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Packing a Travel Bike

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

We built an Axiom S with S&S couplers for Mark Slavonia with our friends at City Cycle in San Francisco. This was Mark’s third Seven, and he uses it for EVERYTHING, including a lot of travel riding. We’ve talked about packing travel bikes before, in terms of the features and benefits of the various cases, and we’ve reviewed some of the frame and component choices that make the most sense for travel bikes, but ultimately, your success and enjoyment of bike travel will come down to how easy it is for you to pack and unpack your bike.

Mark wrote up his own bike packing guide and shared it with us. He also weighs in on the merits of the various coupling systems and the cases available. It’s well worth a read.

He says, “My travel bike is  a Seven Axiom with optional S&S couplings.  It weighs 18 lbs, 2 oz. with a 60 cm frame.  The oversized titanium tubing and the stainless steel couplings make it pretty stiff overall, especially for a titanium bike.  I’d use this bike for any ride or race and I never feel compromised by it.”

Thanks to Mark for allowing us to share.

Hulking Chain Stays.

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

You may have noticed in a recent post about Craig Gaulzetti‘s new Axiom SL, that he wanted a race bike.  Craig raced as a youngster while growing up in Belgium, and has never gotten over the thrill of a stiff, speed first, comfort second-if-at-all race bike.  He wanted to recreate the same excitement with his very first Seven, and we were excited to take on the challenge.

Walking around our production floor, the most memorable site is the towering wall of titanium tubing located in the machining area.

photo 3

A section of the titanium tubing wall.

Hundreds of twenty foot tall tubes tower over everything in sight.  Organized by diameter, these tubes will determine how a bike will feel on the road.  To over simplify, a narrow tube will bend and flex over bumps and potholes resulting in a plush ride, but all that flex means the bike won’t explode forward when you stomp on the pedals.  A large tube responds oppositely, bouncing over bumps like a poorly performing suspension, but will take off like a rocket when you mash your pedals.  Most people want bikes that fall somewhere between those two extremes.  No matter how you want your bike to feel on the road, choosing the appropriate tube set is our specialty.

To ensure Craig’s bike was going to bring him back to his racing heyday, some of our most massive tubes were selected, including the Louisville Slugger-esque 1 3/4″ down tube, a 44mm head tube, and a 1 1/2″ top tube.  For most of us, these tubes would yield a bike so harsh, we’d want off.  But Craig was looking for that feeling exactly, so when it came time to select his chain stays, we reached past the traditional 7/8″ tubes, and chose our most hulking, 1″ tube stock.  An additional eighth of an inch in diameter sounds minor, but in both looks and performance, the difference is obvious.  We felt these stays would add the extra boost Craig was after, and his early reports confirm that they have done the trick.


For Craig’s Axiom SL, the 1″ chain stays made sense: the design mission, the size and power output of the rider, and the overall aesthetic were a perfect match.  Though they worked wonderfully for Craig, the one inch stays aren’t for everyone.  More often than not, they are too stout, too heavy, or too limiting in component choices to use.   These large chain stays crowd the bottom bracket junction, leaving only enough room for slick, narrow tires, and are therefore only available on our road bikes.  They are so large and stout, that we do not curve them as you’ll see on all of our 7/8″ stays (as I incorrectly pointed out in my response to Brian S. back in September), they get just a small tire clearance crimp but are otherwise perfectly straight.

If you are interested in discussing whether or not our one inch chain stays are right for you, give us a call!

Working with Titanium

Thursday, March 14th, 2013


We wrote about steel the other day, and how the accepted wisdom regarding steel tube sets simply doesn’t match the reality. Today, we want to address titanium. Interestingly, while riders have believed for years that the type of steel a frame is made from is supremely important (we agree), they have simultaneously assumed that titanium is just titanium, that it’s all the same.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Seven uses mainly US-milled, Cold Worked – Stress Relieved (CWSR) titanium in our custom frames. We do that because no other titanium available today has a longer fatigue life or higher tensile strength. We know that’s true because we have a fatigue tester here in our shop and regularly submit tubes to rigorous testing. Pushing materials to their breaking point is a great way of finding out how good they are, and our research indicates that the titanium we source is the strongest available and maintains that strength over significantly longer periods than the titanium available from mills in Asia.

We always want to use the best materials, because we want to build the best bikes, but we also have a commitment to lifetime warranties that prevents us from cutting corners with lower quality products. When  you buy a custom Seven, you put your faith in us to produce a bike that will fit like a glove, corner on rails and last forever. American CWSR titanium allows us to repay your faith with a frame of uncompromising quality.


Monday, January 21st, 2013

One of the magical things about titanium is the consistency with which it maintains its shape. Subjected to the sometimes punishing forces of riding on road and trail, no other material currently in use in bike frames will find just the right amount of compliance to cushion all those blows, and yet spring back, perfectly, to its original place.

