The New Ride

We did not plan on buying a bike this year, but stuff happens. So does sweat. And apparently, when sweat happens all over a steel frame, rust happens. And when rust happens from the inside out, your five-year-old frame gets ruined. Here’s our old bike, right before we sent it off to get the rust repaired.

While we were on Coast 2 Coast, the manufacturer of the bike (a leading tandem company in Oregon, who we will not name, but we are pretty sure you can figure out) called and said it could not be saved. We would have to buy a new frame, and they would be happy to sell it to us at “cost”. What about the lifetime guarantee on the frame? Well, that does not cover rust caused by sweat. After some deep thought, we told the leading tandem company in Oregon to “stick it”. What could we buy that is sweat-proof and rust-proof? Carbon? Knowing our luck, we would probably break it. Titanium? Yes, please. Say hello to our new Seven Axiom 007.

For those who don’t ride, we’ll try not to get too technical. The Seven weighs five pounds less than the Erickson steel bike that we rode cross-country earlier in 2017. There’s a Wound-Up carbon fork on the front and TRP Spyder disc brakes on both wheels.

We didn’t want to paint the bike because you are supposed to enjoy the raw look of titanium, but we had to get some purple on the metal. Seven does not offer purple as a choice, but after a 30-minute phone call, they were able to come up with something for us.

Our previous tandems have all had Campagnolo shifting, but for this one we went with Shimano Ultegra DI-2. It’s fairly inexpensive and it’s electronic, so no shifter cables. There are a lot of wires, but the frame was pre-drilled for them, so they only peep out every now and then. Here’s the front setup:

There are only two chainrings in the front, but the 34-tooth small ring gives us the same gearing as our old three-ring setup when you put a big cassette on the back.

That’s an 11-40 on the back, which, as we learned on our recent trip to Asheville, can go up 20% grades. This is the best-shifting tandem we have owned. The gears actually adjust themselves, once you know how to do it. The coolest thing about the shifting is the little gear monitor on the front handlebars.

This lets the captain know exactly what gear he’s in in the front and the back. In this case, we are in the “T” (big) chainring in the front and in 8th gear in the back. And there’s 60% left on the battery. No more annoying questions to the stoker like “what gear are we in?” Of course, we do have to charge the battery every now and then. One charge is supposed to go about 600 miles.

And that’s a short tour of our new bike. This one is going to last us a long time. Sure, it’s a little lighter than our last rust-bucket, but don’t worry, it didn’t make us any faster!

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22 thoughts on “The New Ride

  1. Cool new bike, enjoy!
    One question, when you sweat on the outside of a painted tube how does that cause rust on the inside of the tube?

    1. I will quote the tandem manufacturer here:
      What happens is, you ride your nicest bike on sunny days, and in your climate you naturally perspire, and it doesn’t all evaporate due to relatively high humidity. You may regularly wipe your bike down and use a bicycle polish or a household cleaning product. This keeps the bike looking great, but you don’t realize that as you wipe the bike down, you’re pushing high concentrations of perspiration into every area where your wiping cloth stops. That’s why the rust is heavily concentrated on the cable stops and bottle bosses. Perspiration residue that collects in this way contains not only salts, but also acids and even the chemicals contained in cleaning products that eventually cut through the paint and expose the steel beneath it to the damaging effects of salt.
      I dunno. Most bike builders would warranty the frame. This one does not. Evidently, frame saver is recommended. Why don’t they use it at the factory?

  2. Love it. Yes Sofia gets a little annoyed when I ask her how many more gears do I have to go up in the back!!
    Keep riding hope to join you guys one of these days.
    Shana Tova
    Jorge and Sofia

  3. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!
    Question: How is sweat caused rust different from moisture caused rust? Are they able to tell the difference? Are they inferring that cyclists are not supposed to sweat on their bikes?

  4. BTW – I signed up for the 2018 C2C this morning. I’ve read the book and followed you guys last year. It’s my turn now.

  5. Sorry to hear about the Commotion. I’m sure you were very disappointed. Congrats on the Seven, that is a sweet bike with the electronics. I’m curious to know your thoughts on the Ti ride characteristics compared to your steel Commotion. Bill

  6. What? No S&S couplers?

    Congrats on the new bike! Titanium is definitely the material of choice, IMHO, though I am not sure I could sell the idea to Kathy. I applied frame saver to all my steel bikes when they were new, but both the tandem and the touring bike collected sweat right around the top coupler, resulting in pretty nasty external rust issues. I have resorted to using top-tube pads to protect them. (For those reading who might be interested, see: They come in many colors and designs and she happily makes larger diameter versions for larger tubes on request.)

    1. Still have our coupled Erickson. Did not need coupler$ on the new bike. Steel bikes definitely have a problem over time in sweaty southern climates. Our Co-Mo was only 5 years old. Ugh.

  7. This is a beautiful bike! Two couples in our town have Seven Tandems, it is my dream bike. One day one of the couples dropped by our house as we were working outside and my wife chuckled when she saw their bike knowing that I was doing a little coveting in my heart. 🙂 Our unnamed tandem went back to the same builder with a cracked seat stay to which they blamed me, that turned a fan into a detractor. We will never buy another one and are looking forward to the day we purchase a titanium tandem. I think everything but the seat posts will transfer. We have two tandems and our other bike was built by Dennis Bushnell in the same shop as your Erickson if I understand correctly, it is our touring bike and it is still looking great and going strong! Surprisingly it weights the same as the UN-name bike.

  8. Roger
    We just purchased new tandem from the unamed builder. It is coupled and their design does not pack as easy or well as our old Meridian. Don’t have room for helmets which we could pack with the old bike. I think Co-motion’s design is dumb. Wish we had considered Seven. We have TRP disc brakes with Shimano mechanical shifters. Not many other good brake options, but I like the BB-7 disc brakes and Campy shifters on our old tandem better. Campy has higher mechanical leverage. (Pulls less cabel). Feels more powerful and takes less hand strength to stop. What is your opinion of the brakes?

    1. Hi Vince,
      Our discs seem fine. They get better as they are broken in. Went down some big descents in Asheville and had no problems. Make sure you have the pads as close to the discs as they can get. TRP discs should be better than Avid because they pull from both sides instead of just one like the Avids. And they are very easy to adjust. Hope your brakes get better!

  9. I’ll echo Roger’s connects on the TRP disc. We’ve had good luck and very quite which was an ongoing problem with the BB-7. We are over 4,000 miles and the pads are still good and we live in hilly PA with a lot of up and down.

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