I should really know better at this point than to let something as superficial as colour scheme influence my impressions of a bicycle. But when I think of the Soma Smoothie I've been test riding this summer, it is in my mind a whirlwind of pinks and greens - a mobile impressionist garden. It does not help that every single time I've been on this bike so far it has rained. My view from the "cockpit" is a saturated blur of apple green handlebar tape and terracotta tire, as the wheel spins through rain puddles. It's like riding through an endless Water Lilies painting.
But don't let my silly colour choices fool you: The Smoothie is a serious bike. Its biggest draw as I see it, is the successful combination of several features that are not easy to combine. On the one hand it is a racy roadbike, with the aggressive geometry and responsive handling that this notion implies. On the other hand, it is equipped to accept reasonably wide tires (up to 28mm), fenders and even a rear rack. It is also comfortable, in a way that's kind of thrown me for a loop. The best way I can describe it, is that I feel more relaxed on the bike than my positioning warrants.
My biggest challenge in test riding stock roadbikes, is that I am most comfortable with Campagnolo ergo shifters and it is very rare to find a demo bicycle set up with Campagnolo. The group need not be fancy; I am fine with the lower-end Veloce. I just find the levers dramatically easier to use than any others. The guys at Soma set the bike up with Chorus levers, which are what I have on my own roadbike and made for a seamless transition.
Highway One handlebars with the nice flat ramps and shallow but not too shallow drops.
I was initially skeptical about the tires and was planning to replace them with my own. These are Soma's New XPress tires that have recently come out. They are available in several colours and sizes 23mm-35mm. I guess the bright colours made them look a little gimmicky to me, and I was worried the flat protection might not be sufficient. However, so far so good and I think I'll keep these on the bike for the duration of the test ride period. The tires are supple and feel wider than 23mm; I quite like them.
The wheelset they used is also pretty nice.
The Cardiff saddle I recently reviewed here. Not sure what I was thinking in asking for a zero-setback seatpost on a bike that already has a steep seat tube angle, but that is my own doing and not Soma's.
The one aspect of the bicycle's set-up I do not like is the IRD crankset they fitted it with. There is nothing wrong with the crankset itself, but it is not entirely compatible with what is otherwise a Campagnolo drivetrain. This causes problems when shifting from the big ring to the small, throwing the chain unless I press the lever very gently. Considering this, I am reluctant to take this bike on a paceline ride - a pity, as that would be the ultimate test of its performance as a racy roadbike. I am still trying to decide what to do about this issue and might try to get a local bike shop to loan me a Campagnolo Veloce crankset and a suitable bottom bracket.