Seven Cycles

Two weeks ago, when loading my beloved singlespeed Seven Sola 29SL into the trailer prior to the Hop Brook Dam Mountain Bike Race, I noticed that the top tube was cracked. It was a bummer and I missed the race. We still went to Middlebury, CT because our son did the Junior race.

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I hadn’t ridden that bike since the prior Monday at the Dirty Duathlon in Glastonbury, CT. It’s possible that the crack appeared before that ride, but it certainly got worse on the bumpy course at the Longo Preserve.

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I wrote about this bike in 2012, though I’ve been racing it hard since 2011. It is made from Titanium, and the crack went from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. so the top tube was nearly severed. It would have been ugly, if  it came apart while riding. The crack started at the bottom of the weld and worked its way in both directions.

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Titanium failures are rare, but they do occur. Usually, the root cause was a bad weld. One of the benefits of a raw Titanium frame is that it can be repaired. I reached out to the team at Seven Cycles in Watertown, MA. They came up with a game plan and I dropped it off the next day. Fortunately, I had to be at Sterling Machine in Lynn on Tuesday, so the timing was good. We work with Titanium all of the time, but not tubing. Our raw material is solid bar stock and plate. Also, we don’t weld it. Our experience with the strong (but light) metal is exclusively with machining, grinding, and thread rolling.

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One week later, I picked up the repaired bike, and it looked like new. They couldn’t match the decals perfectly, but that is minor considering the extent of the repair. They completely disassembled the bike. They cut off the top tube. They cut the down tube away from the head tube. They replaced the head tube and the top tube. Finally, they re-finished the frame, and rebuilt it with all of the parts.

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They did the best they could to tune the Gates Carbon Belt drivetrain, but it still needs some work. It’s too bad because I had the tension of the belt dialed in perfectly, and it hadn’t slipped in five years. After I picked up the bike, I drove over to the Middlesex Fells to test itout. Unfortunately, the belt is slipping on steep climbs, so we have some tuning to do.

The fact that they repaired the frame is fantastic. I’m glad this frame didn’t end up in the scrap bin. All of my Seven’s are “lifetime” bikes. Kudos to everyone involved with the repair. Despite needing to do more tweaking with the set-up, I’m pleased with the outcome, considering that two weeks ago, this bike was unrideable.

I raced the bike today at the Fat Tire Classic in Farmington, CT.

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