My first attempt to get to Seven’s hometown of Watertown was thwarted by a massive snowstorm that buried the Northeast. The trip was re-scheduled, flights changed, and I made it to Boston late Sunday night with a group of about 30 Seven dealers.
On Monday we were shuttled from the hotel to Seven’s only offices and manufacturing space. We had a great breakfast and a short introduction and overview of our trip. Suddenly, we were ushered into the relatively small manufacturing space that has turned out 25,000 custom bikes.
Our first stop was machining, where Mike took us through the steps in selecting the tubes and machining each one to fit every bike build. Seven builds bikes out US sourced titanium, steel and carbon. Only one person is responsible for cutting, bending, and butting each tube for a single bike before handing a box to the welder. They make each bike individually, giving each builder a sense of pride and responsibility for his work.
Next we met Tim in welding. Tim has probably welded more Titanium bikes than maybe anyone in the world. He’s head welder at Seven and has taught many others his craft. I could talk about how Seven uses “best practices” to increase fatigue life, how they carefully check alignment, or how each welder completes each bike from metal prep to completion… but I’ll let the quality of work speak for itself.
Our next visit was with finishing. The craftsmen there have the task of cutting bottom brackets, facing head-tubes, and finishing the frames. This is probably the most under appreciated part of framebuilding. These guys spend 3-4 hours on each frame first removing all the discoloration from welding, then carefully polishing each frame with a scotch-brite pad, then applying the decals, head-badge and hardware. The wow-factor of a Seven is often the carefully applied raw titanium finish many go out the door with.
Our last visit was in the paint department. Not all Sevens are painted, but every one is a work of art. They carefully prep, polish, and apply both stock and custom paint schemes to many titanium, steel and carbon Sevens. The workers in the paint department were very focused and didn’t even seem to know we were there. They were just focused on the bike they were working on. We got to peek at some of the finished bikes, and I have to say that there will be some thrilled people receiving their bikes this week.
I manufacturing tour was quick, but we got a great understanding of the process in building a Seven. What we noticed even more was the pride and respect each Seven employee has for their craft.
Next week I’ll take you through the process of owning a custom bike.