PEZ SEVEN Covering the mountainous final week of the Giro seemed like a good reason to build up a new bike for the occasion. But planning to ride 6 huge climbs in four days was all the more reason to make it light

faithfulparsleySoftware and s/w Development

Nov 2, 2013 (5 years and 1 month ago)



Covering the mountainous final week of the Giro seemed like a good reason to
build up a new bike for the occasion. But planning to ride 6 huge climbs in four
days was all the more reason to make it light

I’ve ridden a few different Ti bik
es, and right away noticed the ride qualities that
the once ‘space
age’ metal is known for

lightness, stiffness, AND comfort.
Quite the package. As I planned my assault on the 2006 Giro’s mountainous
final week, it seemed like a good time to put custo
m builders SEVEN to the test
in designing a light & comfortable bike that I could ride all day, but still had
enough feeling of a racer to be fun. You know what I mean?

<img src=


is what I’m talking about… scaling the big peaks of the Giro

like the
stunning Passo Pordoi

on a lightweight climbing bike like the SEVEN

It’s not the first time we’ve worked with the guys at Seven, (read our carbon
ti <a
class=boldtextblue>Elium Race review</span></a>) and I was keen to test their
known custom design abilities.

<img src=

<I>Nothing lik
e a little Italian lakeside setting to show off a new bike.</I>

Working through their multi
page fit and ride guide caused me to employ the
services of the lovely Mrs. Pez to measure a lot of my body parts, and to really
think about the ride characterist
ics I wanted from this bike. Here’s what I came
up with in Seven’s 4 key areas:

• Handling: make it slightly more agile than stable, but just.

Drive Train Rigidity: I favored a more rigid drive train, and was willing to give up
a tiny bit of weight savi

• Vertical Compliance: Slightly more comfortable than stiff

Weight To Performance Ratio: Again I favored a slightly better performance (ie:
stiffness) over a flexy weight
weenied spaghetti frame.

I could have made the frame lighter, but wasn’t willi
ng to sacrifice the stiffness I
wanted to enjoy the performance aspect of the occasional jump
sprint, or out of
the saddle climbing. But with Ti

I was pretty confident this bike would offer the
best of both worlds

weight and stiff but comfortabl
e performance.

<b>Now THAT’s A Shopping List</B>

With Seven working on the frame, I got busy dreaming up the rest of the
components to adorn this beauty. Here’s what I spec’d:

Frame: Seven Aerios Titanium

Fork: Seven (Reynolds) carbon

Headset: Chris K

Levers: Campy Chorus

Cranks: FSA K
Force Compact 50/34

BB: FSA Mega
Exo Ceramic

Front Derailleur: FSA Compact

Bars: Zipp SL carbon

Stem: Ritchey 4 Axis

Seatpost: Ritchey WCS Carbon

Brakes: Zero Gravity Ti.

Saddle: Fizik Arione

Wheels: American Classic
Sprint 350’s with Sapim Spokes

Tires: Vittoria Diamante Pro lite

Not bad, not bad at all. Of course the real test lay in northern Italy, deep in the
jagged peaks of the Dolomites. You bet I was looking forward to this trip… read
on for the full skinny

on this special build package and how each performed at
the Giro, and over the past two months.

<img src=

The finished product

weighing in at 16lbs exactly

with pedals. I gotta s
I’m sold on the ride qualities of Ti

this bike felt great every day in Italy, and
everyday since. Seven uses their own ‘spec’d’ 3
2.5 Titanium, drawn, cut and
butted to their proprietary

<img src=

• SEVEN offers a huge range of custom options

from tube specs and sizing to
paint colors and schemes. They do a good job of helping customers define
desired ride qualities so they can build what you want

but like any custom
you can never ask enough questions.

<img src=

• The very curved stays do a lot more than look sexy

the snug fit at the front of
the chain stays allows for lots of foot clearance, while

the SEVEN matched tubing
gauges to my weight and desired ride qualities. The curves allow for lateral
stiffness but some vertical compliance, so pedaling
influenced frame and wheel
flex was reduced, while long
ride comfort maintained.

<img src=http://

The coolness of having your name on the bike can not be underestimated

if you’ve never tried it… get on it!

