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Being World Champion – Mo Bruno Roy

Monday, October 27th, 2014

You don’t get to be World Champion by sitting still. You don’t stand on the top step of that podium just by being “talented” either. And certainly, it isn’t a bike that puts you there, although we couldn’t be more thrilled that it was our bike that carried Mo Bruno Roy to the Single-Speed Cyclocross World Championship this weekend in Louisville.

The SSCXWC is an irreverent event. There are costumes. The winner gets a tattoo and a legendary golden swimsuit to receive their medal in, but it’s also a fast race dominated by seasoned professionals.

There are years of work that have gone into this honor for her. So much training. So many races, big and small. Local dirt crits. Belgian World Cup events. Lots of wins, but also lots of finishes staring up the leader board and wondering what more she could have done. Some people call it paying dues, but that’s a negative way to express what Mo has done in her career. What she has done, and what we think makes her so worthy of this honor, is live the cycling life completely. There is a level of commitment there that goes beyond showing up for races year after year or cultivating sponsorships. She brings all of herself to cycling, and that’s why we’re so proud of her and why we’re honored to work with her.

When we see Mo around town, she’s on a bike. When we see her at a race, she might be giving a clinic for new riders or doing an interview, spreading the joy of cyclocross, cutting up, visiting with friends. Cycling doesn’t so much define her as she helps define cycling in the way she lives her life. These are sorts of people you want to work with as a bike builder.

Mo is not a powerhouse. She’s the type of racer who depends on long experience and superior bike handling skills to overcome stronger opposition. Make no mistake, she’s plenty strong, but that’s not what makes her so good. She is a great cyclist, fast, canny, skilled, the complete package.

And now she is a World Champion.

 

 

11 Races in 16 Days – Mo Bruno Roy’s CX Crusade

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

You will notice that we don’t sponsor a lot of riders. The idea that a company who makes good bikes should pay someone to say they are good somehow doesn’t make sense to us. When we have committed to a rider, it has always been because we think they deserve support and because they will give us good feedback on what we are doing. For those reasons, we have sponsored more women than men, and more local riders than distant pros. Our closest pro partnership of the last decade has been with current Single-Speed Cyclocross National Champion Mo Bruno Roy.

Here on the eve of her 39th birthday, we find ourselves admiring the way she enjoys her racing, stays competitive and gives back to the racing community by teaching clinics and giving pointers to amateur racers before big events. She’s the sort of cyclist we’re proud to work with, the kind of cyclist we all want to be.

This was supposed to be a more relaxed season for Mo. After winning the SSCX National Championship last year, a little less travel, a little more fun and a new focus on single speed races was on the docket. But the scheduling gods and a continuing drive to race her bike meant that, clustered around New England’s Holy Week of Cyclocross (GP Gloucester, Midnight Ride, Providence), she ended up doing 11 races in 16 days.

That’s a lot for an in demand massage therapist and yoga instructor, and it tells you everything you need to know about how much she loves what she does. She says of this latest bunch of events, “The level of competition has definitely been upped this season and the growth of women’s cyclocross is apparent as it is quickly becoming a sport for full-time professional athletes rather than the mixed bag of working-pros and full-timers that it has been in the past.”

Near the end of this intense period of racing, she reported “Providence weekend hosted three days of racing: single speed Friday and UCI races Saturday and Sunday. At this point my legs were pretty fatigued, but I was looking forward to the races and the opportunity to win the Golden Ticket for free entry to the Single Speed World Championships in Louisville, KY. The course was full of twists and turns and a few leg-sapping climbs, but I pushed the pace and headed into a steady lead in the single speed race, taking the win.”

Of course, we like to see sponsored riders winning races. It never hurts for people to see riders winning on our bikes, but for us there’s much more to it. The way someone like Mo conducts themselves, the way they make it look fun, the way they give back, those are the things that make us want to support racing and the people, like Mo, who dedicate themselves to going fast.

Mo Pro Ready to Go

Friday, October 25th, 2013

MoProRTGNo sooner was it here, than it was here!

In Season

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Brassard_variationThe bike industry does not circle the sun and measure its progress in years, but rather plants its fields, like a farmer, and thinks of time in seasons. And we are in the thick of that season now, building bikes with a drive and focus similar to our riders, out in the world, making use of the summer sunlight to get more time on the bike.

In season, we have to be very careful not to work too much (we always fail at this) and to make sure we are taking the time to ride our own bikes and to stay in touch with why we do what we do (we always succeed at this).

But now a month has passed since our last post…here are just a few of the things we’ve been working on.

matt roy's 622 slx

A 622 SLX with SRAM’s new Red integrated hydraulic brakes for our good friend Matt Roy. This one left the shop floor and headed straight for the Green Mountain Double Century, where Matt rode it to victory, along with his Ride Studio Cafe Endurance Team, in a time just over 17 hours. For an encore, Matt took it on a post-grad (Ph.D.!!) trip from Portland, OR to Boulder, CO. Just a quick spin then…

 

 

 

And, this is John Bayley’s Axiom SL super randonneur, also with SRAM Red hydro and a john-bayleys-axiom-slvery special paint job. John rode it to a third place finish at Dirty Kanza. This bike will also feature in an upcoming ad in Rouleur. Keep an eye out for it.

