The Long Story of the Introduction of the Balance Control System and the Mobius SL and KellCat SL Dual-Suspension Mountain Bikes

This photo was taken on the road to Lake Garda, in Italy, last year. The bike is an Evergreen Scrambler. This is a long way in both time and space from the introduction of our first new dual-suspension bike in a decade, but this is how bike design is sometimes. This story starts with a vacation.
Strictly speaking, we had been working on ideas and working through the preliminary engineering math for a new dual-suspension design for about two years, but it was a trip to the Mountain Bike World Championships in Lenzerheide, Switzerland that catalyzed the real work behind the bike that would become the Mobius SL.
Ironically, we flew into Venice, a city where you’re not allowed to ride a bike, before making our way north to Lake Garda for a few days of riding before the races in Switzerland. The lake is surrounded by old stone architecture, sweeping green vistas, and perfect dirt roads. We spent hours crisscrossing the vineyards there, occasionally daring to point our noses up the precipitous climbs that snake away in every direction. It is always inspiring to encounter the rawness of nature via bike, and Lake Garda served up a huge does of inspiration.
The four hour drive to Lenzerheide took us past seemingly endless green pastures and more road climbing than our legs will get to in this lifetime.
In Lenzerheide, the long arch of product development began. It might seem like fun and games watching the best racers in the world doing impossible and exhilirating things in the dirt. We spent hours looking at bikes designs, suspension kinematics, prototype components, and how various suspension approaches worked and didn’t work in all kinds of terrain, traction, and trail conditions.

Seven’s new suspension platform, the Balance Control System (BCS), is a direct result of exploring every aspect of how racers and riders use their bikes in all kinds of conditions. Professional level racing is one part of the spectrum. BCS is a design platform for custom dual-suspension bikes, which lets us bring the same level of rider-specific tuning to suspension performance we bring to road feel. It incorporates the proven, workhorse, four-bar linkage system and updates the kinematics for today’s mountain biking styles, not to mention our ability to customize and tailor bikes in unique ways.

The result isn’t one bike, but a platform for creating the perfect bike for your style of riding and personal preferences.
We launched the first BCS bike, the Mobius SL at NAHBS, because who wouldn’t want to build show bikes AND release a new model for the same event? In addition to the ribbons we won for Best Road Bike and Best Gravel Bike, the Mobius SL was also a finalist for Best Mountain Bike, so as crazy as months have been leading into Spring 2019, it has all been very worth it, and we returned from Sacramento with smiles on our faces and a feeling of proud satisfaction.
All of that leads up to the second BCS dual-suspension bike, the brand new KellCat SL. KellCat is a collaboration project with pro mountain bike racer Kelly Catale, who came to use looking for the fastest cross-country, dual suspension 29er we could make.
Kelly worked with us through the first two prototypes of this bike, and after coming to understand her riding style and settling on her race geometry, we immediately set about machining the solid aluminum rockers for this bike. Like the Mobius SL, the KellCat SL is hand-crafed at the deepest level, from the dropouts through the rockers, and up through the double-butted titanium frame.
KellCat SL launches right now! Kelly will race it at Sea Otter this weekend, and we’ve put together a few different versions of her bike that you can order now if going fast on tight, technical terrain is your idea of fun.

Mike Bybee – From Above Payson

It’s always good to see Mike Bybee‘s name in the Seven inbox. It means we have good tidings (and great photos) from one of our favorite Seven riders out in the expansive American Southwest.

Mike says:

Rode out from Payson AZ and up a mix of trails to a ridgeline and a summit about 5k’ that overlooked Tonto National Forest and Mazatzal Peak (in the back there).

Cleaned up some trail trash on the way back, and found a buddy with a pickup truck who’s going to come help me remove a couch and a CRT someone chucked along the way. The ride down from the little summit was a blast, with a couple 3′ + dropoffs and lots of stuff that was more fun to go *down* than *up*.

He also sent along this summit panorama.

Mike rides a Sola SL 29er.

 

A Study in Contrast

It was 13F at ride time this morning. Small flakes darted around on the wind. As the morning progressed, they got fatter, drifting and chasing each other into small cottony piles. We rode, and it was nice.  We like pushing ourselves through the falling snow, and there are usually fewer cars on the road.

It’s hard not to think of warmer days too, though.

Here’s a photo from FOS (Friend of Seven) Mike Bybee who was kind of us to put us in his new Sights of the Southwest 2018 calendar. Mike is an ardent explorer, bikepacker, and photographer. We built him this Sola SL 29er adventure rig a few years ago, and so he’s taken us on some incredible adventures.

With Summer Receding

It was cold in New England when we woke up this morning. It was a pleasant change from the tropical, late summer heat we’d been pedaling through. It was also a reminder that the summer, despite the weather, is quickly receding. It’ll be October when we unlock the shop door on Monday.

We are still in the thick of building our 20th season’s worth of bikes and still basking in the gratitude of being able to do what we do. Our riders call and write. They stop by to visit, to see the shop, and it reinforces for us how valuable the bike is as a way to connect to people with cycling. The bike is almost secondary. Almost.

We thought we would celebrate 20 years more, but the truth is we are as busy as ever, with our heads down building bikes. It’s the bike-builder equivalent of the paceline rider only lifting his or her gaze when coming to the front of the line.

The cold morning air coming in at the window woke us up. What a great season it has been, again. What cool bikes we’ve been able to deliver, and at the root of it all, what nice people we’ve been able to meet.

As some of the crew in the shop has begun racing cross over the past few weeks, our riders are also shifting gears, thinking of cross, mixed-terrain, mountain, plus and fat bikes for the end of the calendar year. Of course, it’s always sunny and warm somewhere, so we’re not done building the many varieties of road bike we make either.

A shift in seasons is usually bittersweet, right? Part of you rues the swift passing of time and regrets not having done more, the other is excited for the things the new season brings. Mostly we feel that excitement. We are moving forward so quickly, with new bikes, new forks, new industry partnerships that will deliver even better bikes to our riders, that it’s hard to think much on the summer. Something new is blowing in the window, and we can’t wait to see what it might be.

A Message from the Mountains

We’ve said it a thousand times, one of the very best things about building custom bikes is that we get to know our customers. This message came in the other day from Len, a longtime Seven rider. You can find more of Len’s photography here.

Hi 7 team,

I bought my Seven Verve mountain frame back in ’03, and it has been a faithful ride. The first year I bought it I took it out to Moab to break it in…. On the drive to Moab I photographed the “7” head badge hanging from my rear view mirror and sent it to you.

Here is another image on the same topic –  taken many years later.  The scene is looking out the windscreen of my Land Rover Defender over a dry and harsh mountainscape at a little over 11,000 ft in elevation. The image was taken in the White Mountains east of the Sierra Nevada. When you spend a week or so between 11,000 and 13,000 ft even the air molecules in the mineral oil filled compass precipitated out of the oil solution to form an air bubble.   The “7” frame performs flawlessly at high altitudes!!!

regards,

Len