Frame FAQs

If my question is not answered here, how do I contact you?
Please send technical e-mails to somainfo(at)somafab.com. Please allow 3 to 5 days for us to get back to you.

I checked your dealer listing. I don’t have a dealer near me. How can I get a Soma?
1) First thing you can do is ask your local bike shop to special order one for you. We sell many a frame this way. The shop can order through one of our distributors (several in the U.S.). This is what we prefer you do, since you get the best service/value that way and we want to support brick and mortar bike shops.

2) If that doesn’t work, try mail order. We have several outlets for that.

3) Thirdly, you can buy direct at The Soma Shop We do charge full retail at the online shop and don’t have shipping discounts, while at an local bike shop or mail order shop, you may find better deals, discounted shipping and offered better service. We always encourage you to support your local bike shop if possible!

Does Soma make custom frames?
No we do not. Affordability or Customization? We could only choose one. We found out there are plenty of folk who will weld a custom frame for you, but not many made a high quality steel frame at an affordable price. Buying a frame does allow you to customize your build, which is a key advantage for buying a frame instead of a full bike.

Can I order a stock frame unpainted?
Sorry we cannot do that.

If I repaint my frame, can you supply me new decals and head badge?
We do not stock the water-slide decals that go under the clearcoat in the USA. They have a very short shelf life. Time to time we may have vinyl downtube decals (not color-matched to any particular frame) New headbadges can be purchased at our online shop or ordered through a bike shop.

Where does Soma produce its frames?
They are designed in San Francisco. They are hand welded in Taiwan. Please note most big bike makers have moved most of their production to mainland China, which does not yet match the quality of  Taiwan. Because of continued investment over the decades, Taiwan probably has the most impressive infrastructure for bicycle and bicycle part manufacturing of any country.

What is the warranty on a Soma frame?
We offer a 3-year limited warranty against defects in manufacturing and workmanship. Limitations apply. Frame abuse and neglect negate the warranty. Forks have a one-year warranty.

If Somas are made overseas like most bikes, what makes a Soma more special than any other bike?
I’d have to say the thought put into it. Bradley Woehl, one of the founders of Soma, co-owns one of the most venerable bike shops in SF. He carries many top brands, but he felt they weren’t making the bikes that fit his customers. We have been about practical bikes from our inception. While other makers spend most of their brain power on windtunnels, suspension technology, or how to make something crazy light,  we are looking at the bike’s utilitarian beauty and coming up with efficient, comfortable-riding, stylish (and fast, too) solutions that don’t diminish that utilitarian beauty.
- Commuter/utilitarian appeal – eyelets and fender mounts on most frames
- Name brand high-tech steel instead of harsh riding ubiquitous aluminum
- Hand-welded, not robot-welded
- Low-key graphics that don’t make you feel like you are riding a billboard.
- A large size range so taller/shorter riders are not neglected.
- Affordable frame that one can custom spec components of their choice.
- Size specific rakes on forks

How many frames do you make a year?
Another factor that sets us apart from mass production bikes is that we are not mass production. While others may make 5000-15,000 units of a single model in a year, we will make only 200-300.

Why do you use steel, when most people are using aluminum?
What drives the bike industry to use mainly aluminum right now because of aluminum’s low price and relative light weight. But to put it simply, in $500 or less price range, a quality steel frame still offers better ride feel and strength characteristics than an aluminum frame.
Ride Feel: Aluminum generally transfers more road buzz and ‘shock’ to the rider than steel. The ride of quality double-butted steel is stiff and lively, without being harsh.
Durability: If you don’t abuse your steel frame, it will last for years. Steel has a finite stress limit below which fatigue does not occur, regardless of the number of cycles. Aluminum (including high-end Scandium) under stress will continue to fatigue until failure.

What is stronger– air-hardened steel or CrMo steel?
In terms of overall tensile strength, here is the order from strongest to weakest of common bike tubing steels (We currently use Tange Prestige heat-treated CrMo):
1. Heat-treated air hardened steel (micro-alloy)
(Reynolds 853, Columbus Foco, TrueTemper OXPlatinum)*
2. Heat-treated CrMo(Tange Prestige HT, TrueTemper Verus HT Reynolds 725)
3. Cold-drawn air hardened steel
(Reynolds 631)*
4. Cold-drawn 4130 CrMo(Reynolds 525, TrueTemper Verus,  Tange Prestige/Infinity)
5. High tensile steel(cheap dept. store bikes, cheaper bike shop bikes)
* Air-hardened steels actually gain strength in the weld area after welding, but not along the whole tube.

Is all double-butted CrMo tubing the same?
There has been a lot of internet chatter that bike brands who make their frames in Taiwan just use the same factories and there’s nothing to distinguish them from one another. Frankly that is just another case of folks who take a little bit of knowledge and then overgeneralize.<br> It is the same deal with tubing.  A double-butted tube is a tube that is thicker on the two ends than in the middle. The tube is thus stronger at the ends and there is more material in weld areas, which is desirable for a strong weld. <br>Tubing manufacturers can create tubes of varying wall thicknesses. <br>Thicker double butted tubing may be great for BMX and dirt jump and for keeping a frame’s price low, but you lose the springy, lively quality that steel is famous for. Super skinny tubes on vintage road bikes with super thin profiles may feel too flexy and whippy for some riders. We carefully chooses tube thickness and tubing diameters that preserve the ride quality of “good” steel, but we always take into consideration long term durability as well. <br>So brand A’s double butted tubing can vary a lot from Brand B’s (and we haven’t even discussed butting lengths, construction methods and heat treatment)

Are forks included or optional?
Forks are available, but optional on most models. You don’t have to take it if you already have your own.

What tire sizes fit your frames?
This is a loaded question since makers vary on their sizing… a 26c Panaracer may run noticeably narrower than a 26c Michelin. We offer a general max. size on each frame description page.

How much does it cost to ship frame if I buy from your online shop?
We cannot quote shipping as it varies from location to location, even frame size will affect shipping, because the box size is different. We use UPS. Our zip code is 94080 if you want to play with the shipping calculator. Expect it to be anywhere from $30 to $60 for ground shipping within the US.

Can you help me find my size if I give you my specs?
It is almost impossible to correctly size you over the phone or via e-mail. There are many variables involved besides standover height and seat tube length. Sizing is best done at a shop. We recommend you go to a reputable shop and get sized. Usually they will give you a sheet noting your ideal cockpit length and standover height and crank arm length after evaluating your body measurements, flexibility and the type of riding you plan to do. Armed with this information, you can better utilize the geometry information available on our website. If you have no intention of buying your bike at this shop, I would offer to pay them to size you up. However it is always best to try to get the bike from the shop. They can also help you find the correct saddle height and fore-aft position, stem height, etc. <br>Sorry, but e-mails regarding helping you find your size might not get answered.

I just bought a frame, is there any prepping needed before I start to build it?
We highly recommend you take your frame to a bike shop to be built. If you must do it yourself…You don’t want to start building a frame only to find something wrong with it in the middle of building. Check frame and fork alignment. Face the BB and headtube, if needed. Chase the BB if needed. Check for burrs in the seat tube that might score your seatpost. Optional: Treat the insides of the frame with J.P. Weigle’s Frame Saver for corrosion protection. If you do not have facing and chasing tools, try to look for resources in your area. In SF and other cities there are non-profit “bike kitchens” that let’s you go in and use their tools for free. And there are people there to answer questions as well.