Now that I have about 100 miles on my new Soma Wolverine, I thought I’d write a blog post about my experience building my first bike!
I’d been thinking about building a bike and drooling over the Wolverine for months (especially after the Bicycle Times review), and then this February I found someone local who was looking to sell an almost new frame for a bit of a discount. He’d ordered the frame and built it up before deciding to go for another size, so he was still riding his own Wolverine but had an additional spare frame. The only concern was that the frame size is 54cm, and my road bike is 58cm. I did a lot of research (and documented some of it here), and ultimately concluded that the 54 would fit me fine.
Once I decided to pull the trigger on the frame, I spent about 6 weeks researching and ordering all of the other parts. I ordered most of the parts through my Local Bike Shop (http://www.bikenetic.com/), and I also got them to install the headset and bottom bracket. I ended up going with a Sram Rival 1 drivetrain with a 42T chainring in the front and a 10-42 cassette in the back.
The wheels aren’t included in that picture because they were off being custom built by Hans (http://snakesthatbite.blogspot.com/) who I met via the local cycling forum. Hans helped me pick out a DIY wheel kit from BDop Cycling and built them up for me. I couldn’t be happier with the wheels – especially for the price!
It took me about 3 weeks to put everything together. I learned a lot in that process, and each lesson involved an extra trip to talk to or buy something from the very patient and friendly folks at the bike shop. Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures of the build process – but here’s how it looked once it was all put together:
I had fun with the details: I wrapped the Salsa Cowbell handlebars in Salsa’s “Glyph” Tape and added a bottle cap from a favorite local brewery to the headset cap.
The Wolverine frame has bosses for down-tube shifters, but I was using integrated handlebar brake/shifters and my 1x setup didn’t need a front shifter at all. I added a cable stop for the rear shifter on the drive side, and installed a bell on the non-drive side (based on the directions here)
Once the build was complete, I took it out to Rosaryville State Park in Maryland for a test run. I’d never been to Rosaryville before and it turned out to be not a smooth as I expected (I’ll look forward to returning with my mountain bike some day), but the bike handled everything perfectly!
Since then, I’ve taken it on gravel rides on the C&O Canal Towpath, on sandy rides in False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach, and on flat paved multi-use trails around Arlington, and it’s handled everything perfectly.
I look forward to putting many more miles on the new bike, and to really put it to the test this summer with some longer bikepacking trips!