Seven Cycles Blog

#TBT

August 14th, 2014 by Seven

In this vintage photo, Rob explains the rules for the now infamous donut race, an event from our bygone days that required participants to circumnavigate the shop floor.

The best rule was that you couldn’t cross the finish line until your donut was completely eaten.  Certain Seveneers would have an advantage here, fast on a bike and able to choke down a donut in 2 seconds flat.  Fearlessness was also key when cornering hard around a 2-ton Bridgeport.

 

6a00d8354dc5ac69e201053648dcf8970c-320wiessence-of-donut-race

Dems Da Brakes

August 14th, 2014 by Seven

One topic that came up early in our discussions with Patrick Brady about the ultimate travel bike was brake type.  Due to the wide range of tires he’ll be using, and the desire to keep packing and unpacking as simple as possible, Patrick felt cantilevers, or possibly mini-v’s made the most sense.  Easy to set up and adjust, these brakes don’t require any additional tools or time to pack in a case.  Patrick had ruled out cable actuated disc brakes for two reasons, first because disc rotors present a hurdle in the speed of packing the bike, each rotor has to be removed in order to fit, and second because Patrick had yet to find a cable actuated disc brake that he felt was so significantly better than a rim brake, that they’d be worth the hassle.

photo

Before we knew how he felt about brakes though, we took him for a ride.  His test bike was a coupled Evergreen SL, a sort of travel bike prototype outfitted with Shimano’s R517 non-series, cable-actuated disc brakes with 160mm rotors.  The route  (that he would crush us on) was what we call the Battle Path loop because much of the route follows the path taken by the British on their march from Boston to Concord way back in 1775.  Other than an occasional street crossing, nearly the entire ride was off road.  From single track in the Belmont Woods, to the long, swooping, packed dirt trails in Lexington and Concord, we rode through the unrelenting humidity.

Patrick basically rode one handed, using his free hand to snap pictures throughout, so it would appear that his opinions on braking power are believable.  The ride was as fun as it gets, the trail conditions were top notch, and the scenery unbeatable.  We love that ride, and Patrick’s smile suggested he did too.

Something changed for him during that ride.  For the first time, he had a clear cut example, in his eyes, of a cable-actuated disc brake that performed better than a rim brake.  This was an important discovery because many of the rides Patrick has planned for the travel bike are exceptionally rugged and will require a comparably exceptional braking platform.  This isn’t to say cantilevers and mini-v’s couldn’t perform well enough, but he felt the disc was a needed improvement, so much so, that it became a requirement for his travel bike.

Back in the show room, we discussed the pros and cons of each brake type, cantilever, linear pull, medium reach, etc.  There are clear advantages and disadvantages to each style, but for the type of riding that Patrick will use this bike for, especially the challenging off road rides, his choice was clear.

Disc it would be.

evergreen

The question then became, what can we do to speed up the break down time when packing the bike?  Discs come in two mounting styles, six-bolt or center-mount.  We agreed that a center mount, though it requires a cassette tool to install, would save enough time to make it the clear favorite.

Poorer for His Absence

August 12th, 2014 by Seven

williams_v2Sadly, Robin Williams has left the stage. The whole world has lost of one of the great entertainers of our time, but we are also sad as cyclists to have lost a passionate rider, collector, benefactor and friend. We were fortunate to build a couple of bikes for him, to interact with him the way we do with all Seven riders, as a collaborator in the bike building process. Our brief experiences with him suggested he was down-to-earth, humble and looking for the same things we were, the simple joy of cycling, some freedom from life’s cares. He appreciated the finer points of design and craftsmanship. He was a bike nerd.

And because of the way we work, we find that we almost always get more from our customers than they get from us. They teach us to build better bikes. They give us the opportunity to continue practicing our craft. Among the thousands who ride Sevens though, Williams gave us something unique. He taught us how to take ourselves less seriously. As people, and as bike builders, it is an invaluable lesson. We are all a little poorer for his absence.

 

Case Study

August 7th, 2014 by Seven

Spread out in the corner of the baggage claim, the challenge of bike assembly is never more apparent. Hundreds of eyes watch as you unzip the case to see how your bike fared in transit. “What is it?” travelers ask as they see what looks to be a bike in ruins. Your case, small enough to avoid the airline’s bike fees of up to $400 round trip, is just big enough to hold your S&S coupled Seven after some minor disassembly. Just hours ago, and in the calm of your workshop, you packed the bike like a three dimensional jig saw puzzle.  But now, in the wide open airport, curious eyes upon you, building your bike back up is all that stands in the way of you and your adventure.

