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  1. #1
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    Searching ultimate all year commuter bike. Soma Wolverine?

    Hi,
    I'm new here, and mainly posting here because I saw a lenghty and interesting Soma Wolverine thread here, since this is the frame I am having in mind...

    I am looking for a new commuter for 10 km one way daily, all year in Montreal (4 months winter with snow, slush, slat, ice, drops to -25C / hot summers / pretty broken roads). I have a good idea what I want, currently (since 9 years) I ride a German Patria Roadster (steel frame, Alfine 8, flat bar, max. tyre clearance 28mm, bought before moving away from Europe...), so I know what I like and what to change:

    - steel frame
    - Alfine hub, 8 or 11. I love the Alfine 8 in the city, only problems were related to dirt (winters...) on the part where the cable pulls the hub. Never really missed more then 8 gears
    - tyre clearance with fenders something like 35-38mm for spike tyres in winter and something more smooth in summer (not the youngest anymore, and as I mentioned, roads & bike lanes are pretty broken here)
    - probably disk brakes due to the bigger tyres. No idea if mechanical or hydraulic, what do you think regarding winter temperature etc? I don't know much about disk brakes yet, e.g. if the different levers and brakes are compatible (of course mechanic with mechanic or hydraulic with hydraulic) or if there are different standards?)
    - fender and rack attachments
    - road bar possible (never owned a bike with road bar, so want to try it out)
    - sporty but comfortable ride

    I think, at least I have not found it, a complete bike which fits into this? This is why I look at frames, e.g. the Wolverine, Surly Straggler etc. Wolverine V3 have right now some good prices, so I am very tempted.

    People mention the Wolverine is rather long, but I have also more a longer upper body (about 85 cm inseam and body height of 185 cm). Currently I ride the Patria Roadster in size 56 (59 cm effective top tube) with a long 10 cm stem and flat bar and I often wish it would be a bit longer. So the Wolverine 56 with a length of 57.5 cm, a bit shorter stem and drop bar should work I guess?

    Beside the frame, I think combining drop bar and Alfine I have two options:
    - bar ends or something like the Gevenalle
    - Alfine Di2
    I kind of tend to the Di2 option, it would not only fix my stuck cables in winter, but also allow STI and I could even program one side up, the other down, which would help with big mittens...

    I haven't done it yet, but I think of building as much as I can by myself, there are enough community bike shops with all tools in the city. For complicated things (wheel building, not sure about bottom bracket, headset, hydraulics?) I would still go to the professionals. Of course I am aware that this will end up more expensive then a off-the-shelf bike, but I just don't find a steel dropbar IGH bike....

    What do you think, does this makes sense? Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by antantant View Post
    Hi,
    I'm new here, and mainly posting here because I saw a lenghty and interesting Soma Wolverine thread here, since this is the frame I am having in mind...

    I am looking for a new commuter for 10 km one way daily, all year in Montreal (4 months winter with snow, slush, slat, ice, drops to -25C / hot summers / pretty broken roads). I have a good idea what I want, currently (since 9 years) I ride a German Patria Roadster (steel frame, Alfine 8, flat bar, max. tyre clearance 28mm, bought before moving away from Europe...), so I know what I like and what to change:

    - steel frame
    - Alfine hub, 8 or 11. I love the Alfine 8 in the city, only problems were related to dirt (winters...) on the part where the cable pulls the hub. Never really missed more then 8 gears
    - tyre clearance with fenders something like 35-38mm for spike tyres in winter and something more smooth in summer (not the youngest anymore, and as I mentioned, roads & bike lanes are pretty broken here)
    - probably disk brakes due to the bigger tyres. No idea if mechanical or hydraulic, what do you think regarding winter temperature etc? I don't know much about disk brakes yet, e.g. if the different levers and brakes are compatible (of course mechanic with mechanic or hydraulic with hydraulic) or if there are different standards?)
    - fender and rack attachments
    - road bar possible (never owned a bike with road bar, so want to try it out)
    - sporty but comfortable ride

    I think, at least I have not found it, a complete bike which fits into this? This is why I look at frames, e.g. the Wolverine, Surly Straggler etc. Wolverine V3 have right now some good prices, so I am very tempted.

