Team Seven Cycles

For the past three years, I have been affiliated with Team Seven Cycles, which is really cool. The group is made up of some great cycling ambassadors who get support from Seven Cycles, the iconic Watertown, Massachusetts manufacturer of custom bicycles.

It’s great being on the team because it compliments my involvement with Team Horst Sports and the Horst Engineering Cycling Team. Also, Seven Cycles is a well-run organization with wonderful employees and a unique culture. I am fortunate to be the owner of several Seven bikes, including two new ones. During my first year on the team, my focus was on Ironman Brazil and the Ironman World Championships. Seven built me an incredibly versatile Kameha SLX that I have used in 30 diverse triathlons to date, and I’ll be racing it again on Sunday morning. I wanted a bike that would last many years and not just look like the latest fast bike fad.

The bike is super comfortable at any distance and on any type of road. For the past two years, the bike has been featured on Seven’s home page, which is pretty cool. It proves that even the builders, who have seen some nice bikes over the years, consider it a special one. Last year, I didn’t get a bike, but in 2012, I’ve made up for it. Seven expanded the team and I was fortunate to again work with them on a bike project. Dan Vaillancourt managed the project for Seven with support from their engineering team. One bike turned into two!

In 2012, my focus remains on triathlon, but half of those tri’s are off-road and I’m also doing a couple of long distance mountain bike races. I’ve always wanted a single speed mountain bike, and Seven helped make that wish come true. They worked with me to build a Sola SL 29er singlespeed. The complete bike weighs in at a lightweight 18.9 pounds.

The titanium frame is coupled with a Niner RDO carbon fork. Not only is it singlespeed, but it is rigid.  I’ve got a Shimano Deore XT crankset with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive system, which should become a popular trend. The frame was split on the right seat stay so that the belt could be assembled. The frame is held together with a couple of bolts and has rocker style dropouts to adjust belt tension. The front sprocket is a 46 and the rear is a 26, which is a 1.769 gear ratio, equivalent to gearing is equivalent to a 32 x 18 on a chain style single speed. I’m using Shimano SPD pedals.

I’ve got a Chris King headset in the oversized 44mm head tube. It has a Seven titanium handlebar and a Seven aluminum stem. I’m running Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc brakes mounted on Stan’s ZTR Crest stock wheels. I’m holding my water bottle with a stainless steel King Cage. The seat post is a Thompson aluminum mated to a Fizik Gobi saddle.

Bike parts have come a long way since I was riding my 1987 Specialized Stumpjumper, which had Shimano Deore parts on it. I miss that classic bike.

Seven wrote about the new Sola SL in their blog.

It turns out that the most amount of time that I spend on a bike is commuting to and from work. My commutes are a mix of road and trail. It is the best way for me to build and maintain fitness, and I feel great about the carbon free riding. I dreamt up the perfect bicycle to fit this need and Seven built it. I call it my “super commuter,” but it is much more than that. The bike is suitable for fast road riding, dirt roads, rail trail, randonee, light touring, and brevets. I haven’t raced it yet, but I will. I wanted to make the perfect bike for every day riding in New England whether I’m at home in Connecticut or on the dirt roads of Vermont.

My commute is 13.4 miles to work in East Hartford on the direct, all road route. Horst Engineering  is only 1,000 feet from the Connecticut River, so the ride is downhill to the valley. The ride home is uphill most of the way to my home in Bolton at 590 feet above sea level. The direct route home is slightly longer (avoiding a few intersections) and I often extend the ride to get a little more time in the saddle. The main route is primarily on a major road, Route 44 which goes down Middle Turnpike and then Burnside Avenue, a couple of crazy urban thoroughfares with bad reputations.

I have to deal with lots of rough roads, potholes, railroad tracks, and road debris. I often ride in the dark, so in fall/winter I’ll outfit the bike with lights. When I have the time, I often take the Hop River Linear Trail, which goes right in front of our house. I can take the cinder rail trail for the first (or last) eight miles of the trip when I take the longer 17 mile route. Occasionally, I ride the bike paths along Interstate 84 and at other times, I ride the Hockanum River trails in East Hartford which have a series of wooden bridges, a little bit of singletrack, and some fairly rough sections of trail. I enjoy the various options, and I wanted a bicycle that could handle it all.

So, my new Axiom SL was designed to meet those needs. It is a titanium frame/Seven carbon fork combo with extra clearance to fit 28cm tires and full fenders. I’m running an 11 speed Campagnolo Chorus group set with a 34 x 50 compact crankset and 12 x 25 cassette mounted on custom-built wheels. The wheels are Mavic Open Pro rims mated to Chris King R45 hubs with DT Swiss spokes and alloy nipples. My Horst Engineering colleague and Team Seven Cycles teammate, Arthur Roti, did the wheel build. I have 28cm Panaracer t serv PTtires fit to the wheels, which are fantastic. I’m using Velo Orange Grand Cru brake calipers to reach around the fenders.

The cockpit of the bike has a Chris King headset with the understated Sotto Voce logo, 3T handlebars, and a Seven aluminum stem. The seatpost is a Seven carbon model painted black mated to a San Marco Concor saddle. The frame and fork were custom painted, as were the Velo Orange fenders. The paint scheme includes the same colors that are on my Kameha SLX. I didn’t see Seven’s post-paint blog post and photo until after the bike was built. The stout stainless steel rear rack was designed and built by one of Seven’s welders. I should be able to fit a good-sized trunk bag and load it up with up to 30 pounds worth of gear. I’m using Speedplay Zero pedals.

Last month, I took the two bikes out on separate mornings to visit the Bolton Heritage Farm (Rose Farm). I’ll report back in the coming weeks as I get more time on these incredible bicycles. Thanks to Seven Cycles and Team Seven Cycles for the velo-inspiration! I consider myself quite fortunate to ride bikes like these. Now I have to honor them by going fast.

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