 

Learning to Endure

Friday, May 24th, 2013

DSC_7436Endurance riding is not a new segment. From the early days of cycling, riders have sought to challenge themselves by covering distances previously unimagined. But as a category within the broader cycling industry, endurance is now flourishing in a way it never has with the advent of longer, challenge-style events both on-road and off. After spending years working on rando bikes of every stripe, we are now seeing these bikes consolidate around the common experience of riders who are taking on events like Dirty Kanza, the Almanzo 100 and D2R2.

Welding Zip Tie Guides for Hydraulic Brakes

Welding Zip Tie Guides for Hydraulic Brakes

The Seven-sponsored Ride Studio Cafe Endurance Team is made up of three riders who, collectively and in massive solo efforts, will clock more miles on their Sevens this year than most folks will manage in their cars. We are deeply fortunate to be able to work with John Bayley, David Wilcox and Matt Roy. This season they will tackle Dirty Kanza, the Green Mountain Double Century, the Rapha Gentleman’s Race, the Vermont 600, D2R2 and a 1200k brevet of their own design. And events aside, almost every weekend will see these guys spending whole days in the saddle, knocking out century after century, saving up their endurance for big, fast miles on their custom Sevens.

Over-sized Head Tube Fo Jon Bayley's Axiom SL

Over-sized Head Tube for John Bayley’s Axiom SL

 

We’ve built each of them a unique, custom, randonneuring bike suited to their personal style and approach to endurance cycling. Comfort and utility get more and more important as the miles pile into your legs and light wanes at the end of the day.

Endurance Team Captain Matt Roy, a Harvard trained immunologist, rides a 622 SLX, the most technically-advanced bike on the endurance circuit.  We’ve taken some cues from Mo Bruno Roy’s – last name not coincidental – cyclocross winning Mudhoney PRO.  Matt’s 622 is by far the lightest rando bike on gravel, while still boasting the lifetime durability Seven builds into every frame.

John Bayley values versatility. He is riding an Axiom SL that can run 650b or 700c wheels. His cabling is external for easy servicing and quick adaptation. We finished his bike this week, another speed build that went together in just three days from final design to full assembly thanks to a fair amount of overtime and a group of willing collaborators on the Seven shop floor.

Taillight Prototype

Taillight Prototype

 

David Wilcox is a quiet, powerful rider, the kind of guy who can ride all day and all night without the whisper of a complaint. His bike is the most simple of the three, an Axiom S with no frills other than hydraulic disc brakes.

 

As co-sponsors, SRAM has provided the team with their new Force 22 hydraulic groups for each frame. Clement Tires has signed on as well. Working with cutting edge products makes projects like this one even more fun for us.

The Seven Crew Knocking Out John's Axiom SL Rando Special

The Seven Crew Knocking Out John’s Axiom SL Rando Special

 

The Endurance Team sponsorship allows us to explore and experiment in a new and interesting way because these guys will tell us, in the space of one ride, what we might take months of research to learn on our own. Endurance riding pushes bikes to their limits and tests the effectiveness of different component integration strategies. The needs of the long-distance rider also push us to design and integrate practical solutions into each build, the details, big and small, that make all the difference between success and failure.

 

Love to Ride – The Photographers – Dave Chiu

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Dave Chiu is one of those guys who is very hard to pin down. He is a hyper-talented photographer, as evidenced by this shot we used in our Love to Ride brochure, but to speak only about Dave’s photography is to ignore all the other things he does, including graphic design, web development, travel, high level racing and generally kicking ass a collaborator and friend.

In recent years he’s shot the Tour as well as a number of legendary domestic races like the Tour of Battenkill. You can check out some of the best of that work at his website. This picture of mad genius mechanic Matt Roy gives a tiny, intimate peek into the life of a pro wrench, prepping a race bike for his wife, Seven sponsored Mo Bruno Roy.

Video – Green Mountain Double Century 2012

Friday, February 15th, 2013

DSC_5703The Green Mountain Double Century is a singular sort of endurance event. The 2012 version was 215 miles, 80% on dirt roads, with 26,500ft of climbing. There is a time cut off of 40 hours. Theoretically, it is a race, but such is the challenge that many ride just to finish.

The inaugural event, in 2011, saw about a dozen riders start, and only four finish. Three of them were from the Ride Studio Cafe Endurance Team, John Bayley, David Wilcox and Matt Roy. They finished in just short of 19 hours. The 2012 version saw the RSC team, all on Ti Sevens, “win” the overall again, shaving three hours off their previous best time. These guys are all randonneuring legends who keep raising the bar for the endurance cycling community. We were incredibly honored to have them all on our bikes.

Natalia Boltukhova of Pedal Power Photography, who shot most of our Love to Ride brochure as well as the photo above, traveled with the winning team in both 2011 and 2012, putting together this photo set and this video, which captures the brutality  (and humor) of the event beautifully.

