Seven Axiom XX versus LANDRACE Tupelo

007 meets 002 - grey but not dull. Phil compares two flavours of his favourite metal

Posted by Philip Cavell

Tupelo Axiom14 2

Seven Axiom XX v's LANDRACE Tupelo

Let's dispense with some numbers first, before they get in the way of reasonable conversation. Uninvited elephants in the room, so to speak.

Rob Vandermark's over-engineered, full-custom, Seven Axiom XX costs around £14k as tested and weighs 7.5kg. It takes the whole concept of cutting edge to the last micron. It is the nonpareil of what is possible and permissible with this strange non-ferrous metal that came to earth via celestial collision.

Our LANDRACE Tupelo (as pictured) costs a little over £6k and weighs 8.6kg.

Dorian Grey Metal

The Seven we made for Cyclist Magazine to test last year. We built it as a super-light race-bike that could compete with a Trek Madone or Specialized S-Works, but would last for ever, forgive everything and still rock up for general duties every day with a magic carpet-ride that would never deteriorate or grow old.

Fun Fact

A little known fact about titanium is that as well as being chemically inert (doesn't rust, react to air or even sea-water), it tends not to change its mechanical properties over its lifetime. A well made ti bike tends to take a "not my planet mate" view of life.

Hard Working Prototype 002

The LANDRACE Tupelo pictured is actually one of our original prototypes (no. 002) from a couple of years ago. Production Tupelo's don't have rack-mounts or the unpolished area around the seat/top-tube intersection. After testing through a hard winter, riding off and on road, we unceremoniously shuffled 002 off into our Rental fleet. 002 is also our most rented bike - it is out almost every weekend riding King Alfred's Way, North Downs or endless loops of Surrey Hills. And occasionally, when it isn't rented 002 returns to my hands as commuter, gravel, adventure, Mallorca training camp.... etc.

"It is the nonpareil of what is possible and permissible with this strange non-ferrous metal that came to earth via celestial collision"


Axiom XX - Mallorca '24 - Es Cap Gros

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Tupelo 002 in Mallorca '23 - Sa Colobra

"A well made ti bike tends to take a "not my planet mate" view of life"


Walled city of Alcudia. Seven Axiom is on-point anywhere. Any conditions.

"Tupelo should always transmit 'I have got this' back to the rider."

Two Shades of Grey

The Tupelo has always had two natural bulls-eyes for me and Jules. Bullseye One - we conceived it to be in the epi-centre of its comfort zone wearing 32mm tyres and mudguards, hammering the hard miles through winter. Or Bullseye Two - rocking a pair of 35 or 38mm tyres hammering sun-baked gravel tracks - the winter sleet and rain long ago shuffled into the recesses of the hippocampus. Between those two targets resides a huge tabula rasa on which you can scribe your own adventures.

It's The Geometry Stupid!

But wherever you go, Tupelo should look after the rider in a way they have never experienced before. We should all feel a confidence and control that we may have wrongly assumed could never be ours. This is largely down to the numbers on a spreadsheet that naturally flowed from our long-held design ethos:

  • A low bottom-bracket reduces our centre of gravity
  • Sensible stack and reach means our contact-points are chosen, not dictated
  • Head/seat-angles designed to weight your centre of gravity perfectly
  • Steering so neutral it's almost self-drive
  • The over-studied chainstay length has a dual role of creating real-estate for mudguards or gravel tyres. Too long on the chainstay and a bike can quickly lose its road credentials. We agonised here.

Tupelo's descending stability will hopefully mean that you are taking long breaths out on technical descents rather than gritting teeth and hanging on. Tupelo should always transmit 'I have got this' back to the rider.

Tupelo Axiom7

The lightest titanium bicycle frame on the planet, that still comes with a lifetime warranty

Tupelo Axiom2 2

Who knows how many thousands of miles 002 has on the clock. Still scrubs up though. And ride hasn't changed at all

"No need for explanation or alt-narrative. Axiom XX is just faster than carbon"

007 v's 002

Seven Axiom XX

This fight is a deliberate mis-match. We designed the Axiom to be a viable alternative to an Enve Melee or Specialized S-Works Tarmac. Expensive superbikes delivering maximalist ride experiences. For our test Seven, Jules even designed some LANDRACE climbing wheels - 1150 grams a pair. And on 28mm Conti GP5000 (tubeless) the Seven was 50 seconds faster than 002-Tupelo on LLuc climb in Mallorca. And a wee bit faster on every segment. The XX is quite peerless in this environment - efficient, resonant and beyond every damn thing, and pure silence on the road that only titanium can mediate.

