Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Imagine working on something so top secret, that even the person building it didn’t have the clearance to know what it was. That was the reality of Jim Colegrove’s military and aviation composites engineering before he was brought on as part of the team that developed the OCLV (optimum compaction low void) process in 1990. Colegrove is now the head Manufacturing Engineer and has been instrumental in the development and improvement of Trek’s carbon fiber production.

We were lucky enough to get a personal tour of Trek’s Waterloo carbon bicycle production from the man himself, from start to finish. See how an OCLV Carbon trek is made, in Wisconsin, step by step, after the break!

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Before any carbon ever hits the assembly line, all of Trek’s carbon bike designs start here at the Advanced Composites lab. Think of it as a test facility, where new carbon designs and layups are tested in a scale replica of Trek’s carbon production lines. Over the years there have been two common misconceptions about Trek’s carbon bikes that I’ve come across: the idea that Trek has never made any carbon bikes in the US, and the thought that once Trek’s factories overseas were “OCLV certified” that meant the end of the US made bikes – neither of which are close to being true. While Trek did start with all of their carbon production in Wisconsin, they have slowly shipped more production overseas to stay competitive, though Trek’s investment in quality control, testing, and manufacturing practices has kept the bikes from overseas to Trek’s standards.

The highest end carbon bikes however, are still very much made in Wisconsin, and the factory is pumping out new bikes on the daily.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Inside the ACL are all of the same carbon cutting and pressing tools you will find on their production floor, only in smaller quantity. This is where all of the prototype carbon frames are made and likely their pro athletes’ frames as well as the processes are developed for use in the full line. The tag line we heard over and over again was quality, precision, and repeatability. The blue machines on the top rows are individual carbon molding machines (more on these later), with a computer aided carbon cutting table below.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Above, one of the workers works on the bottom bracket/chainstay lug of either a Madone or a Domane. There were some interesting bikes hung up on the wall – bikes that I wasn’t able to get close ups of… The ACL also has its own freezer for raw carbon next to the green curing oven for finished frames.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Once designs have been finalized, tested, and approved, they begin here at Trek’s in house composite lug production line. Jim jokingly tells us to respect the no photography sign – we were allowed photography access under Jim’s supervision.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Step onto the production floor and you are greeted with the huge carbon storage freezer, which keeps all of the carbon rolls of prepreg (pre-impregnated carbon with resin already added so it’s ready to form) shown to the right in cold storage until they are needed. The out time, or the life span of the carbon rolls before use in frames, of the carbon is about two weeks – the amount that Trek removes from cold storage is equivalent to what they will utilize in less than one week’s time. Take note: no food or beverage in the carbon freezer! If you’re curious as I was, the carbon is packaged in 70lb rolls, which at $35-40/lb works out to just over $22k worth of carbon sitting there on the floor.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

The rolls of raw carbon are cut into more manageable pieces in a variety of ways. The machine with the yellow bar in the first picture is one of the cutting tools, or rolls of carbon are rolled out onto a cutting table to be divided by hand. Trek uses both unidirectional and woven fibers like any bike company though what we saw was mostly UD. Woven carbon is typically used as a top layer for appearances, though it can have functional uses in frames. UD carbon is stronger since all of the fibers are oriented in the direction they are applied which allows engineers to tailor the layup to the specific use or part of the frame. Trek currently sources their carbon fiber from Hexcel (US carbon) and Toray though they have used Mitsubishi carbon in the past. You may have heard that some of the carbon Trek uses is not able to be used in non-Nato countries – this is still true, and is one of the reasons Trek’s high end bikes are still made in the US. These high and ultra high modulus carbons are actually classified as strategic materials which are not allowed into non-Nato countries to prevent them from building weapons with it instead of bikes. This also means that there is still a difference in some of the carbon fiber used between the overseas made and US made Trek bikes.

Above, each roll is printed with serial numbers specifying the material, when it was made, etc. Jim mentioned that one of the reasons aerospace carbon parts are so expensive is the amount of verification needed to certify the materials as they are made into the final product. Basically, if a plane’s wing fails, they need to be able to track each material back to the factory. For bicycle manufacturing there isn’t quite the need for such measures, so the whole process is relatively cheap comparatively.

