Sunday, 15 March 2009

Seven Parcours: The titanium commuter

You are looking at a commuter bike with a $8700/€6750 retail price. For anyone looking for a utility bike for the daily commute, it's pretty hard to see beyond a price tag like that. Nevertheless, the new Seven Parcours tries hard to make sense for anyone looking for a bike to last them a lifetime. Of course it's easy to get totally hung up on prices gone wild, but I'll try to leave the business side alone here (including the prospect of leaving it unattended outside), and look at the bike instead.

If the Seven brand doesn't ring a bell, you should know that the American company for the last decade have been at the very high end of the road and mountain bike market, specializing in individually custom tailored titanium bike frames, made-to-order in Watertown, Massachusetts.

The customers range from experienced bicycle connoisseurs to image-obsessed, overpaid male professionals without a clue, who simply want to buy whatever is on the top shelf (this latter group somehow manage to ruin the potential pleasure of owning a Seven for some of the folks in the first group...).

The Parcours have two stand-out features perfecly fitted for a long run as a trusty commuter:

1. Frame, fork and handlebars all made of titanium
In short: Titanium tubes for bicycle use do not rust, they are light and they are strong. In other words: An ideal choice of material for a bicycle challenged with daily, all-year use through rain, mud and salty winter roads. Downside: Titanium won't be shaped into this kind of tubes without a lot of trouble, hence the astronomical price. But if your bike means more to you than your car - and you're ready to put your money where your heart is, well, no problem then...

2. Rear hub with 18 internal gears by Rohloff of Germany
This is the Rolex of the bike hub world. The bike in the picture have an ordinary 9-speed Shimano drivetrain with all the gears/sprockets/whatever on the outside, just waiting to be worn down. Internal gear hubs have only one chainring on the outside, and all the gear mechanisms hidden inside. Guess who's the best bet for folks who want less maintenance? Right. There are many internally geared hubs out there, Shimano Nexus and Alfine are often mentioned as the industry standard, but translated into the watch world, those hubs are Timex.

Rohloff is Rolex (only without the sleazy "hey-look-at-me-I've-got-low-self-confidence-and-no-control-of-my-spending-whatsoever" image).


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