The Seven was also exceptional on the fast run in off the top of Lluc down into Pollenca (3 seconds faster than Tupelo).

There is simply no better friend on descending switchbacks than a well-plotted ti bike. Rob's deliberatively round tubes and Jules low-section carbon wheels, put the Seven in front of anything carbon. No need for explanation or alt-narrative. Axiom XX is just faster than carbon on these roads. Even in the hands of stronger riders. And at 7.5kg gives very little to anything in the big mountains.

LANDRACE Tupelo (002)

002 has deeper section (45mm) LANDRACE wheels (DT240 hubs) and 32mm Conti 4-seasons tyres (tubed). It also has a Campag Ekar 1 x 13 groupset and modestly alloy priced bar/stem. LANDRACE ti seatpost and bottle-cages are a nice perk. As I say - 007 v's 002.

Actually, 002 was only 3 seconds slower on the descent to Pollenca, because my front brake failed entirely. Otherwise I am pretty sure I would have been quicker on the Tupelo. A lower bottom-bracket, longer chainstays, 32mm tyres make this my probable all time favourite bicycle to descend a mountain on.

I am a big fan of Campag's mercurial Ekar groupset (there are many who aren't). Especially with a 165 crank that changes the way I ride - increased pedalling fluidity, more time on the drops and sense of biomechanical freedom. We always hoped and expected that folk would drop down a crank-length on the Tupelo.

Ekar, Anyone?

I adore Ekar for its simplicity, industrial shifting and unsurpassed braking modulation (until the front loses all its fluid). I always raced on Campag - unsurpassed quickness of action underpinned by a weapons-grade Italian soundtrack and peerless ergonomics. I just never rated Shimano as a proper racers groupset (please remember this is 17 years ago).

One feature of living long-term with Ekar, is that the indexing is finickity, so you have to be ready to unconsciously over or re-shift until the next re-calibration opportunity.

Home Game Advantage

002 may have been a little slower in Mallorca but is quicker everywhere where I normally ride in The Chilterns. There is no pretence anymore that the little roads in my local hills are properly sealed. A combination of record-braking rainfall and complete neglect means they are essentially tracks with the occasional section of pre-war beige tarmac.

And here, 002's taut, accurate titanium fuselage sets up the perfect dynamic double-act with super-direct LANDRACE wheels and 32mm tyres (blown out to 34mm). This is no place for subtlety and finesse - banging up and down the 13sp cassette with an absence of mechanical empathy. Likewise a generally more extreme approach to riding - in and out of the saddle and diversions off-road, if the trail is dry. It's a stop-start affair where Ekar braking is late to the point of abuse and hugely taut and tight LANDRACE wheels exploited for rapid pace recovery. Tupelo 002 is a rental bike now and entirely used to this treatment.

Of course you can ride the Axiom like this (I tried) but it doesn't seem quite as natural. The Axiom XX is triple-butted to the point of opacity. It deserves to be ridden with a modicum of style and rigour in my opinion.

But a cut-up brutal chalkland ridge is entirely consistent with the LANDRACE design purview where bigger tyres and a tad more wheelbase length equals more speed and fun. It's just physics. I don't particularly care (on either bike) when the stones and rocks fly up and hit the underside of the downtube from the road/track. These roads would make me more squeamish and careful on a carbon bike to be sure. Special mention also to my custom-moulded Reform saddle. I have a new home at last after my backside rejected Fizik's Aliante after years of seated harmony.

"For 90% of riders 90% of the time, a custom Axiom XX would be faster and more liberating than anything they are currently riding."

007 v's 002 - Prime Numbers

The Axiom XX should rightfully challenge what we all think of performance bicycles. For 90% of riders 90% of the time, a custom Axiom XX would be faster and more liberating than anything they are currently riding. Cathal from Cyclefit Store Street thinks it is the finest bicycle he has ever ridden (take a look at his palmares). Personally I would swap to deeper section wheels to make it perfect (sorry Jules).

The Tupelo has been designed to play a very different game. To take you wherever you want to go, to bring you home safely and make you a feel like a better rider along the way. And to do it year after year and mile after mile.

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.

View other posts by Philip Cavell

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