Factory Tour: SRAM’s STU Colorado Springs Development Facility

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center109

Yes, the suspension works.

High on the list of any long time mechanic, a trip to SRAM’s STU or SRAM Technical University is a chance to pick up the latest technical knowledge directly from the experts. In the case of SRAM’s new Colorado Springs Development Facility, it is also a chance to get to check out one of SRAM’s hotspots for product development and testing. At just over a year old, the new building replaces SRAM’s previous location for the center of their Colorado operations.

We were invited out to tour the new facility and while we were there, we were also installing the brand new Red 22 Hydro HRR group – more on that one later.

Take a peek inside SRAM’s unassuming (from the outside) CSDF after the break!

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center110

Like most bicycle companies, SRAM puts a lot of emphasis on making commuting by bike as easy as possible. In the bike storage room there is also a deluxe bike wash station to keep things running smoothly.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 1

Foosball anyone? SRAM also offers up a sweet cafe/lounge where everyone can grab a quick bite before heading back to work or out on a ride.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 2

Close by is SRAM’s photography/videography room for taking product shots and making things look good.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center105

SRAM’s facility is very dog friendly

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 14

There is no mistaking the machining and testing area of the building as both sight and sound let you know that serious work is being done. Like the original Colorado Springs location, this is where Avid and Rockshox development happens as well as Blackbox equipment testing. SRAM’s asian production facilities have their own similar testing equipment, but this is where the coolest stuff goes down – well this, and the prototype area that we weren’t allowed to see.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center073

Safety first.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center042

SRAM’s machine shop is well stocked with both well worn mills and lathes, and state of the art CNC behemoths.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center041

Tools of the trade.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center046

 

Just a few examples of their extensive machining capabilities, many of these parts started as a solid billet of aluminum.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 15

 

Not that you would ever produce fork lowers by machining, but it can be done.

 

 

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 6


In addition to the machining rooms, there is a vast test facility for everything from brakes, to suspension. On the bottom left is a row of disc brake test machines where a spring loaded arm pulls down repeatedly on the brake lever simulating repeated hard stops. (More videos will be uploaded in a bit.)

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 10


From fork to wheel deflection, there are quite a few different test rigs.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 9


This monster is specifically designed to put suspension forks through the wringer. When Steve Peat was still a Blackbox athlete, Rockshox used sensors to capture all of the forces his fork went through while on a World Cup downhill run. The data is loaded into this machine and it will replicate that exact run on whatever fork is loaded into the machine. The vertical element simulates suspension movement, while the horizontal portion replicates the front loading on the fork. When it is running, there is so much power put out that it feels like a small earthquake.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center068

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 11

Drum testing is a popular method of testing wheel durability and while we were able to take pictures of the test rigs, what exactly the test was, was not disclosed.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 8

Here, weights are added to the contact points of the bike while on rollers to gather test data.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center066

Calibrated sand, or Test Dust is an important part of the process.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 3

Multiple headset standards, spacers, and parts are available for steerer testing.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center072

In some businesses the inside of this drawer would have very different contents…

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 7

Imagery of SRAM’s athletes grace the wall in spectacular fashion.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center050

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center051

A small warehouse functions as the shipping and receiving center for the facility. Random things like this skid of coolers and boxes sit ready for events like the ATOC and upcoming US Pro Cycling Challenge.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 12

The facility also houses the SRAM ride experience fleet – a group of demos for consumers to try out the latest high tech goods from SRAM. In between outings the bikes and gear are stored here along with a small repair area to keep the fleet running.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center052

Including repairs to the random JRA crash victim.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center104

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center035

As for the main reason we were all here, the STU classroom is a great experience for any mechanic. Split into a lecture room, and a hands-on shop setting, attendees get the details on the latest first hand. Benches are arranged around the room, with the main presenter in the center complete with a magnifying projector to illustrate small parts to the class. Attending a class here includes very personal attention and instruction you won’t find many other places – if you get a chance it is highly recommended.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 5

What trip to a SRAM facility would be complete with a few of HB’s old rides? These two bikes were in amazing shape and show just how far the technology has come, but at the same time how advanced theses bikes were for the time.

SRAM Red 22 - Colorado Springs Development Center 4

 Check out our tour of SRAM’s Chicago world headquarters here!

Comments

Rain - 07/08/13 - 8:02pm

Please get some Central Texas test dust for those fork seals, the Minnesota stuff is too tame

Dockboy - 07/08/13 - 10:40pm

What’s going on with the rear derailleur cable up by the brake?

Topmounter - 07/08/13 - 11:05pm

I hope they bring back the Tioga Disk Drive!!!

Jason - 07/09/13 - 1:48am

Nice work Zach, love seeing this kind of stuff.

