Golden Saddle Rides: The SOMA Electric Wolverine Turn On Your Bike

Golden Saddle Rides: The SOMA Electric Wolverine Turn On Your Bike
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley

One part inspired by the band Electric Wizard and six parts inspired by Erik’s Di2 Alfine 11 Peacock-Nuke AWOL.

While this customer may not be heading off to Europe to participate in The Transcontinental anytime soon, he is riding this thing through the urban jungle we call Los Angeles and participating in daily jaunts through the Santa Monica Mountains.

The new Soma Wolverine was our canvas and the picture which we would paint took longer than some of the most famous oil paintings. Most of the components were no-brainers. While questions like whether to use a belt or chain took a bit longer.

I hope you guys enjoy looking at this bike as much as we liked building it!

p.s. The Soma Wolverine was also reviewed in the latest issue of Bicycle Quarterly. So if you’d like to know more about the performance of this bike, I’d suggest heading to your local bike shop and picking up issue No. 51 of BQ.


Follow Kyle on Instagram and visit Golden Saddle Cyclery in Silverlake, Los Angeles.


  • Keith Lee

    NICE! Can the Son hub charge the battery pack?

    • John Watson

      The short answer: no. Although people claim to have hacked around it.

      • Micah Markson

        I thought Di2 charges by USB? So couldn’t you just plug it into one of those SON-USB stem caps?

        • John Watson

          So… the longer answer is, you don’t get a stable enough charge while riding to effectively keep the battery charged – from what I’ve read anyway – so you can charge a USB battery and then charge your di2 with that.

        • John Watson

          see Erik’s comment above…

      • Erik Nohlin

        I do it – but via the Shimano charger and The Plug by Supernova (Tout Terrain). I generate the energy with the SON – plug the Shimano USB in the Topcap plug and connect it to the hidden charging slot at the Alfine display. Battery in the seatpost. I’ll charge the battery from empty to full in approx 10 miles. Pretty neat.

        • John Watson

          I thought we’d talked about that before (after the Peacock Nuke photoset) and you hadn’t figured it out yet? Oh well, my bad!

        • Micah Markson

          Very cool.

  • Greg

    Who makes that stem? I’ve been looking for a nice polished high rise. looks like on one?

    • D.J. Bolles

      Look for one from IRD(folks that made the crankset on this bike). They have nice, polished high rise stems.

    • arlcyclist

      DJ is right, looks like an IRD Satin Stem, which is available in 25.4, 26.0, and 31.8.

  • Ultraclyde

    That is really nicely done. That is looking a lot like my next bike….but probably not with the e-shifty bits for purely financial reasons.

  • caliente

    Fun build. Interesting dichotomy of new tech + old style.
    Is it bad that I want to put some big fenders on it? :)

  • Trenton South

    This frame is beyond words, So beautiful and versatile. It’s a shame that the Shipping port strike totally screwed up the availability time frame of this amazing bike

  • Erik Nohlin

    Protip: Get the Shimano Tubular battery, put it in the seat post and charge it through the hidden charge port port on the Alfine display. The battery on the downtube is an eyesore on such a rad bike. Also might get snatched when exposed. Beautiful build otherwise!

    • Trevor H

      That is probably a bit more difficult for the general consumer who doesn’t want to deal with voided warranties because they drilled a hole in the frame to run the battery/wiring internally, wouldn’t you say?

    • ND

      Then how would the wire EXIT the frame? You’d have to drill a hole somewhere. No, the down tube battery is a better choice on this externally routed frame.

  • oldmantofu

    Rad photos and write up John. There’s probably a reason you do it this way but I would love it if there was a build list of all the parts. Sometimes we see components here that are head turners or that we didn’t know existed and it would be great to source them on our own. But to do that for every build maybe it’s something you don’t want to get sucked into. Either way, great shots of cool bikes.

    • John Watson

      This was all Kyle’s doing! Not mine.

      • oldmantofu

        Ha. Edited the post. Credit where it’s due. Good on ya.

        • John Watson

          All good! Thanks for the comment!

  • recurrecur

    What’s the bar tape on the rear rack for?
    Better grip for pannier hooks?

    • arlcyclist

      Just a guess, but maybe to dampen vibration between the pannier hooks and rack rails.

      • Arekey

        I think it’s there to protect the wiring who runs over the rack from the pannier hooks.

        • Kyle Kelley


  • D0rk

    I love the Wolverine frameset, and outside of the exposed wiring (knowing there really isn’t a better way to do that without busting out the drill) this is one of my favorite bikes posted to Radavist.

    • dstroud

      My wife’s Soma San Marcos has a vent hole on the bottom of the fork by the dropout as well as vent holes tucked up in the crown area. I was able to feed a dynamo cable through (this takes a lot of luck to get right) and it’s about as clean as you can get. Maybe the wolverine is similar.

  • Chris Valente

    my beef with Soma is their seemingly insanely short tubes that require copious spacers and riser stems. I like to think there is a logical reason for it but I have not heard or read one. I have a Double Cross that I ride more than any of my other bikes and that’s the only thing that bugs me about it. That being said, this bike looks like a blast to ride and in the end that’s all that matters.

    • tony365

      Thats funny I have the oppisite problem with my Soma Smoothie A feature they mention on there web site is a longer head tube for the smoothie but I guess not the double cross, The head tube is about 5mm to long for my taste, but it still gets ridden daily. that aside This bike is supper rad, Cheers

    • John Watson

      I think it has to do with their bikes being more purpose-driven / able to fit more riders with various reach, extension needs than having something tailored with more traditional “race fit” geometry.

      Bikes like VO, Soma, Surly, etc etc all usually play by those rules.

