We’ve now lost two employees at Velo, (@forsterollie and @kylethemountainman on Instagram), to the greater world before them on their customised Soma Wolverine builds. (Follow them on Instagram to see where they take them – Ollie started in India and is riding to Europe.) And now Ed has finished building one up to yet another highly individual specification. However, he promises us he’s not going anywhere – well, except if it’s rides about the place on his Wolverine.
Just like Ollie and Kyle before me, I spent a long time researching what I wanted to put on, and do with my next bike. Hours trawling TheRadavist.com, looking at reviews, asking questions and riding lots of different bikes, the three of us kept on coming back to the Soma Wolverine. Eventually like the two before me, I pulled the trigger on one. [And it seems, Dan one of mechanics who was about to go elsewhere has come to the same conclusion and is joining the fray.]
I went with the Wolverine for a number of different reasons, the first of which is the bike’s sheer versatility. The Wolverine affords you multiple ways of running the bike, touring, bike-packing, cyclocross, road riding or gravel grinding. Furthermore, you can run belt drive, and if you change the dropout plates you can run a whole heap of gearing options, from single speed right up to a 14 speed rohloff internally-geared hub. Secondly, the tyre clearance on the wolverine is out of this world. I have yet to find a bike of this style (without a specially custom-built frame) that gives you this amount of clearance. The bike allows for a massive 29 x 2.1 or 27.5 x 2.2 (less with fenders). Lastly, the look. Steel is most definitely real, and coming back in bikes in a big way, and the Wolverine with its classic shape, dimensions, and beautiful fork crown, had me from the moment I laid eyes on it. The most difficult choice was colour, pumpkin orange or kingsford black.
Well, I’d seen alot of oranges, and black never goes out of style so black it was. After this it was a matter of selecting the components to build it with. What I love about the Wolverine is that virtually no two are built up alike. Every Wolverine has been designed for the owner’s individual needs, and as a result, always differ slightly. For mine, I took inspiration from our former mechanic Kyle and went over the top in terms of group set selection (hydraulic Shimano Ultegra), and as I’m a shorter fella, I went with 650b wheels. Furthermore, the Wolverine has been designed around 700 x 28-32 wheels, and 650b x 2.1 gives you the same BB clearances, and if you want to run 2 inch tyres you don’t have to have the sliders at the end, giving the bike snappier handling. Lastly, I went with a Thomson finishing kit, with Salsa Cowchipper bars for that mad (but not TOO mad) flare. Rubber – I went with WTB Horizion Tyres, but I plan on putting some mountain bike tyres in and hitting some trails.
So ride impressions! I can tell you firstly that Shimano knows how to make a groupset, hydraulic braking is brilliant, the stopping power has some bite. Secondly flared bars rule. Whatever your next drop-bar bike is, get them, what a difference they make in descending and cornering. I feel like I have much more control in the drops without sacrificing the usual feel of having your hoods quite narrow, which is what I’m used to and prefer. As far as how the Wolverine rides, it’s early days but I truly can’t fault it. It’s super smooth and does a great job of riding over everything (though a lot of this can be attributed to the tyres, 650b x 47 is wide yo). I’ll give some more impressions once it’s been ridden fully loaded. Furthermore, once the SP dyno hub is hooked up to something, it’ll really give the bike some extra touring credibility.
I recently did a Warburton– Marysville loop which was 100ks over mixed terrain and much climbing, and the bike can do it all, climb, descend, charge over gravel all while delivering a super smooth ride. I will say it doesn’t climb as well as a carbon fibre road bike, but that’s to be expected. I couldn’t be happier with the end result. I still need some accessories (I’ve got a Velo Orange Bag on the way), and some panniers, but the bike is rolling and putting a smile on my dial.
If you have any questions or want some guidance on a build to send us an email at [email protected]
- Frame: Soma Wolverine 52cm
- Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic 46/34 and 11-32
- Stem: Thomson
- Bars: Salsa Cowchippers
- Seatpost: Thomson
- Saddle: Brooks Cambium
- Wheel F: Shutter Precision to Pacenti cl25
- Wheel R: Hope Pro 4 to Pacenti cl25
- Pedals: Shimano Saints or XT trail
- Rubber: WTB Horizons 650b x 47c
- Bartape: Salsa Cork