There is a practical side to picking the tubes for a custom bike frame, and there is an aesthetic side. There is a science, and there is a craft. What we think will match the rider’s preferred ride feel, sometimes doesn’t match the rider’s stated desire for “fat tubes,” which can be very stiff. As with all things custom design and build-related, finding the right balancing points make all the difference. The key to success, then, is having enough options to create a balance. We have a whole wall of different-sized tubing, steel and titanium and carbon, multiple diameters and wall thicknesses, and then in many cases we butt those tubes to further refine the bike’s ride feel.
But backing up, we take a lot into consideration when picking the tubes for a rider’s new bike. Some of it is formula, knowing what has worked for rider’s of a given size for a given style of riding. But then you have to consider their aesthetic preferences too, how aggressively they want the frame to handle, how comfortable they want to be. You make little adjustments to the tube spec, based on experience. This is the craft part.
Matt O., our production manager, says, only half-jokingly, that when he specs tubes for a bike, he looks at the rider’s profile and asks how that rider is different from him in size and/or in the way they want their bike to feel. Then he adjusts from what he would build for himself.
There are also factors like racks and fenders to consider. Will the supporting tubes take additional weight and strain. We adjust for that.
We say that every Seven is different. Every one is unique, and that is pretty literally true. There are so many levels of customization that goes into each bike. The tube set is just one of them, but it’s a valuable one. It’s part of what makes the difference between any old bike, and your bike.