Softride Solo 700

If you’ve never seen a Softride, or bikes that look like it, you might be wondering what’s going on here.  No, this isn’t a folding bike.  Rather, it belongs to a class of bikes known as beam bikes.

Beam bikes place the seat on a beam that attaches to the frame near the head tube and suspends the rider over the rear wheel without a seat tube or other support.

There actually are a few different manufactures of this frame design, many of them competitive.  They had a growing following in the 1990′s among the time trial and triathlon crowd, up until the UCI got involved.  In 1999, the UCI banned beam bikes – or more specifically, any bike without a seat tube – from competitive events, declaring them an unfair advantage.

The particular beam bike pictured in this article is a Softride Solo 700, and it is currently doing duty as a commuter bike.  It belongs to Mario, who picked it up from the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen.

The concept of a beam bike works well for a commuter.  On the solo 700, for example, the beam is made of carbon fiber.  It is, essentially, a long shock absorber that helps isolate the saddle from the road vibrations and bumps.

Softride is no longer manufacturing bikes and closed the doors on their Bellingham, WA beam back operations in 2006.  However, they seem to still have a very active following among owners and riders.

Softride invented and popularized carbon beam bikes. For a brief time, Softride was the fastest growing bike company. Their bikes consistently set records and won Ironman triathlons. After the UCI banned beam bikes from competition, Softride quit bike production in 2006

One of the first questions you may have is how to adjust the saddle height.  If you look closely at the mount point of the carbon fiber beam (pictured above) you see that it is in fact a pivot point.  This allows you to rotate the beam and raise or lower the saddle compared to the pedals.  In addition, the saddle itself offers adjustments of both rotation (nose up/nose down) and fore-aft placement.  Ultimately you actually get a large amount of adjustment potential.  Some, however, state that these adjustments can be more difficult to get dialed in right compared to a more traditional seat tube design.

Be sure and give Mario a wave if you see him cruising around Sacramento.  Cheers for being a bicycle commuter, and cheers for helping to keep a part of cycling history alive.

  • http://twitter.com/PaulCrescione Paul Crescione

    I miss my old Softride. I rode one since the company sponsored our college triathlon team (UCSB). I loved that bike! The frame is still hanging up in the rafters of my garage with a crack in the down-tube.

  • Megharr36

    I love my softride, but having difficulty figuring out how to use it for commuting to work. Can’t seem to find a rack to carry all my crap in that works with my “special” bike. any tips?

    • http://justanothercyclist.com/ JustAnotherCyclist

      That’s a great question, and Mario and I had basically the same conversation. Basically you’re ou of luck for anything that hangs off of the back. There is a possibility you could find a rack for the front that would allow you to hang panniers on the sides of your forks. I’m guessing that you have the stock forks without eyelets in them, so you would need something that specifically works in that application.

      On the high end of the quality and price scale you could go with one of the Tubus Lowrider racks. Tubus has the adapters I was talking about above. Not sure it would actually fit, but this gives you the idea. Ortleib is their importer in the United States (they are made in Germany) and you can find them at http://www.ortliebusa.com/cartgenie/prodList.asp?scat=15

  • Harjono Siswanto

    I Also love my power curve soft ride..everything still works well, and I still use it down and up the hill here in Borneo Island, Indonesia
    Bravo Soft ride!!!

  • Harjono Siswanto

    I Also love my power curve soft ride..everything still works well, and I still use it down and up the hill here in Borneo Island, Indonesia
    Bravo Soft ride!!!