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An Inspiring Evening

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

We are excited to invite you to a special event at 7:00 this Friday evening, August 22nd, at the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, MA. Headlining the night is Patrick Brady, renowned blogger and founder of Red Kite Prayer, author, cyclist, and our long time friend, who will be on hand to read from his new book, “Why We Ride.” If you have ever wondered the same, you’ll find yourself engulfed in this book in no time. The only thing preventing you from turning the pages is the overwhelming inspiration to get out and ride.

why we ride

There will be plenty of time to mingle and share stories of your own, so please join us!

Patrick has also been busy collaborating with us on a travel bike, in fact a new series of bikes designed from the ground up to make transport as easy as possible. He travels around the globe, and the added expense of bringing a full-sized bike on a plane adds up. Together, we set out to develop the ultimate travel bike. Four of these bikes will debut at the event as well, including Patrick’s very own, a bike he’ll be riding for the Franklin Land Trust’s Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee (D2R2) this Saturday.

We’d love to see you, and introduce you to our good friend. Food, drinks, and story telling will all be provided. Additional details can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/events/278740662331944/
For sneak peaks of Patrick’s new travel bike, follow us on Instagram, (http://instagram.com/seven_cycles) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/@sevencycles).

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.

Poorer for His Absence

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

williams_v2Sadly, Robin Williams has left the stage. The whole world has lost of one of the great entertainers of our time, but we are also sad as cyclists to have lost a passionate rider, collector, benefactor and friend. We were fortunate to build a couple of bikes for him, to interact with him the way we do with all Seven riders, as a collaborator in the bike building process. Our brief experiences with him suggested he was down-to-earth, humble and looking for the same things we were, the simple joy of cycling, some freedom from life’s cares. He appreciated the finer points of design and craftsmanship. He was a bike nerd.

And because of the way we work, we find that we almost always get more from our customers than they get from us. They teach us to build better bikes. They give us the opportunity to continue practicing our craft. Among the thousands who ride Sevens though, Williams gave us something unique. He taught us how to take ourselves less seriously. As people, and as bike builders, it is an invaluable lesson. We are all a little poorer for his absence.

 

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!

 

Cover Model

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

The surprise wasn’t finding the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine in the mail, that’s like clockwork, but to find a Seven on the cover has everyone at the Seven factory abuzz.

Bicycling Magazine

On the cover!

If you look hard enough on page 63, you can make out the blurred lines of our Head of Production Matt O’Keefe and his wife Susi’s Seven Sola 007 SL tandem.  Susi, #547, stands in front of it.

Susi and her tandem.

Susi and her tandem.

But the surprises kept coming!  Our own Brad Smith, and his chiseled legs, can be found on page 65 standing in the Green River during the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee.

photo 3

Brad tests the water.

 

Thanks to Bicycling Magazine for making our day.

Seven at the Paris-Roubaix Challenge

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

CF3When we walked into Cyclefit in Covent Garden, London last week, we were greeted by this filthy Axiom SL. Closer inspection revealed it had been ridden by resident physiotherapist and fit analyst Morgan Lloyd in April’s Paris-Roubaix Challenge, a ride that takes in all of the cobbled sections of the pro race along the 170km route.

Morgan hadn’t cleaned the bike. He was keeping all that dust and grime as a sort of trophy.

He reported that the bike performed superbly with no mechanicals or punctures. He also said, “I could not wish for a better bike, everything felt solid and it gave me the confidence to ride the sections hard despite it being my first time on pave. The frame absorbed some of the vibration protecting me a little from the punishing terrain and when I got my technique and line right I felt as if I was flying along! Is there a better frame for this event or a better test for a bike?! Brilliant.”

We are, of course, grateful to him for bringing us along.

Seven in Flanders

Monday, April 14th, 2014

phil_cobblesThis is Phil Cavell from Cyclefit in London. Phil is on our 622 SLX on the cobbles in Flanders, and this picture was taken on a trip to Belgium in advance of this year’s Tour of Flanders.

Phil, and his partner Julian Wall, do the fits for all of Trek Factory Racing, the team of this year’s Flanders winner, Fabian Cancellara. So, safe to say Phil knows of what he speaks, when he’s speaking about bikes.

He wrote a review of his experience on this bike for the Cyclefit site.

Here are a couple choice quotes from that review:

“Look closely at the dropouts or welds, or brake-bridge. Rob Vandermark has made Seven his life’s work and project. It is his entry into The Great Ledger. This is not a product or model or something stamped out of a mould in China. It is a mission that he judges himself upon every day.”

and…

“The ride is flawless and so it should be. Taut, responsive, nuanced and brimming with undertones of distinction.”

Find the rest here, and thanks Phil for bringing us along on your Flandrien escapade, for putting us through our paces, and also for making us look so good.

IMG_9103

 

Matt O’s Festive 500

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

F500_5On a more positive note than recent posts, we have just collected some of the photos Matt O’Keefe took during the Rapha Festive 500 at the end of the year.

When you ask Matt why he rides the Festive 500, he’ll laugh and say, “I don’t know,” but then all the reasons come tumbling out. And it’s pretty clear peer pressure got him out the door to begin with, at the end of 2012.

“I had just signed up for Strava,” he says, “and then Rapha put out the challenge, ride 500km in the week between Christmas and New Years, and I mentioned to John Bayley that it was a cool idea, but that I didn’t have a Garmin. So John gave me a Garmin, and I was out of excuses.”

F500_7Despite some untimely snow and a day off for family commitments, he managed to complete last year’s challenge and enjoyed it. This year, the weather was better. The snow held out (until just after the holiday), and Matt managed to get 7,000 miles in his legs over the 2013 season, so the kilometers piled up more easily.

“I don’t know why I do it, but it definitely ends the season with a bang,” he says.

Here are some more of his photos, and for even more of Matt’s cycling adventures, follow him on Instagram.

 

F500_1F500_3F500_6F500_4

Fit Werx – The Active Times’ Best Bike Shop in America

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

FW_Peabody

Being named the Best Bike Shop in America is quite an honor. Over a period of years, our friends at Fit Werx, in both their Waitsfield, VT and Peabody, MA locations, have established themselves as destination shops for riders looking for supremely well-fitted bikes. It is not at all surprising they were awarded this honor by The Active Times, who aims to be the world’s best source of authoritative, inspiring, enlightening content for living the active, adventurous life.

In their summary on Fit Werx, they say:

Though it’s not really close to much of anything, the original small Green Mountain shop has an outsized reputation.

We know that’s because Fit Werx brings expertise, professionalism and attention to detail to every bike they fit, design and sell. Read more here.

And congratulations to Fit Werx. We’re proud to work with you.