The red film on the woven carbon, or tow (under 12,000 fibers), is a release agent. It keeps the carbon from sticking to itself in the roll and is then removed before application to the mold.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Once the carbon is on the cutting table, a laser guidance system projects patterns onto the carbon below showing where and how to make cuts. The laser moves extremely fast, which your eye sees as a complete image, but when photographing it only part of the pattern is visible depending on shutter speed. An incredibly high tech system of Sharpies and permanent markers is used to identify the pieces of carbon sheet after they have been cut.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

When it comes to intricate carbon pieces that are too complicated to cut out by hand, a computerized router cuts out hundreds of pieces with the quickness. The layout of the pieces in the programing is such that there is as little waste as possible, and any left over scraps that can’t be reused are sent for recycling. Trek sends their scrap carbon to Material Innovation Technologies’ South Carolina facility for repurposing in reinforced thermoplastic applications, including aerospace, automotive, medical and recreational applications. There are three types of carbon that Trek can recycle including raw prepreg trimmings shown above, non-comformant parts (things that weren’t made to spec, etc), and returned warranty frames.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Once the small pieces of carbon are cut out on the router table, they are organized in the various bins shown to the right. Each bin corresponds to a single piece of carbon, used for a single purpose on a single bike. When bikes are scheduled to be assembled the necessary parts picked out and placed on cookie sheets with build tags specifying the bike. Next up was 2013 Madone Wednesdays!

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Complex designs with small parts are prepared by workers who take the trays and begin to assemble the preformed structures which are then sent off to the molds. These were likely chainstays or fork blades being mad here, enlarge the picture to see how many tiny pieces of carbon are needed to make the dropouts.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Larger structures like the seat tube lug being made here are laid into the molds piece by piece. There are multiple instructional aid for the employees to ensure perfect placement of every piece of carbon. The mold on the top is a top tube/head tube/ down tube lug.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Once the carbon is all in place, somehow the OCLV bladder is positioned and the mold is closed up. This is a very secretive part of the whole OCLV process that we were definitely not allowed to photograph. The molds are then plugged into a 480 volt power source and the mold is placed in a giant press so the carbon is under incredible pressure from the inside and outside all while at high temperatures – this mold was currently at 195°F. The pictures above only show a few of the molding stations Trek has. Behind me was another bay of stations 3-4 times bigger than the one shown here.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production
After an undisclosed amount of time, pressure, and temperature the part is removed from the mold and sent to this area where they are QC’d with the various gauges shown above and are then assembled into a group according to work orders. Note that this is not the final QC for the bikes, just making sure the parts are ok to move on to the next stage. There are stringent QC procedures at each stage ensuring that once the parts reach the final steps that there are no issues.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Carbon wheels? Yeah, those are done here too. Finished rims sit on the table and an employee opens a wheel mold.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Proof I was actually in Wisconsin. No factory in Wisconsin is complete without an inspirational Vince Lombardi quote.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

If post-molding machining of frames, parts, or wheels is needed they end up here in yet another machine shop. Anyone still wondering where the machines are?  Here a Speed Concept frame gets the internal cable routing drilled out by a CNC mill.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Most of the machines weren’t in use during our visit (Friday afternoon), but there were so many different stations it was dizzying. Trek utilizes cellular manufacturing groups meaning all of the machining for a certain frame is carried out in one location. The station directly above is the Madone cell, with various cells for different bikes found across the factory.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

If the 3D printer was one of the most interesting design tools, this was definitely one of the most interesting manufacturing tools. This massive robot, nick named Buzz, has one task and one task only – drilling spoke holes in carbon rims. The angle, size, and depth of the holes is critical enough to warrant this yellow monster that has its own cage. Rims are clamped in place on the pedestals in the center, the cage is closed, and the robot goes to work while those massive hoses vacuum up any carbon dust or shards.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

