We spend all our time building custom bikes and talking about custom bikes and trying to tell the story of custom bike building. So it’s sort of mind blowing when you work with a customer who fully documents the process from their own perspective, and you get to read it and it opens your eyes to what it is you really do.
A recent Expat S build, for Dan H, gave us this opportunity. Dan has an excellent, personal cycling blog, and he starts right from the beginning on this project, narrowing down his choices and ideas. Then he orders his Seven and does a deep dive on the details. Then we detour into naming the bike, a process that is equal parts goofy charm and intimate portrait of how bicycle riders bask in the culture of riding bikes. That part was pretty inspiring. At last, Dan comes to visit while we are building his bike, and then we deliver it to him.
You can read for yourself that Dan is quite a character, a passionate cyclist, a big thinker. Getting to know our riders is one of the very best parts of doing things the way we do. That Dan is local to Seven and comes to us through the excellent Ride Studio Cafe is great, but we have had this sort of experience with riders from Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, Germany, Spain, the UK, Texas, California, and Ohio, too.
We got this note and photo recently from Kate Harris whose book, Lands of Lost Borders, was just written up in the New York Times Review of Books. It’s been a good year for Kate, and if you’re looking for a good holiday (or any time) read, we recommend Lands of Lost Borders. It’s a good and powerful reminder of the value of exploration, no matter where you are.
Thanks so much for the newsletter love for my book, Seven!! I’m forever grateful for your support of our wild Silk Road ride, and I’ve taken my loyal Expat S steed on several bikepacking epics since, including a winter ride from Dawson City in the Yukon above the Arctic Circle to Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories via the now-defunct “ice highway.” Skinny wheels, studded tires, loaded bike, sheer ice—no problem. Warm wishes to all of you at Seven, and I hope I can someday get back to Boston and visit you!
Bob came to visit us last week, as many of our riders do. But he didn’t drive up in a car, fresh from the airport. Instead, he rode his bike here, a heavily loaded Expat SL he got from our friends at Sabino Cycles in Tuscon.
He came, indirectly, from Santa Monica. Setting out from California, the Pacific Ocean swelling and rising behind him, he took Route 66 through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Moving forward about 50 miles a day, he commented to us that he could have come faster, but he prefers to eat at all the diners, to talk to all the people.
From the end of 66, he rode north along the shore of Lake Erie to Niagra Falls, then the Erie Canal Path to Albany. He rolled through Western Mass, and on into Boston, where he stopped in to have his picture take with Tim, who welded his bike. He left us after a few photos and a good chat, and continued on to the Atlantic Ocean.
We got a thank you note from him a day later, which closed with a quote from the iconic writer of Western novels Louis L’Amour: “Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.”
Thanks for coming, Bob, and thanks for stopping to talk.
We are lucky. We know it. All day, every day, we work with people on bikes they will do amazing things with, and sometimes, as we found out recently, they’ll even write books about those things.
Longtime followers of this blog will possibly remember the Cycling Silk Project, undertaken by Kate Harris and Melissa Yule in 2011, when, in their own words they, “lurched off the European shore of Istanbul, Turkey with overburdened bikes and quaking legs. Just a few days ago, in late October, we pedaled into Leh, a small city barnacled onto the Himalayan mountains in northern India. In the months between, we consumed roughly 10,000 packs of instant noodles to fuel nearly 10,000 km of riding, polishing our souls on roads rough as pumice on this pilgrimage to the Silk Road’s wildest mountains and deserts.”
We got a copy of the book in the mail recently, and it was nice to walk back down memory lane and hear an expanded version of a story we followed closely as it was going on. We were enormously proud to build the bikes Kate and Mel rode, a pair of Expat S off-road touring machines. These bikes played into our thinking as we evolved designs of the early Evergreens, so they, and this project, were highly inspiring and influential for us.
The book is available now. We recommend it highly.
Here is a do-everything touring machine we built for Joe with our friends at Spokes, Etc. in Alexandria, VA. This Expat SL incorporate S&S couplings, front and rear rack & fender mounts, a kickstand, Rohloff belt drive, generator hub, extra water bottle mount and a pump peg. We like this build because it really demonstrates the extent to which a rider can personalize a Seven to produce what is, for them, the ultimate bike for the purpose (or many purposes).
Photos by Mike Gregerson