Rich - 07/09/13 - 2:45am

I would love to be a product manager for SRAM. I would ask to be assigned to Avid, so I could force them to catch up with their competitors for consistent feel and reliability. SRAM make so much great stuff, Avid seems to be their weak link.

Phil - 07/09/13 - 3:51am

I want one of those stools…

efukt - 07/09/13 - 4:45am

I wanted to let everyone know that I have warranty’d my 3rd set of Avid disc brakes in less than 1 year. FML.

someslowguy - 07/09/13 - 6:54am

agree with Jason – I do love these articles.

and Rich – Please bring Avid brakes back to the forefront!! I know they know this, but either get Elixir 1, 3, 5, etc back up to spec or quit making crap OEM brakes and go back to just ‘better and best’. We have Juicy 7′s that are 10 years old still working great in the field that have never been bled but then 6mo old Elixir’s that need new caliper seals after the first worn set of brake pads! Come on Sram, we like your stuff but please get the cheaper brakes fixed or get rid of them and get better factory bleeds on everything – even my X.0 and X.0 Trail’s need to be bled right out of the box. Thanks.

and that Greg Herbold bike is pretty rad – I saw it back in 2008 at the old building. Sweeet!

captain derp - 07/09/13 - 8:00am

is that the bike which HB used to cut the course in 1990?

mechanic - 07/09/13 - 8:20am

Yeah- sorry Sram, but as others have said here, Avid brakes suck. What do you expect from brakes that don’t have a proper fluid reservoir on the lever? Stop trying to make shit lightweight and start by making shit that works. That said, I love my Rockshox Lyric fork.

rider - 07/09/13 - 8:47am

Take my money, now!

ccolagio - 07/09/13 - 1:15pm

i love my avid code brakes! been on hayes mags, hope mono m4s, avid juicys, shimano xts prior – the avid codes are the BEST brakes i have ever ridden. hours of DH – no fade for me!

Seraph - 07/09/13 - 2:21pm

Ok now I want a machined fork lower.

Sevo - 07/09/13 - 3:07pm

What’s awesome here is the H Ball bike pics. I think few people know that he actually built many of these modified bikes himself….in his garage. Guy isn’t just fast, he’s in tune with the process.

captain derp - 07/09/13 - 4:48pm

few people also know that hb supposedly cut the course at durango world champs in 1990

herrow prease - 07/09/13 - 5:28pm

hehe poor sram.. can’t even have a post about their factory without all the comments letting them know how crappy their brakes are…. And yes…sram your brakes are a joke (except the exlirs).

Tandumb - 07/09/13 - 7:12pm

When I demo a bike… I get a whole lot of that test dust all over myself.

I should jar it and trade SRAM for some goodies.

Psi Squared - 07/09/13 - 8:30pm

Shhh. captain derp is apparently trying to make a totally irrelevant comment.

captain derp - 07/09/13 - 9:09pm

point is: HB is a bag of crap, just like avid brakes. at least they’re continuing the “heritage”

captain derp - 07/09/13 - 10:04pm

next time do we get a tour of the secret facility where sram comes up with all their bs marketing terms?

Justin - 07/10/13 - 12:44am

Sweet, always love to see this stuff!

Stephen - 07/10/13 - 8:43am

As always, these kind of posts always make me regret my life/career decisions. When I was in school for mechanical engineering I always wanted to do stuff like this but ended up in HVAC (bleh). Kids (ie mechanical engineering freshmen), if you want a job like this, don’t take summer school and instead beg on your hands and knees at SRAM for unpaid internship for as long as they will have you. It will pay off by making you have a crazy awesome job for the rest of your life. (not HVAC)

Engineer - 07/10/13 - 4:52pm

Stephen –

I sit here at my HVAC mechanical engineering job completely bored with it. I regret ever taking this job in HVAC and am about to quit the job, move and become a bike mechanic again and beg sram or other companies until they hire me! haha. Heres to getting out of HVAC!

Joshua Murdock - 07/12/13 - 2:13am

So this is where I should go to complain about the poor quality brakes and drivetrain components constantly clogging up the service schedule at my shop. Sweet.

Scott - 07/13/13 - 11:40pm

I have been running the new XO Trail brakes since January and have not had to touch them. They are awesome. Also been running XX1 since January and I will never go back. I am a shop mechanic and inventory manager of a bike shop and SRAMs customer service is one of the best around.

Ryan - 08/19/13 - 9:51am

Great article showcasing the new facility and all the development going on their! I am finishing my mechanical engineering degree this Fall and have over 11 years in the custom fabrication field. I also have a passion for biking and would love to combine all of these skills together at SRAM. Zach, if you have any contacts at the Colorado Springs facility you could introduce me to that would be great! Thanks again for such a thorough article.

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.