With so much focus on full suspension and carbon fiber, you’d think steel hardtails are dead. Well, I’m glad I can tell you that they’re alive and kicking. With the explosion of 29er wheels, steel hardtails have made a comeback. All the properties we love about steel bikes are present in the Soma Juice. Tough yet smooth ride. Reasonably light with a nimble feel in the Soma Juice is a versatile trail bike that can take on any personality you want.
The look is distinctive with the curved top tube that creates a unique profile and provides a ton of crotch clearance. With rear entry dropouts and a derailleur hanger, the Juice can be ridden single speed or with gears depending on your mood. It has enough tire clearance in the rear to run a 2.3″ tire with enough mud clearance.
During a season of riding the Soma Juice, I built it single-speed, geared, and like a road bike with drop bars and skinny tires. I spent most of my time racing endurance events (8hr solo) as a single speed. The handling was solid with the usual stability of 29″ wheels at high speeds. The combination of a short wheelbase and a stiff fork made it easy to get out of the saddle quickly. On technical terrain, the low bottom bracket made it easy to put the pedal down from time to time but not a problem.worse than most bikes.
It’s hard to quantify the differences in how a bike rides as it mostly feels, but the Soma Juice is a fun bike to ride. I had my best race results of the last 5 years on this bike, so this bike holds a special place in my heart. The Juice has the benefits of a 29er wheel with the old-school feel of a good steel hardtail. Built with a Bontrager carbon hardtail fork, Chris King wheels, and On One Mary Bar, the complete bike weighed in at 23 lbs. .
Constructed from double-butted heat-treated Prestige Tange tubing, the Juice strikes a balance between price, ride quality and weight. They could have made it light by making it with Reynolds 853 or True Temper OX Platinum, but the price would have gone up dramatically. Available from Soma as a frame only, you can build it yourself or pick up a complete bike at your favorite store. The Soma Juice is the kind of bike that turns heads, but still performs great on the trail. You won’t see many of them in the local pool or race scene, so you can have something unique without breaking the bank.