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New Frameset Suggestions

5912 Views 35 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  hydrogeek
I am looking for some frameset suggestions for a new commuter bike. I am currently riding a rigid MTB with v-brakes as my commuter. I live in Portland where it rains a lot, very infrequent snow, lots of climbing and descending, and some rough roads. I am going through a set of v-brake pads in about 6 weeks and rims once a year. I would love to move to disc brakes.

Here are some of my general requirements:

1. Steel frame (love the smoothness and durability)
2. Drop bar capable
3. Disc brakes capable
4. Rack and fender capable
5. Can fit 32's with fenders
6. Double as a bike that I can club ride or do centuries on
6. Affordable

I have been looking at the following so far:

1. Kona Honky Tonk Inc. - might no take 32's with fenders, have to check on this
2. Soma DC disc - fits the bill just right but I read about issues of breaking chainstays
3. Surly Karate Monkey - a bit on the heavy side
4. Kona Sutra - very heavy and maybe overkill for my needs

Does anyone have comments on any of these choices or recommendations for others that I should be looking at?

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Soma DC disc

I like the frame. The head tubes kinda low so I went from a 390 A to c project II to a 400 A to C CF fork to bring it up a bit. The tubings nice bu the finish isn't all that durable. But who really cares anyway.

I ran discs but returned to full v-brakes. The discs added a lot of weight and with my riding style they worked to well. Im using deore v brakes,CC V levers and midge bar. But then again im in Nor Cal. and dont commute in the rain. Its fun on dirt.

Hey could you leave a link to the CS breaking thing? piece
steel wool tweed?

i had a soma dc, didn't fit me right/perfect, i'm pretty new to the road thing and couldn't figure which size to buy. although the frame was a hair too large for me i had no problems w/it and put some good miles on it, even w/a large load, even w/a load on dirt up and over mt tam from sf. like jrm says, the discs add some weight, but you get more stopping power and longer pad life. that said, i wouldn't hesitate to pick up another soma, the value can't be beat and the ride feels pretty good to boot.

i like the look and idea of the steel wool and considered one for a bit. i'm actually waiting for a custom do it all cx that will hopefully nail everything i want in a bike, we'll see.....good luck shopping.
Soma Dc


The link to the reviews of the Soma DC with broken chainstay references is below. Out of 15 reviews I think there were 3 or 4 that broke. The good thing about steel is that it can be repaired.

The downside of the Soma is that it only carries a 3 year warranty. Kona has a lifetime warranty. I have used frame warranties twice now for my mountain bikes so I give more credit for companies that give better warranties.

Reading those reviews i noticed that the frame years were 02 and 03 model years that the CS busted.

I think if you chose to buy a 09' soma DC disc youll enjoy it Im liking mine
nativeson said:
The tweed with disc brakes and an internal hub could be a sweet retro looking ride with modern technology. Price looks decent too for a small builder. In Portland we have more custom builders than you can shake a stick at but most seem to be either backed up with orders or a bit on the pricey side. I would love to someday be able to afford a custom from from a local builder.....someday when I don't have to buy braces for the kids, save for college, music lessons, etc.
yup, i think the biggest thing i've learned from visiting these mass market forums is that keepin it local is where it's my case local santa cruz builders. so maybe for you, soma dc or steel wool, lugs vs. tig welding, let your wallet decide. although i'd love a forum-peer review of the tweed....keep us posted.
Salsa LaCruz...that my next do it all dream bike.
Available as frame and complete bike.
Soma DC owners

What did you guys use for hubs and rims? Did you go with road specific or with heavier MTB 29'er stuff? I see the Soma DC can use road or MTB hubs like Surly.
Man if it didn't have to be steel, I'd plug my nashbar 'X' cyclocross frame and carbon fork.

Disc brakes, rack/fender ready, I've run 35's with fenders, drop bars, I've done centuries on it, affordable.... for the price of a steel frame you could just get two or three of these frames and have them on standby in case you ever break one... not that you will, I beat the crap out of mine. If you're at all flexable on frame material, you should definitely check it out.
I give.....


I bought one of the Nashbar frames. I can't believe that they are selling for $99.99. Decent weight also. I plan on building it up as a commuter bike with discs for the Portland winter weather. Throw on some inexpensive and used ebay finds over time and I think I will have a decent commuter that I don't have to worry about. Dam......$99.99! I love the feel of steel, but for $99.99 I can accommodate Al for commuting.

