Thursday, May 9, 2013

Early Review: Soma New Xpress 650b Tires (in White)

At the close of summer, I started having some issues with my Grand Bois Hetre tires on the Hillborne. Specifically, I kept getting flats. I wasn't getting them once a month, or even once a week, but often multiples in the same day. It was incredibly frustrating. Rather than trying to figure out a method to line the tires or fill the tires with goo, I decided to simply put my Schwalbe Marathon tires back on the bike. The up side was that my fenders fit on the bike again (yay!), but the down side was that I really loved having cream tires and somehow the black ones just didn't "feel" right to me (boo!). It seems like a silly issue, I know, and truly the functionality of the bike is far more important than the color of the tires, but over the winter I went on a hunt to find some 650b tires in white or cream.
Soma New Xpress in 650b x 38mm - in white! :O)
One day, while engaging in my seemingly never-ending hunt for bicycle parts, I was on the SOMA website and saw that they had their New Xpress tires in the 650b size and in white (which is actually more of an off-white/cream color - I should also note that they are additionally available in a terra cotta color for those interested). I actually already owned these tires in black (they're on my Homer), and have been riding them for about eight months now without issue. So, I had to give it a shot to see if they would hold up on the Hillborne as well.

The Hillborne, as many are aware, is the bike I generally turn to for every day pleasure rides, grocery store visits, trail rides, and just about anything that isn't specifically a long training ride or a long road ride (and sometimes I use it for those rides as well). These tires would have a lot to live up to on this bike, but I was ready to test them out. Although they haven't been on the bike very long (in total, about 2 months now), they have been through the usual rigors faced on daily rides. I've been through the patch of road (several times) that inevitably has a huge spread of thorns/goatheads (that I also somehow miss seeing and run over... every - single - time), I've been on a couple of snow rides, and although the riding isn't quite at its peak just yet, they have held up incredibly well (they still have the little nubbies on them for goodness sake).

The good news: I haven't had a single flat tire (knocking on wood as I type). The tires are comfortable, allow for speed (or at least as much speed as one can pick up on a 40 pound bicycle), and are aesthetically  what I was looking for in a tire. As a bonus, they are narrower than the Grand Bois' and therefore, I can keep my fenders in place - which in turn keeps me clean on wet/muddy rides (Please note that the fender issue is specifically in regard to this bike because of its smaller size - not a general statement about Rivendell bicycles).
The Soma tires were cleaned after my snow rides, but the road grime just didn't seem to go away with a good scrubbing
The possible down side: White is a tough color to keep clean, and certainly after traveling through all of the snow madness, there was quite a bit of grime left on the tires to be cleaned off. After a thorough scrubbing, much of it still remains in the form of stains. I honestly don't mind this, but it could be bothersome to those who prefer an always-perfectly-clean look.
Inflate to 55-75PSI
In addition, for some, the low inflation pressure may be an issue. These tires inflate from 55-75 PSI and although I find it to be fine for every day riding, it wouldn't necessarily meet every individual's needs. There is enough debate about tire size/pressure out on the web though, so I won't get into that debate here. I tend to keep my tires inflated to about 70 PSI (or slightly higher) on this bike, and the pressure seems to stay for several weeks without needing to be pumped up again with the SOMA tires (I've noticed the range staying between 65-70PSI, even during Colorado's crazy spring season during which the temps frequently fluctuate between the low 30s and the mid 80s F).
Again, it's still early on in the life of these tires on the Hillborne, but having had a similar experience with them on the Homer over the last eight months or so, I feel comfortable using them as the every day tire. When goathead season hits in the late summer/early fall, I may opt for the Schwalbe's again, but for now, I'm extremely happy to have these New Xpress tires to ride on every day. Who knows? They may never need to leave this bike at all, which would be an amazing treat!

17 comments:

  1. I personally really prefer the Soma's over the Grand Bois, they are considerably tougher, and look just as good. I'll do anything for less flats, and that 1-2 weeks brought nightmares....

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    1. I agree. I think the Soma tires are actually more substantial. The Grand Bois tires are definitely comfy though, so if one doesn't have to deal with so many goatheads, I think they're a great choice too.

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  2. I'm so glad you wrote this review. I'm considering getting some of these for my Betty Foy (whenever I get the Betty Foy), and I've been wondering how they held up for you. Did you have to get new wheels to accommodate the difference in tire size?

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    1. Cecily - no new wheels needed. :O) I've had variances in width from 36-42mm on these without having a problem. The only issue with width I had was with fenders on wider tires because the frame is the smallest size they make for the Hillborne (of course, now the two smaller sizes are being discontinued). The Grand Bois were just so big that I had to choose between them and having the fenders on because of the clearance issue.

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    2. Boo. It looks like Soma's removed them from their website.

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    3. That's not good. Let's see... Did you go here? http://store.somafab.com/soma-new-xpress-650b-ti650.html I am able to add them to my cart (Though admittedly I did not try to go through the whole process of checking out). I have found that their website is sometimes a little bit sketchy. Sometimes just trying back at a later time seems to help.

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  3. Thanks for the info. I have been considering these tires, but I don't know anyone with any experience with them. Sounds like they are worth the money...

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    1. I think so, Jon. It's still early on, but they've done very well.

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  4. Great review and pics! I love seeing the white tires on your orange bike and I may have just convinced myself to get some of the white 700s for my All-City Space Horse.
    (Oh, and I am in Longmont too. Hi!)

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    1. Hi! Always nice to find fellow Longmontians.

      I really love the lighter colored tires personally, but I think some folks have difficulty with the reality that they almost always (okay, not almost - they always) look dirty. It's a price I'm willing to pay. :O)

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  5. Try Magic Erasers for clean sidewalls! Works like a charm.

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    1. Ooh, nice tip. I will have to give that a try! :O)

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  6. Great burnt orange colour on that bike...

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  7. For the moment, I ride Marathon Original 42-584 on my tandem, (Schwalbe mentions the weight that their tires can support and I choosed them for that reason..) ( Also I appreciate their egg shape ) But I still search for more rapid "pneumatics" .. This tandem has a czech DURATEC frame made to measure = short wheelbase, Shimano Br-77 disc brakes.. And finally soon to be tired with Soma Xpress 650b.

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  8. I am skimming through months of your blog only because I have a crush on that orange bike with the white tires.

    What a beautiful bike!!!!!

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    1. :O) He is a pretty steed! Thank you. I feel very fortunate to have it, and it's a great ride to boot.

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