New Dawns – 2019

The roll-top door at our shipping dock makes the same sound now it made in 1997. The electric motor makes a loud click and then there is a drone and rattle as the door’s wheels trundle up and down their tracks. It’s one of those familiar, even comforting sounds that attends daily business here at Seven.

And maybe opening doors just seem more poignantly symbolic on the first work day of a new year. The door rolls up, low winter sun streams in, bike parts, titanium tubing, and people follow. Late in the day, bikes go out.

The bike season is funny. By some loose consensus it starts October 1st and runs through the end of September. But in real life, there is nothing quite like the turn of a new year, right?

After 22 years of bike building talking about new dawns feels dramatic. What we can say for certain is that no year (or season) ever looks quite the way we think it will. Riders bring us new challenges. The industry churns up new technologies and trends, and the one constant is just the group of us, building bikes, which makes for a nice constancy and safe place to sit and ponder how we can best respond to all the ideas we’ll hear, how best to present all the ideas we’ll have.

We’re excited. The bicycle is still a miracle machine. It’s still fun to ride. And every day people call us up with great ideas for new bikes for themselves. We look into the near future and see a busy year of bike building.

Metal Sculpture

We received this photo from our friend Giovanni, something of a cycling mystic and guru, who lives in Seattle, a frequent visitor at Cascade Bicycle Studio, with whom we’ve built hundreds of frames, including the Axiom SL in this photo.

It reminded us that Rob V, our own mystic and founder, was in art school studying metal sculpture when Merlin Metalworks plucked him from academia and turned him into a bike builder, designer, and visionary (don’t tell him we called him a visionary).

This is at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks between the lake and sound in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

The Enduring Humanity of Robin Williams

rwviiWhen we built this bike, we did not publicize the fact that we were working with a famous actor. Mr. Williams, who was widely known as an avid bike collector, was in many ways a very private person. His great appeal as a comedian and actor was both in his infectious energy and in his humility, a willingness to share with the world all the parts of himself, the successes, but also the struggles.

It is bittersweet, now, some years after his passing, to see his bikes being auctioned for charity, and to see this specific bike again in this context. We can not for a moment imagine the emotion invested in this project by his family, and the grace it takes to let these things go for the benefit of others.

We feel simultaneously sad at the circumstances, but also happy and proud to have gotten to work with a man of his integrity and impact. In as much as the auction of his bicycle collection will benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation and Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, we felt the time was right finally to share this bike.

You may bid on this very special bike here.

 

The Numbers

As you can imagine, at a company whose name is Seven, numbers play an immeasurable part in everything we do. The name Seven, just to get this out of the way first, is a product of our desire to build bikes to be ridden on the seven continents, a lucky number, a prime number, and even as a word, a symmetrical combination of letters that looks good on a down tube.

The 622
The 622

Taking a step backwards to six, the first number in the name of our category defining 622 SLX, we find carbon, the sixth element in the periodic table. Carbon fiber is the defining element of the 622 line of bikes. It brings elemental lightness to those bikes. High frequency vibration, radiating up from the road or trail, disappear between the fibers.

Now jump forward to twenty-two in that same table, titanium, the metal that launched our bike building careers. Five times the strength of steel at the same weight, titanium moves with a rider like nothing else. It flexes and returns microscopically, soaking up the lower frequency jolts that push beyond carbon fibers range. Titanium smooths the ride, keeps your tires connected, spares your muscles. It won’t rust. It holds a shine like little else.

A Long History of Photo-Taking
A Long History of Photo-Taking

Nineteen is another prime number. Nineteen is the number of years Seven has been building and delivering bikes. Our second full decade is there on the horizon. And, with apologies, we are primed to do our best work. This year’s R&D effort will produce a slew of new products, new bikes, new forks, new frame components. We have already begun planning limited editions for our anniversary, already begun gathering the ideas that have been developing over those decades.

There are so many more numbers, too. Too many to call out, the lengths and angles of every rider-specific frame we’ve designed, more than 30,000 of them, the number of bike and component companies we’ve partnered with, the hundreds of bike builders we’ve been fortunate enough to train and learn from in return, and of course, all the riders, many of them with two, three and more bikes they asked us to build for them, maybe the most important number of all.

Core Strength

622-lugs

Your coach will tell you that a strong core gives you a better platform to pedal from, that it takes strain off the rest of your musculature and contributes to endurance in ways that are palpable, if hard to measure.

Seven is a strong, independent business. After nearly twenty-years of building bikes we are fortunate to be able to make our own decisions, guided by the same mission we’ve always had, with only our customers to answer to. We have successfully navigated the stormy seas of several economic booms and busts. We have seen the industry change through two full decades.

Just as on the bike, on the shop floor.