Matt’s Maneha 250 – In Photos

Last week we told the story of the inaugural Maneha 250. This week we bring you more from that event, because it was just that good.

If you were to call Matt O’Keefe, our erstwhile production manager and bike handling guru, a visual storyteller, he would likely guffaw in your face, because he’s modest, and at root, he just likes to take pictures. He’s also a hell of a bike rider, and so, when we received his trove of photos from the Maneha 250, we had to share them. Matt makes 250 miles of self-supported, off-road riding look as good as it gets. If these don’t make you want to ride your bike, then you don’t like to ride bikes.

IMG_5098

IMG_5148

 

IMG_5179

 

IMG_5203

 

IMG_5247

 

IMG_5250

 

IMG_5284
Matt (right) with Seven bike builder Brad Smith.

 

 

Picking Tubes

There is a practical side to picking the tubes for a custom bike frame, and there is an aesthetic side. There is a science, and there is a craft. What we think will match the rider’s preferred ride feel, sometimes doesn’t match the rider’s stated desire for “fat tubes,” which can be very stiff. As with all things custom design and build-related, finding the right balancing points make all the difference. The key to success, then, is having enough options to create a balance. We have a whole wall of different-sized tubing, steel and titanium and carbon, multiple diameters and wall thicknesses, and then in many cases we butt those tubes to further refine the bike’s ride feel.

But backing up, we take a lot into consideration when picking the tubes for a rider’s new bike. Some of it is formula, knowing what has worked for rider’s of a given size for a given style of riding. But then you have to consider their aesthetic preferences too, how aggressively they want the frame to handle, how comfortable they want to be. You make little adjustments to the tube spec, based on experience. This is the craft part.

Matt O., our production manager, says, only half-jokingly, that when he specs tubes for a bike, he looks at the rider’s profile and asks how that rider is different from him in size and/or in the way they want their bike to feel. Then he adjusts from what he would build for himself.

There are also factors like racks and fenders to consider. Will the supporting tubes take additional weight and strain. We adjust for that.

We say that every Seven is different. Every one is unique, and that is pretty literally true. There are so many levels of customization that goes into each bike. The tube set is just one of them, but it’s a valuable one. It’s part of what makes the difference between any old bike, and your bike.

Seven’s Festive 500

The folks at Rapha, along with Strava, invented this little holiday boondoggle a few years ago called the Festive 500, a challenge to ride 500 kilometers between Christmas and the New Year. We posted production manager Matt O’Keefe’s photos from last year here. This year we got pictures from Matt, Brad and Greg, so we thought we’d share them with you.

The week started out rainy, and Greg said he rode one of the least enjoyable centuries of his life in the cold drizzle of upstate New York, but then it warmed up and dried out. Matt said it was the best weather he’s had in the three year’s he’s taken on the Festive 500.

These first four are Matt’s. You’ll see he did some portion on his tandem, with his wife Susi along for company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These four are Brad’s. He did most of his on dirt, but also spun a few with friends in old, familiar places. Brad’s girlfriend owns a donut shop, so we think he should have done some extra miles.

Here are Greg’s. Greg gets extra points for finishing his 500 in just 5 days.

Matt O’s Festive 500

F500_5On a more positive note than recent posts, we have just collected some of the photos Matt O’Keefe took during the Rapha Festive 500 at the end of the year.

When you ask Matt why he rides the Festive 500, he’ll laugh and say, “I don’t know,” but then all the reasons come tumbling out. And it’s pretty clear peer pressure got him out the door to begin with, at the end of 2012.

“I had just signed up for Strava,” he says, “and then Rapha put out the challenge, ride 500km in the week between Christmas and New Years, and I mentioned to John Bayley that it was a cool idea, but that I didn’t have a Garmin. So John gave me a Garmin, and I was out of excuses.”

F500_7Despite some untimely snow and a day off for family commitments, he managed to complete last year’s challenge and enjoyed it. This year, the weather was better. The snow held out (until just after the holiday), and Matt managed to get 7,000 miles in his legs over the 2013 season, so the kilometers piled up more easily.

