The Connaught 600

First the photo, this one worth 2,000 words, we think.

Even without any context, we found ourselves wondering, if you could ride a bike there (where?) why would you ever ride anywhere else? If you’re looking for the spot, it’s at the Ceide Fields a Neolithic field system in Mayo, Ireland.

We met Noel, the rider, through our friends at Cyclefit in London. Noel is an accomplished audax rider from Ireland, and we painted his Axiom SL to match his favorite place to ride, as well as to honor Audax Ireland. The photo was taken during the Connaught 600, a 600k event by the organiser of the Wild Atlantic Way Randonee.

The Long Story of the Introduction of the Balance Control System and the Mobius SL and KellCat SL Dual-Suspension Mountain Bikes

This photo was taken on the road to Lake Garda, in Italy, last year. The bike is an Evergreen Scrambler. This is a long way in both time and space from the introduction of our first new dual-suspension bike in a decade, but this is how bike design is sometimes. This story starts with a vacation.
Strictly speaking, we had been working on ideas and working through the preliminary engineering math for a new dual-suspension design for about two years, but it was a trip to the Mountain Bike World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland that catalyzed the real work behind the bike that would become the Mobius SL.
Ironically, we flew into Venice, a city where you’re not allowed to ride a bike, before making our way north to Lake Garda for a few days of riding before the races in Switzerland. The lake is surrounded by old stone architecture, sweeping green vistas, and perfect dirt roads. We spent hours crisscrossing the vineyards there, occasionally daring to point our noses up the precipitous climbs that snake away in every direction. It is always inspiring to encounter the rawness of nature via bike, and Lake Garda served up a huge does of inspiration.
The four hour drive to Lenzerheide took us past seemingly endless green pastures and more road climbing than our legs will get to in this lifetime.
In Lenzerheide, the long arch of product development began. It might seem like fun and games watching the best racers in the world doing impossible and exhilirating things in the dirt. We spent hours looking at bikes designs, suspension kinematics, prototype components, and how various suspension approaches worked and didn’t work in all kinds of terrain, traction, and trail conditions.

Seven’s new suspension platform, the Balance Control System (BCS), is a direct result of exploring every aspect of how racers and riders use their bikes in all kinds of conditions. Professional level racing is one part of the spectrum. BCS is a design platform for custom dual-suspension bikes, which lets us bring the same level of rider-specific tuning to suspension performance we bring to road feel. It incorporates the proven, workhorse, four-bar linkage system and updates the kinematics for today’s mountain biking styles, not to mention our ability to customize and tailor bikes in unique ways.

The result isn’t one bike, but a platform for creating the perfect bike for your style of riding and personal preferences.
We launched the first BCS bike, the Mobius SL at NAHBS, because who wouldn’t want to build show bikes AND release a new model for the same event? In addition to the ribbons we won for Best Road Bike and Best Gravel Bike, the Mobius SL was also a finalist for Best Mountain Bike, so as crazy as months have been leading into Spring 2019, it has all been very worth it, and we returned from Sacramento with smiles on our faces and a feeling of proud satisfaction.
All of that leads up to the second BCS dual-suspension bike, the brand new KellCat SL. KellCat is a collaboration project with pro mountain bike racer Kelly Catale, who came to use looking for the fastest cross-country, dual suspension 29er we could make.
Kelly worked with us through the first two prototypes of this bike, and after coming to understand her riding style and settling on her race geometry, we immediately set about machining the solid aluminum rockers for this bike. Like the Mobius SL, the KellCat SL is hand-crafed at the deepest level, from the dropouts through the rockers, and up through the double-butted titanium frame.
KellCat SL launches right now! Kelly will race it at Sea Otter this weekend, and we’ve put together a few different versions of her bike that you can order now if going fast on tight, technical terrain is your idea of fun.

What is Performance?

We use the term a lot, and it’s one of those that lends itself to broad interpretation. Everyone reading it will project their own ideas onto it, and that’s a good thing. It suggests that no matter what you want from a new bike, we can deliver it.

The trick is figuring out what performance means for the individual rider before designing and building their bike. If you’re not careful,  you can get your head stuck in the bubble of bike industry media, marketing, and hype. In the bubble, everyone just wants to go faster, forever and always. And while it’s probably fair to say that almost no one who turns the pedals wants to go more slowly, that may not be why they’re getting a new bike.

What we hear from our riders runs a wide gamut, from comfort to endurance, from better handling to better features, from the ability to travel to greater versatility on-road and off. One person’s watts are another person’s panniers, or tire clearance, or root level versatility.

The good news for those of us who design bikes is that figuring out what the rider is really looking for, beyond speed, is also the process of designing, that is to say, in asking questions to discover our customer’s priorities, we are also collaborating with them to design their new bike.

 

The Seven TransAt in Bicycling Magazine

Last week a pair of Sevens showed up on Bicycling.com in a piece about the Trans Atlantic Way Race. It’s well worth a read just to find out more about riding along the Irish Coast, but there are also some good tips on riding fast over long distances, as well as some photos of a pair of handsome, purpose-built bikes.Here are some brief excerpts:

The race kicked off at 11:30 a.m. on June 7, 2018. Brad and Matt had 200 miles planned that day, and they expected to be riding until about midnight. Halfway through their first long day, they dined curbside on pizza after the first checkpoint. They ate as much as possible because food options would close well before their planned finish. Being vegetarians, pizza was frequently on the menu.

Along with avoiding the normal hazards of exhaustion, fatigue, and other standard issues with long days in the saddle, the duo had to adjust to riding on the left side of the road.

Read a bit more about our involvement in this epic race.

Outdoors, Inc & The Race Between the Bridges

Here’s a handsome crew. Our friends at Outdoors, Inc in Memphis sponsor a race team called Los Locos (pictured here with some of their Sevens), and this is a shot of them just after the Race Between the Bridges, a local gravel grinder. Seven rider Hart Robinson, second from right, made this year’s race podium. Outdoors, Inc. owners Joe and Carol-Lee Royer are in the middle.

Out of 100+ starters, only approx 38 finished the race due wet conditions with clay mud and gravel.