Roger’s Axiom

Raj2Roger is a friend, one of the fine people at Ride Studio Cafe who sells our bikes, but much more than that, a regular collaborator and a guy who thinks about bikes too much (which is exactly enough).

IMG_0021This is the second bike we’ve built for Roger. The first one, an Evergreen SL,  challenged our paint team with the incorporation of real coffee grounds into the finish, as well as a modified five dollar bill inside the fork leg (photos of that bike below).

IMG_0014JPGFor this new bike, an Axiom, Roger wanted our master painter,  Staci, to create a realistic turquoise effect on the frame on top of a deep mango color that matched Chris King components of the same hue.

That first challenging build/paint here:

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Geoffrey’s New, Old Axiom

This is Geoffrey’s steel Axiom, recently revamped with new gruppo and wheelset. You’d never guess this bike is 12 years-old. Geoffrey knows his way around a camera, too.

He says:

Upgraded the old, steel horse with full Dura-ace and RS81 wheels. Feels like a new bike.

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If this is what an “old, steel horse” looks like, we’ll start making more of them and update our marketing to include more mentions of geriatric equines.

It’s worth mentioning that a steel road bike like this is only 5% heavier than its Ti cousin, maybe a pound, if that, or put another way, the weight of a pair of ripe apples or a half-full water bottle. This is high performance steel.

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The Sevens of D2R2

D2R2, the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee, is the sort of event that challenges a rider, not only to ride great distances and climb what seem like endless New England hills, but also to come up with a bike that will meet all its challenges for traction, comfort and speed. With up to 180km of mixed-terrain and as many as 10,000ft of vertical gain, this is no small challenge. Every year we love to look around and see the bikes, and it seems that each year we also see more Sevens.

We might be uniquely suited to building this style of bike. We saw Axiom road bikes modified to take wider tires (and a flat bar) like the one below. We saw Mudhoney CX race bikes, and we saw Evergreens aplenty, our purpose built mixed-terrain bikes.

Here are just a few of the Sevens we saw at D2R2.IMG_1050IMG_0996IMG_0999IMG_1007IMG_1004IMG_1061

Going Far

Last week we talked about Going Up, the process of designing a climbing bike. This week we look at what goes into a long distance bike, which might be a century bike, a touring bike or might be a full-blown randonneuring machine. We build these on our Axiom platform or our Expat platform typically, but as with everything we do, it’s custom, so the features are more important than the model name.

four-season-expat-slThese sorts of bikes usually have comfort as their primary design goal. Performance remains important, so drivetrain stiffness is still desirable, but one of the keys to performing over long distances and after many, many hours in the saddle is comfort.

Comfort in this regard isn’t just about how the rider feels in the moment, but how fresh he or she can remain. Muscles that have not been pummeled by an overly stiff frame for eight hours are better able to sustain effort in the 9th and 10th hours of pedaling. There is the next day to consider as well. On multi-day tours, the need to wake up in the morning rested and recovered can be the difference between fun and misery.

randoNightTitanium is a particularly good material for long distance bikes, and our ability to refine this tubing for the individual rider means we can keep those riders fresh and comfortable according to their own preferences. The tube butting process consists of removing material along the length of the tube to make it strategically compliant. The more aggressively the tubes are butted, the more compliant the frame becomes, the better it soaks up chatter and impacts from the road. Steel also shares these properties, just at a slightly greater weight.

As with the climbing bike we discussed last week, there are a number of factors to balance, comfort and performance being the most obvious. Stability and handling are also critical to a good long distance bike, a more relaxed geometry, a longer wheelbase. You want to be able to ride hands free to rest hands and shoulders. You want good handling at low speed, even carrying a load, which brings us to features and options.

Touring bikes used to have cantilever brakes as a default, because they let you run a wider tire with a fender, but the advent of better medium reach fork/brake combinations and disc brakes have radically improved braking performance and given riders more options for bike set up. The touring triple has given way to the compact double crank, with wide range cassette to achieve the same gearing ratios. Rack and fender mounts are very popular on long distance bikes too, as are our custom racks, which can be built to fit the specific bags, panniers and lighting systems you want to run. Dyno hubs and front facing light mounts keep riders going into the night.

It is well-nigh impossible to get a great long-distance bike off the shelf. The unique attributes that keep a rider comfortable over long periods of time with the features and options and component choices that suit them make each of Seven’s “Go Far” bikes special.

One Bike (to Rule Them All)

There is a difference between a fad and a trend. A fad is an idea that pops up, becomes popular and then disappears after folks figure out it’s not as great as it first seemed. A trend is a gradual change in the way things are done. It can be hard to distinguish fads from trends. We struggle with this all the time. As builders of our own bikes, we can’t just be concerned with whether something is popular at the moment, we have to think through how to produce it, whether the resulting product is more valuable to our riders than the ones we already make, and whether developing the fixturing will be worthwhile over a period of years.

Recent seasons have  produced some interesting trends, for example the growing interest in mixed-terrain (or “gravel”) bikes and on the mountain side of things, the emergence of the 650b (or 27.5) wheel size. These are both good trends for us, because, as custom builders, we already have all the capabilities we need to produce them. What looks like fragmentation in the market, the splintering of categories, actually looks to us like a convergence of our skills with what the market wants.

So, while other bike companies scramble to bring new products to market and add pages to their brochures to cover the latest trends, we’re actually seeing a lot of our products merging together as riders get better and better at knowing exactly what they want from their bike and their riding.

Of course, we’re still building straight ahead road and mountain bikes, but we’re also building an awful lot of bikes that blur the lines between pure road and pure mountain, as riders seek one bike to meet a lot of different needs. These can be road-oriented bikes (read: drop bars) with medium-reach road calipers to fit wider tires and/or fenders, so the resulting bike can spend some time off pavement and also work as an effective commuter in bad weather, or they can be more trail oriented bikes with cyclocross forks, wide tire clearance and disc brakes. Some will take flat bars, like a traditional mountain bikes, and some will have commuter type bars, flat or sweeping, but with multiple hand positions.

We are building these One Bikes out of our Axioms, our Expats, our Evergreens and our Solas.

Over and over we see riders working on that single solution , and the bikes that come out are not only some of the most everyday useful we have produced, but also some of the most ingeniously multi-functional. They take advantage of all the things we are able to add to a frame design, all the component compatibility, to do more cool stuff on two wheels. Watch this space for two upcoming projects that will feature exactly this sort of do-everything bike.