From Benelux to Barcelona

On Saturdays and Sundays, through the winter, we watch the cyclocross racing from Europe. Flemish language commentary bounces off the shop walls as we go about our weekend rituals, cleaning and tuning bikes, and so, when we spied a (mostly) free week that lined up with the World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands, we packed our travel bikes and headed to the airport.

We flew into Belgium, the spiritual home of cyclocross, and drove east to Valkenburg.

Our original idea was to ride our bikes to the race, but there was so much mud it proved impossible. For two days we mixed with the oddly quiet crowd as the racers whipped by in their colors. A streaker sprinted down the course just before the men’s elite event, slipping, covering himself in mud, and bringing loud guffaws and cheers from the spectators. This wasn’t the R&D we had in mind, but we laughed along.

It snowed. It rained. It sleeted. But we didn’t mind.

On the Monday we rode the flat farmland outside the city, rolling through the open spaces on mostly car-free roads.

The next day we drove down through France, pausing for a quick ride in Lyon, before finding our hotel in Barcelona. There we did three rides, one an urban adventure, trying to find our way in the hectic, fever-pitch traffic of the city. We found the cycling infrastructure really impressive, but we struggled to keep up with Barcelona’s fast city riders. Still we fed off the energy and everyone we met was friendly and helpful.

The next day we put our tires on some dirt, riding portions of the Olympic mountain bike course, near the velodrome. The single-track was beautiful, swoopy, and fun on our Evergreens.

Later, we took a night ride up into the hills above the city, where we found wide mixed-use paths with stunning views. Beyond that we could see miles and miles of more technical dirt calling to us, but we were out of time. We’ll have to wait for another week, mostly free, to get away.

Titanium Pioneer – Stanley Abkowitz

We didn’t know Stanley Abkowitz, though he lived locally. Few of our neighbors, in fact, could have had as enormous an impact on what we do as Mr. Abkowitz.

Working at the Watertown Arsenal in the 1950’s, just across the road from the Seven factory, he invented the 6Al-4V alloy of titanium that we use in many of our dropouts. Later he would write the seminal Titanium in Industry, and devote nearly six decades to advanced metallurgy.

We are sorry not to have known him, and are grateful for his life’s work. He recently passed away at the age of 90.



Portable Technologies & a Workhorse Axiom Disc

In our last post we walked through some of the features and technology in the Ultimate Axiom Disc. Halo bikes, like that one, serve some important purposes for us. The first one is to showcase, in as dramatic a way as possible, the killer bikes we’re capable of producing. More importantly, they serve as launching points for new ideas that we know we’ll incorporate into more “practical” builds, like the one above.

This is the Workhorse Axiom Disc. It incorporates the show bike’s One-Inch Fixed Chainstays, Active Race Design Geometry, and All Out Speed Kit into a more budget-oriented, everyday riding (and maybe racing) package.

Don’t get too hung up on the racing piece. The vast majority of our riders aren’t trying to win races, but they do want to go as fast as they can, given their abilities. We understand. It’s fun.

What we want to do is develop technology that is portable, across bikes and categories, whether full-tilt race bike, or go fast group ride bike.

The Seven Ultimate Axiom Disc

This is the Seven Ultimate Axiom Disc, a project bike we developed as part of this season’s focus on technology, innovation, and leveraging the experience of building more than 30,000 custom bikes. For this particular project, the design goal was build the fastest, lightest, no-compromise road disc bike we could. As a result, this bike introduces a slew of new features that are available in our mainline products starting immediately.

Here is a quick look at just a few of those features:

One-Inch Fixed Chainstays  – Larger diameter tubes, with thinner tube walls, increase both bending and torsional stiffness by 32% over our 7/8″ stays. We hold the weight down by custom butting the tube stock in house. Read more here.

Asymmetric Fastback Dropouts – 75% stiffer than the most popular titanium thru-axle disc brake dropout on the market. These custom asymmetric  dropouts save 60 grams of weight over our conventional disc brake dropout system. Read more here.

3D Traction Seat Stays – With 3DT, we’ve been able to improve rear tire traction without reducing frame stiffness. We achieve these traction improvements through a combination of more aggressive bend profile, bending in multiple planes (3D), and a new tube butting process. What you get is a seat stay with a more dramatic shape that dissipates multi-directional force, and minimizes weight. Read more here.

Synergetic Chainstays – When you introduce asymmetry into a frame design, you have to restore balance. Our Synergetic Chainstays serve this function. Their unique design allows clearance for full-sized chainrings and 28c tires. They let us run a sub-41cm chainstay with a 160 mm disc rotor. Read more here.

Active Race Design Geometry – ARD geometry is a combination of race-specific elements that provide quick handling and telepathic transfer of rider input to your tire contact patches. We achieve this through a combination of frame geometry modifications including a compact wheelbase, short chainstays, high bottom bracket, steeper head tube angle, tighter front center, more compact front triangle for faster reaction time, improved front end torsional stiffness, and a bike that’s easier to throw around in a shoulder-to-shoulder pack of riders. Read more here.

All Out Speed Kit – Where Seven’s Active Race Design geometry option is a comprehensive set of geometric adjustments, the All Out Speed Kit modification is a set of design features that improve race performance and placing. Our most popular titanium AOS Kit includes our One-Inch Fixed Chainstays, an oversized down tube, a T47 bottom bracket, a Max Power Seat Post, Slipstream Di2 Internal Wiring, and a 44mm head tube. Read more here.

Direct Mount Derailleur Hanger – This is the industry’s first titanium direct mount hanger for Shimano rear derailleurs. About three times stiffer than a typical aluminum hanger, and tough as nails.​​​​​​​

Col’s Axiom SL

This is Col’s Axiom SL, delivered by our good friend Steve Hogg at Pedal Pushers in Australia:

Col wrote us this nice note:

Dear Seven Artisans,

I had dreamed about a Titanium Seven for years and was able to realise that dream late in 2017. I have now had sufficient time on the bike to fully appreciate it and love it more every time I climb aboard.

Aesthetically, it is the epitome of style – a bit industrial, a bit old school and cool as hell!

Dynamically, the ride is like nothing I have ridden before! It is deceptively quick, stiff enough to be responsive, yet comfortable. It handles like it is on rails and I have so much more confidence descending as a result.

I wanted to thank you for the bike, let you know how much joy it is bringing me and assure you that I will recommend your frames to anyone looking for something far better than the “run of the mill” carbon junk!!

Kindest Regards,

Col Smith