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Seven Cycles celebrates 20th anniversary

Published February 2, 2017
The Seven staff.
Massachusetts builder has produced more than 30,000 frames since 1997.

WATERTOWN, Mass. (BRAIN) — In early 1997, a group of former Merlin Metalworks employees launched a new brand, Seven Cycles, with a plan to offer a wide array of custom bikes on a shorter timeline than Merlin and other builders. 

More than 30,000 bikes later, Seven continues on a similar track, offering an ever-expanding list of models, most available with a wide array of custom options and sizing.

"When we left Merlin, we didn't want to just start another bike company," said Robert Vandermark, one of Seven's co-founders  along with Jennifer Miller and Matt O'Keefe. "We didn't want to compete with the company we'd just left, so we felt we needed to take a pretty radical departure from what other builders were doing, and we committed to building only custom bikes, and to doing it in a thoughtful way that put the rider first. We decided not to build bikes and then try to convince riders to buy them, but rather to start by asking what each rider really wanted, and then building that," Vandermark said.

In its first year, Seven introduced its Custom Kit and client interview system as well as an all-new fit system, the Seven Fit Methodology, that allows the builders to take data from an array of fitting tools and convert it for use in the custom design process. That same year, Seven produced an innovative road frame that combined titanium and carbon construction.

By 1999, Seven claimed to be the world's largest custom builder.  The company soon launched its own carbon fork, the 5E, with variable rakes optimized to the accompanying frame. 

Vandermark said, "We were interested, from the beginning, in targeting areas of frame design that we thought could be improved, like the handling produced by the frame/fork interface. Everyone wants a great handling bike, but most builders didn't have a good way to modify a bike's handling without compromising other aspects of fit. That's why we brought the 5E to market, and that had a massive impact on our customers' experience of riding a bike."

Over the years Seven also has enjoyed long-term relationships with two top-level athletes from Massachusetts: Mary McConneloug and Mo Bruno Roy. McConneloug was selected for the 2004 U.S. Olympic mountain bike team, and then four years later watching McConneloug race the same bike to seventh place in the Beijing Games, the highest placed American at those Olympics. Bruno Roy also raced her Seven Mudhoney cyclocross bikes to National and World Championships in geared and single-speed categories.

Miller said, "We have never really believed in the traditional sponsorship model, where a company pays riders to race their bikes and say nice things about them. We've been enormously fortunate to be able to work with some supremely talented local racers who we could have long-term relationships with, collaborate with, and support as they achieved great things on the bike."

Seven's product lineup now includes bikes made from butted and straight-gauge seamless 3-2.5 titanium, filament-wound carbon fiber, and steel. The company offers road, touring, fat, criterium, mixed-terrain, track, cyclocross, mountain, and tandem frames all in the customer's choice of stock or custom geometry.

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