If you’re not familiar with Trek’s carbon lug process, lugs are used because they allow for each part of the frame to be easily tuned to specific characteristics. It is more realistic to do so than with a monocoque – which is a term that Jim hates since he says the industry uses it incorrectly as it refers to the outer structure bearing the load without any internal support structures. However, the joints will always be the weakest part since there aren’t continuous fibers running through them. To compensate for this, Trek developed their Step Joint technology where the joint is terraced to three different interlocking thicknesses. The joint is then longer and maintains a continuous wall thickness the whole length of the joint. Epoxy resin is dispensed from a fountain on the side of what could pass as an outdoor shed. To build a bike simply fill up a cup, and mix in the glass beads. The 4 thousandth of an inch beads ensure a perfect bond in the joints by filling the tiny gaps between the parts.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production
I then asked how they figure out how much epoxy to use for each joint, to which Jim replied “I’m glad you asked.” The amount of epoxy is calculated based on the size of the joint and the thickness needed. Voids that hold the exact amount of epoxy needed are machined in to this block of aluminum where an epoxy artist like Manuel here spreads out the epoxy from the cup into the divots making perfect servings for each joint. This is part of the whole repeatability thing – having a bunch of extra epoxy inside the frame will lead to increased variance in total frame weight, not to mention a waste of epoxy. Exactly enough is used so that it completely fills the joint, and is over filled just enough to squeeze out the ends to guarantee a strong bond.

From there the pieces are assembled into the full bike, and Manuel uses cloths soaked in denatured alcohol to remove the excess. We didn’t to see it during our visit, but at some point the exterior of the joints is smoothed out before painting which results in the sleek finish you see on the showroom floor.

 

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Completed frames are then loaded up on specially made carbon curing jigs and loaded into the curing oven. The jigs are made out of the same carbon as the frames, meaning they have the same rate of thermal expansion. This is very important when trying to guarantee perfect alignment, especially with how precise today’s bikes can be. With older designs it wasn’t as critical, so metal jigs were used because these are so expensive, but now all frames here use the carbon jigs. Once they are done curing, they are removed from the oven, and each bike is released from the jig.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

More quality control, although this time computerized. The frame above isn’t completely situated as it would be tested, but it gives you the idea. All of these measurement devices are connected to the computer to assure perfect tolerances.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

The guys who sand each frame by hand deserve some major credit. While ventilation systems keep the sanding room very clean, it was one of the loudest, harshest work places I’ve seen. I suppose with proper hearing protection and masks you would get used to it, but I wanted to leave after 5 minutes. There are a lot of stations in here, with three different bays.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Forks anyone? Finished Madones, Speed Concepts, and Sessions wait for paint. Finished or partly finished parts were everywhere waiting for the next step. Manufacturing is alive and well in Wisconsin.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

In the spirit of constant improvement, and an investment in Trek’s wildly popular Project One custom paint service, a new automated paint booth was just being installed as we visited. This futuristic paint booth includes a decontamination chamber straight out of science fiction with nozzles to blast you with air, and a mat that traps dirt from your feet so that you don’t contaminate the painting area. Once installed the bikes will travel through the booth on a conveyor and the robotic arm inside will do the painting.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Once painted, frames move to the decal room where wet transfer decals are applied before the frames are clear coated.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Project One frames are diverted here before being built up and shipped out to the bike shop. We were told that this sPartHacus Domane frame was getting shipped out to Germany – we’re wondering if sPartHacus is reading, or got their bike yet?

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Bicycles travel throughout the factory on a conveyor belt that travels up over a lot of the factory.

Trek Factory Tour Part 3: US Based OCLV Carbon Bike Production

Finally, once everything is stickered, painted, and tagged they get boxed up for assembly over in Trek’s Whitewater, WI facility.

Make sure to check out parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t already!

Part 1

Part 2

 

 

Comments

TrekSlave - 03/14/13 - 12:10am

Excellent! Thanks for sharing.

Alan - 03/14/13 - 12:16am

Man that was an awesome article. Thanks Zach!

Greg @ DarkSpeedWorks - 03/14/13 - 12:23am

Downright dizzying. But most definitely impressive. The next visit for bikeradar? How about the Enve Composites facility? American made stuff is pretty cool.

mythbuster - 03/14/13 - 12:32am

Decent “monocoque” frames are monocoque throughout the front triangle. There are no joints between the down tube, head tube, top tube, BB and the seat tube. With correct layup, the fibers in these areas will be largely continuous.

The “OCLV” stepped lug thing process is used to attach the rear triangle parts to the front monocoque triangle. This is where the fiber discontinuity happens.

The other frames from some major brands are not monocoque but tube to tube (bonded tube) whether the bonded elements are just the tubes or some co-molded larger elements. These types of frames (Specialized, Felt, etc.) have discontinuous fibers and I think this is what Jim is referring to, however neither Felt nor Specialized refer to their frames as being monocoque…

Jim - 03/14/13 - 3:50am

Are the MTB full suspension frames made without gluing parts together? So that front triangle is made in one mold and rear triangle too?

