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Folktales

Friday, March 21st, 2014

One stubborn visa is all that keeps Zand Martin from boarding a plane to Kazakhstan, the starting point of an amazing adventure.  The wait will be over soon though, and in the anxious days leading up to the visa’s arrival, Zand has been hard at work.  For starters, the trip’s website and Facebook page have been created, and are now live!

Zand might be an outdoorsman at heart, but he is a gifted writer and storyteller, too.  When he visited us a few weeks ago, it was apparent that he was biting his tongue to prevent all of the stories from rushing out, perhaps to avoid keeping us there all day.  I doubt we would have noticed the clock, however. His stories sound like folktales.  One such story involved his inland kayak traverse of the United States a few years ago. He came to a point where he could paddle no further, so he bought a $30 bike on Craigslist, built a trailer, and pulled his kayak right through Yellowstone.  I’m sure the buses of tourists took as many pictures of him and his rig as they did the buffaloes that day.

photoTo help us grasp the scale of his latest trip, Zand unfolded all of his maps on out showroom floor.  Laying them out, it was obvious he is a map guy (I wasn’t surprised to see this blog post a few days later).  Some of the maps were what you could find on line, others were old Russian military maps and harder to acquire.  While he was talking us through the route, his enthusiasm, and smile, began to gleam.  If there weren’t bikes to make, we’d be on that trip with him.

Speaking of bikes, Zand has also been using his time to familiarize himself with his Expat S.  His bike is outfitted with drop bars, bar con shifters, mechanical disc brakes, and due to the weight of his gear and the unknown terrain ahead, a triple chain ring.  On his rack, he’ll be carrying a tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear,  a change of clothes, skis, ski boots, an avalanche probe, and camera equipment.  The goal is to carry no more than 35 pounds of gear and equipment.  To see what all of this gear looks like, when spread out and organized over a time lapse video, click here.

And so, our excitement grows for “Circling the Golden Mountains.”  As soon as the final visa arrives, Zand and his partner will be off, and we’ll be that much closer to our next folktale.

Two Hour Loop

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Normally I’d bail on an afternoon ride at the end of October if I knew I had to be back in time to shower and dress in order to make the three o’clock shuttle.  That’s too much pressure.  In Vermont, however, a few weeks past peak foliage is still a feast for the eyes.  My girlfriend and I were in Burlington for a friend’s wedding, and brought bikes on the off chance we could squeeze in a leaf peeping jaunt prior to the festivities.  Midday Saturday presented us with about two hours of down time, so we decided to take advantage even if we had to hurry.

We suited up and shoved off, traveling south towards Mt. Philo.  A few miles out of town and the hills began to roll.  Red and yellow may have been lacking but orange made up for their departure in grand form, blanketing everything that wasn’t Lake Champlain with the rusty colors of autumn.  With each up we’d get a postcard worthy view, albeit brief, before careening back down.  Over and over again.  The higher we climbed, the better the view.  By the time we reached the base of the mountain, it seemed like we could see the entire valley.  We weren’t craving any more climbing, so when the park ranger explained that the road to the top was closed for a car race, we decided to ride around it instead.  The extended loop meant I might not have time to iron my shirt, but I had a sweater I could wear over it, so we carried on.  A few farms, hundreds of cows, and a covered bridge later, we were on the way back to the hotel.

A powerful tail wind helped our time crunch and had us back in just enough time to swap Lycra for dress clothes.  I’m writing this down to serve as a lesson for me, and any of you who also opt to sit out short rides, because in just two hours we had a ride I’ll remember for a lifetime.

burlington 2

Axiom SL: Bicycling Magazine Dream Bike, Part Two

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Axiom SL

We talk about customization a lot, but the word itself means so many different things to so many different people it becomes sort of meaningless, another bike industry buzz word that flies around but seldom lands.  We thought it might be a good idea to explain how WE customize a bike using the Bicycling magazine test bike we built for Joe Lindsey as an example.

The truth is we didn’t want to send Joe an Axiom SL, initially.  When he got in touch with us we were just putting the finishing touches on the 622 SLX, and the opportunity to put our newest creation into a big magazine was exciting.

But Joe didn’t want a purpose-built speed demon.  He was more interested in versatility and timelessness, so we arrived, together, at the Axiom SL.  It’s light, but not the lightest.  It can race, or it can tour.  And it showcases our double-butting process, one of the ways we tune ride characteristics to the rider.

Joe filled out our Custom Kit, a small pamphlet we developed to capture all the ideas a rider has about his or her new bike, and also to learn some things the rider might not mention otherwise.  It starts with personal information, name, age, and weight, but also occupation and geographic location.  We ask about what people do, so that we can get a sense for their everyday ergonomics.  Do they sit at a desk all day or are they more active?  Clues like this tell us a lot about how a rider will approach their new bike.  Where they live gives us some idea about the roads they’ll ride, the hills or the flats, the quality of the surfaces.

