Seven Cycles began building bikes in January of 1997. At its conception, Seven’s founders sought a name that would be as timeless, ageless and positive as the products they would create. ‘Seven’ was chosen because it is traditionally a number that holds positive connotations and no specific attachments to other objects. With ambitions to sell bikes all over the world, the seven continents idea played into their thinking as well.
Seven‘s founders and core build team all worked at Merlin Metalworks in Cambridge, MA, in the early days of the titanium boom. Merlin established itself as something of a cult brand, and over the decade plus that many of them worked there, they were immersed not only in the craft of framebuilding but also in the basic business practices that would later come to define Seven.
In 1995 and 1996 Merlin was bought and sold a few times in quick succession and then relocated to Tennessee, which left the core Seven crew with some hard decisions about what do next. After some serious debate, beginning with the question, ‘Does the bike industry even need another bike company?’, they set out on a new course defined by building custom bikes on a short timeline with maximum input from the rider, a sales/design/delivery paradigm that didn’t exist in the industry at that time.
Fulfilling this mission required implementing a few big ideas. First, they were offering both products (bikes) and services (customization), so that the process of getting a Seven would be a fundamentally different buying experience, an experience that centered on the rider first, not the bike. This foundational idea, however, had to be more than just marketing (e.g. Seven - We put the rider first!). They needed a manufacturing model that gave substance to the experience they were proposing to deliver.
Single-piece flow (SPF) is the simple practice of building things one-at-a-time. This approach to framebuilding has myriad benefits for the rider who wants something deeply personalized. Building bikes one-at-a-time allows Seven to focus on each rider’s specific needs for geometry, comfort, handling, options, materials, aesthetics and long-term versatility. It also improves quality significantly over a batched building method.
Each builder is only ever responsible for one thing, the work in front of him or her, one set of details. The fewer hands touch each frame, the more responsibility each set takes. Typically only 2 or 3 builders work on a Seven. That maximizes accountability, while still allowing for a high-level of specialization by each builder, whether machinist, welder, finisher or painter.