How long will it take?

One of the main objectives of our collaboration with Patrick Brady, founder of Red Kite Prayer, is to create a bike that is as fast to break down and build up, without sacrificing performance, as possible. There are three main facets, other than the pressure of people watching, that can affect the speed of breaking down and building up of a coupled bike:

  • Case: Not only do cases come in different sizes, but they also come in different materials. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each.
  • Frame and Fork: The size and shape of the frame and fork can simplify packing. By designing your frame to fit you, and a travel case, Seven can ensure the best fit, on both fronts.
  • Components: Cables, brakes, bars, and a variety of other components will have to be removed or adjusted before the bike can be packed into a case.  Selecting parts based on ease of installation can save hours. We’ll discuss components that have proven to be quick to assemble, and a snap to adjust.

Let’s look at the easiest of decisions first, the case.  In determining which case to get, we look at a variety of topics, including bike protection, ease of packing, ease of toting, and how easy the case is to manage after the bike is removed.  There are three styles to choose from:

  • Hard cases:  The most durable option, hard cases do the very best job of protecting your bike. S&S Machining, the same folks who make the couplers for our travel frames, offers hard cases that have a handle on the edge or on the side, that come with two wheels or four, and an array of other options. Many of these options are useful, but especially for transporting the cumbersome case in and out of the airport. Another unforeseen benefit is that they tend to stay a little cleaner than the soft cases. The only drawbacks to the hard cases are that they are heavier, more expensive, and more difficult to pack. The walls of the hard cases are, well, hard and require you to be creative in order to get all of your bike’s contents in the case as they won’t give an inch.

    The S&S Butterfly Latch Hard Case

    The S&S Butterfly Latch Hard Case

  • Soft cases: More or less just a heavy duty bag, soft cases are the lightest, most affordable, break down the smallest after use, and are easiest to pack.  However, they offer very little protection for your frame, and do not keep their shape during transit, exposing your bike to just as many dangers in the bag as out. Great for packing your bike in the trunk of your car, these cases are more or less just a convenient way to tote everything together, but not a great option for airlines.
  • Hybrid cases: These cases are made of rugged nylon, and have reinforced corners to give the case structure and help protect its contents. They are less expensive than the hard case, but are also less clunky. They are more expensive than the soft case, but far more rugged. One major advantage to the hybrid case is that the walls are flexible which makes packing something as oddly shaped as a bike a little easier. Dirt has a way of sticking to the nylon material so the bag loses it’s new feel after a trip or two, but really, there isn’t much to nit pick here.

    The S&S Co-Motion Hybrid Case

    The S&S Co-Motion Hybrid Case

Each material has it merits, but we feel the Hybrid case offers the right blend of frame protection, value, and ease of packing. We’ll address the frame and fork, as well as component options soon.

As always, if you have any questions about travel bikes, this collaboration with Patrick Brady, or anything else for that matter, feel free to call us at 617-923-7774 or email us at info@sevencycles.com. Thanks for reading.

#TBT

August 7th, 2014 by Seven

6a00d8354dc5ac69e20120a5da77d5970c-800wiA (much) younger Rob V with Seven #1, the steel Rex he raced once or twice. He can’t remember.

An Ultimate Travel Bike

August 1st, 2014 by Seven

Opportunities to collaborate with others who think deeply about the bike are extremely valuable to us, and one person we’ve worked with on and off over the entire history of Seven Cycles is Red Kite Prayer founder Patrick Brady. We’ve been searching for a project to work on together for a few seasons now, and finally we have it.

Patrick spends so much of his time flying around the world on cycling trips, and we spend an equal amount of time building bikes for exactly those sorts of far flung adventures, destination rides we’d all love to participate in, that the idea of collaborating with him to create an ultimate travel bike made a ton of sense.  As luck would have it, Patrick was enthusiastically on board.

A week ago, Patrick stopped by to catch up, meet some new faces, and begin talks on the travel bike project.  There was also time for a quick spin on an early travel bike prototype.

Patrick Brady hits the trail.

Patrick Brady hits the trail.

Those talks ended up taking hours, and all topics great and small were discussed.  The result will be a bike specifically engineered to make travel as convenient as possible, without sacrificing the bike’s performance one iota.

We’ll be releasing details as they unfurl, but a few of the parameters we will focus on are:

  • Versatility: Can we do a road event? A gravel ride? A dirt adventure?
  • Pack-ability:  How easy is it to take apart and reassemble the bike?
  • Speed:  How fast can we get on the bike after landing? How much time do we need to catch a flight?
  • Component selection:  Which parts are the most dependable, and how easy are they to repair in the field?

