Rider & Rig: Joe Cruz’s Seven Treeline SL

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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.

  • Rider & Rig will surely be a hit! Cool rig… and rider!

  • Mike

    Loving these articles. Just building my first bikepacking rig, I found this a little late (i’m51) articles such as this are what inspire my kit choices. Keep up the good work. Although my wife my disagree.

  • Jack Whorton

    Such a cool setup! How do the chainstay bottle cage mounts work? Looks like a reasonably sturdy solution if it doesn’t slip into the rear wheel.

  • Hey Jack, thanks for the kind words! The seatstay cage is attached using two King Cage Universal Support Bolts. They’re essentially hose clamps with a useful bolt fitting welded on: http://www.kingcage.com/index.php?products=yes

    The cage didn’t rotate toward the wheel at all during many weeks of hard use. I mounted it on the drive side because I tend to push the bike from the non-drive side during hike-a-bikes and thought that my leg would bump against the fuel bottle. In the images above, I’m also using USB’s to attach the forward downtube bottle cage. You can see what’s going on in the large photo of the bagless bike against the steel doors.


  • Jerry Grady

    Each time I read these articles, I learn a little bit more each time. Nice setup on your bike. Good luck on your trip, and as always stay safe.

  • Malcolm

    I’m curious about the use of 100mm rims with 4″ tires?

  • Hey Malcolm, worked great with the Jumbo Jims, no issues with rim strike at the edges or any unusual handling. Those Schwalbes are good and round and seem to be truly 4.0 or at least close. When I’ve tried running the 45Nrth Hüsker Düs, that was a less happy setup with frequent edge of rim scrapes. Just to be clear, the Hüsker Düs are great tires, just not for the 100mm rims.


  • Sascha

    Any thoughts you might add on the Terrapin seat pack compared to previous one’s you have used Joe?

  • Smithhammer

    Yup – looking forward to more in this series.

  • Rick

    Better late than never!

  • Gadgets Gear Travels GGT

    Is that titanium cup under the seatpost on last photo?

  • Yep! Attached to the strap on the Revelate jerrycan. Always trying to amuse myself…

  • Andrew Burton

    oof the “philosopher” in a patagonia jacket that needs perfect equipment… couldn’t be more smug, wow

  • Logan Watts

    FYI, Joe is a professor of philosophy. But whatever.

  • “Smug Cruz.” I like it!

  • Really nice looking rig. What is the cage/bottle setup on the bottom of the downtube, if I may ask?

  • Hey Kent, thanks for the kind words. The lower large bottle is attached to a Salsa Anything Cage mounted to three bosses drilled into the frame. The upper bottle cage is attached to the downtube via two King Cage USB’s (universal support bolts). They are essentially a bolt body welded to a hose clamp that you attach accessories to.


  • Joe – thanks for the quick response! Looking at ordering some USBs now. Is that a stainless steel bottle in the Anything Cage? Looks massive, like 2L?

  • Cool. Yep, it’s a 64oz./1.9L Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottle. Handy for spans in between fill ups!

  • Hey Sascha—I’m a big fan of the Terrapin. I have a Pika and Viscacha, and those are great with their simple, no fuss design, especially for more road oriented tours. Three things really stand out to me about the Terrapin. Firstly is the complete waterproofness of the dry sack. Depending on how I’m packing, that gives me complete peace of mind for down gear or electronics. Secondly, the quick and easy removability of the bag makes it so that I plan to just take it into the tent vestibule at the end of the day. On some types of tours I pack mostly food in the saddle bag. Waterproofness is obviously not such a big deal in those cases, but having dinner, snacks, and breakfast ready at hand without leaving the tent is ace. And then thirdly is the strap system. The way the Terrapin works is you shove the dryback into the harness and then attach and cinch the rear straps that secure it. That area between the straps and the dry bag, before you tighten it all up, is perfect for securing things I might want quick access to like a rain jacket or an extra insulating layer. I sometimes put my soot scorched pot back there.

    All of that makes the Terrapin my go-to saddle bag for more expedition type rides.

    Hope that helps a bit,

  • Sascha

    Thank’s Joe, your opinion and experience is greatly valued!

  • Joe Cruz, Professor of “philosophy”. Gonna have to change the business cards and placard on your office door.