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Travel Specific Frame Details

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

We’ve written a little about the design mission behind Patrick Brady’s ultimate travel bike, to recap and over simplify, it’s going to be a coupled bike that is capable of tackling road rides, off-road adventures, and rides that haven’t been dreamt up yet. This will be Patrick’s dedicated travel bike, so it has to be adaptable to whatever surfaces he rides on and still fit into an S&S case.

Packing a bike in a box, 26″ x 26″ x 10″, is an interesting project. Bikes are oddly shaped machines, and are far better off being pedaled to where they are going than being shipped. Adding S&S couplers to the bike is a huge help when packing, but more can be done, and that is exactly what Patrick and our design team focused on, once his fit was complete.

Patrick's Cad Drawing

Patrick’s Cad Drawing

The plan was to design a frame that would take up as little room in the S&S case as possible without sacrificing the bike’s performance, then build the bike with components that were easy on, easy off. Starting with the frame, we made the following design choices:

  1. Top tube slope:  A smaller frame, in general, fits in a case more easily than a large one. To make Patrick’s frame as compact as possible, we sloped the top tube ten degrees. This aggressive slope will leave more space in the case for other essentials without compromising performance or the number of water bottles he can use.
  2. Cable stops at Head Tube:  Handlebars can be one of the trickiest pieces of the bike to pack. They are oddly shaped no matter how you position them, and the cables and housing sprouting off in all directions only adds to the struggle. Having a handlebar that isn’t attached to the frame, rear brake, or the derailleurs is a real advantage when packing a bike. By using slotted cable stops in lieu of barrel adjusters, and a set of DaVinci cable splitters, the handlebar can be freed from the bike with relative ease. While we would normally recommend barrel adjusters for on the fly derailleur adjustment, in this case they don’t allow for an easy way to detach the cables from the frame. Slotted cable stops eliminate this problem, and in-line cable adjusters will take care of any derailleur tweaks, so that is how we will outfit Patrick’s bike.

    photo 3

    Cable stops, not barrel adjusters at the head tube.

  3. Disc mount:  Most Seven road bikes that are equipped with disc brakes and also don’t have rack or fender mounts, have the rear brake caliper mounted on the back of the seat stay, above the drop out. The logic behind this location is that the brake is perched on the outside of the frame making it easy to work on when needed, and allows for a traditional cable routing path, along the top tube and down the seat stay. In a cramped case, where every inch counts, we think the “low mount” disc brake location makes the most sense. Welded on top of the chain stay, the low mount positions the brake caliper within the frame’s rear triangle, not only protecting it from getting dinged in travel, but also freeing up more space in the case.

    photo 1

    Low mount disc caliper location.

  4. Cable stops for Disc Brakes:  When riders choose to run disc brakes, they often choose zip tie guides as the means to affix the housing to the frame. This set up allows for both mechanical and hydraulic brakes to be used, and leaves the option open to use either throughout the lifetime of the bike. We felt the serviceability of mechanical disc brakes made the most sense for Patrick’s travel bike today, and for many years to come. Once we came upon that decision, we could then make the switch to slotted cable stops, again adding to serviceability, and ease of assembly.

    Cable stops from lever to caliper.

    Cable stops from lever to caliper.

Once we begin building the bike, we’ll discuss some of the ideas behind Patrick’s component selection.

Dems Da Brakes

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

One topic that came up early in our discussions with Patrick Brady about the ultimate travel bike was brake type.  Due to the wide range of tires he’ll be using, and the desire to keep packing and unpacking as simple as possible, Patrick felt cantilevers, or possibly mini-v’s made the most sense.  Easy to set up and adjust, these brakes don’t require any additional tools or time to pack in a case.  Patrick had ruled out cable actuated disc brakes for two reasons, first because disc rotors present a hurdle in the speed of packing the bike, each rotor has to be removed in order to fit, and second because Patrick had yet to find a cable actuated disc brake that he felt was so significantly better than a rim brake, that they’d be worth the hassle.

photo

Before we knew how he felt about brakes though, we took him for a ride.  His test bike was a coupled Evergreen SL, a sort of travel bike prototype outfitted with Shimano’s R517 non-series, cable-actuated disc brakes with 160mm rotors.  The route  (that he would crush us on) was what we call the Battle Path loop because much of the route follows the path taken by the British on their march from Boston to Concord way back in 1775.  Other than an occasional street crossing, nearly the entire ride was off road.  From single track in the Belmont Woods, to the long, swooping, packed dirt trails in Lexington and Concord, we rode through the unrelenting humidity.