    People mention the Wolverine is rather long, but I have also more a longer upper body (about 85 cm inseam and body height of 185 cm). Currently I ride the Patria Roadster in size 56 (59 cm effective top tube) with a long 10 cm stem and flat bar and I often wish it would be a bit longer. So the Wolverine 56 with a length of 57.5 cm, a bit shorter stem and drop bar should work I guess?

    Beside the frame, I think combining drop bar and Alfine I have two options:
    - bar ends or something like the Gevenalle
    - Alfine Di2
    I kind of tend to the Di2 option, it would not only fix my stuck cables in winter, but also allow STI and I could even program one side up, the other down, which would help with big mittens...

    I haven't done it yet, but I think of building as much as I can by myself, there are enough community bike shops with all tools in the city. For complicated things (wheel building, not sure about bottom bracket, headset, hydraulics?) I would still go to the professionals. Of course I am aware that this will end up more expensive then a off-the-shelf bike, but I just don't find a steel dropbar IGH bike....

    What do you think, does this makes sense? Any suggestions?
    This makes tons of sense, you have probably described my dream all season commuter.

    I commute year round in Seattle and while I don't have the Montreal winters we have grime, slush, rain (so much rain), and them hot summers. With the season variations our roads are pretty broken up. I have a carbon gravel bike but wish I had a IGH with a belt drive. The days when it is wet then dry and my chain squeaks all the way home drive me crazy and the liberal use of Finish Line wet lube all winter makes my bike a messy greasy disaster in spring. The copious lube makes shifting poor as it gets older so I have to regularly clean my chain, which is less fun in winter here, because as soon as it is clean I add back wet lube and it starts all over again.

    I would say, based on my experience and those of my SRAM using coworkers, that shimano hydro discs are the best option. My corworkers with various versions of SRAM hydros have had nothing but problems but I have 1000's of miles on mine and aside from pad replacement have not done anything else to them and they work as well as when the bike was new. Caveat is to make sure you pair them with shimano rotors if you are building ala carte. I had a bike with shimano hydros and SRAM rotors and the brakes just never worked well. When it got stolen and the replacement had same brakes with shimano discs they were so much better.

    For me commuting is about being upright on the bike but still being able to shift and brake so I would defer to STI, though with the Shimano GRX groupo out I think you can get Shimano brake levers that mesh with their hydro calipers with the STI function if you opt for the Alfine shifter instead.

    As far as stems go I actually opted for a really tall high rise stem, accepted the reduction in speed for an increase in visibility, if I need to get aero I can go to the drops and flatten my back, but most of the time I am either on MUPs or in traffic and being taller vs. aero means being safer so I just ditched the road style stem for something way less cool.
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  3. #3
    jrm
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    cotic road rat/escapade come to mind..

  4. #4
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    With drop bars, you spend most of your time on the hoods and that adds to your overall length to the bars as opposed to your flat bar.
    This post is a natural product. Variances in spelling & grammar should be appreciated as part of its character & beauty.

  5. #5
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    I have a 9km commute (each way) with a 180m climb at each end, and Ive ridden various bikes over the years - aluminium 29er HT is prob the best all rounder with best handling and comfort. Carbon roadie is quick but dry weather only and not the best for jumping kerbs and dealing with traffic.
    Just got a Giant Quick E+ which has full fenders, racks, built in lights, no suspension but 2.35 rubber, and good MT501 brakes.
    It nails the commute faster than I can in a car and I can rug up without being baked climbing the hill. Charge the batt twice a week. It is the perfect solution.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all your answers!

    @rockcrusher: While belt drive sounds nice, I will not go in that direction. I heard about too many people here having it snap in winter, plus a friend had some years ago troubles getting a replacement belt. He checked in multiple local shops and had weeks to wait for it. So in Europe with milder winters and more IGH on the road (and therefore probably more belts), I'd go for it, not here. Here I am with an IGH super exotic and people ask me on the road what it is (or, someone who has a girlfriend with one asked me on the road were I get mine serviced, there are not many shops which actual know how to handle them).
    Noted on the brakes! Any experience with other brands, e.g. TRP?
    Regarding GRX: Are all Di2 shifters compatible? In the end it's only software, so as long as they don't block it, there shouldn't be a reason why not? But the Alfine Di2 series has also a brifter (ST-R785), which I guess works both for the 8 and 11 speed version (the text mentions only 11 though?). Are the different battery modules compatible, since in the Alfine line they have a boxy one, while in some others an internal? How does Di2 get programmed, connecting via USB to a PC?