I am also planning on picking up a Kona Honky Tonk frameset also as a fair weather bike and for club/charity/century rides. I already have a complete SRAM Rival 10spd drivetrain and controls for the steel bike.

BTW, what wheelset are you using for your Nashbar bike? Did you go with road specific or did you go for 29'er MTB gear? I see that the Nashbar frameset that I bought has 130mm rear spacing so I am going to be hunting for road disc hubs.
Atta boy!!

Nice! Are you sure on the 130mm spacing? My "X" frame is 135. Or did you go with another Nashbar frame? I went with these 29er wheels from pricepoint:
Can't argue with the beef of a good 'ol 36 spoke wheel. They have been basically indestructable, and the weight isn't bad. I've got about 6500 miles on them, mostly in winter, without even thinking about servicing the hubs... maybe I should do that soon.

Here's mine, for inspiration :lol: I had drop bars on it at first, but switched to the bullhorns last year and I love them:


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Thanks for the inspiration CB. The flames make it look fast :D

I bought the X cyclocross frame, same as yours. I will have to measure the frame spacing for the rear hub when it gets here on the slow boat. The Nashbar website states that the spacing is 130mm. I hope that is actually 135mm so that that I can use MTB hubs, better choices and less expensive.

Oh I dig the MTB inspired shifters too :D.
700 and 29"

hydrogeek said:
What did you guys use for hubs and rims? Did you go with road specific or with heavier MTB 29'er stuff? I see the Soma DC can use road or MTB hubs like Surly.
When i had it set up with discs i was using mtb bb7s, DT 470 rims laced to 756 XT hubs. Now im using v brakes mavic OPs laced to ultegra hubs.

Even with the 132.5mm spacing on the DC I had to spread the stays with my hands in order to get the 135mm spaced XT rear hub with a 160mm rotor into the dropouts. With the OP-ultegra set it its super easy.
If it's 130, they've changed it. Mine is 3 years old, so maybe they did... I was using 26" MTB wheels with XT hubs before I got my 29" hoops, and never had to bend or tweak anything... mine is 135 for sure. MTB hubs fit like a glove. I wouldn't tweak on the aluminum to make a 135 fit though if it's not...that's pretty safe with steel, but sketchy with aluminum.

My shifter is an old LX 8 speed from an old mtn bike. Probably 12 years old and still going strong. Have fun with the build! I gotta see some pics when you're done... bout time we got another Nashbike around here.
Try to get a frame with the rear disc mounted on the chainstay, makes it easier with your rack and fenders. I wouldn't worry too much about weight of the frame - heavy is good, if somebody tries to rob you then you can hit him with it.... i'd pick the sutra so i could take it out for a longer ride should i want.

There is a long review here, but..
The Freddy Fenders work fine with the rear disc on the "X" Frame, you just have to bend the one support around the caliper...there's enough length and adjustment on the fender support to make the bend with no other modifications. I've never run a rear rack though, so I can't speak to that...
Disc Brake Issue

Yep, I was drooling over a Salsa Fargo last night at the LBS (Universal Cycles BTW, cool guys and great service....plug). The salsa has the disc brake on the chain stay with full clearance for racks and fenders. I buddy of mine has a Gary Fisher 29er with discs on the seat stay and he has a disc specific rack that is nothing more than a regular rack spaced wider on the left side to clear the caliper and a spacer that and a long bolt that attaches right to the normal location. I think I can figure out a solution for the 'X' frame, if nothing else I will have to get a disc specific rack.

I also looked at the Kona Sutra. I had the chance to pick up a new frame set for $350 to $400 but I think it's overkill for commuting. By the time I add up all the weight I am right back to where I am at with my hardtail MTB. I think the cyclocross frame is the way to go for commuting, no huge loads and something that I can ride the dirt fire lanes in the park if I want on the way home.

I still have my eye on a Kona Honky Tonk for fair weather riding....mmmm steel. :thumbsup:
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You have chosen wisely :lol:

About a mile of my commute is chattery dirt road...potholes, washboard sections, and it's downhill on the way to work in the morning (in the dark). I have beat on this bike pretty hard on that road, and it's held up like a champ. It's PLENTY of bike for the commute, with plenty left over for fire roads/rail trails. .
I am looking the the same bicycle btw(not picky about steel), the redline conquest w/ disc was posted earlier but it looks a bit small for 35s and fenders, the same with the 2010 Honky INC...
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