Seven: a Bicycle Builder with a Conscience

Seven Cycles

“One Bike. Yours.” That’s the motto of Seven Cycles, a passionate custom bicycle builder located in Watertown, Massachusetts. Each craftsperson at Seven focuses on a single customer’s bike at a time. That’s their dedication, which matches the enthusiasm of the cottage industry builder with the imperative of the full production line factory.

Seven’s commitment to their customers doesn’t stop at simply building one bike at a time. They’re obsessed with frame alignment to ensure proper bike handling. Every Seven frame is subjected to no less than 50 alignment checks—28 in welding alone. Each is designed to guarantee the straightest, most accurate frame possible. Why go to such lengths? To create “the best possible ride characteristics is one reason…To push the bounds of what’s possible is another.”

Seven lugsSeven’s devotion to bikes extends beyond their own handiwork. They’re socially and environmentally conscience too.

The company belongs to a number of associations seeking to  promote the wider use of bikes in America, the bike as a sustainable means of transportation, and as a vector of social change. To name a few, they’re affiliated with People for Bikes (formerly Bikes Belong), which advocates for bicycling on a national level, and Bikes Not Bombs, which reclaims thousands of bikes each year and creates local and global programs that provide skill development, jobs, and sustainable transport. Seven believes that while one of their custom bikes might help you ride faster, “it’s organizations like these that will help you ride longer.”

Seven is equally concerned about the environment. They use petroleum-free rather than oil-based cutting fluids. They also employ a special paint system that makes it possible to reuse solvents, to recycle paint waste, and to reduce noxious fumes and derivative particulates (tiny pieces of solid or liquid held in suspension) to almost nothing. They do this by choice, not out of legal obligation. And when they ship a frame, it’s held firmly in place in the box by a special insert, instead of the more usual mountain of packing material.

This good citizenship, which they equate to the mode of building a Seven. “It’s not about doing only what is required. It’s about doing what is right.” That’s why Seven is not only a talented company that knows how to build great custom bicycles, they’re also a company with morals.

This brief portrait of Seven was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle TEB_96dpi_400pw_strThe Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, The Elite Bicycle offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.

The Elite Bicycle is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.

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