Stay tuned!

 

#TBT

July 31st, 2014 by Seven

We stumbled across a wealth of photos from Seven’s past, and thought we’d share them each Thursday, each Throw Back Thursday that is.  #TBT

Here is our head of production, roughly 17 years ago.

mokeefer

Matt O’Keefe, circa 1997

Cover Model

July 29th, 2014 by Seven

The surprise wasn’t finding the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine in the mail, that’s like clockwork, but to find a Seven on the cover has everyone at the Seven factory abuzz.

Bicycling Magazine

On the cover!

If you look hard enough on page 63, you can make out the blurred lines of our Head of Production Matt O’Keefe and his wife Susi’s Seven Sola 007 SL tandem.  Susi, #547, stands in front of it.

Susi and her tandem.

Susi and her tandem.

But the surprises kept coming!  Our own Brad Smith, and his chiseled legs, can be found on page 65 standing in the Green River during the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee.

photo 3

Brad tests the water.

 

Thanks to Bicycling Magazine for making our day.

125th Anniversary

July 10th, 2014 by Seven

Back when the first signs of Spring were upon us, our friend Larry Burke, Mavic’s OEM manager, stopped in to show us the 2015 wheel line up. Larry makes a point to stop in every year, and each year he brings the same gusto to the unveiling. Each wheel is a little stiffer, a little more aero, and somehow, without fail, a little lighter than the year before. He can explain how each benefit was achieved with the greatest of ease. This year was a little different than normal, however, because Mavic is celebrating 125 years in the bike business, and to commemorate such a feat, they are launching a new brand communications center and Service Course in Los Angeles, CA, as well as producing a limited run of anniversary edition wheels, the Ksyrium 125′s.

Larry explained that Mavic wanted to showcase a few frame builders at the new communications center and invited Seven to participate. Seven has a long history with Mavic, maybe not 125 years worth, but if you thumb through all seventeen years of our brochures, you’ll notice more Mavic wheels than any other brand. Naturally, we were thrilled.

The parameters were pretty open. Mavic wanted to give us the creative freedom to make the bike a representation of our relationship with Mavic both professionally and personally, and hoped that the Ksyrium 125 wheelset would inspire us. They needed the bike in time for the event where it would sit on display until being donated to a Davis Phinney Foundation fundraiser in October. With that, Larry was off, but promised to drop off the limited edition wheels when the bike was ready to build.

Designing a show bike is as fun as it sounds. Sometimes show bikes end up being pieces of art and see little use. Some are far-fetched and end up more like concept bikes not for every day riding. Some end up being an exercise in aesthetics. But this bike was for Mavic. If there is one thing that comes to mind when we think of Mavic, it’s usability. Sure they look great and every cyclist is familiar with the striking yellow and black logo, but first and foremost, their wheels are built to be ridden. So when we designed the bike, drafted the paint scheme, and chose parts, we wanted each element to be as usable as a Mavic wheelset, and as attractive as the 2015 wheels Larry showed us.

Mavic Bike Side DSC_0003

The result, in our eyes, is a stunning bike that is built to be ridden all day, everyday. The titanium Axiom SL frame, stem, and seat post are as ready for the road now, as they will be in fifty years. The components, Shimano Ultegra 6800, are tried and true. The limited edition, matte black, Ksyrium 125 wheels look great, but like the Ksyriums that came before, are ready to log endless miles. The paint scheme stands out because the colors are so striking. A rich glossy black, vibrant Mavic yellow, and subtle matte black accents look racy and pair harmoniously with the wheels. The complete package is a bike worthy of a 125th anniversary party for a trusted partner, and your favorite group ride. The complete bike, as shown, has a retail price of $9,395, though the Ksyrium 125′s are limited.

photo 3 photo 1 photo 2

We’re honored to have played a small role in Mavic’s anniversary celebration, and look forward to the next 125 years of Mavic innovation.

The Pride of Ownership

July 1st, 2014 by Seven

 

TerryBSolaSL29ChristopherW_EliumSLWe are gratified to build bikes for everyone. Every bike presents a challenge. Every bike gives us the opportunity to get better at what we do, to think about cycling in a slightly different way. When a shop owner gets him or herself a Seven, given all the choices available to them, we take particular pride in building it. These are our most demanding customers and our most passionate supporters. Above you’ll find Terry B’s (Cascade Bicycle Studio) Sola SL 29er, and here on the right, Christopher W’s (Victoria VeloTech) Elium SL.