Soma Frame FAQs

If my question is not answered here, how do I contact you?

Please send technical e-mails to somainfo(at) 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. At a local bike shop or mail order shop, you may find better deals, discounted shipping and  better service. We always encourage you to support your local bike shop if possible!

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. We have finally started offering a general size guide based on height, but it is not a perfect guide. There are many variables involved besides standover height and seat tube length.

We recommend you go to a reputable shop and get a “Bike Fit”. 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. It is like getting an eye glass prescription.

If you don’t have a shop near you that does “Bike Fits”, try an online Bike Fit Calculator like the one on the Competitive Cyclist website. It is decent for typical performance road bike or MTB bikes, but you will need to extrapolate results if getting a touring bike or using alternative handlebars.

Sorry, but e-mails regarding helping you find your size might not get answered.

Does Soma make custom frames?

No we do not. Affordability or Customization? We could only choose one.  Buying a Soma frame does allow you to fully control your parts build, which is a key advantage for buying a frame instead of a complete off-the-rack bike, so while you are not getting a made-to-measure frame in a color of your choosing, you are getting something that ought to fit you better than an off-the-shelf complete 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 many decades, Taiwan probably has the most impressive infrastructure for bicycle and bicycle parts 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 wind tunnels, 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 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.

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 aluminum has become more affordable?

What drives the bike industry to use aluminum right now because of aluminum’s low price and relatively light weight. But to put it simply, in $600 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 correctly designed 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 about carbon fiber?

Carbon fiber has come a long way since the early 2000’s. Manufacturers with sophisticated lay up techniques can tune a bike’s stiffness and ride characteristics very well. And a steel frame can never be made as light as today’s carbon frames. If you are a serious racer, carbon is what you want. However the well-designed carbon frames are much more expensive than a Soma. Cheaper carbon frames usually ride too stiff. And even though carbon has some incredible strength and fatigue characteristics, most cyclists would be more afraid to crash a carbon bike vs. a steel bike.

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,  TrueTemper OXPlatinum)*
2. Heat-treated CrMo(Tange Prestige HT, TrueTemper Verus HT, Reynolds 725), Columbus Omnicron and Niobium Micro-Alloy steel (old Columbus Life)
3. Cold-drawn air hardened steel
(Reynolds 631)*
4. Cold-drawn 4130 CrMo(Reynolds 525, TrueTemper Verus,  Tange Champion)
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. It is the same deal with tubing.
The Basic idea: 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.

But There Are Many Variances:

  • Tubing manufacturers can create tubes of varying wall thicknesses.
  • Butted sections can be long or short to tune performance and cut weight further.
  • Thicker double butted tubing with long butting may be great for BMX, dirt jumping and for keeping a frame’s price low, but you lose the springy, lively quality that steel is famous for.
  • Tubing manufacturers can create tubes of varying diameters and shapes
  • Super skinny tubes on vintage road bikes with super thin profiles may feel too flexy and whippy for some riders. Today’s steel bikes usually have wider diameter down tube and top tube versus those.

So Brand A’s double butted tubing can vary a lot from Brand B’s (and we haven’t even discussed construction methods and heat treatment).
We carefully choose tubing gauges and tubing diameters that preserve the ride quality of “good” steel, but we always take into consideration long term durability as well.

Are forks included or optional?
Forks are available, but optional on most models. On most of our models, you don’t have to use ours 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.

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. Chase the BB. Check for burrs in the seat tube that might score your seatpost.  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.

Do I need an anti-rust treatment on Soma frames?
Older frames can benefit treating the insides of the frame treated with J.P. Weigle’s Frame Saver for corrosion protection. Newer frames where you can see a black coating on the bottom bracket shell do not need this.