Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Soma ES Deux-Over

Two and a half years ago, I wrote here about my initial impressions of the Soma ES. I was completely infatuated with this bike and I never really did put a finger on what exactly it was that created such joy. I don't think it hurt that I felt fast and yet stable when I rode, and I was pretty comfortable as well. Unfortunately for the ES, I was in the midst of a bicycle meltdown and the ES only remained long enough to get me through late winter, spring and most of summer until my first custom built bicycle arrived. I had decided that to help finish paying for the custom, it made perfect sense to sell the ES frame and the majority of its components.
The original Soma ES on a ride in early March 2014
If I'm completely honest, the sale of the ES took place near the start of bicycle heartache and headache, as well as a great deal of two-wheeled turn over in my personal bike fold. Part of me was always looking to replace the feelings I had on the ES, but I was convinced it could be even better. If I was willing to spend more or go through the custom process, surely I would be even happier on the other side, I believed.

As you may recall, the custom process turned into quite a disaster and the last couple of years have been spent attempting to not only recover from injuries but trying to find a road bike that would work for me once again. We in our household had discussed the idea of re-purchasing the ES frame (and it had even been suggested by a couple of readers in messages via email), but it never seemed to be the right time or I would continue to look, thinking that something else would come along.

One day in June of this year, Sam came home from work and said, "I have an early birthday present for you!" Since my birthday was months away, I was a little perplexed, but Sam had alluded in earlier conversations to having a fix for a problem I was experiencing riding. So, as I followed him out to our family room, I presumed he had picked up a part for me to try out.

As I reached the room, there sat a fully built Soma ES. I have to admit, I was a bit confused.
"I didn't go to work today," Sam began. "I ended up going out to my dad's place and building this up for you."

"Okaaay..." I drug out, sounding completely confused, I am quite sure.

Beyond my confusion about how this had all taken place without me having any clue, I noticed that this wasn't built up with leftover components that we had stashed somewhere; this was complete Shimano Ultegra from wheels to drive train and I was mentally trying to put the pieces together in an attempt to fathom what was going on.

"I looked at the old photos of your ES, so I think it's close to being set up the way it needs to be, and I know you'll want different pedals, but those were the only ones I could find," Sam continued.

I don't know that I had the exact reaction one would hope for when receiving such an incredibly thoughtful gift because I was still trying to figure it all out. Of course I was excited, but I also wasn't sure this was a necessity. I was doing well riding the BDB Pelican and while I had thought and talked about possibly getting a strictly faster-paced road bike, I didn't expect it to be sitting in our house at this very moment.
After I recovered from the shock of realizing this was now my bicycle (again), I took it for a ride. At first I was hesitant to get on it. What if it wasn't everything I had built the ES up to be in my memory? What if today this bike no longer worked for me?

As I started to pedal, I instantly remembered why I enjoyed the ES so much. With the first build, it was initially put together using random pieces and parts from other abandoned or sold projects, but it was later fitted with a mostly SRAM Red groupset. I knew this bike had capabilities with both higher end and lower end components though as I have several personal best time records that were achieved riding the first Soma ES with two very different levels of components.
I have to say, I was surprised that I liked the frame color of this ES. It's not the currently available Pacific Blue option, but the former hue called "Cappuccino." I have seen many builds of this bike online and on the Soma website and thought the color looked rather dull and washed out. In real life, the color is far more saturated, appearing much more true-to-cappuccino color. I think the pink accents actually work nicely with it as well.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a short rant-tweet about my "pink" bar tape that wasn't pink. I was using some old bar tape for a short stint while waiting for an order from a British bike shop that had pictured online a light pink Brooks bar tape. I had never seen this color in person and was excited to have a different color, but when it arrived it was actually the darker raspberry color I have on my Hillborne handlebars. The bike shop offered to pay for return shipping and did apologize profusely, but I ended up liking the darker color with this build so I kept it.

As for the ride, I still enjoy the ES just as much (and perhaps even more given recent history) as I did in the past. There has been a small amount of tweaking to the set up since the initial build, but overall, Sam did pretty good for someone using photos as his sole reference. When I ride the ES I have the same thoughts I did in the past... it's just an easy to ride and enjoy bicycle. I don't have to push it if I'm not in the mood or I'm feeling like just going slow and enjoying the scenery, or I can pump it up a notch (or several) and find myself speeding down the road.

So, to those who encouraged me to try this option again and to Sam who had the foresight to move ahead without a lengthy discussion, I thank you. It's been fun to re-explore this bike and I'm pretty certain this time it will stick around, regardless of what other options may be added in the future. The bottom line is, it's a fun bike and I'm happy to have this Soma ES "deux-over."

12 comments:

  1. How lovely of Sam to surprise you with such a thoughtful gift. Hope you enjoy it! It makes sense to buy a bike you know worked for you in the past. How are your injuries? Better?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is a fantastic guy, and I am enjoying it. :)

      Injuries are still coming along. I'm learning to adapt and work around things, and always looking for new ways to make my body stronger.

      Delete
  2. I love the look of your gift! TBH, I was not originally a big fan of the cappuccino color, but it really works nicely with the pinks/deep reds of your set-up. I look forward to reading your future reports on this bike.

    I read a lot of positive reviews of the ES, and mention of the comfort (yet still speedy) of the ride. Reminiscent of the sport-touring geometry of the bikes of the 70/80s that I am fond of. I have had my eye on the ES frames for a while, and they make them in a 66cm size, which is pretty uncommon.


    Wolf.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am with you, Wolf. I was not in love with the cappuccino color either, but I think it looks so much nicer in person than the photos I've seen (even those that I took it still doesn't look quite the same). I think most builds I've viewed have been accented with black or white and I think it helps to bring a bit more color to contrast the frame's color.

      The ES is a fantastic frame/bike and I would agree with your assessment. It's so great that Soma does both small and tall bikes so that there is a range to fit many different heights.

      Delete
  3. I wish I were married to Sam -- and I'm a dude!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. {laughing} You would not be the first! :)

      Delete
  4. Sam is a rock star partner.

    Nice bike!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations on your new/old Soma! Glad to see you enjoying it again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm happy to have reacquainted with it too.

      Delete
  6. Wow. As I read your post, I truly could not believe that Sam would buy and build you a bike...until I realized that my own spouse would never do such a a thing! (And to be fair, I've been changing my mind about bike preferences and gear so much over the past few years that my own spouse doesn't know me in that respect anymore)...Sam knows you so well and wants to make you happy. You are a lucky girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very thankful to have Sam in my life and that he does know me so well. Normally, I wouldn't encourage a partner to buy a bike for their housemate (especially if s/he is just trying to push his/her own likes/dislikes on the partner), but it worked out very well in this situation. :)

      Delete

Word verification is on, but I've turned off the moderation portion in an attempt to make it easier for you to know that your comment has indeed made it through. We'll see how this goes, but I'm hopeful that this will help out and I'll try my best to weed through and remove spammers comments. Additionally, I recommend copying comments before hitting publish as the "blogger comment eater" seems to continue his snacking.