Bas Simons - 03/14/13 - 4:22am

“..These high and ultra high modulus carbons are actually classified as strategic materials which are not allowed into non-Nato countries…”

marketing mumbo jumbo, still pretty cool. luckily enough, i’m in a NATO country :)

Bayard - 03/14/13 - 7:07am

Good work sport. I’m chubbing

Rose - 03/14/13 - 7:32am

WhenTrek took the side of the biggest bully in EPO drug dealing, Lance Armstrong, over the greatest American cyclist ever, Greg Lemond, I decided to never buy another Trek. Ever.

Kristibee - 03/14/13 - 7:59am

Greg – We’re not sure what that site’s up to, but BikeRUMOR has already visited ENVE. Check it out here, it was a great tour!

anonymouse - 03/14/13 - 8:20am

Next I’d like to see a BikeRumor do a tour of Specialized’s U.S. factory where they make S-works bikes… Oh right, Specialized doesn’t make any bikes in the U.S.

sPartHacus - 03/14/13 - 8:42am

MY BIKE!!!!

Darwin - 03/14/13 - 9:05am

This article reads like a Trek ad. The vast majority of their bikes are made by Giant in Taiwan.

Seriously - 03/14/13 - 9:27am

Darwin, are you saying that 7.1 FX bikes aren’t handmade carbon bikes? I would think that Trek would be able to invest in all of this expensive machinery and use this intensive hands on labor process to churn out $400 hybrids with 45 day lead times by the tens of thousands.

Zap? - 03/14/13 - 10:06am

I’ve had two frames that have come out of this factory, and I am still riding one of them, my Trek Fuel Fuel and I love it! Too bad it’ll be the last Trek that I will ever purchase, unless Trek issues an apology to Greg LeMond.

Justin - 03/14/13 - 10:07am

This is maybe the most awesome bicycle related article I have seen in a year +. Thanks guys!

Rob - 03/14/13 - 10:21am

Justin,

I think you are into cycling for the wrong reasons if a relatively boring tour of a composites factory excites you so much.

Zap? - 03/14/13 - 10:58am

@Rob.

I think this tour is more interesting than that other dope laden tour that one single rider has nearly destroyed.

Darwin - 03/14/13 - 11:03am

What I’m saying “Seriously” is that Trek makes a tiny handful of bike in the U.S. Pretty obvious. They dumped their long time employees in the U.S. to make more profit so enough with the made in USA nonsense. Somehow other companies can make their carbon and other bikes in the U.S. but not Trek. This is a company that has a long history of treating employees, customers and yes, Greg LeMond like c**p to make more money. They love to wave the flag with their Bush Loving Tea Party CEO but when it comes to putting their money where their mouth is it goes to Giant in Taiwan. is that clear enough for you?

Greg - 03/14/13 - 11:17am

@Darwin,
yes, it’s clear that Trek makes most of their stuff in Taiwan. it’s clear because the article said so. it’s clear that they construct their top-end carbon in the US, as well as design and engineering for their Taiwan carbon bikes.
it’s also clear that youve got a pretty big chip on your shoulder and are too blinded by hate to see the great parts of this article

Sardinian Rider - 03/14/13 - 11:25am

Lance !!!

Freddo - 03/14/13 - 11:27am

@Rob

There are no wrong reasons to be into cycling.

Seriously - 03/14/13 - 11:39am

Darwin, You need to learn of which you write.