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Family Tree of Framebuilding in New England: Red Kite Prayer Addendum

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Patrick Brady wrote a brief history of  New England bicycle manufacturing in the latest issue of Peloton Magazine, “New England Genesis”, and Seven was lucky enough to be included in it.  In his blog, Red Kite Prayer, Patrick elaborates on the interconnectedness of the region’s bike building companies, and created a family tree to illustrate some of the relationships.

We are honored to be a part of this thriving and expanding community, and we wanted to clarify a few aspects of Patrick’s illustration that might be confusing to readers.  Here is a list of framebuilders and bike-building industry people of which we’re aware that started businesses after working with local – primarily Massachusetts – framebuilders.  For example, King Cage is not a framebuilder, but Ron worked at Fat City Cycles so we included him on this list.

A Long History of Photo-Taking

Each company mentioned is a framebuilder, unless otherwise indicated:

Updated 23 December 2011

Seven Cycles

In addition to Red Kite Prayer’s list, here are some companies started by Seven Cycles employees and alumnae, and clarification regarding some of the companies relationships to Seven:

  • Zanconato, Mike Z. was building frames before working at Seven and continues to build frames since his tenure at Seven.
  • SCUL, Skunk.  SCUL is more of a chopper gang than a framebuilder.  Currently works with Seven.
  • Sketchy Cycles, Mike Salvatore.  Currently works with Seven.
  • Banjo Cycles, Ahren Rogers.
  • Rack Lady, Leah Stargardter.  She builds custom bike racks.
  • 333fab, Maxwell Kullaway and Bernard Georges.
  • Icarus Frames, Ian Sutton.
  • Royal H Cycles, Bryan Hollingsworth.  Currently works with Seven.
  • Honey Bikes, Beekeepers.
  • Kualis, Yoshi Nishikawa.  Currently works with Seven.
  • Saila, Lauren Trout.  Currently works with Seven.
  • Bike retailers that originally worked at Seven Cycles and later started or owned bike stores and studios:

Fat City Cycles

Here are some additional companies – beyond what’s mentioned on Red Kite Prayer – started by Fat City Cycles alumnae:

  • King Cage, Ron Andrews – he makes water bottle cages.
  • Igleheart, Chris Igleheart
  • Bomber Cycles, Dave Blakney
  • S.R.P., Jeff Federson – no longer in business; he used to make small parts for the bike industry.
  • Jane Wear, Jane Hayes – no longer in business, she used to make clothing for the bike industry.

Merlin Metalworks

A couple of additional companies not mentioned in the Peleton article:

  • Arctos Machine, Gary Helfrich – no longer in business; Arctos was based on the west coast.
  • One-Off Titanium, Mike Augsburger – he used to make custom bicycles.

Independent Fabrication

Additional companies started by Independent Fabrication alumnae:

  • A.N.T., Mike Flanagan
  • Sputnik Metalworks, Jeff Buckles – he makes framebuilding tooling for the bike industry.
  • Firefly Bicycle

Alternative Needs Transportation – A.N.T

A company to include in A.N.T.’s family tree; more to come, we’re certain:

  • Geekhouse, Marty Walsh.  In the article, it may come across that Geekhouse was born out of Marty Walsh’s work with Seven.  Marty started Geekhouse prior to working with us, ran Geekhouse while he was working with Seven, and continues to operate Geekhouse today.

Serotta Competition Cycles

Yes, we know that New York is not in New England, but Serotta and the Boston bike building scene are connected – at the very least by Whitcomb.  Here are a few additional companies started by Serotta alumnae:

  • Kirk Frameworks, Dave Kirk-Bozeman, Montana
  • K. Bedford Customs, Kelly Bedford
  • Ellis Cycles, Dave Wages

Local Builders

Here are a few framebuilders that didn’t start at a local bike company, as far as we know:

  • Peter Mooney Cycles
  • Hot Tubes, Toby Stanton.
    • Circle A Cycles, Chris Bull.
    • Maietta Cycles, Tony Maietta.
  • Dave Weagle
    • E.thirteen
    • Evil
  • Ted Wojcik Custom Bicycles
  • Rhygin Cycles, Christian Jones – no longer in business.
  • Parlee Bicycles, Bob Parlee.
  • October Hand Made Bikes – no longer in business.

We’re sure we’re forgetting a bunch of people, so please let us know whom we’ve left out!  We thank Patrick for including us in this terrific article.  We hope that after reading Patrick’s work you’ll have a better understanding of the unique history of New England that helped launch so many amazing and innovative companies.