In today’s seemingly inexhaustible (and yet exhausting) search for stiffness in every aspect of bicycle construction, compliance is undervalued.

Think of your typical trail ride. Rocks and roots create chatter. Downed tree limbs punctuate the route. Twists and turns and ruts and stumps, it’s all there. And so, your job, as the rider, is to smooth it all out. You use your body to turn the bike this way and that. You soak up big hits with your knees flexed, shifting your weight forward and back, side-to-side.

The stiffer your frame is, the more of the force has to be dissipated by you, the rider. When you ride titanium, the frame will actually help you with the work by flexing along with your movement, soaking up its own share of the barrage of forces at play as you roll down the trail.

And, those same properties that help you smooth out the trail, produce the same magic on the road as well. A titanium frame works with you in ways that other frames won’t, leaving you comfortable at speed, over greater distances, by eating potholes and road debris, cushioning road chatter and flexing microscopically through turns.

At Seven, we believe that steel and carbon also have strong places in frame construction, but our ongoing investment in and commitment to titanium come from a belief that, for most riders, the compliance a Ti frame offers is a key part of enjoying the ride at whatever speed, over any distance, on any surface.

The “New” Look of Seven: Paint

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

How do you control the look of your product line when your whole business is predicated on letting riders customize every aspect of the bikes you build for them?

For good and obvious reasons, Seven Cycles has come to be associated with the bare titanium frame aesthetic.  In the ‘90s, when we started building custom titanium frames for people, this was very much the current look. And even now, for many people, the classic look of hand-polished Ti is where bike style begins and ends.  It has been a good look and a good association for us, even though it belies the depth of customization available from our paint team.

Today, we are painting approximately 30% of our customer frames, with schemes ranging from the standard paneled look to the exotic and unique.

As a custom builder–and painter–it can be very hard to have any control over your frame aesthetic and people’s perception of you.  We paint what people ask us to paint.  Much of that is influenced by the schemes we display on our website, but our customers’ influence bends and shapes our own ideas, so that the whole thing becomes a big collaboration, a good one.

The challenge is evolving the look of your bikes to make sure you’re always contemporary.  To that end, we’ve replaced 10 of our 20 stock colors and have revised the paint gallery on our web site to display some of the more cutting edge work we’ve done over the last year.

The hope is that by giving our customers some new choices and infusing the process with more ideas, we can take the next step in the collaboration and, together, define the new look of Seven Cycles.


Monday, June 4th, 2012

This is our new Serrano Green on an Axiom S headed for the shipping dock. This, and a number of other new stock colors, are available now for paint-loving customization. See the full spectrum here.

Hand Finish

Friday, April 13th, 2012

The Hand Finish

Frame Refinish-after

You can get your custom Seven painted just about any way you want.  Still, for our bare Titanium bikes, we prefer one finish and only one finish, and people wonder why.

Just to describe what we do, so you have some context: First we take the best US-milled 3-2.5 Titanium tubing available, and we cut, butt, miter and cope it to look like a bike frame.  Then we load it into a frame jig and weld it together, checking alignment 17 times throughout the process.  Finally we face and thread the bottom bracket, before passing the complete frame to our finishers.

That’s when the fun starts.

The finishers take the frame and wheel it out with a buffer.  The first pass eliminates discoloration around the welds.  Then they go at it by hand with some Scotchbrite, before adding decals, head badge and any other accessories on the build sheet. Each bike takes roughly two hours to finish.  It takes a certain amount of patience and strong forearms.

The result is a clean, lustrous look. We like that it exposes every last piece of craft we’ve put into the frame.  You can see the quality of the tubing, the quality of the welds. It lays bare our process.

The reason it’s the only finish we offer is that it’s the only one that will hold up over the lifetime of the bike. If you scratch it, you can Scotchbrite it out and return it to new. Beat it up over time, we can fix it.  There is no point in the future of one of our frames that we can’t restore its original shine.  This is not true of any other Titanium finish we’ve seen or experimented with.

As with everything we do at Seven, “by hand” just seems to yield the best result.


Titanium Seatposts Now Available in 30.9mm

Friday, December 30th, 2011

30.9mm Ti Seat Post

We recently made 30.9mm titanium seat posts available for order.  The first production post went to a customer in Belgium who is 6’8″. Doing these larger diameter posts requires that we make a thinner sleeve for the seat tube.  Every Seven seat tube gets a sleeve, either carbon or ultra-thin aluminum, to keep the keep the post from binding, except, of course, for the integrated seat posts (ISPs) we do for our carbon SLX bikes.

