Posts in the category Factory Tour

Headquarters Tour: Crank Brothers – Company Profile, Inside Look & Original Prototypes!

Crank Brothers headquarters tour - reception

The lobby of Crank Brothers’ new offices, conveniently located just minutes from the trails around Laguna Beach, CA.

Crank Brothers started in 1997 with the Speed Lever, a card table and a trip to Interbike’s basement.

Well, actually, it started out with the notion of designing products, patenting them and then licensing the designs. It worked once, with a hydration system that was licensed to Bell Sports and became Hydrapak.

The story is their friends constantly got cofounders’ Carl Winefordner and Frank Hermansen names mixed up, so they combined them and just called them “crank”. Hence the first part of the brand name. They met while working for a scuba diving products company. They enjoyed working together and eventually both tired of the corporate culture at a large company. They quit and did freelance snorkel and related product design for a while, but cycling was the passion. Frank is the designer, Carl’s the engineer.

The Speed Lever was inspired by the tools used for car tires, and the idea was born during a night ride when they had to change a tire. Like all of their products, they start out as a solution to a problem they encountered and couldn’t solve with existing products.

At that 1997 Interbike, they handed out 4,000 Speed Levers and a brand was born. It was never envisioned as the high design, global company they are today, and it certainly wasn’t overnight. After the lever, they designed a high/low pressure switch for a mini pump. It was called the Power Pump, and it came out in 1998 along with a couple mini tools.

In 2001, they introduced the Eggbeater pedals, and that’s when things got interesting…

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Factory Tour: K-Edge Machine Shop – Garmin Mounts, Prototypes, Gun Stocks & Blades!

K-Edge-Factory-Tour-manufacturing-garmin-pro-mounts06

K-Edge started as a single chain catcher to save founder Joe Savola’s wife, Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong, from dropping her chain during the Beijing Olympics. The venue had a course very similar to their hometown hills in Boise, ID, with the slight declines leading up to the climbs. Climbs steep enough to require shifting from big ring to little, the perfect opportunity for a medal-winning bid to fall along with the chain. Savola’s friend, Eric Jensen just happened to own a machine shop, so they made a few for her bikes.

Her team mechanic at the time called them Kristin’s Edge. He then moved to a Pro Tour road team and ordered 45 of them. Eric replied that they only had three. After a bit of persistence from the team, they decided to make them and Kristin’s Edge became, simply, K-Edge. The boys celebrated with pizza and beer from the order’s proceeds. Then they got a little press and a business was born. That was 2009.

Come 2011, they introduced Go Big GoPro mounts and got a bump. But it wasn’t until 2012′s Pro Garmin Mount that business really started booming. And booming it is – click through for a full tour of the K-Edge machine shop and see how all the parts (and some other really cool stuff – and Prototypes!!!) are made…

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Quick Tour: Felt’s Southern California Headquarters

Felt Headquarters Tour 2013 (2) sensored

As a small company out of Irvine, California, Felt’s motto has always been the same – not to be the biggest bike company, but the best. Born out of Jim Felt’s knack for building the fastest time trial and triathlon frames long before aero was the new black, eventually Jim teamed up with Bill Duehring and Michael Mullmann to “build a bicycle brand dedicated to technological innovation and unmatched quality.”

Today, Felt as a company has a complete bicycle line touching nearly every style of bike, all run for the most part out of their modest Southern California digs. Take a quick tour of Felt’s home base, after the break.

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Calfee Factory Tour: Part Three – Gyrocopters & More

Calfee Bicycles Factory Tour and Molnari gyrocopters

So far, we’ve shown you how Calfee makes their carbon fiber bicycles virtually entirely in house (Part One) and some of the very first bikes up to the latest in carbon tech and bamboo/wood bikes (Part Two). We even had the very first look at their new Manta endurance road bike.

