Our buddy Joe is a bike-packer of some skill and repute. Regular readers will recall that we built him a Treeline SL recently, in advance of a trip to Alaska (more on that to come). Now that he’s back, we’ve received an early review of the bike that we thought worth sharing.
Though I’ve had the Treeline for over a month, I’d only ever ridden it in Alaska on frozen rivers and snowmobile trails with a full load. It was fantastic in that context, the most perfect adventure bike I’ve been on.
But tonight I joined up with our Thursday Night Mountain Bike Worlds and rode it unladen. Holy s*%t: that bike rips. I pointed it down chaotic corkscrew chunky pitches and it just carves and carves. The geo is brilliant, super fast turning but so easy to throw your hips to stand it back up it seemed like cheating. So many thanks for your hard work.
Our buddy Tim Brick, at Brick Wheels in Traverse City, MI, sent us these photos of their latest Seven demo bike, a Treeline S, built to ride as a 29+ mountain bike, or a full-tilt fat bike with 4-inch tires.
Versatility is value. At first glance, the Treelines are fat bikes, built for snow adventures, but we were never interested in just building fat bikes, as awesome as they are. We wanted the Treeline to be a valuable bike year-round, which is why we made them part of our mountain line. Roll the snow all winter long, and then swap over to plus-sized tires for regular trail riding.
On September 23rd we passed the autumnal equinox, that magic moment when the Earth’s equator passes the center of the sun and night and day are of roughly equal length, depending on where you’re standing. A hot, humid end to the summer helped the fall sneak in under our noses.
But then cyclocross season started.
The races leading up to Holy Week (the twin weekends of GP Gloucester and the KMC Cyclocross Festival in Providence) were mainly dusty affairs as riders rode fast over dry fields, trying to remember how to dis- and remount their bikes. Perfect conditions at Gloucester more or less guaranteed that this weekend, in Providence, will be racked by torrential rain, the cheerful gift of Tropical Storm Joaquin.
What does it all mean for a New England bike builder?
First of all, it means we are busy, that we have been busy, to let summer slip into fall without really noticing. Sure, there has been in uptick in ‘cross bikes, in mountain bikes and in the ubiquitous Evergreen, as folks begin to put road season to rest, but it’s funny the way, when you build bikes for specific riders, the various categories blur together and the larger trends in what you’re doing escape you.
The late season warmth has left most of the leaves on the trees and the trails clear. As always, the time to ride is now. This is the lesson of every season, everywhere.
We’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.
Another 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.
Our good friends from Get-a-Grip in Chicago recently raced the Wassau24. See the picture below of Adam Kaplan with Seven Sola SL.
Adam said, “The Wausau24 was a great event. Very well organized. The course was 11 miles of twisty, rooty, and rocky singletrack mixed with some nice gradual fire road climbs and fast descents. I started off first for our team and had laps at approximately 10am, 4pm, 8pm, 2am and 6am. The first two laps were great, no real fatigue. The third lap I flatted 2 minutes in and had to be careful. The fourth lap was amazing in the dead of night. The last lap was in the rising sun and misty conditions. Our team, Get a Grip Cycles, was able to clinch a podium spot for third place. Not bad for a bunch of 40+ year old men.”