Journal

One bike. Yours. Happy 20th Birthday Seven Cycles

Seven have been at the cutting edge of custom material and process innovation for two decades.

Posted by Philip Cavell

16th August 2017

Seven 20 3

Top left image is Rob Vandermark riding out of Merlin Cycles to set up Seven 

One Man. One Bike. One Standard. A Class Of? One.

The Year is 1996.

Seven founder and president, Rob Vandermark rides out of Merlin Cycles to from Seven Cycles. Which is a huge intellectual loss to Merlin, that ultimately proved hard to bear. The 'Seven' is reputed to invoke the seven tubes of a classic bicycle frame or maybe how many of them eventually left Merlin to set base in Boston in Watertown. Rob doesn't say and we don't ask. 

Unbreakable Foundations. Unbending Principles.

At the time of writing, we have not had one Seven warranty at Cyclefit. Not one material breakage, defective weld. Nothing. Over many many years and hundreds of frames spread over every discipline. This is not a coincidence and speaks volumes about Seven's core philosophy and production values. It is also an unheard of record in an industry where titanium horror stories abound. In fact choosing a titanium frame is a bit like having laser eye surgery - don't go for the cheapest quote, and make sure you go in (and out) with your eyes wide open. Seven don't talk too much about their flawless record and how precisely they achieve it, doubtless because of their innate modesty. But on this, Seven's 20th birthday we will do so on their behalf:

“In fact choosing a titanium frame is a bit like having laser eye surgery - don't go for the cheapest quote, and make sure you go in (and out) with your eyes wide open.”

Finest Metal

People try and convince us at Cyclefit and probably the folk at Seven, that the Far-East and Russia have caught up in milling fine-grade titanium. Read Rob Vandermark's Titanium White Paper to understand by compromise is never an option when it comes to the magic metal. 

Investment in People

We share this philosophy with Seven. We like to think that Cyclefit is to bike-fitting, what Seven is to bicycle-making. And it all comes down to people. The craftsmen and women at Seven are the most talented and passionate we have ever met. Reassuringly people stay at Seven, some have even been there as long as Rob. It is a happy ship that accomplishes great work. 

Single-Piece Flow

The very antithesis of mass production - Each frame is handcrafted one at a time, and handed over from one person to another as necessary. 100 accuracy is always achieved. Chris King talk about this unique approach in their recent Journal

A Way of Doing

Seven insists upon standards for precision unparalleled in the industry - Consider their in-house tube butting technologies, maintaining the wall thickness variations to within 0.001”—less than the thickness of a human hair. Because even a 0.001” deviation can create a 5% difference in the ride characteristics within the frame.

The Seven Process Methodology

And maybe most important of all -  Each machinist, welder, and finisher works on only one frame at a time—from beginning to end— Just like Volvo's used to be made in the 1960's. It imbues each person with a sense of pride, and therefore each Seven frame with a deep pool of care and quality. 

Obsession. Pure and Simple!

It comes from Rob. It must. But you feel it in every corener of the Seven factory in Boston. Obsession with frame alignment for example - every Seven frame is subjected to no less than 50 alignment checks—28 in welding alone. It is worth the effort to hold tolerances as tight as +/- 0.002” for the most critical measurements. (That’s thinner than a sheet of paper.) 

Born In The USA.

In the mid 1990's, just as the entire cycling industry bequethed generations of experience, heritage and culture to the Far East, in a monumental foot-shooting exercise, Seven was planning and investing in homegrown production in Boston for the future?

622 Belg

The Iconic Seven 622 SLX in Oudenaarde

622 Cyclist

The Seven 622SLX was the first bike to be reviewed by Cyclist Magazine in its debut issue 

“In the mid 1990's, just as the entire cycling industry bequethed generations of experience, heritage and culture to the Far East, in a monumental foot-shooting exercise, Seven was planning and investing in homegrown production in Boston for the future?”

"For They are Jolly Good Fellows......."

It has been a pure pleasure and delight matching our client's dreams to a bike worthy of their most cherished and elevated aspirations. We love designing and building Sevens for people - mainly because we are, in effect, curating a statement piece that we know will exceed their expectations for years, if not decades. Every Seven makes us immensely proud of the Seven and Cyclefit. It is all of us at our collective best. Happy Birthday to the wonderful folk at Seven Cycles in Watertown, Boston. 1997 - 2007.

About the Author

Philip Cavell

Director - London Store

Comments