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.

 

5 Ways to Stay on the Bike Through the Winter

Here’s how we do it:

1) Studded Tires – Today, you can get studded tires from 30mm to 4.8in wide to fit mountain bikes at all wheel sizes, and any disc brake road bike (and Seven’s RedSky series, too, if you like rim brakes). Nothing provides the confidence to take on winter riding quite like a pair of studded tires.

2) Bar Mitts and Boots – Hands and feet bear the brunt of the cold when you’re riding, so we like Bar Mitts to keep our hands warm, and a pair of serious winter cycling boots like these or these. You will be surprised how much easier it is to get out the door once you’ve solved the problem of cold hands and feet.

3) Layers – One of the great things about riding is that it raises your body temperature, so you won’t be cold long. That means that your best strategy for regulating comfort will be layering your clothing. We like full zip jerseys and jackets that we can open when we’re warming and close when we’re cooling off.

4) Friends – We all like a solo ride for clearing our minds and simplifying things, but in winter we prefer to travel in packs. We’re more likely to show up for a ride if friends will be there.

5) Adventures – All the places we go during the year are different in winter. Sometimes the thrill of a cold weather ride is just in seeing old sights through new eyes. They say it’s the journey, not the destination, but in wintertime, we make sure the destination is part of the motivation.

Patrick’s Sola 27.5

We received this great photo from Patrick in Tennessee. It’s his Sola 27.5 in Swimming Pool Blue with Red decals on the Ridgeline trail in the DuPont State Forest just outside of Brevard, North Carolina.Seven still Protune 4

He says:

I love my bike! It’s the best handling bike I’ve ever ridden. I’ve had it for a little over a year now and can’t say enough good things about it! So much fun!!!

I hope you and the rest of the crew are doing well and having a great summer!

Take care,

Patrick

Going to the Woods

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.

 

 

One Bike (to Rule Them All)

There is a difference between a fad and a trend. A fad is an idea that pops up, becomes popular and then disappears after folks figure out it’s not as great as it first seemed. A trend is a gradual change in the way things are done. It can be hard to distinguish fads from trends. We struggle with this all the time. As builders of our own bikes, we can’t just be concerned with whether something is popular at the moment, we have to think through how to produce it, whether the resulting product is more valuable to our riders than the ones we already make, and whether developing the fixturing will be worthwhile over a period of years.

Recent seasons have  produced some interesting trends, for example the growing interest in mixed-terrain (or “gravel”) bikes and on the mountain side of things, the emergence of the 650b (or 27.5) wheel size. These are both good trends for us, because, as custom builders, we already have all the capabilities we need to produce them. What looks like fragmentation in the market, the splintering of categories, actually looks to us like a convergence of our skills with what the market wants.

So, while other bike companies scramble to bring new products to market and add pages to their brochures to cover the latest trends, we’re actually seeing a lot of our products merging together as riders get better and better at knowing exactly what they want from their bike and their riding.

Of course, we’re still building straight ahead road and mountain bikes, but we’re also building an awful lot of bikes that blur the lines between pure road and pure mountain, as riders seek one bike to meet a lot of different needs. These can be road-oriented bikes (read: drop bars) with medium-reach road calipers to fit wider tires and/or fenders, so the resulting bike can spend some time off pavement and also work as an effective commuter in bad weather, or they can be more trail oriented bikes with cyclocross forks, wide tire clearance and disc brakes. Some will take flat bars, like a traditional mountain bikes, and some will have commuter type bars, flat or sweeping, but with multiple hand positions.

We are building these One Bikes out of our Axioms, our Expats, our Evergreens and our Solas.

Over and over we see riders working on that single solution , and the bikes that come out are not only some of the most everyday useful we have produced, but also some of the most ingeniously multi-functional. They take advantage of all the things we are able to add to a frame design, all the component compatibility, to do more cool stuff on two wheels. Watch this space for two upcoming projects that will feature exactly this sort of do-everything bike.