With a few days to go before Christmas, the final components for Ben’s Cafe Racer S had arrived. I wrote about his bike before, but in a nutshell it’s the ultimate family bike. Designed for heavy kid and toddler use his bike will be subjected to trailers, kid seats, rack and panniers, picnics, play-scapes, accidental drops, minimal maintenance, unpredictable events, and endless fun all the while. When those kids are old enough to ride on their own, he’ll continue using his bike for exercise, jaunts, spins, and trips into town.
Some builds, like say a traditional road bike equipped with Di2 components, all but build themselves. Other bikes, usually ones with fenders, require more time and more patience. Sevens are different. This frame was fabricated knowing full well that fenders would be used, and be paired with beefy 32mm tires. In fact, the frame came with pre-threaded, and pre-anti-seized fender bolts. We chose Pacific Design Works’ Full Metal City fenders, my first time using this particular model, and was pumped that their matte metal finish was such a natural pairing to the brushed titanium tubes of the frame. Fenders can be difficult to install, and a challenge to keep quiet. Not the case with the Cafe Racer, the fenders fit perfectly and yielded a consistent fender line, front to back. The same could be said of every part I installed on Ben’s bike.
Speaking of components, a little known fact is that Seven Cycles, in addition to building frames, operates as a one stop parts supplier for their retailers as well. If they were building stock bikes, parts ordering would be simplistic, but they aren’t, they are building custom bikes. Each bike is unique, sharing nothing in common with the bike before or after it. Due to the numerous possibilities and general unpredictability of component selection, Seven opts to order parts like they run their manufacturing process, namely, just-in-time. You might not think about it, nor should you, but it is amazing how many opportunities there are to make mistakes. One mistake, in this case, and Ben’s bike most likely misses the Christmas delivery date. Clearly not a big dilemma, but very cool if it works out.
Ben’s bike consisted of no less than 25 parts, and called for specific sizes of bar, stem, post, derailleurs, tubes, tires, rotors, grips, and spacers. The parts came from seven separate suppliers. The amount of time and management required to get the correct parts ordered, delivered, collected, checked, double checked, and ready in time for pick up is extraordinary. Lots of people make this happen at Seven but a majority of the responsibility falls on Nick Maggiore, and he does an unbelievable job. Thankless, often unnoticed work, but so very important. Hats off to him yet again as each and every obscure part I needed was right there in the box. Top end employees at a top end company.
Back to the build. Piece by piece, the Cafe Racer came to fruition. Shifting was precise and the brake levers felt so smooth. Cable and Hydro housing not too short, not too long. To ensure the bike was solid, I took it out of the stand and bounced the wheels listening for any unnecessary noise. Nothing. Silent fenders are a wonderful thing. I dialed in Ben’s unique positionals, and for the first time, took a step back to have a look at the finished product. It sounds cheesy, but I get a thrill out of taking that first look. A bike that has no equal, a bike that has never existed before, an absolutely one of a kind design, tube set, and parts pick, built and ready for its first ride.
This is what I saw:
The ultimate family bike, as I keep calling it, left me completely impressed. But the real test would be Ben himself, his thoughts?
Bike number two, “hers” is in the stand next, I’ll report on it soon.