Patrick basically rode one handed, using his free hand to snap pictures throughout, so it would appear that his opinions on braking power are believable.  The ride was as fun as it gets, the trail conditions were top notch, and the scenery unbeatable.  We love that ride, and Patrick’s smile suggested he did too.

Something changed for him during that ride.  For the first time, he had a clear cut example, in his eyes, of a cable-actuated disc brake that performed better than a rim brake.  This was an important discovery because many of the rides Patrick has planned for the travel bike are exceptionally rugged and will require a comparably exceptional braking platform.  This isn’t to say cantilevers and mini-v’s couldn’t perform well enough, but he felt the disc was a needed improvement, so much so, that it became a requirement for his travel bike.

Back in the show room, we discussed the pros and cons of each brake type, cantilever, linear pull, medium reach, etc.  There are clear advantages and disadvantages to each style, but for the type of riding that Patrick will use this bike for, especially the challenging off road rides, his choice was clear.

Disc it would be.

evergreen

The question then became, what can we do to speed up the break down time when packing the bike?  Discs come in two mounting styles, six-bolt or center-mount.  We agreed that a center mount, though it requires a cassette tool to install, would save enough time to make it the clear favorite.

An Ultimate Travel Bike

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Opportunities to collaborate with others who think deeply about the bike are extremely valuable to us, and one person we’ve worked with on and off over the entire history of Seven Cycles is Red Kite Prayer founder Patrick Brady. We’ve been searching for a project to work on together for a few seasons now, and finally we have it.

Patrick spends so much of his time flying around the world on cycling trips, and we spend an equal amount of time building bikes for exactly those sorts of far flung adventures, destination rides we’d all love to participate in, that the idea of collaborating with him to create an ultimate travel bike made a ton of sense.  As luck would have it, Patrick was enthusiastically on board.

A week ago, Patrick stopped by to catch up, meet some new faces, and begin talks on the travel bike project.  There was also time for a quick spin on an early travel bike prototype.

Patrick Brady hits the trail.

Patrick Brady hits the trail.

Those talks ended up taking hours, and all topics great and small were discussed.  The result will be a bike specifically engineered to make travel as convenient as possible, without sacrificing the bike’s performance one iota.

We’ll be releasing details as they unfurl, but a few of the parameters we will focus on are:

  • Versatility: Can we do a road event? A gravel ride? A dirt adventure?
  • Pack-ability:  How easy is it to take apart and reassemble the bike?
  • Speed:  How fast can we get on the bike after landing? How much time do we need to catch a flight?
  • Component selection:  Which parts are the most dependable, and how easy are they to repair in the field?

Stay tuned!

 

Editions of One: Project Pioneer

Friday, June 6th, 2014

What are the Editions of One?

The Seven Cycles’ Editions of One bikes are special projects aimed at pushing the bounds of our creativity and ability. Like every Seven, built for the person who will ride it, each is one of a kind. Each is meant to inspire. Each is meant to celebrate the craft of bike building and the freedom cycling affords us all.

We will release three Editions of One this year.  The first, built back in March was the Ever Changing Evergeen.  The second is currently underway, and will be completed in time for an adventurous ride this weekend.  We’re calling this second Edition of One, Project Pioneer.

Project Pioneer Design Details

Eugene Christophe was leading the 1913 Tour de France when his fork broke on the descent of the Tourmalet. Prohibited from accepting outside help, he hiked 10km to the village of Ste-Marie-de-Campan with his bike on his shoulder. Once there he repaired his own fork at the forge of Mssr. Lecomte and then continued on to the finish even though the entire field passed him while he toiled and the race was lost.

The Project Pioneer bike is a tribute not only to Christophe, but to the pioneer spirit of cycling’s early decades, to the self-sufficiency that cycling fosters and to the joy of building and riding your own bicycle.

Seven built this bike in collaboration with Rapha Performance Roadwear, the Rapha Continental Team and Ride Studio Cafe for the June 7th, 2014 Pioneers Ride, designed as a tribute to the pioneers of early cycling.  Details on the ride can be found here. All are welcome!

