Archive for the ‘Sola SL’ Category
Our good friend Mark at Sigma Sport in the UK treated himself to a new Axiom SL. He opted for an over-sized headtube (44mm) with an ENVE tapered road fork and a Shimano Dura Ace Di2 electronic shift set up. Race style decals complete the look.
Thanks to everyone at Seven! I finally have a road bike that I love as much as my Seven Sola SL mountain bike! As an American working in a British bike shop & Seven dealer, it’s so nice being able to sell such amazing examples of American craftsmanship.
Who can say what summer was made for, but rolling out of the shop on Friday night and winding our way up to East Burke, VT, with an eye on a long Saturday trail ride in Vermont’s Kingdom Trails, we had a sense of the order of the universe. We were unmistakably doing the right thing.
The northern woods are cooler than the roads around our Watertown factory, so we had the perfect escape from the heat. Some trails. Some beer. Lots of good food. More reminders of how lucky we are to do what we do, building and selling bikes all week, riding them on the weekends.
It never fails to amaze how good it is to ride trail you’ve not ridden before. While some of us were intimately familiar with the treasures on offer at the Kingdom Trails, others were discovering them for the first time. It’s like learning to ride again in all the best ways. It makes it easy to show up for work on Monday morning, inspired to do it all again, maybe even better this time.
Team Seven Cycles member and long time Seven ambassador, Scott Livingston, picked up two new Sevens last week. Scott was really fun to work with on these builds because he knew what he wanted the bikes to do, but was open to collaborating on a lot of the details.
We designed a Sola 29 SL belt drive single speed for Scott to ride in the single track of his home state of Connecticut. The bike would also see action at the Vermont 50, which Scott has done something like 12 times. Scott knew the bike would be single speed, 29″ wheeled, rigid, and light. Together we arrived at Rocker drops, Gates carbon belt drive, 44 mm head tube, tubeless wheels, and tapered carbon fork.
I was blown away with how well the bike came out, and I think Scott was too. The only time I have been to the Vermont 50, it was a terrifically muddy affair. Should that be the case this year, Scott will be pedaling away on a mud-proof belt drive train, or when the climbs get too steep, portaging an ultra light 19 lb hard tail. It’s the perfect bike to challenge and excite him at a race that he knows so well.
Stay tuned for a post about Scott’s Axiom SL Commuter!
This is Seven Cycles #10, the tenth bike we ever built. It is 15 years-old. It has been all over the US, all over Europe. It has a lot of trail miles under its wheels. We built it for one of Seven’s original founders, who has gone on, happily, to live and ride the world.
Last week, it came back for refinish.
With more than 20,000 custom bikes behind us, it’s hard not to think about the first bikes out the door, wonder where they are, what they’re doing. Seeing this bike again was a real treat, and maybe it validates a decision we made a long time ago to offer only one finish for our bare Titanium frames, one that is a bit painstaking to execute, but turns out a frame that can be easily maintained and refinished for the lifetime of the bike, which, as it turns out, can be very long time.
Part of the process of customizing a bike for an individual customer is thinking about the future. Often riders know what they want in the moment. Sometimes they have a longer range vision of what they want their Seven to be, but most of the time it’s up to us to help them think through what they’re riding needs will be five, ten, or even fifteen years down the road. The hand finish is part of that thought and vision. It’s part of the value of what we do.
This bike will leave here today, destined for some far flung trail, and we look forward to seeing it back again, fifteen years further on, if only to see how we’ve done.
When the snow flies and the temperature yo-yos, you have to change your game plan. At Seven, we try to stay on the bike, outside, as much as we possibly can. There’s no shame in retreating to the rollers or a trainer, but “stationary bike” is a contradiction in terms, right?
Trail riding is an even bigger challenge. On top of the snow/ice/snow mix, the sun sets early, so you need a good light. The upside to snow riding after dark is that the white ground cover amplifies your light. And you need all that light, because traction becomes a random event. Choosing the right line can mean the difference between staying on the bike and sliding down the trail on your butt.
Best also to bring a sense of humor.
To be really successful on the snow ride, you have to change your basic expectations. That feeling of flow you get from riding dirt in summertime is not available. You have to replace it with the simple joy of being there, of being out in the woods when no one else is there, when the trees rock gently in the wind and the squirrels stay home to feast on winter stores.
It’s so nice to slip and slide and grind your way into the winter woods at night, and then stop there, turn off your lights and let the darkness close in on you. If it happens to be snowing lightly at the time, the sound of the flakes flitting against the already fallen snow is absolute magic.
Back on the bike, staying upright is the biggest challenge, that and keeping your feet dry. The reward is in the adventure, in going someplace that’s hard to get to, and in staying on your bike and moving forward when most “sensible” folks are at home, on the couch.
We’re really lucky that people are riding our bikes all year-round in all sorts of weather on every continent – except Antarctica…as far as we know. We don’t, strictly speaking, have to be out on the trail in the middle of winter, but in addition to loving the outdoors and the challenge of riding through the winter, we feel we owe it to our riders to experience what they experience. It helps us build better bikes, and of course, it makes a hot cup of coffee taste that much better.
Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. That’s Newton’s first law. So you can imagine the difficulty one encounters trying to rise from a warm bed before the sun has even sighted the horizon, to fortify oneself with hot coffee, and then head out for a trail ride. That the temperature is in the mid-20s only compounds the challenge.
And yet, it’s January in New England and the trails are not yet coated in snow and ice, so we do what we can.
And all the way to the meet up, you have those second thoughts reverberating around your cranium. “What am I doing? Man, it’s cold. This is stupid. The guys probably won’t even show up. I really could have used the sleep.”
