Summer’s Options

It isn’t summer yet, just April’s end, but there are buds on the trees, the sun rises higher in the sky every day, and we can begin to see all the riding options summer will give us. Our New England trails are drying out. The sunrise is early enough to get out on the road on a Saturday before the cars have woken up. The options are nice to have, though they sometimes necessitate more than one bike.

Flat bars or drop? Skinny tires or fat? One seat or two? In summer, it almost doesn’t matter what you choose.







A tandemic is an epidemic of tandem-riding. Tandemia (another word we made up) describes the mania for tandems that most anyone who has ridden one succumbs to at some point. Matt O., our production manager, has a serious case of tandemia stretching back many years, and many bikes. He and his wife Susi have been serious tandem riders since Matt’s days at Merlin. Back then, they were only riding tandems when they were “going for a bike ride.”

Then Matt salvaged two old Schwinn cruisers and welded them together to form this bike, a homemade two-seater for rolling around town, hitting up cafes and restaurants and for visiting friends.

Then this bike entered their lives, a small, yellow, folding tandem that someone had (not so) lovingly left out with their garbage for disposal. A friend of Seven’s salvaged it and gave it to Matt and Susi as a gift. This one, dubbed the “Circus Bike,” was a small revelation. It’s smaller wheels and smaller overall size made it much more maneuverable in the city. They began riding it more and more.

The Circus Bike turned out to be a sort of proof of concept. Eventually, Matt built a new tandem, the one below.

Matt built it here in our shop to take the best elements of the circus bike, its smaller wheels and ability to break down, and incorporated it into a better, cleaner package. This bike will pack into a hockey duffel, so they can throw it in the back of the car for a weekend trip, or fly with it. This is the bike they brought with them to the North American Handmade Bike Show in Portland in 2008.

And this is the bike they do longer trips on, their custom Axiom SL 007. You might see them at D2R2 on this rig. They’ve ridden it in Chile and Australia in an ever-changing configuration, Susi always smiling, trying to get Matt to stop for ice cream, to see a friend, or to take a picture, Matt always trying to keep it rolling.

Meanwhile the Circus Bike lives on. Our own Skip Brown, ruler of the Seven tool shop, dark lord of heavy machinery, uses it to ferry his daughters around Somerville.

Photos of Skip and his girls by Ecker Power Photography.