With Summer Receding

It was cold in New England when we woke up this morning. It was a pleasant change from the tropical, late summer heat we’d been pedaling through. It was also a reminder that the summer, despite the weather, is quickly receding. It’ll be October when we unlock the shop door on Monday.

We are still in the thick of building our 20th season’s worth of bikes and still basking in the gratitude of being able to do what we do. Our riders call and write. They stop by to visit, to see the shop, and it reinforces for us how valuable the bike is as a way to connect to people with cycling. The bike is almost secondary. Almost.

We thought we would celebrate 20 years more, but the truth is we are as busy as ever, with our heads down building bikes. It’s the bike-builder equivalent of the paceline rider only lifting his or her gaze when coming to the front of the line.

The cold morning air coming in at the window woke us up. What a great season it has been, again. What cool bikes we’ve been able to deliver, and at the root of it all, what nice people we’ve been able to meet.

As some of the crew in the shop has begun racing cross over the past few weeks, our riders are also shifting gears, thinking of cross, mixed-terrain, mountain, plus and fat bikes for the end of the calendar year. Of course, it’s always sunny and warm somewhere, so we’re not done building the many varieties of road bike we make either.

A shift in seasons is usually bittersweet, right? Part of you rues the swift passing of time and regrets not having done more, the other is excited for the things the new season brings. Mostly we feel that excitement. We are moving forward so quickly, with new bikes, new forks, new industry partnerships that will deliver even better bikes to our riders, that it’s hard to think much on the summer. Something new is blowing in the window, and we can’t wait to see what it might be.

The King and Us

We (and our customers) are in the very fortunate position of being able to choose what parts we put on our bikes, so it’s no surprise that we choose to work with companies who share our passion for quality, durability, and simplicity.

Chris King Precision Components has made bicycle components since 1976, focusing on those same principles. Like us, they take a ground up approach, engineering and manufacturing their own bearings, specifically for bicycles, right in their own factory.

Over the years, we’ve seen their headsets go from frame to frame. We’ve seen hubsets survive jarring crashes and seemingly intolerable conditions. These are parts that have carried their riders to   Tour de France podiums and World Championships in the dirt, but they also go on Sevens every day. We are proud to work with Chris King and put their headsets, bottom brackets and wheelsets on our bikes.

When you make good things for people, things that last, they reward you with loyalty. King has earned that sort of loyalty over their 40 years in the bike game. A touch of color pressed into a head tube or that distinctive angry bee hub sound lets you know you’re riding with a King devotee. It’s a loyalty born of those bedrock beliefs in value, quality, and performance, values we share and deliver with every bike.

A Night to Feel Lucky

It was a night to feel lucky. We worked late, in the city, talking bike building with a small group of interested cyclists over pizza and cooler full of cold drinks, one of those nights where the conversation just flows, bike people talking about bikes, none of us in any rush to be anywhere else.

When we finally packed up and left the sun still hung above the river, gauzy cloud muting it and giving it color. People ran and walked. Sailboats cut and darted on the water, and cyclists pedaled past in every direction.

Probably every night is a night to feel lucky, but last night, as we wound our way back down the river and out of the city, struck just the right note, the right scene, the right pace, the right temperature and distance, everything falling into place in just the right way.

The Numbers

As you can imagine, at a company whose name is Seven, numbers play an immeasurable part in everything we do. The name Seven, just to get this out of the way first, is a product of our desire to build bikes to be ridden on the seven continents, a lucky number, a prime number, and even as a word, a symmetrical combination of letters that looks good on a down tube.

The 622
The 622

Taking a step backwards to six, the first number in the name of our category defining 622 SLX, we find carbon, the sixth element in the periodic table. Carbon fiber is the defining element of the 622 line of bikes. It brings elemental lightness to those bikes. High frequency vibration, radiating up from the road or trail, disappear between the fibers.

Now jump forward to twenty-two in that same table, titanium, the metal that launched our bike building careers. Five times the strength of steel at the same weight, titanium moves with a rider like nothing else. It flexes and returns microscopically, soaking up the lower frequency jolts that push beyond carbon fibers range. Titanium smooths the ride, keeps your tires connected, spares your muscles. It won’t rust. It holds a shine like little else.

A Long History of Photo-Taking
A Long History of Photo-Taking

Nineteen is another prime number. Nineteen is the number of years Seven has been building and delivering bikes. Our second full decade is there on the horizon. And, with apologies, we are primed to do our best work. This year’s R&D effort will produce a slew of new products, new bikes, new forks, new frame components. We have already begun planning limited editions for our anniversary, already begun gathering the ideas that have been developing over those decades.

There are so many more numbers, too. Too many to call out, the lengths and angles of every rider-specific frame we’ve designed, more than 30,000 of them, the number of bike and component companies we’ve partnered with, the hundreds of bike builders we’ve been fortunate enough to train and learn from in return, and of course, all the riders, many of them with two, three and more bikes they asked us to build for them, maybe the most important number of all.

Open

One of the great gifts we receive, as bike builders, is riders who come to us with an open mind and an interest in collaborating on the design of a new bike. We try not to be in the business of telling people what they want. Better bikes come from listening.

12189841_956764771063013_411348361520900486_nThis is a challenge. We’ve been at this nearly 20 years, and while the accumulated experience of more than 30,000 builds is likely our greatest asset, there is still so much room for riders to teach us about what might make a bike great.

Open exchange like this creates buy-in on both sides, or all three sides, when you consider the bike shop who provides us with fitting and measurement data, with another set of eyes on the project. What we end up with is a bike that everyone is happy with, proud of even, because we built it together.