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nice shop bike
Boulder Bicycle Lugged

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New 650b Tire from Soma! First Impressions



We've been getting some more mile in here - but the roads in Boulder are a bit challenging at times. There is a bit more snow than we've been used to. So I was excited to get a call from the kind folks at Merry sales, with the offer to demo a new Soma tire they are introducing soon. This tire is a 650b x 38mm . I figured it with its modest tread, it might offer a bit more grip in the snow than the Grand Bois Hetre. We should have this tire in-stock in about 5 weeks.

The Soma tire is made from some of the tooling that is being used on the new Pacenti 650b road tire. The tire is made by National, the folks who make Panaracer. The tread should look familar, it is very much like the tread on a Pasela. Also featured on this tire is the protective layer that Soma uses, which they claim resists punctures extremely well, but without the weight of Kevlar.


So how is this tire? The upshot is Mikey likes it! Overall, the tire is very comfortable, much more so than I expected, and it feels great riding down the road. Actually really nice. Going over bumps at speed, the tire takes the edge off of road imperfections like a champ. Plus, the bike feels fun to ride with them installed. And how is it in snow? Really nice! With the Gran Bois Hetre, snow was more of a challenge than I liked. This tire seems to provide much more grip. We haven't priced this tire yet, but it should fall out just under $40 or so give or take. So this folding nice-riding tire is at a great price point.


Is there a downside? Well yes - this tire doesn't feel as quick or lively as the Grand Bois Hetre. Trying to keep up with faster folks, I sense that the bike is holding me back a tad. But, do not let this worry you. This tire does exactly what it is intended to do - provide a great balance of puncture protection, comfort, grip, and modest price. For higher speed, the Grand Bois or the Pacenti tire is the fast ticket.

Also note that this tire really isn't a 38mm, it really meassures right around 35mm. This I'm told is due to the protective layer. So the Pacenti tire should still be a true 38. With nearly all 650b tires we've seen, this tire included, be sure the tire is well seated on the rim. Most folks including ourselves use Velocity rims, and tires can be a loose fit it seems. We carefully mount and inspect to be sure the tire is well seated, and we haven't had any problems. But you can have problems if you are not careful.

So for now, on the shop 650b Boulder Bicycle that is in heavy rotation here, these Soma tires will stay mounted, at least until spring. And if you aren't so worried about absolute top speed? Then these tires are a winner for year-round use.

M Kone in Boulder CO

3 comments:

  1. Dear Mike,

    That tire sounds like it hits a good place between the Panaracer Col de la Vie and the Hetre. The Col de la Vie really does squirm and buzz on dry roads a bit more than I'd like and the Hetre does not track well in slushy, rutted winter weather.

    A narrower tire helps keep the fenders from packing up with freezing slush as well. My 40mm Hetres max out the 57mm aluminum fenders I'm using, and they packed badly with car snot until I switched to the CdlV's, which measure 36mm on the Velocity Synergy rim. They still pack up under certain conditions, but it isn't a certainty every time one runs through a snowy section of road anymore.

    However, the CdlV's just don't have the ride feel or apparent performance of the Hetres, so there will be a swap as soon as weather permits.

    Thank you for the info on the Somas.

    Cheers,

    Will

    William M. deRosset
    Fort Collins, CO
    RUSA 2401

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  2. Will wrote:
    The Col de la Vie really does squirm and buzz on dry roads a bit more than I'd like

    ===========

    I don't feel that at all on my CdlV's. Maybe because they had some miles on them when I started riding them and were a little worn, or I'm just not sensitive enough to feel it.

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  3. Any word on when these may hit the marketplace? Looks like a promising tire that would help round out the 650b selection.

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