Craft v. Production: Who Built Your Bike?
What is so special about a Seven? We get asked this question all the time. A custom bike is an investment, and people want to know the money they’re spending is being put to good use. They want to understand the real value of working with Seven.
First of all, what is the value of a custom bike? An apple is not an orange. They’re both fruit, but they’re just not the same thing. In much the same way, a production bike is not the same thing as a custom bike. They’re both bikes, and all bikes are good, but there are some big differences.
The first question you want to ask is: Who is building your bike?
More and more, production bike companies have become design offices. Significant R&D and design time is put in on the front end before a detailed design is sent off to an Asian factory where the actual bikes are built in batches, by size.
Make no mistake. The bikes being built in Asia can be quite sophisticated. Carbon fiber construction techniques in particular can be complex, nuanced and vary wildly depending on the company the factory is building for. The workers in those factories are not inexperienced bike builders, nor, in most cases, are they simply stamping bike frames out of molds.
They are also not, by and large, avid cyclists. True road and mountain biking, have limited appeal in the manufacturing region of China. So, while the workers who build production bikes may be highly skilled, they seldom, if ever, bring an experience of or passion for cycling to their everyday work.
Our craftspeople are also riders. They use the products they make. In many cases they race on our bikes, train on them and commute on them. They know what makes the bikes good and learn what can make them better. It informs their craft and ties them more closely to our customers, who are living and riding the same experience.
There is also a positive feedback loop we get from pairing the designer with the craftspeople. Any new design that comes into the factory gets evaluated by the people who will build it. They bring up tooling or materials challenges the designer might not have considered. The design gets refined. It gets prototyped and ridden by the builders.
Is it important for the people building your bike to be knowledgeable, passionate cyclists? Is it important that the craftspeople cutting your bike’s tubes can talk directly to the people who designed it? We think so. This is what you get when you invest in a custom bike. This is what you get when you buy a Seven.