Seven Cycles Blog

An Inspiring Evening

August 20th, 2014 by Seven

We are excited to invite you to a special event at 7:00 this Friday evening, August 22nd, at the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, MA. Headlining the night is Patrick Brady, renowned blogger and founder of Red Kite Prayer, author, cyclist, and our long time friend, who will be on hand to read from his new book, “Why We Ride.” If you have ever wondered the same, you’ll find yourself engulfed in this book in no time. The only thing preventing you from turning the pages is the overwhelming inspiration to get out and ride.

why we ride

There will be plenty of time to mingle and share stories of your own, so please join us!

Patrick has also been busy collaborating with us on a travel bike, in fact a new series of bikes designed from the ground up to make transport as easy as possible. He travels around the globe, and the added expense of bringing a full-sized bike on a plane adds up. Together, we set out to develop the ultimate travel bike. Four of these bikes will debut at the event as well, including Patrick’s very own, a bike he’ll be riding for the Franklin Land Trust’s Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee (D2R2) this Saturday.

We’d love to see you, and introduce you to our good friend. Food, drinks, and story telling will all be provided. Additional details can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/events/278740662331944/
For sneak peaks of Patrick’s new travel bike, follow us on Instagram, (http://instagram.com/seven_cycles) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/@sevencycles).

Travel Specific Frame Details

August 20th, 2014 by Seven

We’ve written a little about the design mission behind Patrick Brady’s ultimate travel bike, to recap and over simplify, it’s going to be a coupled bike that is capable of tackling road rides, off-road adventures, and rides that haven’t been dreamt up yet. This will be Patrick’s dedicated travel bike, so it has to be adaptable to whatever surfaces he rides on and still fit into an S&S case.

Packing a bike in a box, 26″ x 26″ x 10″, is an interesting project. Bikes are oddly shaped machines, and are far better off being pedaled to where they are going than being shipped. Adding S&S couplers to the bike is a huge help when packing, but more can be done, and that is exactly what Patrick and our design team focused on, once his fit was complete.

Patrick's Cad Drawing

Patrick’s Cad Drawing

The plan was to design a frame that would take up as little room in the S&S case as possible without sacrificing the bike’s performance, then build the bike with components that were easy on, easy off. Starting with the frame, we made the following design choices:

  1. Top tube slope:  A smaller frame, in general, fits in a case more easily than a large one. To make Patrick’s frame as compact as possible, we sloped the top tube ten degrees. This aggressive slope will leave more space in the case for other essentials without compromising performance or the number of water bottles he can use.
  2. Cable stops at Head Tube:  Handlebars can be one of the trickiest pieces of the bike to pack. They are oddly shaped no matter how you position them, and the cables and housing sprouting off in all directions only adds to the struggle. Having a handlebar that isn’t attached to the frame, rear brake, or the derailleurs is a real advantage when packing a bike. By using slotted cable stops in lieu of barrel adjusters, and a set of DaVinci cable splitters, the handlebar can be freed from the bike with relative ease. While we would normally recommend barrel adjusters for on the fly derailleur adjustment, in this case they don’t allow for an easy way to detach the cables from the frame. Slotted cable stops eliminate this problem, and in-line cable adjusters will take care of any derailleur tweaks, so that is how we will outfit Patrick’s bike.

    photo 3

    Cable stops, not barrel adjusters at the head tube.

  3. Disc mount:  Most Seven road bikes that are equipped with disc brakes and also don’t have rack or fender mounts, have the rear brake caliper mounted on the back of the seat stay, above the drop out. The logic behind this location is that the brake is perched on the outside of the frame making it easy to work on when needed, and allows for a traditional cable routing path, along the top tube and down the seat stay. In a cramped case, where every inch counts, we think the “low mount” disc brake location makes the most sense. Welded on top of the chain stay, the low mount positions the brake caliper within the frame’s rear triangle, not only protecting it from getting dinged in travel, but also freeing up more space in the case.

    photo 1

    Low mount disc caliper location.

  4. Cable stops for Disc Brakes:  When riders choose to run disc brakes, they often choose zip tie guides as the means to affix the housing to the frame. This set up allows for both mechanical and hydraulic brakes to be used, and leaves the option open to use either throughout the lifetime of the bike. We felt the serviceability of mechanical disc brakes made the most sense for Patrick’s travel bike today, and for many years to come. Once we came upon that decision, we could then make the switch to slotted cable stops, again adding to serviceability, and ease of assembly.

    Cable stops from lever to caliper.

    Cable stops from lever to caliper.

Once we begin building the bike, we’ll discuss some of the ideas behind Patrick’s component selection.

#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.