    @jrm: Looked at Cotic before, thanks! But the Escapade has no dropouts for an IGH, and Roadrat seems to be made for flat bars...

    @chazpat: Sure. But as I said, I think my current (flat bar) frame is too short for me, so with a shorter stem it should be fine I guess.

    @Haggis: Less climbing here, still a bit though but only when coming home. I just love the look and feel of steel, this isn't necessarily rational. But it seems good steel frames stay longer fine in our extreme winter then aluminum. An e-bike isn't what I'm looking for at the moment (even our have cargo bike is a non-electric Nihola), but I don't doubt there is a place for them...

  7. #7
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    I think a Soma Wolverine would make a fabulous commuter bike! It can comfortably fit 29x2.1 tires so you have a super wide range of tires and wheels to choose from.

    The top tubes do seem to run slightly long.

    They feel especially great in SS mode!

    Searching ultimate all year commuter bike. Soma Wolverine?-img_20190717_182010058_hdr.jpg
    Bikes, lots'o bikes

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by antantant View Post
    Noted on the brakes! Any experience with other brands, e.g. TRP?
    Late to the party, but I have been commuting for years on TRP HY/RD disc brakes (mechanically actuated hydraulics) and am very satisfied with them. Reasonably priced compared to full hydro brifters.

  9. #9
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    The main thing keeping me off of hydros on my commuter is how seriously expensive they are. Shimano does hydros well, but it's worthwhile to point out that lever feel will degrade when it gets cold outside. I have Shimano hydros on my fatbike, and they get stiff and inconsistent in the cold. It's not the fluid. It's the seals stiffening up in the cold, fwiw.

    I use Gevenalle mechanical levers with Avid BB7 brakes. I haven't ridden it extensively in freezing and subfreezing temps, but haven't had any frozen cable problems. Even still, I'd prefer full length housing for that (which my frame offers for brakes, but not shifters).

    I ride an older Salsa Vaya (2014-ish) that has a number of the characteristics you want. Some things it lacks are a sportiness (newer ones are a bit sportier, but mine is a little more like a touring bike). I built mine from the frame, so you could fit an Alfine if you did similar, but it doesn't come that way. The IGH requirement limits you for completes and I think a build from the frame is more likely to get you exactly what you want.

    I'd definitely consider belt drive for an IGH, though, and that will limit your frame choices.

    Keep in mind that an electronic drivetrain is going to have reduced battery life in the cold. While the act of shifting is likely to work well, you'll have to charge and/or replace batteries a bit more frequently, and pay extra attention to charge. It may seem fine when the bike is inside someplace warm, but once it gets cold, the battery will be less effective.

    I would recommend investing in some pogies for your handlebars of choice, regardless of what you get. You can wear thinner gloves and have better dexterity to manipulate your bike's controls. Pogies are MUCH warmer overall than gloves or mittens and work way better for winter riding.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    The main thing keeping me off of hydros on my commuter is how seriously expensive they are.
    The Hy/Rd's I referenced are not full hydro, but you get the benefits of better stopping power than mechanical disc's, plus self-centering and self-adjusting pads. And for $79 per wheel they are affordable. I've been riding these for years and thousands of miles and can recommend them as an alternate to shelling out hundreds/wheel for full hydros.

    https://www.amazon.com/TRP-Hydraulic...gateway&sr=8-5

  11. #11
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    How are the hybrid disk brakes like the HY/RD behaving in winter? Do they suffer from similar problems as some other hydraulics in cold weather (most of the approx. 4 months winter is usually in the -15C, but -25C does happen)? I still have to do all the math to price out the different options, but are also torn in between the cold weather information I hear about the hydraulic brakes...

