Rarely of What They Had Seen – Bob W

Bob came to visit us last week, as many of our riders do. But he didn’t drive up in a car, fresh from the airport. Instead, he rode his bike here, a heavily loaded Expat SL he got from our friends at Sabino Cycles in Tuscon.

He came, indirectly, from Santa Monica. Setting out from California, the Pacific Ocean swelling and rising behind him, he took Route 66 through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. Moving forward about 50 miles a day, he commented to us that he could have come faster, but he prefers to eat at all the diners, to talk to all the people.

From the end of 66, he rode north along the shore of Lake Erie to Niagra Falls, then the Erie Canal Path to Albany. He rolled through Western Mass, and on into Boston, where he stopped in to have his picture take with Tim, who welded his bike. He left us after a few photos and a good chat, and continued on to the Atlantic Ocean.

We got a thank you note from him a day later, which closed with a quote from the iconic writer of Western novels Louis L’Amour: “Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.”

Thanks for coming, Bob, and thanks for stopping to talk.

We Couldn’t Have Said It Better – Linda Freeman

A lot of our riders end up here at one point or another, coming to see where their bike was/will be born, and recently we hosted Linda Freeman who is a fitness consultant and freelance writer from Vermont. We built her bike, an Elium SLX, with our friends at Fit Werx in Waitsfield earlier in the year. If you read Linda’s blog or her regular feature in the Rutland Herald, Active Vermont, then you know she’s a deep thinker on fitness and cycling. We had a great visit with her, which she wrote about here.

 

Perfect Circles

Circles is a different kind of bike shop. Nestled into a busy neighborhood in Nagoya, Japan, Circles is a multi-level celebration of cycling and cycling culture that includes a high-volume service center, a paint shop, a clothing store, a breakfast cafe, and at any given moment another business that springs from the mind of its owner, Shinya Tanaka. Shinya is a dreamer, a guy who spends as much time thinking about where cycling fits in Japanese society as he does about what bikes to stock in his shop, and we have enjoyed working with him to augment what we are doing in Japan. From his office at Circles he also runs a nationwide distribution network called SimWorks.

During a recent visit, he brought a photographer and videographer to capture what we do, so that he can share his passion for hand-made bikes with his already ardent customer base.

Here are just a few of the images they captured.

All photos by Ryota Kemmochi.

See more about Circles, SimWorks and Seven here.

 

Case Study

Spread out in the corner of the baggage claim, the challenge of bike assembly is never more apparent. Hundreds of eyes watch as you unzip the case to see how your bike fared in transit. “What is it?” travelers ask as they see what looks to be a bike in ruins. Your case, small enough to avoid the airline’s bike fees of up to $400 round trip, is just big enough to hold your S&S coupled Seven after some minor disassembly. Just hours ago, and in the calm of your workshop, you packed the bike like a three dimensional jig saw puzzle.  But now, in the wide open airport, curious eyes upon you, building your bike back up is all that stands in the way of you and your adventure.

How long will it take?

One of the main objectives of our collaboration with Patrick Brady, founder of Red Kite Prayer, is to create a bike that is as fast to break down and build up, without sacrificing performance, as possible. There are three main facets, other than the pressure of people watching, that can affect the speed of breaking down and building up of a coupled bike:

  • Case: Not only do cases come in different sizes, but they also come in different materials. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each.
  • Frame and Fork: The size and shape of the frame and fork can simplify packing. By designing your frame to fit you, and a travel case, Seven can ensure the best fit, on both fronts.
  • Components: Cables, brakes, bars, and a variety of other components will have to be removed or adjusted before the bike can be packed into a case.  Selecting parts based on ease of installation can save hours. We’ll discuss components that have proven to be quick to assemble, and a snap to adjust.

Let’s look at the easiest of decisions first, the case.  In determining which case to get, we look at a variety of topics, including bike protection, ease of packing, ease of toting, and how easy the case is to manage after the bike is removed.  There are three styles to choose from:

  • Hard cases:  The most durable option, hard cases do the very best job of protecting your bike. S&S Machining, the same folks who make the couplers for our travel frames, offers hard cases that have a handle on the edge or on the side, that come with two wheels or four, and an array of other options. Many of these options are useful, but especially for transporting the cumbersome case in and out of the airport. Another unforeseen benefit is that they tend to stay a little cleaner than the soft cases. The only drawbacks to the hard cases are that they are heavier, more expensive, and more difficult to pack. The walls of the hard cases are, well, hard and require you to be creative in order to get all of your bike’s contents in the case as they won’t give an inch.

    The S&S Butterfly Latch Hard Case
    The S&S Butterfly Latch Hard Case
  • Soft cases: More or less just a heavy duty bag, soft cases are the lightest, most affordable, break down the smallest after use, and are easiest to pack.  However, they offer very little protection for your frame, and do not keep their shape during transit, exposing your bike to just as many dangers in the bag as out. Great for packing your bike in the trunk of your car, these cases are more or less just a convenient way to tote everything together, but not a great option for airlines.
  • Hybrid cases: These cases are made of rugged nylon, and have reinforced corners to give the case structure and help protect its contents. They are less expensive than the hard case, but are also less clunky. They are more expensive than the soft case, but far more rugged. One major advantage to the hybrid case is that the walls are flexible which makes packing something as oddly shaped as a bike a little easier. Dirt has a way of sticking to the nylon material so the bag loses it’s new feel after a trip or two, but really, there isn’t much to nit pick here.

    The S&S Co-Motion Hybrid Case
    The S&S Co-Motion Hybrid Case

Each material has it merits, but we feel the Hybrid case offers the right blend of frame protection, value, and ease of packing. We’ll address the frame and fork, as well as component options soon.

As always, if you have any questions about travel bikes, this collaboration with Patrick Brady, or anything else for that matter, feel free to call us at 617-923-7774 or email us at info@sevencycles.com. Thanks for reading.

Graeme Fife – The Elite Bicycle

To correspond with journalist and author Graeme Fife is pretty special, not only because of his gorgeous prose and encyclopedic knowledge of this cycling universe we live in, but also because he cares so much about the stories he tells. You might be familiar with some of his work including Rapha’s  Great Road ClimbsThe Tour de France: The History, The Legend, The Riders, and The Beautiful Machine, or his features for Rouleur magazine.

Lately, we have been in touch with him because he is planning on including Seven Cycles in his new book titled The Elite Bicycle, with photos by the inimitable Gerard Brown. We had Gerard here in the Spring, when we had a long, rambling conversation about what it means to make things.

Graeme told us just recently, “I love New England – I had three great rides on Cape Cod when I first came to New England in 2003 – I’d seen the beach from an aircraft flying into NY and decided that I would swim there one day. The friends in RI who loaned me bike and motor for my trip have a condo up in NH and we rode the Kanc one day, next day past where Robert Frost lived – glorious roads. First ride we did, we stopped at a cafe somewhere in the loom of Mt Washington and the guy at the counter asked me where we’d come from. I said I don’t know. So where are you going? I don’t know. It was a bit queer but expressive of the sense of complete freedom, somehow.”

Be on the lookout for The Elite Bicycle for more great writing from one of cycling’s literary legends..