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On the Road: Evergreening Sedona – The Bike in Detail

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Bike riding is fun, and exploring the world by bike is another order of fun, however…when you’re taking on desert terrain, bike packing, being prepared is a serious business. For our week in and around Sedona, we outfitted our Evergreen SLs with a slew of specialized componentry and accessories. The double-butted Ti frames themselves are ideal for this kind of trip, super-durable but also comfortably compliant, so they serve as the perfect platform for this kind of trip.

1. S&S Couplers – The frame’s S&S couplers allow it to be broken down and packed into a travel case that does not incur additional baggage handling fees from the major commercial airlines.

2. Mechanical disc brakes – The mechanical (i.e. cable actuated) disc brakes can incorporate cable splitters, which make packing and re-assembly easier.

3 . Prototype light mount at fork race w/ Schmidt Edelux II generator headlight.

4. Light and Motion Gobe bar mount lights (x2) – More light = better.  And they’re 100% waterproof.

5. Third water bottle – More water = better…especially in the desert.

6. Porcelain Rocket saddle bag – Expanding saddle storage for tools and parts. You never know what you’ll need, except that sometimes you do.

7. Drivetrain – 44/26 front chainrings coupled to 12/32 rear cassette for long days climbing technical terrain.

8. Son 28 generator disc hub – For battery-free lighting.

9. Clement MSO X’Plor 40mm tires – Big for comfort and traction.

10. Camera, Garmin 1000 & Garmin 810 – Hands free movies and pictures, plus navigation, plus back up navigation.

11. Prototype rear compression rack w/ compression bags – This versatile rack is collapsible for easy packing, and features a Ti “web” ideal for strapping bags and other equipment to. Not yet available for purchase, this is the first iteration in what we foresee being a long design cycle. Sea to Summit Compression Bag (x2) – Adaptable storage for all your desert exploration needs.

12. Ortlieb handlebar bag – Food and other necessaries, at your fingertips.

Email us to learn more about the Sedona Evergreens and Seven’s other travel bike options.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

Case Study

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Spread out in the corner of the baggage claim, the challenge of bike assembly is never more apparent. Hundreds of eyes watch as you unzip the case to see how your bike fared in transit. “What is it?” travelers ask as they see what looks to be a bike in ruins. Your case, small enough to avoid the airline’s bike fees of up to $400 round trip, is just big enough to hold your S&S coupled Seven after some minor disassembly. Just hours ago, and in the calm of your workshop, you packed the bike like a three dimensional jig saw puzzle.  But now, in the wide open airport, curious eyes upon you, building your bike back up is all that stands in the way of you and your adventure.

How long will it take?

One of the main objectives of our collaboration with Patrick Brady, founder of Red Kite Prayer, is to create a bike that is as fast to break down and build up, without sacrificing performance, as possible. There are three main facets, other than the pressure of people watching, that can affect the speed of breaking down and building up of a coupled bike:

  • Case: Not only do cases come in different sizes, but they also come in different materials. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each.
  • Frame and Fork: The size and shape of the frame and fork can simplify packing. By designing your frame to fit you, and a travel case, Seven can ensure the best fit, on both fronts.
  • Components: Cables, brakes, bars, and a variety of other components will have to be removed or adjusted before the bike can be packed into a case.  Selecting parts based on ease of installation can save hours. We’ll discuss components that have proven to be quick to assemble, and a snap to adjust.

Let’s look at the easiest of decisions first, the case.  In determining which case to get, we look at a variety of topics, including bike protection, ease of packing, ease of toting, and how easy the case is to manage after the bike is removed.  There are three styles to choose from:

  • Hard cases:  The most durable option, hard cases do the very best job of protecting your bike. S&S Machining, the same folks who make the couplers for our travel frames, offers hard cases that have a handle on the edge or on the side, that come with two wheels or four, and an array of other options. Many of these options are useful, but especially for transporting the cumbersome case in and out of the airport. Another unforeseen benefit is that they tend to stay a little cleaner than the soft cases. The only drawbacks to the hard cases are that they are heavier, more expensive, and more difficult to pack. The walls of the hard cases are, well, hard and require you to be creative in order to get all of your bike’s contents in the case as they won’t give an inch.

    The S&S Butterfly Latch Hard Case

    The S&S Butterfly Latch Hard Case

  • Soft cases: More or less just a heavy duty bag, soft cases are the lightest, most affordable, break down the smallest after use, and are easiest to pack.  However, they offer very little protection for your frame, and do not keep their shape during transit, exposing your bike to just as many dangers in the bag as out. Great for packing your bike in the trunk of your car, these cases are more or less just a convenient way to tote everything together, but not a great option for airlines.
  • Hybrid cases: These cases are made of rugged nylon, and have reinforced corners to give the case structure and help protect its contents. They are less expensive than the hard case, but are also less clunky. They are more expensive than the soft case, but far more rugged. One major advantage to the hybrid case is that the walls are flexible which makes packing something as oddly shaped as a bike a little easier. Dirt has a way of sticking to the nylon material so the bag loses it’s new feel after a trip or two, but really, there isn’t much to nit pick here.

    The S&S Co-Motion Hybrid Case

    The S&S Co-Motion Hybrid Case

Each material has it merits, but we feel the Hybrid case offers the right blend of frame protection, value, and ease of packing. We’ll address the frame and fork, as well as component options soon.

As always, if you have any questions about travel bikes, this collaboration with Patrick Brady, or anything else for that matter, feel free to call us at 617-923-7774 or email us at info@sevencycles.com. Thanks for reading.

