This unassuming building houses the world headquarters of SRAM and their World Bicycle Relief charity. From the outside, you’d never know it, and that’s intentional, as it’s really not set up to be a tourism destination for cyclists. That said, we still got the full tour of the offices, service area, testing and R&D and all the rest.
The Chicago, IL, location houses the operational side of the SRAM empire. Sales, marketing, some design and development, customer and retailer support, and World Bicycle Relief management are all housed on several floors of the building (other tenants occupy the space, too).
Come on in and have a look around, won’t you?
As with many cycling companies we’ve visited, SRAM occupies a renovated older factory building. It’s been thoroughly modernized with plenty of big windows, open ceilings and skylights and large rooms. And, as with any big company, you have lots of desks and cubicles. The nice thing about bicycle companies is those desks (and corridors, nooks, crannies and closets are often crammed full of bike parts. Above, at left is the WBR section. At right, the sales and marketing area. Behind me from the photo on the right is a small corner with various bits and pieces from past product development, like a staging of how their original Red Powerdome cassette is made:
Along another side of the building is the engineers’ desks. This is where product development for SRAM and Truvativ happens, mostly. Depending on the project, their European counterparts may lead the development (as was the case with XX1) if the US group is busy on another project. To the left is the work bench for actually putting things on bikes for testing:
And what better way to test things than to have an indoor test track! This runs around the central section of the office, which means visitors and anyone leaving the restroom should look both ways before exiting a room. It goes right by the conference rooms, too, which surely makes for some entertainment during meetings. Most of the conference rooms open up onto a balcony on the opposite side of the building from what’s shown here, and there’s a grill or two on the deck.
At the back of the engineer’s section are pin boards (you know, those things people used before Pinterest) with drawings, sketches and prototype renderings of projects past. And future. Oh, if you could see the other side of these boards…
Scattered around the office walls and halls are collections of products spanning SRAM’s history.
They have more derailleurs than you can imagine, including ones from other brands (click to enlarge) that go quite a ways back in time.
SRAM’s first three patents are on display, too. Now, they have hundreds.
There’s also a wall of jerseys from sponsored teams, many signed by famous (or infamous) cyclists.
And just for good measure, a collection of advertisements from across the years also adorn the walls.
Meanwhile, downstairs are the service reps. Each person rotates through working phone support and…
…working in a small service room in the back fixing parts. This ER room is where warranty work is done, and each dealer service rep does two-week stints between shifts answering phones. Only the more technical stuff like damper repairs are done onsite. Seal replacements and such are either done at the shop or through QBP. There’s a small warehouse onsite for parts, but their main warranty warehouse is in Indiana.
In addition to pretty much all of the latest gear, they have their own little museum of parts. SID shock, anyone? How ’bout a U-Turn shock? Or maybe some three-bolt brake rotors?
Employee perks include ample bike parking and a 75¢ beer vending machine. I know you’re wondering, so from the top: Heinekin, Fat Tire, Corona, Sam Adams Summer Ale, unknown,
something with a goose on the logo Goose Island (thanks Robo!), and Stella Artois.
Throughout the office are some of the pART Project artist creations.
All in all, it’s a pretty cool work environment. They do have a machining room for creating prototype parts, but the person with access was out, so it was locked. If you’re interested in RockShox and Avid development, check out our factory tour of their Colorado Springs facility here.