Here is a do-everything touring machine we built for Joe with our friends at Spokes, Etc. in Alexandria, VA. This Expat SL incorporate S&S couplings, front and rear rack & fender mounts, a kickstand, Rohloff belt drive, generator hub, extra water bottle mount and a pump peg. We like this build because it really demonstrates the extent to which a rider can personalize a Seven to produce what is, for them, the ultimate bike for the purpose (or many purposes).
Photos by Mike Gregerson
A red morning sky tells sailors that bad weather lies ahead. Project RedSky is our way of making all the bad weather days rideable, no, not just rideable, maximally rideable, lovable, to turn those rainy, snowy, off days into your favorite days to be out on the bike.
Here’s how we did it:
- Lightweight: A typical RedSky builds up at 1.5 to 2.0 lbs lighter than an equivalent disc brake bike. The bike is the same weight as any lightweight road bike; the mid-reach brake calipers are only about 30 grams heavier than most lightweight short reach brakes. The bike pictured tips the scales at 16.2 lbs with the MSO 32c tires; without pedals.
- Tire Choices: From a 23c road slick to a 33c knobby and everything in between, the RedSky is even more versatile than a true cyclocross bike. On 33c tires, clearance is limited, but tire option versatility will be appreciated in some riding conditions. True tire clearance depends on measured tire width, rim width, and brake caliper choice. Perhaps most importantly, the RedSky can also fit studded tires.
- All Weather: Designed to fit fenders with up to 28c tires.
- High Performance: This design sacrifices nothing compared to any performance road bike. It’s fast, agile, and accelerates with the best of bikes.
- Optimal Handling: Seven’s 5E fork allows for matching the fork rake to the frame geometry so there’s no compromise to the bike’s front end handling.
- Hidden Fender Mounts: At dropouts and chainstay bridge. The mounts are there when you want them, but hidden when you don’t.
- Travel Bike: Simple brake system makes for fast, easy, and lightweight bike travel.
Overall, the Redsky provides you most of the benefits of an Evergreen — a versatile mixed-terrain disc brake bike — while being as light as a pure performance road bike. Designed specifically for harsh environments, the RedSky loves the rain, sleet, and even snow and ice. Boston sees an average of 80 rain days a year; why miss that many days of riding?
The RedSky will make everyday a riding day.
What defines RedSky is its versatility. No other rim brake bike offers the same breadth of tire choices, rack and fender options, lighting possibilities. We’ll show you, in the coming days, just a few of the ways you can build your Seven RedSky.
There is a practical side to picking the tubes for a custom bike frame, and there is an aesthetic side. There is a science, and there is a craft. What we think will match the rider’s preferred ride feel, sometimes doesn’t match the rider’s stated desire for “fat tubes,” which can be very stiff. As with all things custom design and build-related, finding the right balancing points make all the difference. The key to success, then, is having enough options to create a balance. We have a whole wall of different-sized tubing, steel and titanium and carbon, multiple diameters and wall thicknesses, and then in many cases we butt those tubes to further refine the bike’s ride feel.
But backing up, we take a lot into consideration when picking the tubes for a rider’s new bike. Some of it is formula, knowing what has worked for rider’s of a given size for a given style of riding. But then you have to consider their aesthetic preferences too, how aggressively they want the frame to handle, how comfortable they want to be. You make little adjustments to the tube spec, based on experience. This is the craft part.
Matt O., our production manager, says, only half-jokingly, that when he specs tubes for a bike, he looks at the rider’s profile and asks how that rider is different from him in size and/or in the way they want their bike to feel. Then he adjusts from what he would build for himself.
There are also factors like racks and fenders to consider. Will the supporting tubes take additional weight and strain. We adjust for that.
We say that every Seven is different. Every one is unique, and that is pretty literally true. There are so many levels of customization that goes into each bike. The tube set is just one of them, but it’s a valuable one. It’s part of what makes the difference between any old bike, and your bike.
Photo by Pamela Blaylock in Ireland.
The Overlooked Awesome is about all of the great things you can get out of a custom bike beyond the perfect fit. Check out installments I, II and III.
Part IV is about handling. There are a number of ways to affect the handling of a bike. Headtube angle, bottom bracket drop, fork rake, chainstay length, front center, they all interact to produce the bike’s handling characteristics, and we build bikes that span from agile and aggressive to stable and solid. This is a massive value for riders who can’t find a stock bike that handles the way they like. With a stock bike, all of the variables mentioned above are fixed. To change the handling, you only have a few options, like lengthening or shortening the stem. The result may be better handling, but that improvement doesn’t come without shifting your balance on the bike.
A bike handles best when the rider is balanced over the two wheels.
Because we can work from the frame materials up to the component choices, we can give you very specific handling characteristics. For example, our road bikes are spec’d with our own Seven 5E fork. The 5E is unique among high-performance forks. Designed by Seven completely from the ground up, it comes in rakes ranging for 36mm to 58mm—more than any other fork—to ensure optimum frame-fork integration and handling. Most stock bikes come with one fork option, which means you’re stuck with the handling the builder decided was good for you, not the handling you prefer.
Being able to descend confidently, corner authoritatively, or simply take your hand off the bars to adjust clothing, can make a huge difference to your ability to enjoy riding your bike. Beyond fit, this is just one more way a custom Seven can be a better choice.
In the last installment of The Overlooked Awesome we talked about options, paint being just one of them. But paint deserves more than that. As one of the most powerful ways to personalize your bike, paint (and custom decals) can motivate and inspire. Cursory research suggest a good looking bike will motivate you to ride more and will spark more stop light conversations than an off the shelf bike.
We became known for our polished Ti bikes, and that was an aesthetic that served (and continues to serve) us well. It’s classic. But as custom builders we are always looking for new ways to add more value to the process of building a bike just for you, and paint has become a big part of that. Each year, we paint more bikes than the year before.
We offer a lot of stock paint options, each of which can be personalized with different color choices. There are 23 stock colors in our palette and another 23 in our legacy color archive. We offer 17 different stock paint schemes as well. By the time you pick your colors, your scheme, and your decal, you can see the opportunity to create something special is strong. We can also mix custom colors for you, and we provide color matching services if you know what you want but are having trouble identifying it.
It’s probably not a great idea to talk too much about beautiful paint though. It’s better to just show some of what’s possible.