<img src=

Weld finish is superb, and most worthy of their deep finish paint coatings. I
went with a combo of their stock white and ‘electric blueberry’, applied in my own
retro’ design. I overlooked the important fact that Seven’s frame
fork builds
do NOT s
hip with headsets, but <a href=
target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue>Chris King</span></a> was happy to
send on up. The 1
1/8 Ti NoThreadSet weighed in arounf 100 grams, and

<hr noshade>

<img src=
fi zik1.jpg>

The good folks at Fizik USA stepped up when they heard I’d need a place to sit,
and sent a Ti
railed <b>Arione Wing Flex</b> saddle. Weighing in at 230 grams,
it’s not their lightest, but was close enough, and the
colors couldn’t be better.
Introduced a couple years back, the Arione has become the signature saddle of
the Italian brand, and typically turn up on many a pro’s bike with some very cool
custom colors

like Team Liquigas. We first <a
class=boldtextblue>reviewed the Arione</span></a> back in ’03, and as one of
the longer (longest?) saddles around at 300 mm, it’s a proven winner for comfort
and positioning options. Our longest ride
at the Giro was on stage 20: 132km
over the Gavia, Mortirolo and back to Aprica

over 5
1/2 hours pedaling, and my
butt only began complaining in the last 10km

likely because most of my rides
last only 2
3 hours. The long ti rails add a teensy bit more

shock absorption, and
the covering is tough and durable, with the only wear appearing as the ‘Arione’
name rubs off from leg friction.

See the Website: <a href= target=_blank><span

Get It: A
bout US $130 at <a
target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue></span></a>

<hr noshade>

<b>Ritchey Carbon WCS Seatpost</b>

You’ve no doubt seen these on some pretty cool ProTo
ur team bikes

Prodir, Gerolsteiner, FDJeux, Cofidis, Lampre and Health Net back home
means they’re good enough for me.

The finish is superb

gloss carbon weave, snazzy graphics, and some of
the cool design features you’d expect fro
m Tom Ritchey. Plus the 166gram
weight of the 27x300mm post was exactly what I wanted for climbing.

<img src=

The post uses a dual bolt system that more evenly spreads clamping loads for

today’s thinner seat
rails, and it mounts to a nicely rounded base that allows for
infinite saddle angle adjustment

something else I liked. Another cool feature is
that the bolts use a small rubber washer to hold ‘em in place, so they don’t drop
out wh
en you’re swapping seats

smart thinking.

<img src=

On the road the slight flex only added to the overall comfort of the bike, without
detracting from my energy transfer when pedal
ing. This post is exactly what I’d
expect from a builder with Ritchey’s pedigree.

See the Website: <a href= target=_blank><span

Get It: About US $170 at <a
target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue></span></a>

<hr noshade>

<img src=

<b>FSA K
Force Compact Cranks & Compact Front


With 70km’s of serious climbs in 3 rides, my planned assault on the Giro’s last
week was not for the meek, nor the weak knee’d. I gave up on the ‘big gear club’
last year, and never looked back. FSA intro’d the Compact version of their bo
and bello K
Force cranks (see our first <a
Force review here</span></a>) last Fall, and I’d been
hoping for a set to help me scale the Dolomites ever since.
Weighing in around
780g (including bb), the 50/34 chainring sizing was perfect for mountain riding.
Paired with a 12
25 cogset, the climbing ratios were everything I needed (except
for a few of those 18% pitches on the Mortirolo when walking was the only

Get It: About U
S $425.00

at <a href=
arget=_blank><span class=boldtextblue></span></a>

Their <b>Compact Derailleur</b> completed the ‘compact set’, and onc
adjusted correctly has performed flawlessly

even under some extreme shifting
situations. The jump from a 50 down to the 34 is a big one for sure, so derailleur
adjustment is critical

the FSA adjuster is a tad sensitive, so a 1/8 screw turn (or

may mean the diff between perfect alignment and a dropped chain, but
once I got it right

no probs at all. Style
wise, the derailleur is simple and
understated, but I’m hoping we see something besides the chrome finish for ’07.

