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.


The Overlooked Awesome, Part II

Belt-Drive Compatibility

The Overlooked Awesome is an attempt to highlight all the things, beyond geometry, that a custom bike can deliver. In Part I, we talked about the rider-specific tubeset. Here, in Part II, we want to highlight options.

Every rider comes to a new bike purchase with a set of features in mind. Maybe they’re looking for a disc-brake road bike with fender mounts for rain/winter commuting. Maybe they want an old school cyclocross race bike in their team colors. Maybe they want a bike they can do some light touring on, but can also use for a weekly group ride with friends. Or, a mountain bike with rack mounts that lets them ride single-track during the week, and go bike-packing on weekends.

Low-Mount Disc Brake Tab

All those different purposes can be addressed with specific features, whether part of the frame design, an add-on, or aesthetic, as with paint or custom decals.

For bikes that straddle categories, it can be hard to find a production offering that meets all your criteria. Seven doesn’t force you to make compromises. We build what you want.

142 x 12 Thru Axle Rocker Drop-Out

We can build a frame with cable routing for multiple brake types. We can paint your bike any color you want or order a screen printed custom decal. We can add rack and fender mounts to any frame, build a rack for the specific panniers you want to use, adapt the rear triangle to  take wider tires. We offer multiple headtube sizes, bottom bracket shells and seat post diameters. When it comes to options, the choices are infinite, and most of them are no additional charge.

Your bike should fit perfectly. That should go without saying. But more than that, your bike should deliver the set of features you want, without compromise because your best ideas produce your best riding, the most fun, your peak performance, and the comfort you want when you’re out on the road or trail.

That’s what we want to give you.

Read more about our 5 Elements of Customization, check out our paint gallery, or see some common frame options.

Evergreening the Blizzard of Right Now

It seems counterintuitive that when this much snow falls (our Boston home has received more than 5 feet of the white stuff in the last 2 1/2 weeks) a two-wheeled vehicle would be better than a four-wheeled one, but that’s exactly what we’re finding. Studded tires add traction on the ice layer beneath the snow, and with the right clothing and only a passing interest in speed, there’s still a lot of fun to be had on a bike right now.

A moment to brush off the snow - photo - Rob Vandermark

As an added bonus, there are almost no cars on the road, which means the little space that’s left is more than ample for the cyclist willing to brave the elements.
Snowy streets to ourselves - video image - Rob Vandermark

Disc brakes are another great advantage. Our Evergreens start with disc brakes as their default, also clearance for the kinds of tires that split the difference between trail and road.

Hike a bike - video image - Rob VandermarkA little bit of hike-a-bike is necessary on occasion, but getting into the woods this time of year just intensifies the feeling of freedom you get from riding a bike, not to mention the snow limned trees are beautiful, worth the trip alone.

Snow roll - photo - Rob Vandermark

They say, optimists, that when life gives you lemons you ought to make lemonade. That summery advice doesn’t ring quite true right now, but we’re optimistic anyway, finding that there are shockingly few days when riding might not be a good idea.

Evergreening Your Commute

Just for the sake of argument, assume you work at Seven.

This is metro-Boston. The morning commute can get pretty hectic in our narrow streets, bumper-to-bumper cars idling or worse, racing from one light to the next. But  the woods are never far, and the area surrounding the Seven shop features several concentrated woodlands, conveniently crisscrossed with trails.

It is possible to approach our factory by road, and really you have to, to get all the way here, but if you are willing to ride a little extra (we are) and you prefer your commute as car free as possible (we do), our Evergreen turns out to be a good tool for achieving maximum solitude with minimum headache.

With the leaves falling like rain, you enter the woods one town over, in Belmont, and snake along behind the Audubon center and then down a trail at the back of a cemetery.

Single and double-track feed into and out of each other then. You startle a deer. You watch for large stones jutting up through the ground cover. You ride some stuff that might normally want a mountain bike, but you’ve got disc brakes and skill so you roll on.

It’s all fun, and you find it hard to believe you are actually going to work. Then again, you’re going to Seven, so more bikes await. You are winning.

There is a mischievous feeling that comes over you as you leave the woods to rejoin traffic. The drivers look at you askance, as if to say, “Where did you come from?” They’re all drinking luke warm coffee and wondering how late they’re going to be. No deer. No double-track. No fun.

Of course, the reverse commute, in the dark, presents an entirely different challenge, the kind that focuses all of your attention in a cone of light just in front of you. The grind back up the leaf-covered hill is maybe better under those conditions, because you can’t see how much more you have to go. And funny how the deer you startled in the morning, returns the favor in the shadows off to your right near the top of the hill under cover of darkness.

The over-sized meadowlark burrowed in the grass near the cemetery nearly sends you into cardiac arrest, too, but what point is there riding in the woods if you don’t want to commune on some level with nature, right?

So that’s how you do it, Evergreen your commute. Your route may vary. You may or may not encounter deer, but as long as you’re committed you’re sure to find an adventure worth having.

Don’s Expat S

As the northern hemisphere heads toward winter, we find ourselves building a lot of specialized commuter bikes, and it seems that each region, according to the severity of its climate has its own preferences for commuting comfort. There is so much we can do to personalize a bike, and commuter bikes tend to be hyper-personalized, so that they become some of the most interesting projects we work on.

Our friends at Outdoors, Inc in Memphis helped us put this one together, a super commuter based on our Expat S platform.

Note the Tiberius handlebar, the bead blasted “decals.”