“I don’t know why I do it, but it definitely ends the season with a bang,” he says.

Here are some more of his photos, and for even more of Matt’s cycling adventures, follow him on Instagram.

 

F500_1F500_3F500_6F500_4

The Birth of Mo Pro 2.0

A few weeks ago, Mo Bruno Roy returned her original Mudhoney PRO prototype. Affectionately called the Mo Honey PRO, that bike was the test case for the bike that became the production Mudhoney PRO, the bike that customers all over the world have ridden over the last season. Mo’s original was put together with hand cut and filed lugs, and she raced it hard this season so we could know more about our basic design assumptions, and to gather experiential data for the second iteration, Mo Pro 2.0, of this race-specific machine.

During our debrief with her, and with her mechanic/husband Matt Roy, we noted a few big, necessary changes. First, Mo wanted to change her riding position. She wanted to come forward, and up a little. To do that, she needed to make some component changes, and to maintain the handling she prefers after those changes, we needed to adjust the geometry. Easy enough.

Next, she wanted more tire clearance at the chain and seat stays. The original prototype was built with tight tolerances for racing, but we learned that just a little more mud clearance would be better. That presented a unique challenge, because Mo’s frame is small. In order to get the clearance she wanted, we experimented with a single-bend, butted seat stay designed specifically for carbon bonding. That little bit of bend gave us just what we were looking for, and it represented a step forward for the super thin stays we’ve been working with for Mo’s race bikes. The complimentary chain stays required 20 separate operations in initial machining. This is serious stuff.

In the past, we’ve built bikes for Mo that could be adapted to multiple purposes. A little attention from her pro mechanic husband would convert one of her race rigs for road training. Not this bike. Mo runs a somewhat unique crank set with 34/44 chain rings, and her seat/chain stays are optimized to work only with those rings, coupled with a 32mm tire. This is as race specific as a bike gets. It’s a bike for now, for winning races.

We opted to build for cantilever brakes, too, but only because race ready, drop bar, hydraulic disc brakes aren’t quite ready yet. Again, we wanted to build her the optimal race bike for right now, not a bike with compromises for future adaptation.

The final design hurdle we chose to address was toe overlap. Conventionally, a frame this small would have some overlap, and through the years, this was always something Mo was comfortable with, even though we offered to do away with it for her. This time out, we made some adjustments to the geometry to eliminate it, and that gives her more confidence in the technical sections of the cyclocross courses this bike was meant to destroy.

A lot of work went into pre-build design on the Mo Pro 2.0, and that led to a marathon build session that lasted long into the Friday night before Mo’s first race on it, on the Saturday. Seven Production Manager Matt O’Keefe did the final machining on this one himself, before handing it off to Staci for the rock star decal treatment.

As ever, our sponsorships are aimed at exactly this sort of collaboration. We built the original bikes to prove a concept we wanted to bring into production. After building the first generation prototypes, we then designed all the fixturing we would need to do the same design for customer bikes. In turn, the fixturing informed the accuracy and evolution of the second generation bike, which taught us about new ways to manipulate thin stays for small builds. It’s this thread that connects all our design and build work and allows everything to move forward, and to be able to pursue that thread with the input and participation of pros like Mo and Matt makes bike building fun. It reminds us why we do this.

Another solid reminder came in a Christmas tin a few days later. Her feedback on the bike itself is exactly what we wanted to hear, that it combines the best of her first Seven race bike and the first generation Mo Honey PRO. That confirms that we’re listening, and without listening you can’t build great custom bikes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re building for a pro like Mo or someone who will never race a day in their lives. The process is the same. Listen to what the rider wants. Apply everything you learn to everything new you want to do. Keep building. Keep iterating. Occasionally, just occasionally, stop to eat the cookies.

Matt made a cool time lapse video of the build that you can see here. And we were also fortunate to catch the eye of the Velo News staff at our very first race. Emily Zinn did a photo gallery of the project for their site here.

 

 .