    @joshhan: Looks great! But no single speed for me, Alfine it is for sure, too many hills and not the youngest bones anymore! You ride single speed, but with double chainring in the front? And for my use fenders are a must, but there is still more then enough space for tyres (and I'm coming from 28mm, so everything in the 30s is fat for me!). Since I have for now no glue and still have to figure the components (and deals I find) out: What's this bar and crankset, they do look nice! Since I never owned a dropbar bike, I also have to figure out first what I like...

    @harold: Which Gevenalle version are you using, as well with an Alfine? How do you like them? Due to my experience with dirt on the Alfine cable where it enters the hub I still tend to Di2 which should solve that, the battery seem to last long enough for me. As long it's not once or twice per day in winter I am fine, and the summer figures Shimano posts look good enough for winter usage.
    Good tip with the pogies! With my straight bar, I use huge ski gloves with a thin liner, but pogies are on drop bars maybe easier to handle...

  12. #12
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    Wolverine is ordered! Red! Because, as everyone knows, red is faster! And my last two bikes were red-ish (actually more burgundy). And the v3 should do the job for me and has good prices right now. And I don't like the green of the v4-B that much, and I think the increased stack in between v3 and v4 shouldn't make that much of the difference for me (and currently, the v4 costs $230 more, so 1.5 times the price of the v3).

    Enough time to think about all the parts, I will not have it ready before next spring (April-ish). Since the Wolverine doesn't allow for Alfine Di2 and Gates belt drive at the same time (only either or) due to the chainline, I will most likely skip the belt. I think the completely protected connection to the Alfine is a higher value for me.

    The only thing I like more in v4-A, which is not there in v3 and v4-B: I don't need downtube shifters. I see cable bosses for the connectors only for exposed cables. Would I need to drill one of those out and/or need cable clamps, or are there cable bosses for the downtube lever attachment which take cables with housing (or Di2 wires)?

  13. #13
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    Congrats on the order.

    Winters here (Seattle, USA) are mild compared to what you are describing. We sometimes get to 0C or slightly below, but more typically a winter day is 2C to 6C. The brakes work fine in those temps

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    Just a small update:
    Frame arrived, and some parts were already bought:
    - Cane Creek 40 headset in silver
    - Shimano ST-R785 & BR-R785 Di2 levers with hydraulic brakes: These seem to be currently on sale everywhere and the cheapest option for Di2 STIs I found. And with these, the price of hydraulic and mechanical brakes were nearly the same, so let's try the hydraulic! (will still check how the oil works in my temperature ranges... Anybody experience with Trickstuff Bionol, which is Canola based brake oil? Sounds cool, just would would like some experiences how it differs from Shimano's oil.)
    - soma random parts on sale like Panaracer Gravelking 38mm tyres (using right now the 28mm, so I know them a bit) and other small parts.

    I think I have for most parts a quite good idea what I want or need, e.g. stem will be the Pro Tharsis XC stem to hide the Di2 battery inside the fork, bar most likely the Pro Discover Medium to use the bar end Di2 junction (I find basically only a couple of Pro-bars and the Ritchey Comp ErgoMax which allow this, and some much more expensive ones. The Ritchey bar has a quite a rise, so I'd need to cut the steerer a bit shorter then with the Pro Discover...

    My bigger unknown is still the crank: I could use the Alfine crankset (which I use also on my current bike), this is probably the most straightforward to ensure the chainline, has an integrated chain guard and quite cheap. Most alternatives, track/single speed cranksets I found use square taper BBs. Some of those cranks might look nicer then the Alfine, but what do you think regarding Hollowtech II vs square taper? Any recommendations for the crank?

    And then the wheels: I probably should talk with a LBS who will finally build them, but maybe you have some advice? For the Alfine, should I use the 32 or 36 hole version? I'm somewhere in between 75-80 kg, and my usual daily luggage most likely will not exceed 10-15 kg (office stuff and some groceries. For everything heavy I have the cargo bike anyways). In case this bike gets one day completely changed for heavy touring or offroad, I would probably remove the Alfine and therefore change at least the rear wheel anyways. Would the 32 holes for this be ok, taken the extremely bumpy road conditions here into account? There seem to be much less 36 hole rims around?
    And the front, 32 holes or less? I have as front hubs the Shimano XT hub and the DT Swiss 350 on my radar. Currently I use a (even) cheaper Shimano front hub without problems, but the cartridge type DT Swiss 350 seems a good thing?
    Any rim recommendations? I am eying looking at different things from the probably heavy DT Swiss 545D to H+Son The Hydra (no 36 holes though, in that case it could be the non-disc H+Son Archetype). Any thoughts, ideas, recommendations?