 

Mud and Elegance, Grime and Grace – Ali Engin

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Ali Engin’s photos of athletes in motion are elegant and graceful, even under the most grim and grimy circumstances.  His photo of Seven-sponsored rider Mo Bruno Roy dashing up a set of stairs against a vast blue sky, surrounded by onlookers, captured the dramatic tension of top-level cyclocross so well we decided to make a poster of it.  To us, his image says it all about the essence of racing cyclocross;  painful yet exhilarating, terrible but beautiful.

Ali’s pictures always make dramatic and dynamic use of light. Colors burst through his lense. His unique style sets him apart from many other talented photographers working at our favorite events, and we were lucky to be able to work with him on this project.

Check out more of Ali’s photos at his website:

http://www.alienginphotography.com/

The Birth of Mo Pro 2.0

Friday, December 7th, 2012

A few weeks ago, Mo Bruno Roy returned her original Mudhoney PRO prototype. Affectionately called the Mo Honey PRO, that bike was the test case for the bike that became the production Mudhoney PRO, the bike that customers all over the world have ridden over the last season. Mo’s original was put together with hand cut and filed lugs, and she raced it hard this season so we could know more about our basic design assumptions, and to gather experiential data for the second iteration, Mo Pro 2.0, of this race-specific machine.

During our debrief with her, and with her mechanic/husband Matt Roy, we noted a few big, necessary changes. First, Mo wanted to change her riding position. She wanted to come forward, and up a little. To do that, she needed to make some component changes, and to maintain the handling she prefers after those changes, we needed to adjust the geometry. Easy enough.

Next, she wanted more tire clearance at the chain and seat stays. The original prototype was built with tight tolerances for racing, but we learned that just a little more mud clearance would be better. That presented a unique challenge, because Mo’s frame is small. In order to get the clearance she wanted, we experimented with a single-bend, butted seat stay designed specifically for carbon bonding. That little bit of bend gave us just what we were looking for, and it represented a step forward for the super thin stays we’ve been working with for Mo’s race bikes. The complimentary chain stays required 20 separate operations in initial machining. This is serious stuff.

In the past, we’ve built bikes for Mo that could be adapted to multiple purposes. A little attention from her pro mechanic husband would convert one of her race rigs for road training. Not this bike. Mo runs a somewhat unique crank set with 34/44 chain rings, and her seat/chain stays are optimized to work only with those rings, coupled with a 32mm tire. This is as race specific as a bike gets. It’s a bike for now, for winning races.

We opted to build for cantilever brakes, too, but only because race ready, drop bar, hydraulic disc brakes aren’t quite ready yet. Again, we wanted to build her the optimal race bike for right now, not a bike with compromises for future adaptation.

The final design hurdle we chose to address was toe overlap. Conventionally, a frame this small would have some overlap, and through the years, this was always something Mo was comfortable with, even though we offered to do away with it for her. This time out, we made some adjustments to the geometry to eliminate it, and that gives her more confidence in the technical sections of the cyclocross courses this bike was meant to destroy.

A lot of work went into pre-build design on the Mo Pro 2.0, and that led to a marathon build session that lasted long into the Friday night before Mo’s first race on it, on the Saturday. Seven Production Manager Matt O’Keefe did the final machining on this one himself, before handing it off to Staci for the rock star decal treatment.

As ever, our sponsorships are aimed at exactly this sort of collaboration. We built the original bikes to prove a concept we wanted to bring into production. After building the first generation prototypes, we then designed all the fixturing we would need to do the same design for customer bikes. In turn, the fixturing informed the accuracy and evolution of the second generation bike, which taught us about new ways to manipulate thin stays for small builds. It’s this thread that connects all our design and build work and allows everything to move forward, and to be able to pursue that thread with the input and participation of pros like Mo and Matt makes bike building fun. It reminds us why we do this.

Another solid reminder came in a Christmas tin a few days later. Her feedback on the bike itself is exactly what we wanted to hear, that it combines the best of her first Seven race bike and the first generation Mo Honey PRO. That confirms that we’re listening, and without listening you can’t build great custom bikes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building for a pro like Mo or someone who will never race a day in their lives. The process is the same. Listen to what the rider wants. Apply everything you learn to everything new you want to do. Keep building. Keep iterating. Occasionally, just occasionally, stop to eat the cookies.

Matt made a cool time lapse video of the build that you can see here. And we were also fortunate to catch the eye of the Velo News staff at our very first race. Emily Zinn did a photo gallery of the project for their site here.

 

 

When Prototypes Come Home

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

When you build prototypes you expect to see them again. As the first iteration of an idea, they are the canaries in the mine of innovation, and, if all goes well, when they return they bring back a load of valuable information with them. We now have Mo Bruno Roy’s elite race bikes back after they’ve been flogged hard on mud, grass and sand the world over. One is her Mudhoney SLX . The other is her Mudhoney PRO, known as the Mo Honey PRO when we first built it. Now we’ve done a debrief on what worked and what could have been better, and, as always, it’s time to get back to work.