In 1997/98 Trek opened their Whitewater facility in an attempt to manufacture all bikes from the 800 up in Wisconsin. Due to various reasons this did not work leading to quality issues, supply problems, etc. The forces of globalization made it a reality that the largest manufacturer of bicycles in the world, Giant could make bikes that needed to be produced in large numbers for a global market faster and more efficiently than Trek could ever dream of doing in WI. Although jobs could not be kept for Aluminum welders and the like, programs like Project one have done something to help Trek keep manufacturing jobs. What other US bike company ever even tried to manufacture at this level in the US in the late 20th/21st century.
As for Trek employees there are some out there who might have parted on less than great terms, but I bet if pressed they will admit that the time that spent with Trek wasn’t that bad.
LeMond threw a few punches unrelated to the Armstrong issue that makes him less than 100% innocent in the parting of ways between him and Trek.
Please provide a list of other companies that sell a similar volume to Trek globally that manufacture all of their bikes in the US. Who you going with Parlee? IF? Shinola? Seven? Their entire output combined doesn’t come close to the demand for one 4 series Madone model. Let alone12″ balance bikes to electric bikes and everything in between.
If the CEO is a Tea Partier, why has Trek hosted fundraisers for Democratic candidates that stand behind US Government Investment in Bicycle Infrastructure? Isn’t one of the Tea Party’s favorite punching bags “government waste” on things like improving bicyce infrastructure?
If you want to go by volume it’s Giant’s manufacturing facilities in China that are making the majority of the bikes they make for several brands such as Trek. The Taiwan facilities produce mostly higher end bikes.

Hmmm - 03/14/13 - 11:39am

Great tour write-up. Brings back memories for me working in their showbike division 13 years ago when they didn’t have their own photo studio. Oh my, have things changed though!

Rogue - 03/14/13 - 12:21pm

I thought the story was fantastic keep them coming.

I still think it’s pathetic that everyone will bash Lance for drugs but not Greg. Doping did not begin with the Lance are nor did it end there. Please take it from somebody who was in the know and realize that at the top echelon of cycling that to keep up that had to do some form of doping whether classified as “illegal” or not at the time. I am still out on the current crop but I hold fast that is not clean yet.

Blood transfusions, growth hormones, steroids… any others, they were used. Just look at it as the greatest show on earth and enjoy the turmoil. Everyone just love a good gossip story.

brian - 03/14/13 - 12:25pm

Within five feet of every bicycle is a political free zone. One of my bikes is currently 4.5 feet from my desk. Therefore i will not get dragged into the spin zone

Bayard - 03/14/13 - 12:40pm

Any chance we can see the production in Taiwan? Also is everyone critical of where every product they purchase is made? Good luck finding a usa made cellphone. Anyway I will probably never be able to afford a high end USA made trek, but this years high end is 3 years from now mid grade. I just worry the cables on my bike were made overseas.

King County - 03/14/13 - 1:15pm

Great article. It is great that USA production was showcased so well. In related news, this is a fraction of the Giant Bicycles facility.

Carbon - 03/14/13 - 1:40pm

Great article on a really cool manufacturing facility. None of which makes me want to buy a carbon fiber bike ever again. Welded frames forever!

chuck - 03/14/13 - 1:46pm

I love the jingoistic patriotic bromides that fall apart once one takes inventory of a bike’s other parts.

“My bike is made in America, man. If you don’t like, get the F out of this country!”

“Um, Billy-Bob, where is that derailleur made? What about those cranks? And tires? Handlebars? Stem? Spokes? Nice DT Swiss hubs you got there. Sweet Shimano breaks. Is that the Shimano family from Nebraska or Japan? Well, you do have a Thomson seatpost. Not bad. Great Selle San Marco. What is that, from Alabama? Well, at least your Oakley grips are made in…Taiwan.

“Doesn’t look that great for American made now, does it? Hmmm, wonder why most carbon is made in Asia. Couldn’t have anything to do with what’s coming out of those smokestacks, does it? Hey, not in my (California) backyard.”

N/A - 03/14/13 - 2:36pm

Thank you ‘Seriously’ couldn’t agree more. ‘Darwin’ – time to go for a ride and cool off. But I suppose haters gonna hate.

As a Trek Employee I can say it’s an AWESOME place to work, and there is more to the brand than LA and the Lemond debacle. Over 24 teams fully sponsored and numerous accolades.

50,000 carbon bikes made A – Z in Wisconsin every year. BAM.

Nessa - 03/14/13 - 2:41pm

@Darwin,

I am really sorry for you. You have absolutely NO idea what you are talking about. Your feelings towards Trek are so unfounded it is funny actually. Maybe you should read up on the real reasons that Greg and Trek separated. It had nothing to do with Lance and had everything to do with how Greg was undermining everything that Trek was trying to do with the Lemond brand. Torpedoing your own brand, I would dump you too in a heartbeat.