See the Website: <a hr
ef= target=_blank><span

Get It: About U
S $59.99

at <a
target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue><

<img src=

<b>FSA Mega
EXO Ceramic BB</b>

I was impressed when I first reviewed <a
e> FSA’s Mega
Exo BB system </span></a>, and the wide,
solid platform it provides to anchor the cranks, and after a full year of riding, it’s
proven reliable and durable, with no creaks or probs

even through a very wet
winter. This year the intro’d thei
r BB avec <b>ceramic bearings</b>, which I
eagerly threaded onto the Aerios. Outta the box it looks the same as the steel
bearing version, except for the red
anodized finish, but the difference is
noticeable in the reduced bearing friction

Before I stra
pped on the chain, I spun
the cranks with my finger and saw a noticeable difference in how easily they
rotated. It’s not the kind of resistance you’d likely notice on the road, but over a
long ride, you can bet your fatigue will be reduced just a bit more

The whole BB perfomed great in Italy, but did start to creak not long after I
returned home. No probs

a quick cleaning and re
app of grease and it’s been
silent ever since.

Get It: About U
S $189.99

at <a
target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue></span></a>

<hr noshade>

<img src=

<b>American Classic Sprint 350 Wheels</b>

Considering how much elevati
on gain awaited me at the Giro, I decided a nice
light set ‘o wheels would be the ticket. The American Classic Sprint 350’s built
with the Sapim CX
ray spoke upgrade fit the bill perfectly

weighing in around
1350grams for the set

that’s light. We <a
class=boldtextblue>first rode these</span></a> a couple years back, The ‘350’ in
the name denotes the rim weight, but considering how well these go up hill, the
‘Sprint’ part doesn’t tell the w
hole story

even though they wind up to speed
super fast.

I was a little concerned about wheel flex given their light weight, but found them
to be an all around excellent wheel. I weigh in at 139lbs dripping wet, and this
build is rated for guys up to 1
80lbs, and they proved plenty stiff for me.

Descending, there was just enough flex to hold the road with a tight grip through
endless switchbacks, and considering the high spoke count (28 front, 32 rear)
they smoothed out some pretty rough sections of Ita
lian ‘pave’ too. The build has
stayed true after several hundred km more riding, and I’ve yet to hear a creak or

But maybe the best part is the price: the Sapim upgrade here costs US$849.00
for the set, while the regular build (for riders up to 220

pounds) will run you a
reasonable US$699.00.

Available in silver or black.

See the Website: <a href= target=_blank><span

Get Em: at <a
=174 target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue></span></a>

<hr noshade>

<img src=

• <b>Zipp SL Handlebars</b>

When I heard Zipp had a new

set of superlight bars

at 165 grams

I was onto
something. Outta the box they looked great in snazzy carbon weave finish, with
grippy zones for the stem

and lever
clamps, and shape was nice too: a flatter
top (only 20degree slope from the flats to t
he lever mounts vs 30degree on
standard bars), and the ergo
bend on the drops. My reservations were for two
things: the drop distance is a little far for me (height 5’8”), and the biggest

strong could a light bar like this really be?

I mounted the
bars a few mms higher on the steerer to solve the drop issue, and
a quick call to Zipp alleviated my fears on the strength. Zipp assured me the
bars have passed the highest stress tests at both the ESBe and Syntace labs in

where standards are ge
nerally higher than anyone would need.
Second, their layup of 3 different moduli of carbon in the low to mid range is
designed to spread loads across a larger section of the bar, reducing relative
stress loads at individual points (like clamping areas).

For extra comfort I taped ‘em up with Fizik’s Bar
Gel on the tops & drops, and
used extra Gel to raise the profile of the drops to better fit the palm of my hands.
On the road they provided all the comfort I expected from a carbon bar, offering
the right
amount of flex to absorb a lot of road junk (at both the drops and hoods).
The grooves on front and back side also allowed to tuck the cables nicely out of
site. Priced at US $350, they ain’t cheap, but if you’re nuts about weight you’ll
want to check ‘e
m out.

