. Tires humming the whole time. Absolute frigid conditions, wearing every piece of clothing I could find on the bike, shaking so much it’s difficult to steer. The hottest Summer days when the Sun feels like it’s going to come down and crush me under it’s magnificent heat and light.
Four years of hard riding, on the Fifth I lost connection to the Fog Cutter. I wanted something else, I wanted to race more, feel the churn of rocks and dirt beneath the tires. Find success on the steep switchbacks of gravel and mud. Slick balloon tires and fenders and handlebar bag and low-trail just weren’t what I wanted.
Almost 9 months it sat unridden and unloved. Suddenly inspiration struck and the bike exploded back into my life. Flying through mud and down loose gravel with tremendous speed, the bike proves itself once again. Rain and mud in Alabama for it’s first race, hanging on for dear life as the bike goes sideways and all over on the slick descents.
Hundreds of miles of singletrack, fenders clunking here and there and finding the limits of the geometry. Rebuild the bike again, no longer an all-road randonneuring bike. Now it’s what I want, a pure gravel randonneuring bike. Do-everything, ride everywhere, anytime, any weather – and now, it does it F A S T.
Vintage Bicycle Weights
This guy at BF has been uploading magazine reviews from the 80s and early 90s for a few years. I thought it would be fun to put the listed frame and fork weights in a spreadsheet for a nice review of steel/aluminum/early carbon framesets. I made it open for sharing and commenting. Weight Weenies has a big listing of late 90s-early 2000s framesets so this fills a gap for earlier.
This is an interesting time period (1982-1992) where a lot of change can be seen – bike companies struggling to keep steel relevant in the face of Aluminum and then Carbon. MTB coming to terms with rigid steel bikes and then suspension. Attempts at ultra weight saving with 0.4mm straight gauge steel, and so on. The list has production and custom makers, there’s a Richard Sachs, some Bruce Gordons, Davidson, Serotta, Moulton, etc.
The weights vary in being listed as pounds.decimal and pounds, ounces – I left everything as formatted in the article. So if you want grams you have to convert yourself, for now. I also wasn’t really interested in complete weights until I got near the end so most of the bikes have a complete weight available, just have to look at the link. Frame size is centimeters for Road, inches for MTB, and either/or for the few Hybrids listed.
Hopefully this is useful, I think a lot of cyclists don’t know what is “heavy” wrt steel frames and forks – I certainly had a muddied idea – and seeing a huge sample from the sunset of production steel bikes helped with my own edification. I’m going to try to fill in a little more on the “modern” tab when I can. Listed some stuff that was easy to find for now.
Soma 29″ MTB Fork Review
I bought this to try to make my 100mm dropbar hardtail a little more sporty for mixed terrain riding. With the thought that it could replace my gravel bike for much of my weekly monstercross riding and hopefully extend the life of that bike.
The fork is obviously heavy but not overly so. For comparison, the regular steel Soma gravel/disc fork is around 900 grams and the low trail disc fork around 950 grams. This fork is the same weight as the Masi Speciale Randonneur fork – which is a significantly smaller fork ostensibly designed for road and light gravel. Evidence that production companies didn’t get the randonneur bike or weren’t able to economically produce it while meeting safety testing standards.
Regardless, the weight is good for this type of fork. Check the size compared to a Soma Wolverine fork, the MTB fork is big and beastly.
Installation was simple, knocked on the crown race, cut the steerer, put the brake on and ready to go.
So, how does it ride? Really well, it’s stiff but not nearly as much as I expected and pairs fittingly with a 2.35″ tire. I am perhaps 10 seconds slower per mile on singletrack than when the bike had a 100mm fork. Time gained climbing, slightly faster on flats, slower on descents and chunky stuff.
Now, the whole point of this exercise was to make the bike less MTB and more Gravel – which is mainly a feel thing. I wanted the bike to feel more sprightly on the flats and climbs. Indeed it does but the tires are still limiting, 2.35″ I think is just a little too big for the idea I had. I’m going to try a 2.25″ in the back and if that works well, in the front too.
Overall this was a success. It wasn’t quite as transformative as I hoped but definitely moved the bike closer to what I was thinking. The bike is fun to ride and different enough from the suspension fork that it fits a slightly different purpose. I’m thinking of a doing a 100 mile ride with 25 miles singletrack, 35 miles gravel, and 40 miles road. Something I wouldn’t be interested in using this bike for if it still had the suspension fork.
2021 Soma Double Cross Disc Part 1
The final evolution of the disc brake, quick-release, 1 1/8″, steel, gravel bike.
Pictured with SKS Speedrocker fenders for regular non-racing riding.
I’ve been wringing this bike out since late-May, testing it’s mettle on everything from mixed terrain centuries, middle-distance gravel road races, backcountry wilderness mountain gravel races, monster crossin’, and regular boring road riding. It’s answered every call exceptionally well. Going by the Soma site this would be V4 of the Double Cross Disc models.
V1 Double Cross DC Slick Black (???-2012)
V2 Double Cross Disc Old Gold/ Slick Black (2013-2017)
V3 Double Cross Disc Sky Silver (2018-2020)
V4 Double Cross Disc Matte Purple (2021-Current Year)
Previously I had the V2 and loved it. The short head tube was an aesthetic challenge but that was my only complaint. The bike rode and raced well. The V4 is a better bike in every way, except the paint and color.
Geometry – huge improvement. Stack is high but not too high, slightly decreased head tube angle for a little more trail and a little less reach. Overall more of a all-road bike than a cyclocross racer.