And of course the vast majority of their bikes are made in Taiwan, can you please name a manufacturer that does the same volume that Trek does that does NOT utilize the Asian facilities (Giant) to make the bread and butter bikes? You can’t? that’s because that is what every other bike manufacturer does the same thing! But not only does everyone do that, Trek actually DOES make high end bikes in the USA. Tell me one other manufacturer that does that?

Nessa - 03/14/13 - 2:43pm

@Seriously, you beat me to it. Thank you

Zap? - 03/14/13 - 3:53pm

@N/A

Well said N/A, but still, Trek made some incredibly poor decisions with regard to Greg LeMond, who at this time, is still the only American to win the Tour. ;) You’d think that Trek would want at least one Tour winner on their roster right?

You should tell your managers and other higher ups that this issue will need to be addressed at some point because the grumblings on the internet will not go away and it is only hurting Trek’s tarnished image even more.

David - 03/14/13 - 4:57pm

Darwin has no clue what he is talking about.

Chris - 03/14/13 - 5:21pm

I’d like to see a bike build project where every part is made in the US. I’ve decided that tires are probably the most challenging piece, but I would love to see an attempt regardless.

Miha - 03/14/13 - 5:34pm

Nice article, thanks for the insight view.

greg - 03/14/13 - 5:50pm

on the LeMond thing, ive never heard anyone make any accusations about LeMond and doping, armchair speculators exempted. On the contrary, there are some former pros and team people that say that back then, if there was one person they were sure WASN’T doping, it was Greg LeMond. Im not saying he didnt, im just saying i doubt it.
just because a lot of pros dope doesnt mean that there is a complete 100% doping rate.

master - 03/14/13 - 6:19pm

Again, people need to stop focusing on individuals, Trek lost at that battle. The same would be true f they came back to Lemond. Lemond is a great cyclist and a poor business man. By the way, I know a ton of great athletes that have terribly bad judgement… armchair athletes need to wake up a bit… Pistorius love anyone ? Get over it man, we all knew from day one Armstrong was a total doper, you didn’t ? Really… well sorry but the joke is on you and your blind personnality cult, not a single athlete is above any other humans, get over it, the queen of England and the new pope’shit stinks just like your and mine…

I have always hated Trek for this 10 years ago, now I have come around… maybe its because I see in Trek what you will see in about 10 years, a great company that has an aggressive business plan and a VERY aggressive manufacturing process. I swore I would never buy from them and now I am waiting for a madone 7 and after reading all three parts of this article, I am truly amazed at what I bought, a true mix of hype, metrics, workmanship and delivery. That’s really all I want to pay for. The rest is f*&king background noise for haters.

This article is by far the most comprehensive plant visit I have ever seen and it shows the might of a great bike company.

Vodalous - 03/14/13 - 6:27pm

Actually @Chuck, the majority of the components I spec my bike with were manufactured in the United States. From my seatpost and stems to my hubs, rims, cranks, and pedals. If it’s not made in the USA, I try to find items manufactured in the UK or Great Britain. It’s not hard.

There are a few parts that are hard to get, like handlebars, tires, and drivetrains, but thats due to economy of scales etc…

Rob - 03/14/13 - 6:57pm

Nice effort at putting a good spin on Trek and seeking to improve Trek’s image.

Even aside from the whole Lance thing, Trek Australia provide lousy service and back up. So bad I’d never buy another Trek.

Matt - 03/14/13 - 7:22pm

@Darwin,
All the major bike manufacturers make their bikes over seas. Specialized moved all their manufacturing way before Trek even considered doing it. Maybe you should know what you are talking about before you start spouting off about something. As far as all you “business” minded people out there. Until you’re put in position to make any decisions for a major company, in the bike biz or not, don’t judge. I used to work for Trek, and I enjoyed working there. But like all employers, jobs, and life in general, it’s what you make of it.

Charlie Best - 03/14/13 - 9:45pm

Brakes….it’s brakes, not breaks.

Brakes!

Nevermind. Great article.

sPartHacus - 03/14/13 - 11:18pm

MY BIKE!!!!!!!!!

Ka - 03/14/13 - 11:48pm

How much longer before we see the superfly come through? One race down and still waiting… WI or Taiwan? Regardless been happy with the previous version even though I’m on my fourth! Hope the 2013 will have a bit more reliability to it….. But if you gonna have one that cracks it might as well be a Trek as they stand by the customer and their warranty. Thanks..

