The latest bicycles to leave the store this week are a pair of Soma Mixte framed, light touring bikes. I was approached some time ago to come up with a bike design for a couple in Arizona who are long time cyclists, preferring the drop bar style of riding but wanting something a little different and more relaxed. The Mixte design surely fits the bill… This frame design has always been a favorite of mine, there is just something about the twin top tubes and the multiple triangles that I have always liked. The design itself has been around for decades, I think I am correct in saying it is of French origin, certainly the name is French, “mixte” meaning mixed, which refers to the fact the bicycle was for both men and woman.
Over the years the design has remained pretty much unchanged. Most of your major bicycle companies have had a ‘Mixte’ bike in their respective catalogs. Raleigh even have a couple of options at the moment, the ‘Carlton’. However, the geometry usually employed is very much of a recreational nature. Here is where the Soma frame really shines as it is more of a well thought out design with geometry lending itself to a drop bar build. So with the frames decided upon, here is what we did.
Firstly pairing the frame to a matched carbon fork with a rake that further enhances the ride qualities that we are after. Obviously disc tabs as we will use a disc brake setup.
Wheel choices next. For the ladies bike we went for Shimano XT 8000 hubs. 135mm qr at the rear and 100mm qr at the front. Spokes are DT Swiss Champion, custom cut and threaded, nipples DT Swiss brass. The rims are DT Swiss R500’s. The gentleman’s bike is the same configuration except for the rim, which is a Velocity "‘Dyad’. The rotors are centerlock 160mm front and rear. All laced up 36 hole and 3 cross pattern.
The gearing is different between each, the gents bike runs an traditional compact double 50-34 and 11-32 cassette. The ladies bike runs a smaller chain-ring setup of 46-30 as she is more of a spinner.
Disc brakes are Shimano hydraulic units running mineral oil. These have been plumbed into the levers using Jagwire high pressure hose and modified fittings, the gold fitting onward. The hose color is orange on the mens and blue on the ladies.
Now you can see the color schemes in all their glory. The Brifter units are Shimano non series RS 400s they are mechanical shift and hydraulic brake. I picked these particular units as the ergonomics suit the handlebar design, which are Salsa Cowchipper II. Incidentally, the shifters are a new design and have a unique pull ratio and have particular requirements for rear derailleurs, of which there is only one, some frustration on my part before I realized this…We all have off days.
Another essential requirement for the ladies bike was some form of dampening, We did not want a standard suspension, that would give a much to squishy feel and ruin the ride completely. Just something to mellow out the vibration. Initially the idea was to use a Lauf gravel fork. For anyone familiar with those you know how good they are for just this kind of situation, unfortunately they did not make a fork with a rake and steerer tube to meet our needs here, so, we did something a little different we attacked the problem at both ends. On the stem we have used something relatively new, a “ShockStop” stem from Redshift Sports. These things are pretty neat and are tunable to rider weight using a mixture of different elastomers in various configurations inside the stem. We have set this one up perfectly for the rider. They come in many lengths and angles and for anyone looking for a little bit of dampening at the front end they are perfect. At the opposite end we have something else completely new, this time from the good folk at Cane Creek. For anyone that doesn’t know Cane Creek are suspension specialists, they have some very high end bouncy stuff, some of which will feature in our next set of builds, stay tuned for that, in this instance though it is their latest “eeSilk” seat post. These things are fantastic, again it is not what I would call a suspension post with that full bouncy feel but more of a dampener, just there to take out the vibration. Again, this is also tunable with the use of various elastomers and has been set for the rider. A little side note here, you can play around some with these elastomers, I set the elastomers for the riders weight using the manufacturers guide and then I test rode the bike. I outweigh the new owner 2 to 1 but honestly I did not find the setup too soft, so my takeaway from that is you can tweak the compliance to your preference a little softer or a little firmer. Anyone interested in making a gravel or trail bike a little less jarring needs to consider these two devices, they really are great additions to the bike. Just come in or call me if you want to know more about them.
These bikes certainly deserve the title ‘unique’, however they hit all the design parameters. They have the responsiveness of a road bike, are very comfortable and I mean extremely so and they have the low stand-over height. The frame sizes are 61cm and 58cm, that is effective not actual. The 61 fits me like a glove and the Cowchipper bars give multiple hand positions. All in all I am pleased with the result and they are a good example of what is achievable with the many frame options out there today. Just got to think outside the box a little.
Just a note on pronunciation; Commonly in the USA we pronounce Mixte as “Mix-Tee”, two syllables with plenty of hit on each one. In French it really should be pronounced as “Meexed” more softly and one syllable.