Cyclist Magazine Seven Axiom XX Review

Laurence Kilpatrick from Cyclist Magazine ponders whether Seven or indeed Fourteen (£) are his magic numbers

Posted by Philip Cavell

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"Rob Vandermark from Seven developed the first butted titanium tubesets that Greg LeMond rode in the 1990 Tour de France"

Thank you Cyclist Magazine for allowing us to re-print this review

Seven Axiom XX

The titanium Axiom XX puts the emphasis on lightness without forgetting the other stuff

Words by Laurence Kilpatrick, Photography Mike Massaro

Having just celebrated its 27th birthday, US-based Seven Cycles has always had grand ambitions. The name was chosen in part for its ambiguity, its association with luck and as an oblique gaze into the future
when it would hopefully be servicing all seven continents.

Core Team

The core team cut its teeth with Merlin Metalworks in the 1990s before starting Seven in 1997. Since then the company has built more than 35,000 custom bikes with the emphasis on titanium and a one-by-one production method. The Axiom has been around from the beginning, and over the years it has developed into three different models: the S, SL and XX. The S is the toughest and most resilient, the SL is the balanced all-rounder, while the XX is a lightweight, custom performance bike and is around 400g lighter than the S. XX is the Roman numeral for 20, reflecting the year that the XX model was first created.

Founder Rob Vandermark is one of the most experienced titanium framebuilders in the business – he developed the first butted titanium tubesets that Greg LeMond rode in the 1990 Tour de France – and he is confident that the lightness of the XX is possible without impacting performance or service life.

‘The majority of the weight savings come from the more intricate butting process,’ he says.
‘There are also dozens of marginal gains that add up quickly, including modifications we make to the dropouts, bottom brackets, head tubes, chainstays, brake mounts and more.’

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"It’s this constant tinkering that has allowed Seven to get the Axiom XX so light (7.6kg in the guise pictured)"


Having brought its manufacturing in-house during the past decade, Seven is now able to make changes quickly and efficiently, meaning the Axiom is being continually updated. There are now 24 starter sizes, thousands of tube wall thicknesses and butting variations, internally routed cables, asymmetrical chainstays, thru-axle dropouts and weld-free disc brake mounts. It’s this constant tinkering that has allowed Seven to get the Axiom XX so light (7.6kg in the guise pictured), and yet
Vandermark claims it’s not all about the weight Vandermark claims it’s not all about the weight.

‘Seven isn’t really interested in gram counting,’ he says.

‘It’s not a particularly meaningful differentiator once bikes get above a certain threshold. However, for those who like to compare weights, we’re not off the back relative to high-end carbon bikes. The Axiom XX is among the lightest performance titanium frames available with a lifetime warranty.’

As well as rivalling many carbon equivalents for weight, Vandermark thinks the Axiom range sits apart in terms of its ability to suit the specific
needs of the rider.

‘Riders want more tyre clearance for more riding versatility while still having road performance.'

To that end, Seven offers different Axiom disc bike platforms, which differ primarily in tyre size optimisation, handling geometry and tubeset design. So,

'if the Axiom XX Road Performance doesn’t quite fit the tyre you want or the other features you’re looking for, one of our other models may suit.’

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"It’s a bike that has been built for going far and fast"


A bit about fit

As with many custom builders, a bike’s geometry is something of a nebulous term when it comes to Seven Cycles. As Vandermark points out

‘The design process is iterative and varies by retailer and rider.’

Essentially you choose between two options:
‘Rider-Ready’ or full custom. But don’t be fooled, the former is anything but off-the-shelf. ‘The rider chooses one of the three handlings and performances, just like they choose a size and a stack-reach option,’
he says.

The total combinations of size and riding profiles registers upwards of 2,500 distinct frame geometries and tubesets. Or, if that isn’t enough,
you could opt for full custom. Plus, there isn’t much price difference. This is all possible because of Seven’s manufacturing system that, thanks to
the fabrication method, offers nearly infinite sizes.
‘The only reason we limit the Rider-Ready offering to 36 sizes is because of customer decision paralysis,’
says Vandermark.