Design Details: Paying homage to the cycling era from 1900 through 1940.

  • Frame: Carbon tubing with titanium lugs and chain stays.
  • Tubular Truss:  harkens back to bikes of this period.
  • Derailleur:  Three-speed, designed and built from scratch, in house.  Inspired by the first derailleur ever allowed in the Tour de France, the Super Champion.
  • Chain tensioner:  Customized, in house.
  • Shift lever:  Modified in house for three-speed use.
  • Gearing: 42 front; 14-18-24t cluster.
  • Handlebar:  Wide flare drop bar.
  • Stem:  Adjustable – track style, built from scratch.
  • Wheels:  Rims and hubs painted to match frameset.
  • Skewers: Modified wing nuts.
  • Paint:  Logo designs and details based on the style of the era.  Gold leaf logos – real gold leaf.  Unpainted chainstay – reminiscent of chrome plating.

The Editions of One bikes are not for sale, but some design elements can be incorporated into our standard offerings.  Each of these special bikes will remain in the Seven Cycles factory show room at the conclusion of their intended usage.  For behind the scenes action of the creation of the bike, follow our Instagram feed, Twitter page or Tumblr.

tumblr_n6pf5fYtBg1tde1bwo1_500 tumblr_n6p850z9sC1tde1bwo1_500 tumblr_n6p8ho4fz51tde1bwo1_500

Melinda’s 650C Axiom S

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Greenfield

This is Melinda’s brand new 650c Axiom S. We built it in partnership with our friends at Podium Multisport in Atlanta. The challenge here was to find a good, balanced design and fit for Melinda, who is both diminutive in stature and aggressive in riding style. Working around a 650c wheel size, Podium gave us positionals to work from, and we came up with this bike, which seems to be just what Melinda was looking for…

She reports:

My first real ride didn’t occur until yesterday! We went about 53 miles, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect.  Here is my first impression: All the the ‘hot spots’ where I felt uncomfortable on my other bike were nonexistant..The pinch at the ankles, tweak in the knee, hip; ache in the back, etc….all gone.  It felt like I could be on the bike and actually relax my entire body.  Like sitting in a “stressless” chair (if you know what those are).

From a power perspective, on my old bike I always felt that I couldn’t pull up on the pedal stroke efficiently and I was correct!  I was missing about half my power in the stroke because I couldn’t get the pull.  On this bike I felt like I could utilize muscles and power that I never had access to.  Rather than feeling the crunch at mile 20 and hanging off the back and thinking I couldn’t possibly go another 30+miles, I stayed toward the front most of the time, was able to fly up the hills, and even had energy left over at the end of the ride.  It was beyond anything that I could have imagined!

Needless to say, I am pleased! I felt the road but not all of the bad things that come from the road like uncomfortable bumps, etc.  It absorbed those nicely.  It was incredibly responsive and ZIPPY! There is no better term for it!  I don’t think Alan is very happy though because I smoked him up the big hills and had to hold back to fetch his sorry ass at the end of the ride.  Oh well, can’t please them all!

 

Titanium/Carbon Mixes – The Best of Both Worlds

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

622-lugsIf you were to take a carbon fiber tube and wrap it against the wall, then hold your ear to it, there would be little if any sound emanating from the tube.  If you did the same test with metal, it would sing like a tuning fork.  The same holds true for frames, metal sings and carbon whispers.  These two qualities make for very different experiences on the road.  Carbon bikes, like our Diamas line, make pitted and potholed roads feel like you are pedaling over wall to wall carpeting; smooth, with very little feedback.  Metal bikes, like the Axiom, Resolute, Sola, and Mudhoney, on the other hand, provide constant feedback keeping you in tune with the surface of the road.  Once we start customizing and manipulating tube sets, we can alter how compliant or how stout the frames will be, but the material dictates how the road’s vibrations will be relayed to the rider.

There is a gap between whispering and singing, and to some, that’s where the perfect bike resides.  By adding carbon tubes to a titanium frame, or vice versa, we can fabricate a bike that hums, bridging the gap between the two materials.

tubingThe idea of a titanium frame paired with carbon seat stays for the intended purpose of soaking up road vibrations was a notion that Seven pioneered and first implemented with the Odonata back in 1997, and though there have been some updates and improvements the same basic model exists today, now known as the Elium SL.