The 30.9mm standard, and indeed the 31.8mm standard, represents a leap forward in the stiffness that can be built into a customer’s bicycle.  While we are making 30.9mm posts available for sale, it is important to note that these will only really benefit larger riders.  Part of the charm of titanium is that it retains a suppleness that makes it comfortable to ride all day.  Over-stiffening eliminates many of the benefits of building in Ti in the first place.

We will also be producing a titanium seat post at the 31.8 standard, though not for use with Seven frames, and again, we would only recommend these for larger riders as they are the stiffest, heaviest posts we make.

As with many of the additions we make to our product line, the 30.9mm seat post is a result of customer requests.  Larger riders want the benefits of riding a custom, Ti bike, but they are concerned that standard tubing, even with thicker tube walls, won’t produce the long-lasting ride feel they’re looking for.  We hope that offering this new, wider post will help them find exactly what they’re looking for.

See the chart for more information about seat posts available from Seven, as well as a comparison of the various standards.  And click here to order.

Seven Seat Posts

Size/Material 27.2mm 30.9mm 31.8mm ISP*
Steel Available x x x
Ti Available Available x x
Ti/Carbon Available x x Available
All Carbon S&SL Models S&SL Models x Available
Aftermarket Available Available Available x
Weight Limit none <240lbs none  <240lbs
Benefits Light Stiffer Stiffest Clean Lines
Considerations none Too stiff for lighter riders Heavy Hard to travel with
Weights 215g @ 280mm; 249g @ 380mm 221g @ 280mm; 252g @ 380mm 243g @ 280mm; 287g @ 380mm Frame Dependent

* Integrated Seat Post

CenterTrack Belt Drive System Review

Friday, November 18th, 2011

CenterTrack in action on the Sola SL

Just as the cold temps of late fall and the ever darkening dawn have crept up on us over the last few months we finally put a – somewhat – reliable group together for early morning mountain bike rides on the local wooded trails.  It’s usually a small group, 3 or 4 of us, with one or two no-shows on any given day.  Lately we’ve had about enough light for about 60 minutes of trail time before it’s time to head home for a toe thawing shower and then off to work.  It’s always a good idea, if you want to keep on riding through the onset of the dark and cold time, to incorporate a new source of inspiration into your cycling arsenal.  This past spring I was able to stoke my own enthusiasm by building up a custom Sola SL 650b single speedNeil drew up the design and incorporated the future compatibility of a belt drive system.  We knew that Gates had its new CenterTrack in the works, so I figured I’d run a chain for the time being and set up the strap once the new system was available.  This bike is a purpose-built shredder designed for the rocky, twisty rolling hills of metro-west Boston’s various town forests and preservation lands.  I opted for fat, tubeless tires and 120mm of travel up front to make bouncing through the rocky terrain as much fun as possible.

Nine months after my Sola’s maiden chain-driven voyage, I finally stepped up and got my hands on the CenterTrack parts.  Gates recommended that I use a 46:28 setup with a 115 belt. It’s close, but a bit lower than my 32:18 chain configuration.  Thanks to Neil’s design precision, and the Eccentric BB on my Sola SL, I’ll be able to run a 26t sprocket with the same belt, and will have a nearly identical match to my chain drive ratio.

Now that I have a few good belt-driven rides behind me, I struggle to find the words to describe why I feel that this is a very worthwhile upgrade.  The feel at the pedals is very direct, there is less resistance than in a chain system, and it just runs quiet and smooth.  The best part about it, though, is that even though the daylight hours are shrinking more each day, and every morning seems to be forecasted a degree or two cooler, I can’t wait to down a hot cup of coffee and head out on the next ride.  At some point, and this will happen soon, someone will interrupt my otherwise peaceful ride through the woods, looking to talk for too long about my belt drive, and as a result I’ll have to cut my ride short or show up late to work.  Other than those possibilities, I foresee no down side.  I can’t wait to test it out on ice and in snow, and through whatever else Mother Nature has to offer in the next few months.    See you on the trails!

-Joe W.




Featured Option: BB30 68mm option now available

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Seven now offers the BB30 oversized bottom bracket option. This new international standard is available as an option on all of Seven’s current titanium and steel frame models.

What is BB30?

BB30 is the term for a new open standard of oversized bottom bracket shell that uses a 30mm spindle and direct-fit, pressed-in bearings.

Why would someone consider BB30?

The design eliminates the use of external cups that are threaded into the BB shell to hold the bearings, reducing both overall bike weight and the q-factor of the pedals. The larger bottom bracket shell also accommodates a 30mm spindle, instead of the more common 24mm spindle. This translates into increased drivetrain stiffness.

Is the BB30 68mm option compatible with my current 68mm English threaded bottom bracket?

No, this new standard requires the use of a completely different bottom bracket from our standard offering, so there are no parts that are compatible with both standards.

How much does the BB30 68mm option cost?

The additional charge for this option is $295.