Tubing – The biggest improvement is the tire clearance. The chainstays are bent and dimpled for loads of clearance. The oval top tube seems to do it’s job, the bike planes well on the road and really comes alive on singletrack and gravel. Only on the longest, fastest, roughest gravel downhills found in North Georgia has the bike gone a little too wiggly – even then only on the roughest parts. Overall it’s a good compromise – stiff enough but not too much. V4 definitely has a lot more flex in the rear triangle, shifting my weight around I can make the rear brake adapter washer rub on the rotor while rolling along. This is about 1mm-1.5mm of movement that happens without pedaling and merely keeping one leg down and putting a little english through my hips into the saddle. I’m not a super power rider and this doesn’t seem to affect the ride (in a negative way) but I did notice this over the V2. This has to be the additional bending and dimpling, the V2 had much straighter and more round stays, at the cost of tire clearance.
I stuck with the regular lugged CX fork from Soma, the unicrown fork is not to my tastes although it might be stiffer if one is looking for that.
The only thing I really don’t like is the paint. It’s very thin and already I have some chips down to the steel. Recall that my V2 bike had almost no paint damage in 6,000 miles of off-road riding. I’ve got barely 1,200 miles on this V4 and already some bare steel is showing. I also find the color drab and difficult to accessorize. It’s ok, but I preferred the rich black or shiny gold of prior V2.
The biggest thing for me is that the bike fits better and is more fun to ride because of it. Riding and racing the 2021 model is more like sitting inside a fighter jet or a race car. In control and interacting at a close level to everything. The 2015 model I had before was more akin to being perched on top of an open top go kart, reacting to what is happening underneath. Lots of speed and lightness but feeling less in control. Not necessarily bad, just different – still love the V2.
I made this chart to get some comparisons down compared to the V2 Double Cross Disc and V1 Fog Cutter. I think all three bikes meet their design brief well, but obviously some are better at some things than others.
If I only rode road and gravel I’d have just the Fog Cutter. Road, gravel, monster cross is the perfect call for the Double Cross Disc. The Fog Cutter just doesn’t have the stiffness and tire clearance when things get really rough. Which is fine, it’s a excellent pure all-road bike. The Double Cross Disc is for something more, especially with the giant tire clearance. I’ll dive in with a later post but the tire clearance is big. 650bx2.1 in the rear with a good bit of clearance and in the front with 2-3mm of clearance. The unicrown Double Cross fork or the Wolverine fork would fit the bigger tires but are both a little heavier and maybe less supple.
Anyway, the bike is great. If you want a bike that is beefy enough for off-road riding without being overly stiff and still fun for road riding the 2021 Double Cross Disc is a good choice. Fork options give the ability to have everything from low-mid trail, high-mid trail, and high trail; to dial in the geometry to your preference.
Addendum; I saw this recently on Riverside Green and it really struck a cord:
Reviewing your own cars is usually a big no-no. When a person plunks down their own hard-earned cash, it makes things personal. And when things are personal for a reviewer, there are usually just two outcomes. They either love their car with all their heart or they hate it with such a passion that they want it, and all others like it, excised from the planet. Extreme examples, of course, but even when they do their best to moderate their passions, self-reviewers still tend to skew one way or another. That leaves it to the reader to sort fact from fiction. But hey, no problem! Americans are good at spotting spin, right?
As a counter to my overly positive framing in what I wrote above, let’s take a step back and look more critically at the 2021 Double Cross Disc. The things I didn’t like; headtube angle change/geometry, stiffness losses, sizing oddness.
The biggest thing is the slightly slacker headtube angle from V2 – 72° to 71.5° puts the bike right over the edge into high trail where wheel flop is an issue. Essentially the bike is very stable descending in a straight line but does not corner as well – especially in the wet/loose – and requires a lot more attention while climbing technical sections. Much of this is personal preference, I’ve long preferred shorter trail (but not low trail) for regular bikes, both road and off-road. Seems absurd looking at the numbers but a 10% change in wheel flop is a big change.
Next is the stiffness issue. The bike is less stiff than the V2 model, a fair compromise for bigger tire clearance in my opinion but still less than ideal. I think with the heavily bent and dimpled chainstays thicker tubing for the chainstays would improve the ride significantly without effecting much of the ride feel. Again, not a major issue, just something I noticed. I also think the bottom bracket is too low but that’s really tilting at windmills.
Last, the geometry is kind of strange. I rode a 52cm V2 with a +7° 90mm stem + 12mm spacer. To get close to the same fit on the 2021 I ride a bigger 54cm frame with -17° 105mm stem slammed. The reach for same sizes is way shorter, which for a off-road bike I think is a mistake (Update: Turns out the 2021 model actually has 390mm reach for size 54). I’d like to see the reach pushed out a bit to center the bike around an 80mm stem, this would work better with the slacker headtube – the 2021 has a slacker headtube as well as shorter effective tt which makes the reach shorter than is could be. Combined with the tall head tube the bike is fit more endurance road than gravel.
I really don’t have anything bad to say, just stuff I noticed and differences – that didn’t keep me from buying the bike and enjoying it. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again.
Specialized Pathfinder Pro – The Winningest Gravel Tire
It really is the best. Fast, grippy, long wearing. This tire has 2200 miles of singletrack and gravel and would still have a ton of life left if not for a unfortunate sidewall cut. Excellent tires, they’ve won more gravel races than any other tire.
More 1990s Hybrid models for Gravel Conversion
Some real gems in the list below, this is from 1992. Many of these models were made for a few years in the early 1990s.
And a note about older cantilever touring frames