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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.

Inspiration Everywhere You Look

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

When you love something very much, say for example a bicycle, then you spend so much time with it that eventually you stop seeing it.  Or at least you stop seeing it with the fresh eyes that helped you fall in love with it in the first place.

In designing and building bikes all day, every day, day after day, year after year, for decades, it’s possible to lose sight of what you’re doing.  Even when you’re achieving your stated purpose, inspiration can ebb.

Like a bike race, where you have your head down, and your entire focus is on the work of staying in the group.  All you know is your legs are burning, and your chest is heaving.  And if you keep your head down like that, you’ll miss the winning move.

So we build bikes all day, every day, but we also pick our heads up and look around us.  There is so much there to inspire.  Some of the things you see stick with you, either consciously or unconsciously, and then find their way into your design work.

Or maybe, you are so taken with an object that you look it up. You learn how it’s made, and in discovering that process you find a better way to make something you’ve been working on forever.  In the best cases, this whole process leads to solutions for seemingly intractable problems.  You didn’t expect this, but there it was, in a sculpture park or parked out behind a shopping center, just waiting for you to see, if you can remember to look.


Photos by Seven’s own Matt O’Keefe.

Customer Review: Axiom SL

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Andrew on his Axiom SL

Our group of riders smashed through the messy roadway. The speed plummeted as riders on light carbon frames balked at the clacking and popping sounds of their gear shuddering across uneven roadway. I was keenly aware that my speed remained stable as I slid to the front to plan my endgame. Stiff enough to feel… but the suspension of titanium was all there. Goldilocks would have been impressed.

Just prior to the holiday break, we were treated to a lovely long term review of an Axiom SL, courtesy of a blog post by Andrew Kerslake.  Unlike many other reviewers, Andrew bit his tongue until he logged many miles over a wide variety of terrain, and then commenced on crafting a thorough report.  We are pleased that he is enjoying his new bike, but especially enjoyed reading his entertaining blog entry, which was full of insight and energy.

Before deciding which bike he wanted, Andrew did a fair share of research and soul searching,

We take on a certain degree of ownership that extends beyond the product and into the brand. The brand’s identity often speaks to our own identity.” 

However, as an avid cyclist, Andrew knew what type of outfit he was looking for,

a titanium race bike to be agile enough for Taiwan’s roads, stiff enough in the drivetrain and stiff enough in the front and rear triangles to transfer over a fair amount of road feel to better assess my tack on the surface. I also wanted the bike to be just, and only just, comfortable enough to handle my notoriously long rides over Taiwanese roads. I also needed a bike aggressive enough for Taiwan’s yearlong bicycle event season. I wanted something that would be comparable to the carbon performance bikes, but still hold that solid metallic feel that I love with the durability of titanium. I have been known to be a bit careless or a klutz.

We were lucky to have been chosen to turn his dream into a reality.

The results? 

After each ride, no matter the distance or amount of effort, I can get off the bike and feel fresh. I can still run around and walk normally. I might be tired, but not beat-up.

We hope you enjoy the review as much as we did.  Thanks to Andrew for the stellar report.