    PS: Getting Shimano stuff from Europe to North America is difficult these days! Let's see, maybe some parts I will have to transport in a suitcase after my Christmas visit...

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    gravel bike

  16. #16
    jrm
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    crank: use hollowtech II cranks b/c there so much easier to tune your chainline then sq taper. I use a ultegra double with the chainring on the inside and a bash guard on the outside. Im using the ritchey venturmax bar which offers a very shallow drop which i find welcoming pedaling into headwinds. post pics of the completed project..

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    Small update: More parts ordered and on the way to me, found a few European dealers still shipping Shimano parts out in the world...

    1. Originally I planned the Alfine 8 Di2, because I know the mechanical version well, it's usually much cheaper then the 11 and the 8 gears were usually enough for me. But now I found in the UK a great deal on an Alfine 11 Di2, cheaper then the Alfine 8 in Germany at the moment. So I go for this one! Oil change seems easier to do then the greasing of the Alfine/Nexus 8 (which for now I always gave to the LBS, but I think I'll try this as well).
    Only caveat: I planned on 32 holes black, now it's 36 holes silver. The color is fine for me I just went in the front instead of the black DT Swiss 350 with a silver Hope RS4, but 36 hole rims seem to be of the dying type beside heavier touring rims, especially for a disc rim. So I guess I have these options:
    - Somehow lacing the 36 hole hub onto a 32 hole rim -> while in theory somehow possible, it seems difficult. Let's see what the LBS says...
    - Getting one of the more heavy disc rims (DT Swiss 545D, Ryde Andra 321, Mavic XM 119 Disc...), given the Alfine isn't lightweight neither.
    - Getting a rim brake rim with 36 holes. Beside the trekking rims, I see the H+ Son Archetype comes as 36 hole version. This has only an inner width of 17.5 mm, which is on the lower end of what I ideally want for 38mm tyres mostly, but would probably work. I guess 19-21 mm inner width would fit a tiny bit better. Velocity Aileron is expensive. Any other suggestions? I guess I could also run the Archetype in the rear and The Hydra in the front, or similar with other brands...
    Before I got this hub, I quickly checked in already with a LBS about building the wheels, frame prep and headset installation, I guess I have to re-discuss the wheels with them...

    2. Alfine crank, because it fits and in the end seems not too bad. For the Alfine 11, I'll go with 39/20 which sets the lowest gear quite a bit lower then my current setup with the Alfine 8 (45/20 with 28 mm tyres). It comes already with a bottom bracket, whenever this is worn out I can get a better one if necessary.
    3. All the Pro parts: Tharsis stem for Di2 battery integration in the fork, Discover Medium handlebar, and to match some spacers and the Tharsis seatpost.
    4. Some nice silver Honjo H50 fenders, which are from Germany cheaper then I could get the Velo Orange Zeppelin or similar.
    5. Small parts: Salsa Liplock silver seat clamp, Shimano PD-T8000 pedals (one sided clipless)

    Beside the open wheel/rim question, all other parts are straightforward and I know where to get it from:
    - Alfine Di2 motor (according to a shop the MU-S705 is discontinued and now it is MU-UR500), I will bring this after Christmas from Germany with me to Canada, it's rather small. Same for the Di2 bar end junction
    - Di2 cables once I have measured all parts
    - saddle: Thought initially of a Brooks Cambium C17 All-Weather (using right now a leather Brooks Flyer), but I think I will try out something new and go with a Fabric Scoop Shallow Elite in black/red (matching the red frame and the Fabric Hex Duo black/red bar tape)
    - brake rotors

    With the now silver hubs, I like that I have now even less black parts. Basically only the stem/handlebar/spacers and the seatpost are black (of the metal parts), and maybe the rims. Silver are the hubs (and spokes), crank, fenders, headset, seat post clamp. I would like completely silver, but since I want the Di2 battery internally, I am limited to those parts, and I am sure it will nice.

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