The ride of a ti/carbon bike is so pleasant, that we offer them in road, cross, and mountain bike disciplines.

The Life Cycle – Abridged Version

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

IMAG1421Every few weeks a freight truck wends its way down our steep, angled driveway to drop off two or three of these long wooden boxes. They contain raw titanium tubing in 18 foot lengths, all different gauges. The process of loading the unwieldy boxes onto a four-wheeler and moving them past the shipping department, through paint and into the machining area, one at a time, is something like a tugboat pushing a long cargo barge up the narrow, jagged length of the Mississippi River. It takes a strong sense of spatial relations and a fair amount of experience.

 

 

P1000546

The boxes get unpacked and the various tubes sorted by size into these vertical bays. This is our vault. This is our wine cellar. This is where the process of building a new bike begins, Matt O’Keefe standing here in front of the stock, a customer’s order in his hands, selecting the assortment of tubes that will go into their new bike.

 

IMAG1073We cut down the lengths to size, before butting each tube to give a very specific ride feel and handling characteristic. Then we miter the ends to fit together just so, tolerances hovering somewhere near the thickness of a human hair, the raw tubing shedding material in small increments, becoming a bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0007The modified tubes collect in small cardboard boxes, the frame builder working through a series of work cells, each with several mills or lathes in it, each set up for a very specific job, until the tubeset is complete. Then they get jigged up, so we can test the build against the frame drawing, refine any last details.

 

 

 

mudhoney-slEventually, you get one of these. There are, as you can imagine, some important intervening steps, but this is the abridged version of the story. Suffice it to say we weld, machine, finish, polish and decal, before we get to this point. Sometimes we paint.

 

 

 

IMAG1507What titanium doesn’t make it into the frame gets carefully collected in a barrel, building up over time into a strangely beautiful pile of titanium squiggles and spirals. The recycler comes by to pick these up and return them to the mill where the process starts all over, a closed loop of magic from which we extract custom bicycles.

The end.

Crafting Carbon

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

IMAG1565We have covered steel and titanium in recent posts. Now it’s time to talk carbon fiber.

Our approach to carbon fiber is fundamentally different than the one taken by most production bike builders, who focus primarily on the lightness and stiffness of carbon. While those are both positive characteristics of the material, we believe, in any rider-specific bike, they have to be balanced against the needs for the bike to fit properly, handle well and last a lifetime.

Though we are sometimes perceived as exclusively a Ti frame builder, we are working with carbon fiber every single day and have been for many years. We have, at this point, built thousands of custom carbon and Ti/carbon mix frames. Carbon fiber is a material we value highly for its aforementioned lightness and stiffness, but also for its natural vibration dampening characteristics. So whether we’re building an all carbon Diamas, or a mixed material machine like the 622 SLX, we always focus on why carbon belongs in the design, and then work to maximize its benefits.

There are two basic types of carbon tubing that we work with. One is round carbon tubes, like the ones we use in our Elium line, the 622 SLX and the Mudhoney PRO. These tubes are built to our specifications for diameter and wall thickness. By mixing and matching a wide array of round carbon tubes, and mating them to titanium lugs, we can tune the stiffness and handling characteristics of mixed material bikes in much the same way we do with our all Ti frames.

The other type of carbon tubing in heavy use at Seven is shaped. Just as we have an array of round carbon tubing, we also keep a significant selection of shaped tubes on hand for use in our A6 carbon line. While the outside diameter and appearance of the tubes remains constant from model to model, the wall thickness varies, altering the performance characteristics of each tube.  Cut, mitered, wrapped and bonded in house, our shaped A6 tubes give us complete customizability of fit, handling, and road feel (within the range of possibility for carbon).

 

 

Mike’s Dune Mudhoney

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Continuing with the recent cyclocross theme, here is Mike‘s Mudhoney fresh off a session on the Battle Road. We don’t normally post pictures of dirty bikes, but this one hides its dust pretty well, and anyway what is the point of a clean CX bike?

Graphite

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

One of our new stock colors, graphite, on a Resolute SLX headed to the shipping dock. Check out all our new paint colors here.