Rider & Rig: Joe Cruz’s Seven Treeline SL

In the first of a new series, Rider & Rig, we take a look at Joe Cruz’s Seven Treeline SL titanium fat bike. Find out more about the bike, the journeys he takes it on, and how he packs it…

Joe Cruz — Philosopher, adventurer, half time New Yorker and half time Vermonter — has been bikepacking since the late 80’s. In that time he’s traveled around the globe on a myriad of rigs including mountain bikes, skinny tire race bikes, folders, traditional tourers, and ‘cross machines. But for nearly the last decade, he’s done his ‘big routes’ on Fat Bikes. The way he puts it, “…when there’s a deep horizon of broken terrain, rutted washboard dirt, baby head climbs, rugged rooted bouldered single track, hypoxic high altitude, jungle or tussocks or sand or open country where I’m pedaling a line on a GPS, for rides like that I want my Fat.” These days that means riding a custom Seven Treeline SL. Joe is a sponsored Seven Expedition Rider. On his blog he says, “I don’t care about the equipment, I just want it to be perfect.”

  • Seven Treeline SL, titanium fat bike
  • Bikepacking Kyrgyzstan

Seven Treeline SL

Seven Cycles is a bespoke US brand based outside of Boston. They are probably best known for their coveted and refined titanium road racers, but they build a full range of bikes. Seven was started twenty years ago by Rob Vandermark, who worked at Fat City Cycles back in the day (in fact, he likely welded the fork on Joe’s prized 1988 Wicked Fat Chance), and they are the largest wholly custom bike company in the world. Seven introduced the Treeline in Fall 2015 and Joe started riding his shortly thereafter.

The Treeline SL boasts double butted titanium tubing, clearance for 5” tires, and, of course, is built precisely to Joe’s measurements with Seven’s years of experience in fitting customers. Vandermark personally did Joe’s fit at the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, Ma.

Seven Treeline SL, titanium fat bike
  • Seven Treeline SL, titanium fat bike
  • Seven Treeline SL, titanium fat bike
  • Seven Treeline SL, titanium fat bike
  • Seven Treeline SL, titanium fat bike
  • Seven Treeline SL, titanium fat bike

Joe’s mandate for Seven was to create a platform that is relaxed and stable on long rides on hard, unpredictable terrain. He likes bicycles that steer a little overly quick when there is no front roll attached to the bars. That makes the bike fun to ride when ridden unladen but then well behaved with bikepacking bags. The aim is to balance the need for comfort during eleven hour days in the saddle with the hope for trailworthy playfulness. As a result, Joe’s Treeline has a steepish (compared to the industry standard of 68-69 degrees) 70.5° HT angle with a 51mm fork offset. This is combined with longish chainstays and a short top tube as a nod to expedition touring.

The Treeline has clearance for 5” tires, though it’s shown here with the 4” Jumbo Jims Joe was running in Kyrgyzstan.

Bike Build

  • Frame: Seven Cycles Treeline SL w/ 197 x 12 dropout, 44mm headtube
  • Fork: Whisky 9 Fat Fork, 15mm Thru Axle
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Handlebar: Seven Cycles Ti Flat: 26” x 7°
  • Stem: Thomson X4 8 cm x 10°
  • Seatpost: Thomson Elite 27.2 x 410 No Setback
  • Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Titanium Saddle
  • Grips: Ergon GX1 Grips: Gray/Black
  • Crank: Race Face Next SL Cinch Fatbike
  • Crank Arm Set: 175mm for 190mm Rear
  • Bottom Bracket: Rotor BSA 30 w/ upgraded Steel Angular Contact Bearings
  • Chainring: Race Face Cinch Direct Mount Narrow Wide Chainring, 28t
  • Chain: Shimano Ultegra/XT HG700
  • Cassette: Shimano XT M8000 11 Speed 11-42
  • Shifter: Shimano XT M8000 11-Speed Right Shifter
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT M8000-SGS 11- Speed Long Cage Shadow Plus
  • Brakes: TRP Spyke Alloy Mechanical Disc Brake Caliper, 160mm Rotor
  • Brake Levers: TRP Spyke ML800 Disc Brake Levers
  • Rear Wheel: Industry Nine Torch Classic Fat/12x197mm Thru/Surly Clown Shoe 26″ 32h Rim
  • Front Wheel: SON 28 15 150mm/Surly Clown Shoe 26″ 32h Rim
  • Tires: Schwalbe Jumbo Jim Tubeless Easy SnakeSkin Tire, 26×4.0 EVO Folding

When we asked Joe what he would change he said, “nope.” His favorite components on this bike are the “perfect fitting” frame, the ti flat bars (“The best things to come out of the 1980’s? Black Metal and flat narrow mountain bike bars”), and the SON 28 dyno hub which connects to a Sinewave Revolution box with a cache battery plugged in.

The best things to come out of the 1980’s? Black Metal and flat narrow mountain bike bars.

Seven Treeline SL, Fat bike, bikepacking, Joe Cruz

Bikepacking Bags & Packing

In addition to riding for Seven, Joe is an ambassador for Revelate Designs and he runs a full complement of Revelate bags. He says, “I was a Revelate customer before I was an ambassador: Eric Parsons made a frame bag for me in 2008 and since then he’s been a friend and a source of advice and inspiration. He was instrumental in growing the popularity of bikepacking.” Joe hardly ever rides with a backpack.

    Handlebars (Revelate Sweetroll)
    Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, spare clothing, toiletries

    Handlebars (Revelate Accessory)
    Camera, travel papers + mittens clipped to the outside containing gloves/hat/snacks

    Top Tube (Revelate Gas Tank)

    Top Tube (Revelate Jerry Can)
    Headlamp, tiny cable lock

    Frame bag (Revelate custom)
    Tools, spares, batteries/chargers, water filter, kitchen, lunch food, knife, spork

    Seat Pack (Revelate Terrapin)
    Dinner/Breakfast food, first aid kit, spare tube in front near seatpost

Seven Treeline SL, Fat bike, bikepacking, Joe Cruz


Three pieces of gear that Joe has taken along on most every bikepacking trip in the last ten years are: Nzo shorts, goretex socks, and a Patagonia Puff hooded jacket. When we asked Joe about his favorite routes he mentioned, “Any route in Peru,” Chengdu to Kathmandu, our Tian Shan Traverse, and the Green Mountain Gravel Growler.

For Joe’s contributions on this site, click here. Also make sure to follow Joe on Instagram @joecruzpedaling.


Bikepacking Bikes

Rider & Rig


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