Now we conclude our tour with a look at the Molnari gyrocopters, which Craig Calfee has ownership in and lends his knowledge of bicycle parts and construction, plus another interesting little side project we spotted in the workstand…

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Shinola Bicycles – Headquarters Tour, Store Grand Opening & Brand Overview

Shinola Bicycles concept store and grand opening

When we first discovered Shinola Bicycles, it seemed like a cool idea: Grow US bicycle manufacturing and bring new industry to Detroit. But after getting to see them up close and meet the people behind the brand, we’re more excited for them than ever.

We were invited to their store grand opening, which also doubles as the bicycle assembly and shipping facility, an R&D prototyping room and sales center. Besides seeing the bikes, we chatted up Richard Schwinn, the man behind Waterford Cycles, which builds all of the frames and forks, and Sky Yaeger, the design leader, who’s worked with Bianchi and started Swobo’s bicycle line, and many others involved in bringing new life to the Motor City.

Shinola also makes watches, which we photo’d being hand assembled. Tick through for the full tour and a detailed look at what makes these bikes special…

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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!

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Reynolds Cycling Headquarters Tour

Reynolds Cycling world headquarters tour

Just prior to PressCamp, Reynolds invited us to tour their US headquarters, where all of their wheels are designed and developed. It’s also where a fair number of complete wheels are hand built and tested, prototypes and production pieces are tortured and all of their top-end RZR wheels are made.

Reynolds Cycling is owned by McLean Fogg, a large manufacturing company that makes automotive parts and industrial power line equipment. They also used to make carbon tubes and materials for frames (including the OCLV frame tubes and Rolf carbon wheels used by the Postal team), windsurfing booms, Halliburton luggage and their own bicycle cockpit parts.

Unfortunately, the non-automotive parts lost money. Between 2005 and 2007, new folks came in with the goal of “fix it, sell it or close it”, including current CFO Mike Dufner. What they figured out was they could have a competitive advantage in wheels. By 2008, bicycle wheels were the sole focus, all using Paul Lew’s designs, patents and processes.

All design and development is done in-house in Sandy, UT, just outside SLC. They have a duplicate development and testing facility in Hangzhou, China, near their own manufacturing plant. They also produce rims for other brands, but generally reserve their best tech for Reynolds products.

They control the process from start to finish. They buy the carbon from a US source, then ship it to China. This ensures better quality control and eliminates middle men in the supply chain that could insert inferior grade products. They develop their own resins, and as of about a year and a half ago, they make their own molds here, too.

Roll on for a full tour…

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Calfee Factory Tour: Part Two – Bikes of Carbon, Bamboo & Other

Calfees first carbon fiber bicycle and parts

While walking around Calfee’s factory, the lessons on how they make their bikes in Part One were interspersed with bikes they’ve built over the years. Everything from original Lemonds to modern day carbon racers to alcohol fueled wooden nightmares were on display.

Craig Calfee’s built his first carbon bike, above, in 1987. He worked at a boat manufacturer in Boston (sound familiar? Bob Parlee had a similar start!). He broke his bike and wanted to fix it himself. He was already rolling carbon tubes and such for sculls, and this was the result. Not only is it his first bike, but it’s decked out with what they think are the first ever carbon stem and fork! And oh boy do you have to see them…

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Calfee Factory Tour: Part One – How They Make Bikes

Calfee Factory Tour workshop overview

Calfee is a very interesting brand. For some, it immediately conjures images of bamboo bikes. Others, high end lugged carbon bikes. And then there’s the ultralight molded carbon fiber tandem bikes always on display at NAHBS.

Superficially, it’d be easy to just say Calfee makes some really nice, really interesting bikes. That would only scratch the surface of what they do at their La Selva Beach, California facility. The building itself is fairly massive, and it was rebuilt to resemble its original function as a tank factory. Which is why they have a 5 ton sliding lift in the middle. It comes in handy for moving around pallets and their flying gyrocopter.

Our tour will be broken up into three parts because, well, there’s just so much to see. We’ll touch on that ‘copter separately, along with all the various bikes we saw while there. Part One will show you how they make their frames, components, tooling and everything else…

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