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Sola SL

The Places We Go

Friday, August 21st, 2015

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Because we build our bikes one-at-time, for their riders, we don’t have to manage an inventory of anything other than raw materials. That allows us to build the bikes riders want instead of trying to guess what they want or trying to convince them to buy what we have already built.

The challenges our riders have been taking on this last year really bring home to us how the way we do things allows our customers to lead us forward, to take us where they want us to go.

Mike Bybee rode from Arizona to Canada on his Sola SL bike-packing rig. Brad rode across the US, from Oregon to Virginia on his Evergreen SL, set up for loaded randonneuring. We rode in Yorkshire and on the Isle of Man. Matt Roy and David Wilcox attempted a 1000km brevet in the worst heat wave the Pacific Northwest has seen in decades. Daniel Sharp rode the Oregon Outback. Seven was at the Mt.Evans Hill Climb, in the Pyrenees and at Dirty Kanza. Sevens have been ridden through the night, through two full centuries, around Lake Michigan, through Paris and over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

Sometimes we shake our heads in wonder at all of it. What ends up happening is that, as much as guide Seven riders through the process of designing their bike, they guide us through the world of cycling. They show us what is possible and change our own ideas about what a bike can be.

Image: Daniel Sharp

On the Road – Mike Bybee Rides to Canada

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Mike Bybee never thinks small. His latest odyssey took him from his native Arizona north to Canada, taking in the Grand Canyon, Park City, Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Forest, Idaho, Montana and Washington along the way,  1,590 miles in total. His Sola SL and custom rack carried him and all his gear the whole way.

Mike sometimes calls himself a photographer and sometimes a blogger and sometimes a bike-packer, but what he really is, is an adventurer, a description that serves the other things he likes to do well. Other bike-packers listen to what he has to say, mostly because they recognize his passion and the size of his imagination. We are deeply grateful that he chooses to ride a Seven, because we know he will test our bike to its limits…and send us great pictures of it in action.

Here are just a few of his fine photos from this trip. Get over to his TrailChat blog for the words and even more photos.

"Heading from the North Rim into Kanab"

“Heading from the North Rim into Kanab”

"Seven Cycles Sola at Dixie National Forest. Too many trails for me to ride with the time I had. Definitely must return"

“Seven Cycles Sola at Dixie National Forest. Too many trails for me to ride with the time I had. Definitely must return”

"A mountain biker enjoying the Tidal Wave at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah"

“A mountain biker enjoying the Tidal Wave at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah”

"Start of the Deer Valley trails in Park City, Utah. This one has amazing views and is an overall easy and fast ride with great flow"

“Start of the Deer Valley trails in Park City, Utah. This one has amazing views and is an overall easy and fast ride with great flow”

"Finally got to the Salt River Pass, Wyoming on my Seven Cycles Sola. This was a really hard day - climbing up to 7,630 feet."

“Finally got to the Salt River Pass, Wyoming on my Seven Cycles Sola.
This was a really hard day – climbing up to 7,630 feet.”

On the Trail – Up to Canada, Down to Mexico with Mike Bybee

Friday, July 10th, 2015
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Mike’s Sola SL

When we built this Sola SL for our friend Mike Bybee, the svengali of Trail Chat, we knew he had some big rides planned. Over the months that followed delivery of his new Seven he rode it through his native Arizona landscape, wrote a review, and worked out the kinks.

Now he’s ready to really rock. We got a note from him the other day announcing his plan to ride north to Canada, then return to Arizona and head into Mexico. Check out the Trail Chat site for live updates here, and watch this site from some select views from his epic journey as well.

 

Matt’s Maneha 250 – In Photos

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Last week we told the story of the inaugural Maneha 250. This week we bring you more from that event, because it was just that good.

If you were to call Matt O’Keefe, our erstwhile production manager and bike handling guru, a visual storyteller, he would likely guffaw in your face, because he’s modest, and at root, he just likes to take pictures. He’s also a hell of a bike rider, and so, when we received his trove of photos from the Maneha 250, we had to share them. Matt makes 250 miles of self-supported, off-road riding look as good as it gets. If these don’t make you want to ride your bike, then you don’t like to ride bikes.

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Matt (right) with Seven bike builder Brad Smith.

 

 

Going to the Woods

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

7050643843_401b3e8d9c_zWe’ve already talked about Going Up, Going Far and Going Fast.  Going to the Woods is another thing we like to do, riding the jeep tracks and trails that crisscross our New England forests. We design bikes to go there in a few different ways.

Two crucial variables for any woods-oriented bikes are traction and speed. How will we keep the wheels on the ground, and how fast do we want them to move? Suspension is an option with our classic NE hardtail mountain bikes, the Solas and 622M SLX. They’re built to be fast over chattery, heavily-rooted ground and to climb the short, steep pitches we find all over. The Ti chainstays on these bikes act as de facto suspension systems, effectively keep the rear tire planted on the ground and rolling forward. For dirt road bikes, we can narrow the tires and build around a rigid fork, which will speed things up on less technical terrain.

b9325f7471c811e19e4a12313813ffc0_7Another key question is, how much ground are we trying to cover? Are typical rides of approximately the same length, as with a cross country race bike, or do they vary wildly, with marathon trail sessions coming as often as possible. Those two bikes differ geometrically, one built for agility and speed, the other for comfort and stability. We can build them as traditional trail bikes, or with rack mounts for bike-packing. Geometries can get more relaxed or more aggressive.

We also send our Evergreens and Expats to the trees. The Evergreens are designed to tackle mixed-terrain, some road, some dirt. The Expats are touring bikes. As with the other types of bikes we design, finding the balance points is key to delivering the right bike. Going to the Woods can add as many or more different variables than the bikes we’ve discussed in previous pieces, so working through all the basic questions is integral to the process.