Patrick’s Sola 27.5

We received this great photo from Patrick in Tennessee. It’s his Sola 27.5 in Swimming Pool Blue with Red decals on the Ridgeline trail in the DuPont State Forest just outside of Brevard, North Carolina.Seven still Protune 4

He says:

I love my bike! It’s the best handling bike I’ve ever ridden. I’ve had it for a little over a year now and can’t say enough good things about it! So much fun!!!

I hope you and the rest of the crew are doing well and having a great summer!

Take care,

Patrick

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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Carole’s Orange Crush Evergreen

forest1This is Carole. We built her this steel, Orange Crush Evergreen last year with our friends at Halter’s Cycles in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey. A recent email let us know a few things about Carole. First, she has ridden her bike a lot, including right through this last snowy winter. Second, she loves it. Third, she is one hell of a photographer.

Right away we asked if we could share some pictures of her Evergreen with you, and not only did she say that was ok. She sent us more pictures. We were going to pick just a few, as we normally do, but they’re all so good, we’re including every one.

We say it over and over again, we put a lot of time into building bikes for people, but they’re the ones who make us look good.

 

Check out Carole’s photos below:

 

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The Big Ideas – The 5 Elements of Customization

The Big Ideas, as a series, is about this whole bike building project we embarked on in 1997 and the foundational ideas that make what we do possible. The first installment was about Single-Piece Flow (SPF). The second installment was about Just-in-Time manufacturing (JIT).

This week we explore the 5 Elements of Customization.

It is all well and good to tell someone you can build their ultimate bike, but if they don’t have the vocabulary to tell you what that bike should look like, you’re no closer to that bike existing than you were before you met them. The 5 Elements give riders a useful way to think about customization.

The 5 Elements are the language of Single-Piece Flow on the bike shop floor.

RyanDrafting1) Fit & Geometry – Think of the upper half of the bike, the points where you touch the bike, saddle height, set back, reach, bar height. These are the angles and centimeters that address different riders’ size, proportions, age, style and health (injuries). We address these, at the shop, through a bike fitting, and then follow up with body measurements that allow us to consider that fit in terms of your new frame’s geometry.

2) Handling and Performance – Think of the lower half of the bike. This is where we fine tune for rider weight, comfort, handling and riding conditions. Bottom bracket drop, fork rake, chainstay length, all these things affect how the bike feels. If you tell us you want your bike to be stable or quick handling, we can produce those characteristics through fine tuning of handling and performance features.

Gatson43) Tubing & Materials – We work in steel, titanium, and Ti/carbon mix. We start from the beginning when designing a bike for you, choosing a material that speaks to the kind of riding you do, then we go further, picking a tube set, in that material(s), that matches your specific preferences for stiffness and/or comfort, then we go further still, refining your rider-specific tube set through tube butting processes to accomplish the most personalized on-bike experience available from any custom builder, anywhere.

4) Options – Brake types, rack and fender mounts, decal colors and placement, paint, cable-routing, couplers, chain or belt drive component optimization, the configurations and permutations are close to infinite. This is how you dial the bike in. This is how you meet ALL your goals for your new bike, without compromise.

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5) The Future – This is how we make our design as durable as our materials. We plan for the rider’s aspirations. Racing? Touring? Commuting? How does the bike age with the rider’s body? Is it adaptable? How do we keep the bike useful for the rest of the rider’s life?

You don’t have to be a bike designer to collaborate with us on the design of your new bike. You just need to be able to express your preferences in simple terms and let us map them onto the 5 Elements of Customization.

A Holistic Approach

Axiom_TraceEvery new bike purchase is, in a very real way, a design challenge, engineering the best possible solution for the type of riding you want to do. How you address that challenge can vary wildly, from choosing an off-the-shelf bike that already does most of what you want it to do, to building a fully custom bike.

When we think of a new bike at Seven, we start our own design process with material choice. What frame material makes the most sense? Steel has a unique ride feel, bright and lively, comfortable. In the hands of a good builder, steel can be light, too. Titanium can be lighter still, and just as comfortable. It won’t corrode, will survive better in a crash, can be repaired. In a word, it is durable. And finally carbon fiber, which is even lighter (in most cases) and stiffer. It dampens vibration well, but is not generally as durable as titanium or steel, nor as naturally comfortable.

John Lewis' Axiom SL towards DSC_0016We think it’s important to start at the beginning, with frame material, rather than jump forward to decisions based on component spec or features. The riders we talk with every day know what they want their bike to do. Why not choose the material that does those things best, rather than settling for a bike retro-fitted to do them.

As an example, many carbon fiber road bikes have some sort of impact dampening system built in, something to take the edge off, either an elastomer insert or a suspension pivot. What this suggests is that the base frame material wasn’t the best choice for the purpose, a more compliant material like steel or titanium made more sense.

622-slx-mainWe also know that it is possible to get benefit from multiple frame materials, which is why we build mixed material bikes like our 622 SLX. Here again, we try to take a holistic approach, matching the materials to the purpose from the beginning of the design, instead of engineering ways to overcome a material’s weaknesses. The 622 SLX uses frame material to incorporate the stiffness and lightness of carbon fiber with the compliance and structural strength of titanium. It looks pretty good, too.

When you take a holistic approach to bike design, you work forward from the frame material’s capabilities, rather than working backwards from its limitations. This is what we try to do, with every bike.