Factory Tour: SRAM’s STU Colorado Springs Development Facility
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!
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.
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.
Close by is SRAM’s photography/videography room for taking product shots and making things look good.
SRAM’s facility is very dog friendly
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’s machine shop is well stocked with both well worn mills and lathes, and state of the art CNC behemoths.
Tools of the trade.
Just a few examples of their extensive machining capabilities, many of these parts started as a solid billet of aluminum.
Not that you would ever produce fork lowers by machining, but it can be done.
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.)
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.
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.
Here, weights are added to the contact points of the bike while on rollers to gather test data.
Calibrated sand, or Test Dust is an important part of the process.
Multiple headset standards, spacers, and parts are available for steerer testing.
In some businesses the inside of this drawer would have very different contents…
Imagery of SRAM’s athletes grace the wall in spectacular fashion.
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.
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.
Including repairs to the random JRA crash victim.
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.
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.
Check out our tour of SRAM’s Chicago world headquarters here!