    • Moosemonkey

      My Wolverine is a commuter, My girlfriend has the double cross and it definitely has a shorter head tube than mine. My groove also had plenty of head tube. I think It’s a cross thing, honestly. Maybe they want that? All I know is my girlfriend doesn’t mind the spacers. though I would.

  • dstroud

    The wait for a Wolverine frameset to become available is slowly killing my will to live. First they said Dec, then Jan… now I guess they are tired of guessing because I haven’t received a response. Apparently the last shipment was for 100 framesets and I missed out. Wish we could get on a waiting list.

  • Frank

    Hi. Nice work. Can someone please let me know what the front rack is? Thanks. Frank

  • Matt

    so rad, soooo why a chain over a belt though?

    • Liam Griffin

      Because that frame has no break to allow for a belt drive.

      • Christopher Russell

        It does have a split, the rear dropout is two pieces held together by the slider. I’m currently building three of them at the shop, all belt drive.

        • Liam Griffin

          Really? Awesome, I can’t see that detail in any of the photos. No idea then… I’ve got a Di2 Alfine setup with a belt that is very similar, and can’t think of any reason to go with a chain over a belt, other than the availability of parts & gear combos.

          • Felix

            and maybe initial costs… belt drive is still way too expensive

          • Kyle Kelley

            Gear combos was the main reason.

          • Liam Griffin

            Gearing was definitely a challenge with my setup, limited by the chain stay length / belt length in combo with the 28t Di2 rear end. Is Shimano still only offering one option for Di2 belt setups?

    • John Watson

      Some people like chains. Some people like belts.

    • Kyle Kelley

      This is a long story.

      • Matt

        what was the strength test?

        • Liam Griffin

          Rolhoff has a strict flex test for the rear triangle, and if a frame isn’t on the approved “passed” list it voids the warranty on the hub.

  • The Backyard Project

    aamzing build. I’m wondering what the headlamp is? thanks in advance.

    • Chrue

      it’s a son edelux

      • John Watson

        Nope. That’s an Edelux.

        • Chrue

          darn you’re quick. i edited within the minute i posted ;)

    • John Watson


  • Jake Kruse


  • James

    Nitto Mini (or Mark’s Rack) are great but they’re not great for mounting a headlight (especially a $100 one). Without a dedicated mount you’re forced to jimmy rig a headlight set up and they almost always don’t stay secure. For the price of these Nitto racks I wished they’d add a dedicated mount. Just my .02.

    • Kyle Kelley

      Totally agree!

    • Evan Baird

      Soma makes a light mount specifically for nitto racks.

  • boomforeal

    only apparent *flaw* with this frame’s design is the seat stay brake mount. maybe it’s not an issue? i would have liked to see how the caliper interacts with the rack on the nds

    nice build, lovely pictures. wish my routine included daily jaunts through the mountains

  • nielubieto’em all

    Sorry for lame question – how exactly are (Di2) cables routed? Glued somehow to downtube/stays?

  • Tony Clifton

    “One part inspired by the band Electric Wizard…” Fuck. Yeah.

  • bongofruit

    Potentially dumb question: Is there anything to be said for the electronic shifting mechanism potentially increasing the reliability of an IGH such as Alfine? It seems like an electronic mechanism would possibly alleviate some stress on the hub from manual shifting.

    • Liam Griffin

      I don’t think so. Having set up both mechanical & Di2 Alfine IGH, they both have some of the same known issues. The shifting on the Di2 setup seems quicker and cleaner, but the main advantage ATMO is that on the Di2 all the moving parts are internal, where the mechanical version does still have an exposed shifter cable and mechanism.

      • AlanSchtweetzsch

        Hmmm – would it shift differently if the Alfine had a full-length cable housing?

        • AlanSchtweetzsch

          Thanks for the kind and clear explanation, Liam. That makes me think the electric+Alfine combo would be terrific on a fatbike. I’m in Edmonton, Canada, so do lots of riding in the conditions you targeted. Now I want one!

    • AlanSchtweetzsch

      I have to admit I don’t get it: with an internal hub, the shifting is to fixed positions, and there’s no mud or crud n the way, so how does the electric improve the shifting? I haven’t ridden it, so please understand I’m not saying it may not be better. I can’t figure out *why* it would work differently.

      • Liam Griffin

        On the mech version, there is a small section of exposed cable that allows an external portion of the hub to move. This changes gears internally, and in extreme conditions (like winter here in VT) that cable/noodle/housing section can freeze up (just like any other moving part that gets exposed to the elements). On the Di2 Alfine, that movement happens inside a sealed shifting box, actuated by a small servo motor connected to the etube shift wire. The internals on both hubs are almost identical, but that outboard section is where the small difference comes into play.

        • Guest

          Thanks for the kind explanation, Liam. That makes me think the electric+Alfine combo would be terrific on a fatbike. I’m in Edmonton, Canada, so do lots of riding in the conditions you targeted. Now I want one!

          • Liam Griffin

            The only problem is that Alfine hubs aren’t rated for mountain bikes. If you want a totally bombproof/weatherproof IGH, you can’t go wrong with a Rohloff/belt combo.

  • Nick Pappas

    What font is “Wolverine” in? Holy crap, I need to know.

    • AlanSchtweetzsch

      It looks like Viva to me.

  • iain

    Does anyone know the maximum weight you can carry on that front rack? I have seen 4.4 lbs but that seems too little for anything useful.

  • Óðinn

    Sweet ride. Thanks John. m/

  • louison

    Hi ,
    Very nice bike .
    what is the size of the frame and how did you select ?
    I’m currently has nearly buy a Wolverine but I hesitated on size
    I m 5’11” with 33.1 inseam