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

Some Deserved Time Off

Friday, April 4th, 2014

When Seven began, back in 1997, Rob Vandermark‘s vacation days started to accrue at the rate of about a day a month. When the first year of operation came to a close, he had twelve days saved up.  Seven had a busy year in 1998, including a move from Topsfield to Watertown, so there was no time for a vacation, and those twelve vacation days were added to the original twelve to make twenty four. The company was growing steadily, in numbers and in employees. There was so much to do.

Twenty four became thirty six, and this pattern continued, year after year. The vacation days kept adding up. No one knows for sure, but a reasonable estimate to the number of days accrued would be one hundred ninety six.

A few weeks ago, for the first time in Rob’s seventeen years at Seven Cycles, he asked for time off. We were puzzled. Was there an event we didn’t know about? A presentation somewhere? Was he off to work on a secret new project? No one was sure, though as it turns out, the answer was quite simple. Rob wanted to take a vacation.

When you take one vacation in seventeen years, everyone wants to know where  you are going? In Rob’s case, the answer was a cycling trip to New Zealand. As the trip grew near, Rob became almost giddy. He outfitted his coupled Evergreen SL specifically for the journey with: a generator front hub and powerful headlight, full fender coverage in case the going gets wet, reflective decals for high visibility, wide tires with some tread in case the pavement came to an end. We won’t know all of the details of the trip until he gets back, but we know his bike is ready for anything, and that his vacation is well deserved.

RV's RV

RV’s RV

Have fun Rob. We’ll hold down the fort.

Hardly an Update on Karl’s Sola SL

Friday, March 28th, 2014

The first bike I ever built was a Trek 800 mountain bike at Alpha-Lo Bicycles in Wallingford, CT when I was in 6th grade. I had applied to work at the bike shop weeks earlier, even though I had few skills in the realm of sales, merchandising, or mechanics, and yet they hired me anyway. Chalk it up to the sweetheart of an owner, and my obvious love for his store.

I worked on the weekends, and though I doubt I provided $20 of value, that’s what I was paid. Keeping the shop presentable was my number one priority, which sounds lame, but I couldn’t get enough of it. I took great pride in shifting the bikes to the big ring, pulling products to the front of the shelves, and vacuuming the floor. When the shop was clean, George, Aaron, and Matt all pitched in to help me learn the basics of bike mechanics.

The shop wasn’t enormous, but it felt like we hand an endless array of entry level mountain bikes to assemble. Building these bikes would become my second responsibility. At the time, I could operate a quick release and fix a flat, but that was the extent of my skills. I was a clean slate. The learning curve was steep, and I wasn’t the quickest learner, but the shop guys were incredible teachers, celebrating victories when I had them, and understanding when I failed. They’d gather round to inspect, coach, joke, mock, and help whenever I was stuck. They’d pull up stools and watch, or shout out advice from afar.

Life was good. What I learned at that shop wasn’t a mastery of bike mechanics, something I’m still searching for, but a love of the bike build and the fanfare that goes with it.

photo 3

At Seven Cycles, we have a bike stand and work shop just beyond our bike commuter lot. Low on bells and whistles, but high on character, it has all of the essential tools to transform a frame into a complete bike, a well worn work bench, recycling bins, a vice, shelves, rags, a drawer of miscellaneous parts, and stools. Whenever a bike is being built, whether it be a new bike for a magazine review, or someone’s old beat up commuter, people gather. Opinions are voiced, jokes cracked. The stools fill with spectators. Assistance is provided, wanted or not. Should the build happen after work, the crowd grows along with the laughter.

photo 1

The technology has changed, as have the tools, but the fanfare of a bike build today is no different than it was when I was a kid. I wouldn’t want it any other way, and I can’t think of a better place to build my new Sola.

 

The Finisher’s Dance

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Gritty Nylox bristles whip over the titanium tube and brush off the discoloration left behind from welding. The sound isn’t deafening, but with three other frames being wheeled at the same time, it is pretty loud this afternoon. The final stage, before frames get wrapped up and shipped out, or in my case handed off, is my favorite to watch. Unlike a welder, whose hands move slowly and steadily, frame builders move about like dancers. Twirling around the stand as they flip, twist, and rotate the bike, their performance looks choreographed. Dan C. is working on my bike, but his recital isn’t a dance at all, in fact it’s one of the most arduous parts of fabrication. We call it “FINISHING.”

photo
Before I caught up to him, Dan had already run my frame through the CNC machine where the bottom bracket was threaded, faced, and chamfered. In machining, the bottom bracket starts as a thick walled, round tube. When the down tube, seat tube, and chain stays are all welded on to it, the heat distorts the metal, microscopically, but enough that it’s no longer perfectly round. The thick tube wall is important because our CNC machine will bore through it, expanding the inner diameter to leave a perfectly round hole, which it can then thread. You can see the difference in wall thickness.

photo 1

Dan had also faced and reamed the 44mm head tube so my Chris King InSet 7 headset will press in evenly. As an aside, the lathe that faces and reams  head tubes is my favorite machine in the building. Who knows what it did before it came to Seven, but it looks old and tank like. I bet it weighs several tons. Head tube after head tube, it keeps working, just like new. Spin the crank and it goes round and round like a Record square taper bottom bracket. So cool.

photo 2

When those two steps were finished, Dan bonded in the seat tube insert, cut the seat top binder notch, and checked the frame’s alignment, making improvements where necessary.

By the time I got back to see how it was coming along, my bike was half way through the wheeling process.

photo 1

photo 3

Once the main tubes have been wheeled, and the natural sheen of titanium comes through, he’ll exchange his drill for a ruddy strip of Scotch-Brite. The Scotch-Brite pad gives a uniform finish to the frame that can be replicated at home, at the end of the season, or whenever I want it to look like new.

When the frame passes Dan’s final, grueling, inspection, he’ll attach all of the small parts. The last step is to wipe down the frame with a light furniture polish.

Pretty soon my frame will be ready to build, and I will be bouncing off the walls.