Bicycling – Dream Bikes: Rides Like a Dream: Axiom SL

Traditional Ti with Unmatched Heritage

axiom-sl-2012Since opening in 1997, Massachusetts-based Seven Cycles has produced everything from belt-drive commuters to carbon-fiber time-trial bikes. But Seven’s beating heart has always been custom titanium, a legacy of founder Rob Vandermark’s long tenure at one-time industry leader Merlin Metalworks. When he left, he took his vision and expertise (not to mention several employees). If you want a Merlin today, you buy a Seven. The Axiom SL, Seven’s most traditional and versatile frame, is a study in the company’s philosophy: Fit and ride quality are paramount, while character and performance are almost infinitely malleable. A dream bike is not just a machine: it’s a deeply personal expression of a rider’s self, entrusted to master craftsmen to interpret and make real. We do not choose lightly whom to entrust with those dreams; with our test Axiom SL, as with thousands of frames before it, Seven has earned that trust.
The Axiom is not going to be mistaken for a top-drawer carbon race bike. It flexes, but in doing so shows it’s alive. Seven can tune even more stiffness into the bike, but I wanted a more balanced ride. This bike proves that you don’t need carbon for performance. Like other custom shops, Seven can build in a BB30 bottom bracket, but this bike is wonderfully reverent, with a traditional 68mm BB shell and a straight 1 1/8-inch steerer tube with a standard King headset. Though the bike isn’t the lightest, at 16.04 pounds for a 54cm, it climbs as well as, or better than, bikes that weight much less.
This Axiom uses a very neat Di2 setup, with just three holes in the frame—near the head tube for the wiring harness, and at the seat tube and chainstay for each of the derailleur wires. The battery is housed in the seat post, which gives the bike a clean and stealthy look. Should you ever decide to go back to mechanical, you could get cable stops on the frame even after the fact.

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