David French - 03/15/13 - 6:31am

Some Treks are made in China as well as Taiwan. If it bothers you then don’t buy one. But let me ask you, where was your group-set made? Your handlebars? Wheels? Saddle?

I’ve been trying hard for years now to steer myself towards British, American and European made items, but it can end up being fantastically expensive and in the case of something like getting a good quality mountain bike derailleur or gear shifter, IMPOSSIBLE!

T

MGK - 03/15/13 - 9:44am

All biases aside….nicely done. Interesting read, informative. Cheers

Arg - 03/15/13 - 10:53am

So all these comments about the lance and lemond are pointless. People its all about the bike. There are stupid people who ride bikes, and great people who ride bikes. The People make the decisions, blame the people if you must pry into individuals lives, but the bikes are bikes. Trek makes some really great bikes for higher end clients and some cheaper (china made) bikes for the rest of us with low paying jobs. Side note on the whole moving manufacturing to other countries. There was an interesting article recently that discussed why companies move overseas. If I can find I will post. Basicaly it said due to shipping and manufacturing costs typically it is cheaper to produce the product here in the US. However. The problem falls into a number of other areas. 1. Education- Our students are brain washed that they will all be Doctors or Lawyers or Sports Giants. They are not trained in engineering and CAD and CNC design or other advanced modeling stuff. We look down on those people. Those are the ones that the industry needs someone who can do basic math and beyond, who would run a high end technical machine. We dont teach that or inspire that in our youth so when they look for jobs, they don’t want them. Our unemployment in the US is staggering in some areas, but plants like Dobbins, Boeing and others are DESPERATE for employees!! 2. Unions. Think about how many logistical problems that unions have caused in industries. Please don’t get me too wrong, there is a time and place for taking a stand to make sure you are getting paid what you are worth. But a few months ago a shipping port closed down in California and suppliers started moving the shipping to Mexico, because they actually work!. Once the harbor opened back up some companies still continued to ship to Mexico again because of the reliability. We can not keep shooting ourselves in the foot. I appreciate trek and other companies that try to keep USA employed. But then again do I really want the kid down the street with his pants around his knees building my bike that I will be traveling 45 mph down a hill on… Nope.

grudge - 03/15/13 - 12:15pm

that’s why i hate Porsche (hell, any german car). Owner was pocket-pals with Hitler.

(now, the above point was written with a little sarcasm- i did know an old WW2 british vet that for the rest of his life refused to buy a german car. just goes to show that companies can have sordid histories, and resentments can run very deep.)

Pancakes - 03/15/13 - 12:51pm

It’s been a long time, I just don’t buy German cars coz they don’t work properly.

Lance - 03/17/13 - 8:37am

I support the use of drugs in sport
- John Burke

roadie - 03/20/13 - 12:41am

It’s sad that riding or making a piece of cycling art on two wheels has turned into a game of politics. Need politics? Stick to Washington.

In the meantime, if you see someone riding a road bike into the sunset, its probably me riding my bike for the sheer love of bikes. Riding is what keeps me young.

#getalife

JW - 03/21/13 - 5:52am

LET’S HAVE A TOUR OF A FEW ITALIAN CARBON FRAME BUILDERS? Seems a lot nicer, nothing political to bitch about, just pretty bikes, but only the ones Made In Italy ;) I’d like to see Colnago, Pinarello, and whoever else still makes some high end carbon in Italy.
I don’t want to heart about Mussolini or Italian cycling dopers either.

Ray - 03/21/13 - 7:27pm

Working in composites for the better part of my life I have to say they have a great factory. And I’m lucky enough to get to ride one of there carbon bikes made here in the good old USA. Superfly 100 Elite.

shafty - 08/08/13 - 5:38pm

Tour of Italian carbon factories? You mean where they PAINT frames? FYI–because of the EUs policies only 50% of the VALUE has to be added to say it was made there. Paint, assemblly and other high quality finishing easily accounts for that much markup. I’m not buying one of Trek’s frames anytime soon, but they truly are manufactured in the location as advertised(it isn’t advertised at all actually).

Bravics - 11/20/13 - 2:12am

I am an adventurous young man. This is one of the most innovative transport system technology. Kudddddos to the TREK Co. I’m an African ready to fly to study manufacturing this Carbon thing. Use my address to mail me any information I need to know how to reach you or distant learning processes. Thanks-
Bravics

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