Stephen Hodge's Seven Cycles Elium

What does a six times Tour de France finisher choose for his personal road bike. 

Recently I caught up with Stephen Hodge, went for a pedal and snapped some impromptu pics of his Seven, the bike a rare beast in Australia.

“I first bought a Seven Axiom when I retired from professional cycling in 1996. I had no bike of my own and wanted a bike that would motivate me to keep riding and active after pro cycling. I knew about Seven’s story from a friend of mine, Bill Goodman, who worked for them, and loved the supreme quality of their workmanship with titanium. Back then it was a beautiful piece of hand craftsmanship and still is, although now I have the newer, lighter Seven Elium.”

My decision to order my two Seven’s was principally due to the superb workmanship put into the frames, and also to the fact that they are quite rare in Australia - it’s nice to have something unusual.

The process involved in ordering the Seven is very involved, there is no ‘off-the-peg’ Seven. Each one is made to order following an extensive questionnaire process that tries to identify how you like your bikes to ride, what sort of racing or riding you plan to do and your physical attributes that have to be handled by the frame. Ti is quite different to carbon when you ride it. Somewhere between the give of steel and the acute responsiveness of carbon and it gives Ti bikes a smoothness that is very nice.

With each model you get a certain set of frame tubes, so that is not open for choice, except by paying more or less. The details in the brake bridge, tips and head tube are extremely nice and ‘make the bike’. The carbon tubes in my Elium mean this is a much lighter bike than my first Axiom but it still handles beautifully.” Stephen Hodge

ORDERING A SEVEN First Seven will require measurements for everything, including height, total body length, inseam, arm, lower leg, forearm, shoulder width, foot and shoe size.

Customisation begins with taking into account your flexibility, whether you suffer any shoulder, neck or upper back pain or hand numbness, cycling related or not.

Your current bike information is analysed including how responsive it is, the drive train rigidity, vertical compliance and ride comfort. Plus reach, bar height and current bike measurements are taken into account.

Considerations for your new Seven can include, how you use your bike, ride characteristics weight vs stiffness, handling, drive train stiffness, vertical compliance, weight to performance, wheel size, headset diameter, rear axle spacing, bottom bracket type, dropouts, brakes, cable routing options. Frame options include bottle mounts, chain hanger, fender mounts, rack mounts, belt drive option, decals colour, name decal option, paint colour. You can also specify fork, seat post, stem, handlebar, group set -triple or double, pedal model, maximum tire width, saddle model.

Ordering a Seven is an involved process, the end result, you receive a custom bike that fits your needs precisely. One reviewer's Seven compelled him to write, "Feels as if it had been forged from a single piece and sculpted into a perfectly balanced instrument".

The bike build was completed by Ian Downing of Downing's Bicycles Canberra, Ian summed up the Seven with one word, "unique".

In 1997 Seven Cycles introduced the Elium SL ground-breaking for it's time. The Elium SL pioneered the strategic combination of carbon and titanium. Responsive, forgiving and smooth, the butted titanium and filament wound carbon fiber tubing are bonded together to achieve what neither could accomplish alone.

The Specs : Stephen Hodge's Seven Cycles Elium Frame Seven Carbon - Titanium Frame Forks Seven Carbon integrated steerer and blades Custom Graphics On top tube Groupset Dura Ace 7900 Bars PRO PLT Stem PRO LT Headset Chris King Ti Wheels Dura Ace Carbon 1380  clinchers. Red spoke nipples Tyres Continental Gran Prix  Poly X Breaker 700 x 24mm rear |  Continental GP 4000S front Saddle Selle Italia PRO Link Titanium (The saddle has Ti rails, but the main aspect is that it is comfortable for me!) Seat Post Seven Titanium (The Ti seat post, I just wanted to package to be light and nice. I wanted to get a bit more set back in my position with one of those seat posts that gets you further back behind the bottom bracket, but the standard Seven post was actually as far back already as the specialist after-market posts.)

Pictures of the Elium build by Stephen Hodge, shot at Ian Downing's customised workshop in Canberra.

Impromptu i phone camera snaps of Stephen Hodge's Elium by Robert Cobcroft.