Soma C-Line First Impression

The New C Line Tires are available CLICK HERE to purchase

We have been working with soma since last Spring to bring some wide, supple, high quality tires to market.  The results are in and the new C-Line tires are looking great out of the box, and on initial test rides.

Background:  There has been a bit of a hole in the market for a well made, light weight and wide 700c tire.  I have been happy with their New Express 700×37, but having ridden both the NE and B-Line versions of this tire in the 650b size I knew that there could be more.  Starting with everything good about the well-regarded Panaracer Pasela and New Express tires, the inquiry was made about the status of their 700x3xxmm molds.  Apparently it had worn beyond use, they were in the process of making new molds and we were given a bit of a clean slate.  Taking notes from the B-Line we asked for the tread width and pattern of the 35mm Pasela, the casing of the 37mm, No extra protective lining, a folding bead, and since we were going this far we asked for color options on such a relatively small run of tires.  Panaracer said yes, and the wheels were rolling.

The first batch made its way from Japan to Soma and now us.  Testing and distribution began yesterday.  Using aspects of a proven design and partnering with a high quality producer like Panaracer we are confident that the tires will meet and exceed expectations.  This batch has two color options, Terra Cotta with tan skin walls and Black with Tan skin walls.  The color does not influence performance, and is only aesthetic.  I will be riding a set of the Terra Cotta tires over the next few months.

10.28 cl initial WP-2Knowing that the question will be asked the first thing i did after opening them up was take them to the scale and compare the weight to an existing 700×37 New Express.

10.28 cl initial WP-114082610.28 cl initial WP-2-2The 76g drop per tire totals up to a savings of over a 1/4 pound of rotating mass.  Paired with a lighter wheel set like the Velocity A23 rims and some light weight tubes the weight savings can add up fast.  The weight saving in the tire comes from two places.  The C-Line has a different, slightly narrower tread pattern, as well as no hypertext protective casing.

10.28 cl initial WP-2-4 10.28 cl initial WP-2-3Both of these characteristics not only shave weight but decrease rolling resistance.  This translated into a tire that is easier to accelerate to speed, keeps rolling longer, and delivers the silk pillow like ride that only fat tires can give.  The days of wide tires being perceived as heavy and slow are quickly coming to an end.

Next up was getting them mounted up on My Velocity A23 rims, which are known to have a tight fit, particularly when tires are new.  I am happy to say that both front and rear went on with my hands only, no tire levers needed.  They inflated round and evenly along the bead without talc on the tube or any of the other tricks like soapy water at the bead.

10.28 cl initial WP-1140839Even with a week of my left hand attacking my right, there was new undue struggle or pain.

10.28 cl initial WP-2-5the tires slid on, the bead popped into place around 60psi.  I took them up to 110psi to give a bit of initial stretch and confirm evenness than backed them off to 60psi for a starting point to wide.  Initial width on the 23mm rims is 37.8mm, and I am sure they will stretch a bit in the first weeks of riding.

10.28 cl initial WP-2-6The only downside I can see to these tires is the lack of sidewall protection.  This is not a surprise and is part of the design.  Only putting the tread rubber where you really need it.  The thickened tread section wraps just to the road side of the tires apex or bulge.  The price of improved performance on the road means that these may not be the best choice for dirt roads with sharp or tall rocks.  Like all things in life there are tradeoffs, performance often coming at the cost of durability.

10.28 cl initial WP-1140842I have been able to get out for a quick 8 miles or so, and am very happy with the ride quality.  They feel in many ways just like the B-Line, as they should, but with the subtly different handling that the larger diameter brings to the equation.  Like new “component” day often does I am excited to get out there and put some miles on these.  Follow up impressions will come in a couple of weeks.

The C-Line tires are available through out storefront HERE at $98 a set

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9 Responses to Soma C-Line First Impression

  1. doug peterson says:

    This is good news. I’ll be looking for my pair shortly, and will get them mounted & rolling right away.

  2. Rod Bruckdorfer says:

    You can save about 88 grams per tire by doing a tubeless setup with Stan’s Notube. This produces a lighter more supple tire and a faster tire because there is no friction between the inner tube and casing.

    • Rob says:

      The thought of tubeless has crossed my mind, and is part of why I opted for the A23 rims when I went with this wheel set. I am still not 100% convinced it is a good idea at the pressures I run, 55-65psi. I know that seems high in general for wide tires, but I still tip the scales over 200 and so it makes sense. Also, while I know some people have had success running the B-Line tubeless it is not really what it was designed for, nor the C-Line so I can not endorse the application. All that said it is still tempting, and I will let the pressure creep down on these and see where things go…

    • Hmmm… perhaps I need to do some research on what tires and rims can be made tubeless… The Stan’s site mentions the possibility of a “catastrophic blowout,” which is unappealing.

  3. Michael Mann says:

    I’m loving the smooth ride of the B-lines. Good to know it can be replicated on a larger wheel.

  4. I SO need a double cross

    • Jak says:

      Um, ya yoo doo! I found an ’08 frame/fork w/ a CK headset on ebay for under 350$ earlier this year! It has been the perfect cx/light touring bike! Easton EA50 wheels ftw.

  5. chris says:

    What fenders are you using with this tire? They look like the VO Zeppelin 52mms? Do you think these tires would have enough clearance with VO 45mm fenders?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, they are the 52mm VO Zeppelin fenders. Based on my experience fitting the B Line (650b version) with 50mm honjo fenders, that is about as tight as I would want to go. I think that 45mm metal fenders would be too close for my comfort without a large vertical gap of 30mm or more.

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