If you’ve ever wanted to take a tour of the Santa Cruz bicycles headquarters in Santa Cruz but couldn’t get out to California, here’s your chance. Thanks to the wizards behind the curtain at Google, you can now take a full Google Street View tour of their factory. Check out all the new bikes, browse the merch shop, and see where your Santa Cruz bicycle is built up, packed, and shipped to your door. It’s like a bicycle themed scavenger hunt!
Posts in the category Factory Tour
For many years, Mission Workshop was based in a beautiful (albeit very small) workspace in the back of a dingy alley. Surrounded by some of San Francisco’s best dive bars, taquerias, and messenger scene, the company prospered.
To celebrate some well deserved growth, the company expanded from it’s original back alley location into an adjacent retail space – and into some prime real estate. The new storefront now opens onto Valencia Street, one of the most well trafficked streets in the heart of the cities bustling Mission District.
We were on hand for the opening party and caught a sneak peak at some new goods. Head past the break to read more… READ MORE ->
Located in a garage in the northern outskirts of Portland, Breadwinner Cycles is the brain child of two of the best custom bicycle designers and builders in the industry – Ira Ryan (pictured) and Tony Pereira. Both have created Best in Class winning bikes at NAHBS, but teamed up together to bring their unique sensibility in small batches to the hand built market.
During a recent trip through micro-brew heaven, I had the opportunity to stop by their small workplace and see where the magic happens. Take a closer look at the #ShopVibes after the break… READ MORE ->
Custom frame builder Matt Appleman has a degree in composites engineering. Although the bike industry uses a lot of composite materials, an actual composite engineer is usually a resource only the largest of companies has available. We have seen Matt’s final products at NAHBS 2014, and his attention to detail is obvious.
Matt spent years after college working in California on larger scale wind turbine blades, and on composite raw materials for large corporations. Growing tired of that, he moved back home to Minnesota to start his own bike company.
Building bikes full time for more than four years now, Appleman takes a much more scientific approach than most custom frame builders. We visited and got to take a look at his South Minneapolis shop, find out what makes his frames different after the jump…
Admittedly, most cyclists’ thoughts probably turn to inexpensive forks when you mention SR Suntour, and that’s a shame. It’s not that SR Suntour doesn’t produce these forks. They do. And in large quantities. The truth of the matter lies in the fact that the company has a long history of technical innovations in the bike industry that just happen to allow them to produce that suspension fork you’ll find on a bike under $500 and make it affordable while still working exceptionally well for the price. That, and a vertically integrated company that allows them an economy of scale. As the continuation of SunTour which started as Maeda Iron Works in 1912, SunTour is responsible for bringing us technologies we still use today, like the slant parallelogram rear derailleur.
In 1988 when the Japanese founded company moved to Chang Hua City in Taiwan, Suntour brought with them a new casting technology based on the melt-forging process. They called it Accurad forging (AC4C) and it involved injecting molten metal at high pressures into molds. Sharing a lot of similarities with casting, Accurad forging meant that the finished product was free of air bubbles or inclusions which can plague standard gravity casting. Combining the benefits of forging and casting, the process allowed for complex parts to be produced much more cheaply, giving rise to affordable components. Low end components aren’t as sexy as many of the forks you see splashed across our pages, but when you’re talking about producing something in the millions of units rather than the thousands, it takes some serious manufacturing skills to ensure repeatability at that scale.
However, SR Suntour isn’t about inexpensive parts, rather value and performance at any point in their line. The company’s Taiwan headquarters and factory is actually geared towards production of their higher end products – basically Taiwan produces forks with magnesium lowers and China makes forks with aluminum lowers. While the Chang Hua factory is capable of producing up to 5,000 complete suspension forks in a single day, their factory in Shenzen, China handles their higher quantity goods and is capable of making up to a whopping 20,000 forks in a single day. As you can imagine it takes a lot of people to keep a facility that size moving so you’ll find around 500 employees in Taiwan and around 900 at Shenzen. On top of that SR Suntour has a third facility in Kunshan, China that employs another 400-500 people. All together SR Suntour produces around 10,000,000 suspension forks per year with their Taiwanese facility running 8 hours a day, and usually two shifts in China. Together that makes them the biggest fork producer in the IBD market.
Earlier this year we found ourselves in the Fu Hsing Industrial Zone where SR Suntour Taiwan calls home. Take a look around the factory next…
Poland’s Kross Bikes has created several videos giving us an inside look at their factory and R&D teams in action. Mostly unheard of in the United States, Kross is a full-line brand primarily sold in Europe.
A large percentage of their products are made right in Poland, giving them greater control over their manufacturing, but also the ability to tell the story in depth since they own the process. The third video tells the deepest story, and it has English subtitles.
Erik Noren is a creative genius. Spend 15 minutes with him, and you will see and hear the ideas of what bicycle artistry can be. Making just 30 bicycles per year, he pours his heart and soul into each one, toiling away in his shop, metal as his canvas, investing so much time and care into each one that he rarely makes a profit.
True to his craft, Erik doesn’t concern much for money with his bikes, as long as he is allowed to express his vision in the end. Stories from almost 20 years as a framebuilder, he talks about the only people who have really recognized him directly for what he was trying to say with each frame are other framebuilders. An artist who can only be understood by another artist, he then goes into his ideas for this year’s NAHBS show…
The word Gamut means broad or far reaching, and judging from the Gamut’s presence at all levels of racing, it’s easy to imagine they’re a large corporation. Yet despite the polished website and big name sponsored athletes, Gamut is actually a small, rider-owned company.
Their idea for a better chain guide came about because Co-Founder Juan Graziosi wanted a lighter & more reliable solution for racing. Working in conjunction with his father Ed Graziosi, a machinist, they fabricated a working prototype in their garage. The idea would have likely ended there, but soon friends and fellow racers wanted guides as well, and selling the home made components quickly became a way for Juan to offset the cost of racing. The project began to look like a viable business venture when older brother Mateo and riding buddy Michael Poutre joined to to help crank up production and craft a business plan.
Today, Gamut continues to produce a large quantity of their products in the garage where Juan and his father created their first chain guide. Learn more about the process after the break…
While Oregon seems to be mecca for custom frame building, there is no shortage of exemplary builders located throughout out the North West. For those in Seattle, one of the best options is Hampsten Cycles. Over the fifteen years they’ve been in business, their frame construction has been subcontracted out to various industry luminaries including Kent Eriksen, Parlee, and Moots, but they’ve recently brought everything under one roof.
Today, all Hampsten Cycle frames are built in house by Max Kullaway, who has welded thousands of frames for high profile builders including Merlin and Seven Cycles, and fabricates his own bikes under the name 333Fab.
During a recent trip through the PNW, I stopped by their small workshop to get a closer look at some of the beautiful bikes Hamspten cycles produces from a two car garage in a quiet residential neighborhood in Northern Seattle.