Who is John Young?

It’s a devil’s bargain, really. When you look at John Young, you notice his stature. He is a little person, born 50 years ago with dwarfism. This is, of course, only a very small part of who he is. A local teacher, and an avid triathlete, John came to the conclusion at some point that he would and could do bigger things with his life than anyone’s first glance at him might have suggested were possible. To us, the main thrust of John’s work and message is that he is an athlete first, a guy pushing his own boundaries before he thinks about inspiring other people to push theirs.

immd-15

But that’s what he does. He has a lot of fans, both within the LP community and outside of it. This is the devil’s bargain part, wanting to move past people’s preconceived notions of himself to become just another athlete, and also recognize, that in doing so, he can be an inspiration for other little people.

How do you shake off one narrow definition of yourself and also allow that definition to stand, as an example for others?

johnyoungThe answer we get from observing John is that you just go about the work. You train. You prepare. You race. You take care of your end of the bargain, and then let other people draw what they will from it. Just doing it, if you’ll excuse the borrowed phrase, is how to answer those who would judge you AND to inspire those who have endured those same judgements.

He finished his first Ironman on October 1st of this year.

We were proud to build John a bike, but he was going to achieve what he has achieved whether we were involved or not. He did not need a custom bike. A custom bike just made him faster and more comfortable than he was going to be.

He is, after all, an athlete.

Images: 1) Mindy Randall 2) Brunswick/Schiffman

Night and Day – Made to Fit vs. Built to Fit

Both these bikes belong to Kate. The top one was purchased second hand and made to fit through a series of what we might term “compromises.” You can see that extra spacers have been added under the stem, and the stem itself rises at a steep angle to achieve a handlebar position that works for Kate.

dsc_0001After riding the bike above for a few years, Kate decided to see what we could do for her with a new bike design. We took body measurements. We interviewed her to find out what she liked/didn’t like about her existing bike. We designed a frame that would support her ideal riding position while retaining proportionality, flexibility for future changes to her position AND delivering spot on handling.

Some of this is visible in the photo below of her new bike.

dsc_0002What you can’t see here is the tube set selection we made and how it differs from her original bike, which was stiffer in front and plusher in the rear than she wanted it to be. We reversed that combination by giving her increased drivetrain stiffness and a more comfortable front end. Because we can both select tube diameters and wall thicknesses, and then butt the tubing to give an even more specific comfort profile, we have a massive advantage over every other framebuilder working today.

The other thing you can’t see is the way this bike will handle. When we design a bike we aim to balance the rider evenly over the two wheels. This balance leads to greater comfort, but also to better handling. By designing the frame, via headtube angle and fork rake, to give a very specific relation between rider and ground, we can be sure that every bike we build handles exactly like the rider wants it to, which might be super stable or more twitchy and aggressive, but most of the time in the sweet spot right in between.

Kate’s original bike was a Seven, but it was second hand, i.e. not built for, so in almost every regard it was like any stock bike a rider might get. Those bikes can usually be made to fit by moving the saddle or the stem length, but not without compromising comfort, handling, and ultimately performance. That is why so many of our riders report a night-and-day difference between what they were riding and their new Seven.

By taking control of the frame’s geometry and materials, we are able to build a bike that fits, handles well, and feels good to ride all day. The secret is working forward from the rider, not backward from the bike.

 

Introducing Project RedSky

red-sky-axiom-sl-sideA 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.

red-sky-axiom-sl-down-seat-clusterOverall, 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.

Seven in Chicago Magazine

We were fortunate to be featured in Chicago Magazine this last month, with a little help from our friends at Get-a-Grip Cycles. With a two-page spread of our (actually rider Shawn Briggs’) 622 SLX, the piece does a nice job of quickly dissecting what goes into a bike customized to the nines. Many potential riders can by put off by a price tag, without considering all the components that go into it, and the long term value you get from designing and building the right thing the first timChicagoMag2e.ChicagoMag1

 

The Future of Clean

One of the best compliments we get about our bikes is that they look clean, which is not to say “not dirty” but that their lines are clean and true and simple. The recent release of SRAM’s eTap components suggests builds are going to get even cleaner. Check out these two very different builds from our friends at Cascade Bicycle Studio, the first an Axiom SL, a straight-ahead road bike with a little bit of Chris King bling to set off the single-color paint job.

DSC05444-1024x683DSC04814DSC04857-1024x683The second one is a refined 650b Airheart SL travel bike. Matching Brooks leather saddle and bar tape are classy finishing touches, and the travel readiness only begins with the S&S couplers. Check out the split, hammered fender, too. This is a high example of the intersection of form and function. eTap only makes this one easier to pack.