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Archive for the ‘Axiom SL’ Category

A Holistic Approach

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Axiom_TraceEvery new bike purchase is, in a very real way, a design challenge, engineering the best possible solution for the type of riding you want to do. How you address that challenge can vary wildly, from choosing an off-the-shelf bike that already does most of what you want it to do, to building a fully custom bike.

When we think of a new bike at Seven, we start our own design process with material choice. What frame material makes the most sense? Steel has a unique ride feel, bright and lively, comfortable. In the hands of a good builder, steel can be light, too. Titanium can be lighter still, and just as comfortable. It won’t corrode, will survive better in a crash, can be repaired. In a word, it is durable. And finally carbon fiber, which is even lighter (in most cases) and stiffer. It dampens vibration well, but is not generally as durable as titanium or steel, nor as naturally comfortable.

John Lewis' Axiom SL towards DSC_0016We think it’s important to start at the beginning, with frame material, rather than jump forward to decisions based on component spec or features. The riders we talk with every day know what they want their bike to do. Why not choose the material that does those things best, rather than settling for a bike retro-fitted to do them.

As an example, many carbon fiber road bikes have some sort of impact dampening system built in, something to take the edge off, either an elastomer insert or a suspension pivot. What this suggests is that the base frame material wasn’t the best choice for the purpose, a more compliant material like steel or titanium made more sense.

622-slx-mainWe also know that it is possible to get benefit from multiple frame materials, which is why we build mixed material bikes like our 622 SLX. Here again, we try to take a holistic approach, matching the materials to the purpose from the beginning of the design, instead of engineering ways to overcome a material’s weaknesses. The 622 SLX uses frame material to incorporate the stiffness and lightness of carbon fiber with the compliance and structural strength of titanium. It looks pretty good, too.

When you take a holistic approach to bike design, you work forward from the frame material’s capabilities, rather than working backwards from its limitations. This is what we try to do, with every bike.

 

 

 

Things That Last – Before and After Axiom repaint

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

We built this Axiom SL in 2002, for a customer who has since worked with us on two more bikes. This winter, he decided he wanted to update the look of this bike after 13 years on the road. He sent it to us to strip and repaint. This is what it looked like when we got it, not bad for its vintage, not bad at all.

We tell our riders we’re building them a lifetime bike, that they’ll still be riding it in decades. We think it’s one of the big selling features of a Seven, but in the excitement of getting a new bike, few really appreciate the value of the long term. You can’t blame them, they’re getting a new bike.

But now, 18 years into our bike building adventure, we are seeing bikes coming back for refinishes and repaints, and we send every one back out the door looking as good as it did when it was new. Many of these frames are a decade or more old.

There’s a story in this that resonates with these times: ¬†about quality, about not making disposable stuff, about caring for and fixing things instead of throwing them away and buying something new.

Here is the after shot of the bike above:

We hope we’ll see it back again in 10 or 15 years for another update.

One Bike (to Rule Them All)

Monday, March 16th, 2015

There is a difference between a fad and a trend. A fad is an idea that pops up, becomes popular and then disappears after folks figure out it’s not as great as it first seemed. A trend is a gradual change in the way things are done. It can be hard to distinguish fads from trends. We struggle with this all the time. As builders of our own bikes, we can’t just be concerned with whether something is popular at the moment, we have to think through how to produce it, whether the resulting product is more valuable to our riders than the ones we already make, and whether developing the fixturing will be worthwhile over a period of years.

Recent seasons have¬† produced some interesting trends, for example the growing interest in mixed-terrain (or “gravel”) bikes and on the mountain side of things, the emergence of the 650b (or 27.5) wheel size. These are both good trends for us, because, as custom builders, we already have all the capabilities we need to produce them. What looks like fragmentation in the market, the splintering of categories, actually looks to us like a convergence of our skills with what the market wants.