With so much attention on full suspension and carbon fiber you would think that steel hardtails were dead. Well I’m glad to be able to tell you that they are alive and kicking. With the explosion of 29″ wheeled bikes, the steel hardtail has made a come back. All of the properties we’ve grown to love about steel bikes are present in the Soma Juice. Tough but smooth riding. Reasonably light with a snappy feel on the trail. The Soma Juice is a jack of all trades trail bike that can adopt whatever personality you’d like.
The look is distinctive with the curved top tube creating a unique profile and giving a ton of crotch clearance. With rear entry drop outs and a derailleur hanger, the Juice can be built up single speed or geared, depending on your mood. It has enough tire clearance on the rear to run a 2.3″ tire with plenty of mud clearance.
Over a season of riding the Soma Juice, I had it built up single speed, geared and as a road bike with drop bars and skinny tires. I spent most of the time racing it during endurance events ( 8 hour solo) as a single speed. The handling was solid with the usual 29″ wheel stability at high speeds. The combination of short wheel base and rigid fork made for snappy climbing out of the saddle. In technical terrain, the low bottom bracket made for the occasional pedal strike but it’s no worse than most bikes.
It’s hard to quantify the differences in how a bike rides as it is mainly feel, but the Soma Juice is a fun bike to ride. I had my best races finishes of the last 5 years on this bike, so this bike holds a special place in my heart. The Juice has the advantages of the 29″ wheel with the old school feel of a good steel hardtail. Built up with a Bontrager carbon rigid fork, Chris King wheels and On One Mary Bar, the complete bike came in at 23 lbs.
Made from Tange Prestige heat treated double butted tubing, the Juice strikes a balance between price, ride quality and weight. They could have made it light making it from Reynolds 853 or True Temper OX Platinum but it would have increased the price dramatically. Available from Soma as just a frame you can build it up yourself or get a complete bike from your favorite shop. The Soma Juice is the kind of bike that turns heads but still works great out on the trail. You won’t see many of them on the local group ride or race scene so you can have something unique without breaking the bank.