Snowward Bound – The Four-Season Sola 2×2

We look forward to a good snowfall, especially one that sets up overnight leaving a fresh, untouched blanket in the local woods. Having just released the Four-Season Sola 2×2, we were anxious to get it out into some “conditions,” and our New England weather obliged.

We opted for 27.5″ x 3″ tires and our Seven Adventure Bar. Snow riding calls for keeping your weight back and balanced over the wheels. This was a heavy snow and the temperature was high enough that what was on the ground had a high ice content. We didn’t let that bother us, snaking in and out of familiar trails made entirely new by sagging of branches and obscuring of rocks.

The bike was flawless, a perfect match for the pristine pre-dawn. Rides like this both exhaust you and recharge your batteries at the same time.

The Four-Season Sola 2×2

Design Mission: Create the most capable four season bike possible. As cyclists we are keenly aware of the weather and the many challenges it presents. Any cyclist who lives in an area that experiences four true seasons, like our home here in Massachusetts, will want a bike capable of tackling whatever the weather throws at them.

After building about a dozen variants of a year-round bike, we packed all our experience and research into this one broad-use, high-capability bike.

For summer and fall, with 29er mountain tires, the bike is a fast and agile race-ready bike, setup for technical single-track and short, punchy climbs. In the winter and spring, with 27+ 3” tires, the bike can do anything and go anywhere, with or without studs, in snow, ice, mud, or frozen terrain.

See more photos and read all the details here.

 

The Sevenduro 2×2 Scrambler

Well, that’s a mouthful, but it’s a bike with a LOT going on. The basic idea with this project was to build a massively versatile machine that can maximize performance across a range of ride types. The knock on some multi-purpose bikes is that they’re not great at any one thing. The 2×2 Scrambler aims to be great at many types of riding.

Here is what it’s for and how we optimize for each thing.

For this specific design project we optimized for these two distinct ride functions:

  • A bike ideally suited for fast gravel and dirt road riding in hilly terrain (Sevenduro mode)
  • A bike optimized for New England mixed terrain riding: sections of singletrack with equal sections of paved roads — and a bit of everything else thrown in (Scrambler mode)

These two bikes are very different in function, and therefore design. How do you get this to work? Beginning with tire choice and wheel diameter decisions, the optimal design produces a frame geometry that allows for versatile rider position, fine tuning for each type of riding.

With this Evergreen 2×2 we have two hot-swappable modes. The first configuration is a pure gravel riding setup for the 700c wheels, we call it the Sevenduro Mode — because it’s designed for endurance gravel rides. It’s lightweight and provides a perfect gravel balanced rider position.

For the second hot-swap configuration we’ve optimized for 650b riding. We’ve tagged it the Scrambler Mode — named after a type of bandit off-road motorcycle race. The Scrambler Mode has a flared drop bar for better trail handling, wider grip stance for more control, a shorter stem for slighter reach and improved body language control, and slightly higher front end to facilitate rolling over logs and other adventure obstacles.

There is a ton of new tech in this bike, features that make it a great travel bike, a worthy race bike, an all-weather commuter and adventure rig. Read more on the specifics here.

Travel Bike Optimized

We build a lot of travel bikes. Increasingly, riders are realizing the value, not only of riding in far flung places, but in riding their own bike along to do it. BTC couplers and travel cases make this dream a much simpler reality than it might at first appear. We like to think about more than just getting the bike into the case though.

Part of the value of the way we build bikes, one-at-a-time, for the specific people who will ride them, is that we can be thoughtful about the whole bike and how it serves the larger goal.

With that in mind, and with a request from one of our readers, we thought we would break down, in detail the bike above, one of the bikes we brought with us on our most recent trip.

This bike is optimized for traveling just about anywhere in the world.  The kit is chosen for easy service at any reasonable bike shop on the planet.

  • Model:  Evergreen SL
  • Kit:  A mix of Dura Ace and Ultegra.  Ultegra rear derailleur so the rider could use a wider range cassette.  Shimano because it’s the most popular and common kit on the planet so easiest to get replacement parts.
  • Gearing:  11-32t cassette with 44/28t chainrings.  11-32t rather than a wider range cassette because it’s easy to replace while traveling if needed.
  • Crank:  Rene Herse.  Why?  We used this crank in order to get a lower gear ratio for steep technical climbing.  Herse cranks use a classic tapered and threaded bottom bracket for easy service while traveling.
  • Saddle bag:  Revelate Viscacha
  • Handlebar bag:  Bedrock bags Tapeats Handlebar Bag.  We like this because it has a waterproof closure at the top.  Easy to access.
  • Tires:  Clement MOS 40c tires.  With tubes. Tubeless is nice to ride, but presents serviceability issues when traveling.
  • Wheels Pacenti rims with White Brothers hubs.  Centerlock for traveling.  Classic hook spokes for ease of service.  700c wheels because they are ubiquitous anywhere in the world.  The bike also works with 27″ wheels — if you’re really in the boonies — and 650b or 27.5″ if needed for some reason.
  • Brakes:  Mechanical Shimano CX77.  These work really well for mechanical discs (which are easier to set up and break down) and are very low service.
  • Bar, stem, post:  Seven parts.  Aluminum and titanium, so they are as durable as possible.
  • Pedals:  XTR
  • Saddle:  Fizik Arione
  • Lights:  Light & Motion Urban 1000s.  Easy to mount, easy to charge, light weight, multi-function, helmet mount and bar mount.

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.