See the Website: <a href= target=_blank><span

Get The Bars: at <a href=



Get The Fizik Tape: at <a href=

target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue></span></a>

<hr noshade>

<img src=htt

• <b>Ritchey 4
Axis Stem</b>

Cycling guru Tom Ritchey introduced his slick new 4
Axis Stem for 2006, and like
most of what Tom does, it’s been designed with some classic ‘Ritchey’ thinking
d it. The curved face plate helps spread clamping loads across lightweight
handlebars so that stress fractures from over
tightened traditional
style clamps
are greatly reduced. It’s made from forged 2014 alloy so it’s tough enough for
almost anyone


at less than 115 grams for the 100mm stem I use, it’s right
at home on this bike. The stem clamp is also well thought out, using an
diagonally angled two
bolt clamp to again spread loads across a greater area of
the steerer tube

thereby reducing chance
s of a stress fracture.

And just like the Ritchey seatpost

I set it and forget it

which is exactly what I
want from these parts.

See the Website: <a href= target=_blank><span

Get It: About US $99.50 at <a
target=_blank><span class=boldtextblue></span></a>

<img src=

<I>It’s 4 de
grees Celsius, the wind is blowing straight into my face, the grade is
around 9%, I’m 15km up and still 3km from the summit… you bet I’m lovin’ it!</I>


I know… it’s kinda hard to say that riding around Italy on the super
kit drea
m bike
was anything less than spectacular… But if it’s any measure of credibility, this
bike performed consistently well over many days of riding

including the climbs
of Monte Bondone (18km), The Fedaia (Marmolada) (13km, 7.9% avg), Passo
Pordoi (12km, 6
.6% avg), Passo Gavia (18km @ 8%avg.), and the Mortirolo
(13km @ 10.3% avg)

and down all the descending that followed. It’s also run
problem and hassle free as my main bike for the past 3 months.

Here’s how the bike delivered on the 4 key characteristi
cs I mentioned earlier:


The bike is definitely agile

by all accounts on flat and rolling rides, the handling
is spot on as we spec’d it. What I did notice was that for descending, I prefer a
up that is more slightly more stable. We

decided on a slightly higher bb height
to address my request for a slightly more agile handling bike. It’s only when
descending the fast tight switchbacks like we had in the Dolomites that I really
felt like I was teetering over the top of the bike inste
ad of grooving through the
turn on a rail. About the only thing I’d change for next time, is to lower the bottom
bracket height to create a more stable descender.

<b>Drive Train Rigidity</b>

The guys at Seven delivered exactly what I expected here

a bike that’s as stiff
as I want it

with no noticeable flex through the bb, back end, or anywhere for
that matter. On my club rides the bike jumps when I tell it

whether sprinting for
sign posts or powering over rollers.

• <b>Vertical Compliance</b>

At the risk of sounding too enthusiastic, the ride on this bike is easily one of the
best I’ve experienced. I chalk it up to a combo of Seven’s extensive knowledge
of working with Ti and building bikes to specific specs, and the inherent ride
qualities of

titanium. This bike took almost no time to ‘break in’

it took me two
rides to correctly adjust the front derailleur, and from then on I felt right at home.
For me the proof was it’s consistently good feel over a week of huge rides in Italy

I was doi
ng double my regular mileage, and the climbs were anywhere from
50% to 100% bigger than I ride at home

plus all that awesome descending

wahoo for sure. I never felt the jarring that I’ve noticed with certain high
modulous framed carbon bikes, and even

when I swapped out the American
Classic 350’s for some much stiffer Bontrager XXXLite carbon clinchers, the bike
still rode with butt

and bone
pleasing comfort.

<b>Weight To Performance Ratio</b>

Sixteen pounds and all the performance I want. 16 LBS
baby! I could still shave
another 1/2 pound of I really wanted

(lighter seat, cranks, seatpost, lose the bar
gel), but how can you complain about a 16lb. Bike…? You can’t.

One thing I learned through the process is that the more you understand about
the ride qualities you want, the better. Everyone interprets subjective
measurements differently, and Seven goes a long way to pin
pointing exactly
what the customer wants, so they can build it. They’ll build you exactly what you
ask for

so you best kn
ow exactly what you want.

The Aerios frame/fork combo will set you back around US4500