The mighty Axiom
When it came to testing a bike that aims to be light and nimble at its core, it seemed only right to clamber up and tear down as many hills as I
could find. My aim was to establish how much of the work that has gone into producing the Seven Axiom XX I could register in a test ride. I rode it
along A-roads, B-roads, quiet streets and country lanes called things like Magpies Bottom, which were normally coated in filth and standing water.
I took it down trails in Dorset, Kent and the West Country where the Axiom XX flinched but did always end up flourishing.
It isn’t a wildly stiff bike, something Seven is sanguine about (and can obviously customise for you depending on desire), but that paid dividends when I was addressing the crumbling surfaces we are cursed with in the UK.

The lightweight Axiom XX seemed to float over a lot of the rough stuff
and, compared to the carbon bikes I normally ride, the vibration damping was evident. But I should get onto climbing, where Seven
as built the Axiom XX to excel. And, yes, it is great going uphill. The ergonomics of the Enve bars combine nicely with the rigid Enve forks to
create a really stable front end. The Landrace climbing-specific wheelset weighs just 1,150g for the pair, which makes a big difference in battling
gravity. And while the XX frame is light, it has a touch more heft than a climbing-specific carbon frame. The drawbacks of this are clear, but there
are benefits, which include less inclination to bounce and skitter over road debris compared to its carbon acquaintances.
While a touch more stiffness in the frame would have added some sprightliness on the hills, I found the Axiom XX coped happily with even the most beastly slopes on my home roads, and the natural compliance of the titanium tubes made for a more comfortable and assured ride elsewhere.

When rolling downhill, the Axiom XX picked up speed easily and I found myself leaning confidently into corners, benefiting from the balanced
handling and even weight distribution.

As such, I was pretty content with the level of stiffness here, although Seven can tune any build to be plusher or stiffer as the customer desires. And, as a reminder, the XX is at the sharp end of the Axiom range, and the S and the SL are available to take care of more docile and robust requirements respectively.

Specialist instrument

There’s a reason you tend to see a lot of aspiring randonneurs riding titanium bikes down at your local audax. These people have spent a long time – sometimes an entire retirement – sitting in a saddle and they really, really know what they want.

The Seven Axiom XX, oddly enough, probably wouldn’t be top of the audax mile-muncher’s Christmas list, because they’d want to load it up for Paris-Brest-Paris, pop to the Spar on it, and use it as a bit of a bridleway hog when out with the grandchildren. Versatility is not what the XX has been created for.
Its wider but thinner tubes achieve that playful lightness that really does make it a decent rival for some carbon bikes, while also edging it away from the indestructible moniker so readily ascribed to bikes of this material. The ride feel is forgiving, while maintaining enough core rigidity to make anyone feel pretty powerful on the flats and when climbing. It’s a bike that has been built for going far and fast, not for long, lazy days in the saddle. I might try to find issue with the sheer number of bespoke options available, but the customer is shepherded through the process so meticulously by both Seven and bike-fitting specialist Cyclefit that there’s no chance you’ll emerge disappointed.

That Said...

That said, fourteen grand is a decent whack to spend on a bike – especially one that doesn’t claim
to be a ‘one bike for every situation’. But if it’s focussed, single-purpose riding you’ll be doing (and maybe have another bike or two stashed away) and are happy to invest in one of the titans of titanium
bike-building, the Axiom might just be for you.

"Having brought its manufacturing in-house during the past decade, Seven is now able to make changes quickly and efficiently, meaning the Axiom is being continually updated."

Laurence - Cyclist Magazine

Getting a Custom Seven from Cyclefit

First thing would be to get an up-to-date Cyclefit so we can design your frame around your biomechanics, riding aspiration, injury history, weight, etc.

Then the lead-time is seven weeks for the frame to arrive in the UK ready for building. So, you could be riding a brand new Seven by the end of June!

About the author

Philip Cavell, Co-founder

Co-founder, bike fitter and bike designer, author. Phil rides a Seven Axiom XX custom titanium bike and an Airnimal Joey folding bike. He wrote The Midlife Cyclist and enjoys walking his dog, reading, politics and the outdoors. Phil's specialism is working with clients who have complex and frequently chronic issues. Phil is most at home working in a collegiate, multi-disciplinary team, to help clients resolve intricate issues.

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