Then the guys DO show up and next thing you know the heat is coming into your legs, into your core. The leaves crunch under your treads. Frozen earth rides like asphalt in places. The wet parts have gone crusty in the hard morning freeze.
You still can’t quite believe you’re there as the sun begins to suffuse the woods with gray light, but the equation is shifting. You’ve kicked off that equal but opposite reaction, joy and inspiration pushing you down the trail, momentum interrupted only by the odd rock or root. Quite unwittingly, you’re smiling.
And then you’re at it hammer and tongs. Up steep ridges you grind, your breath coming in great billowing gusts. Your fork floats and pops as you hurdle downed trees and then you find a brook in full babble, and you brake without saying a word to your companions. You stop and listen. As much as the riding, this is what you get out of bed for.
Nine months of confinement would break a lesser man’s spirits, but pile another four months of New England winter on top of that, and only a select few have the will power to avoid insanity. The day was December 21st, 1977, winter had just begun and so had I. Forty-six days later the blizzard of ’78 covered my world in white and I credit that storm with my profound imagination. Swaddled in a crib, next to the fireplace, I dreamt up my very first project bike.
For those who have experienced a perilous winter, you can probably relate to my fragile little mind’s wanderings, and may have even dreamt up a project bike of your own.
If you are reading this blog, surely you are aware of the “project bike” phenomenon, but just in case it’s news to you, I define a project bike as such:
Project Bike: (n. proj-ekt bahyk): A bike that is contemplated, devised, planned, or implemented over a harsh New England winter. Traditionally a large or major undertaking; especially one involving considerable money, personnel, day dreaming, and at times outright lusting. So long as the bike has been theorized, the project can be considered “underway” irregardless of how many provable steps have been taken in the bikes physical creation. Project bikes have shown to help maintain the sanity of those trapped indoors for multiple months out of the year.
My first project bike was as basic as my development, a fixed gear with tubeless tires and a slammed stem.
I suppose that it should come as no shock that on the day of my thirty-forth birthday, and winter underway once again, that I have begun another project bike. This bike, unlike the thirty-three before it, comes from a place that none of the others have, raging jealousy. In a recent blog entry, John Lewis discusses the late night cross ride in which he and others have been participating. Well, he failed to mention that they have also been going on morning mountain bike rides too, in bigger numbers. What feels like every other day, I listen to the glee and general jubilance of my office mates laughing and sharing stories from their early morning mountain bike ride. “Do you remember when Neil crashed!?” Followed by uproarious laughter. “Or when Dan’s wheel spun out?” They even refer to it as “shredding” which sounds even more fun. It goes on all day, and I just know I am missing out on good times. I love good times.
My issue, at least the one I’ll discuss today, is that my stable is missing a mountain bike. Just yesterday my jealousy reached new heights when John took delivery of his brand new Sola SL, much to the delight of the rest of the group.
- Frame: Sola SL
- Fork: Shock, but which make/model is still undecided.
- Wheels: 650b
- Bar: Flat, but the 90’s are calling and you best believe I’ll be rocking some stubby bar ends. Count on that.
- Brakes: Hydro disc with humongous rotors. Make/Model are still undecided.
The real issues?
- Geared or single?
- 44mm head tube or standard?
- Set back or standard post–I’m still up in the air on the aesthetic.
- Cable routing locale, though I’m leaning towards under the top tube.
- Time frame.
As you can see, I am well underway, though I have nothing to show for it at the moment. Unlike thirty-two of my previous project bikes, I think this one has a good chance of coming to fruition.
How about you readers, any exciting project bike’s this year, any good stories of projects bikes from the past?
Just as the cold temps of late fall and the ever darkening dawn have crept up on us over the last few months we finally put a – somewhat – reliable group together for early morning mountain bike rides on the local wooded trails. It’s usually a small group, 3 or 4 of us, with one or two no-shows on any given day. Lately we’ve had about enough light for about 60 minutes of trail time before it’s time to head home for a toe thawing shower and then off to work. It’s always a good idea, if you want to keep on riding through the onset of the dark and cold time, to incorporate a new source of inspiration into your cycling arsenal. This past spring I was able to stoke my own enthusiasm by building up a custom Sola SL 650b single speed. Neil drew up the design and incorporated the future compatibility of a belt drive system. We knew that Gates had its new CenterTrack in the works, so I figured I’d run a chain for the time being and set up the strap once the new system was available. This bike is a purpose-built shredder designed for the rocky, twisty rolling hills of metro-west Boston’s various town forests and preservation lands. I opted for fat, tubeless tires and 120mm of travel up front to make bouncing through the rocky terrain as much fun as possible.
Nine months after my Sola’s maiden chain-driven voyage, I finally stepped up and got my hands on the CenterTrack parts. Gates recommended that I use a 46:28 setup with a 115 belt. It’s close, but a bit lower than my 32:18 chain configuration. Thanks to Neil’s design precision, and the Eccentric BB on my Sola SL, I’ll be able to run a 26t sprocket with the same belt, and will have a nearly identical match to my chain drive ratio.
Now that I have a few good belt-driven rides behind me, I struggle to find the words to describe why I feel that this is a very worthwhile upgrade. The feel at the pedals is very direct, there is less resistance than in a chain system, and it just runs quiet and smooth. The best part about it, though, is that even though the daylight hours are shrinking more each day, and every morning seems to be forecasted a degree or two cooler, I can’t wait to down a hot cup of coffee and head out on the next ride. At some point, and this will happen soon, someone will interrupt my otherwise peaceful ride through the woods, looking to talk for too long about my belt drive, and as a result I’ll have to cut my ride short or show up late to work. Other than those possibilities, I foresee no down side. I can’t wait to test it out on ice and in snow, and through whatever else Mother Nature has to offer in the next few months. See you on the trails!