Posts in the category Factory Tour

Headquarters Tour: Lapierre Cycles HQ, Assembly Line & Torture Chamber

Lapierre Cycles headquarters tour -  building exterior

Lapierre Cycling’s headquarters in Dijon, France, sits on the original site where Gaston Lapierre started the company in 1946. The newer offices and showroom, visible as the facade above, were added around 2003.

Accel Group bought 33% of the company in 1993, then took over completely in 1996. With the purchase of Raleigh North America in 2012, it opened the door for them to bring their bikes to the US.

The FPS-design X-Flow and X-Control models will not be brought stateside, favoring the all-new platforms introduced under their pro athletes. These include the 2014 model year Zesty and Spicy, with their FSR-based OST+ platform, and the racy XR are headed for North America. We covered the US-bound models (road, also) at DealerCamp last summer along with the usual new bike announcements here and here. In the 2015, the DH downhill model and others may join them.  (Editor’s note: minor changes were made to this paragraph regarding patents and reasons for import selections. Read on for a description of the OST+ design and why it differs from Specialized’s version of the FSR platform. Some speculated that Lapierre held off on entering the U.S. because of Specialized’s patents, which is partly true. But the Accel deal gives them the strength to properly support the market)

Frames are all made in Asia, then sent to either this main office in Dijon or their St. Etienne warehouse, near Lyon. So, what goes on here? Oh, the usual office type activities, complete bike and wheel assembly and some pretty gnarly (and noisy!) torture testing…


Factory Tour: Predator Cycles’ Carbon Repair, Frame and Component Workshop

Predator Cycles factory tour - carbon fiber workshop for bicycle frames repairs and component manufacturing

Predator Cycles first came to our attention at NAHBS last year thanks to their gargantuan The Major one-piece carbon fiber road bike stem and handlebar. So, when some extra time presented itself at LAX, founder Aram Goganian picked me up for a quick tour and legit burrito (thanks man!).

Predator Cycles is a small carbon repair shop that also makes frames and the aforementioned bar/stem combo. A mountain bike version of it debuted recently, too.

Aram got into carbon fiber working on parts for cars around 2003-4 at the end of high school. He continued messing with composites, but only for his work with another company. When his noncompete ran out in 2010, he immediately sold all remaining alloy tubes, parts and tools and switched Predator to 100% carbon fiber. While he says it may not have been the best short term business move, it’s paid off now with a booming carbon repair business…


Factory Tour: Race Face – Carbon Crank Manufacturing & More!


On the way up to Crankworx this summer, we stopped in to see Race Face’s new digs in Burnaby, BC, where their focus is intensely set on carbon fiber product development. That effort has already paid off with the amazingly lightweight new NEXT SL cranksets and OS 35mm SIX C handlebars.

The new facility comes happened in large part thanks to national grants as tax credits for developing labor and technology. Carbon senior design engineer Jonathan Staples says it allows them to experiment with new production techniques, technical innovations and product development, and Canada is keen on keeping that sort of intellectual effort alive and well within their borders.

They moved here in May from the original building, at which point all of their machining went overseas. Well, almost all of it. They kept a couple machines to make prototypes, build fixtures and test equipment. Bummer, sure, but the upside is that now they have more room and time to grow the carbon side of things…


Company Spotlight: Endless Bike Company

Endless Bikes Kickass Cog Company spotlight Asheville591

Ask any single speeder and they’ve probably at least heard of Endless Bike Company. When it came time to outfit our Sun Ringle DJ Single wheelset with a single cog, we weren’t sure if the company’s Kick Ass Cogs were up to the dirt jumping task. After reaching out to Shanna about their use, she did one better and invited us to check out Endless Bike’s little world near West Asheville. The industry is pretty small, but sometimes it’s amazing just how interconnected everything really is.

Gear up on Endless Bike Company after the break!


Factory Tour – Guru Cycles, Part 3: Titanium Frame Building, Painting and Finishing (UPDATED)

Guru Factory Tour - titanium frame alignment check

So far, we’ve taken a pretty close look at how Guru Cycles designs their custom bikes and preps the carbon frames in Part 1 and how those frames come together in Part 2. Now, we get to show you the other side of their business with the steel and titanium frames. Then the finishing and painting process that gets them ready to ship.

Shown above is a titanium frame in their digital alignment table. The spring-loaded “pokers” holding up the seat tube are wired into the system and show how far they’re extended compared to the clamp holding the bottom bracket shell. They can be moved to check any part of the frame, letting the welder confirm alignment after tacking and welding.

But how does it get to this point? Put on those safety goggles and come on in…

UPDATED: Guru’s response regarding ti welds added to bottom of post.


Factory Tour – Guru Cycles, Part 2: Building a Carbon Bicycle Frame

Guru factory tour - carbon fiber bike construction

In Part One of our Guru Cycles Factory Tour, we showed how the design of the bikes goes from customer order through to a pile of tubes ready for assembly. Mostly, anyway.

Here in Part 2 we’ll finish the process and show how everything comes together to form a complete frame. I’ve seen plenty of carbon fiber bicycle manufacturing in our 5+ years of Bikerumor’s existence. Each time I head to a factory, I wonder what could be new? What could the next builder possibly do that’s different from all the rest. What’s amazing is that virtually everyone manages to surprise, and Guru’s no exception.

First, there’s the unique cut of the carbon swatches that make up the frame. It’s the most visible feature of their Photon bikes and gives it a slick sea snake appearance. Under all that carbon, though, is another very cool construction process I’d not seen before…


Factory Tour – Guru Cycles, Part 1: Office Visit, Carbon Bike Design & Stress Testing

Guru Factory Tour

For quite some time we’ve been talking to Guru Cycles about visiting their headquarters and factory near Montreal. Following Interbike, we finally made it happen, giving us the opportunity to see close up how they make the amazingly light ~670g Photon HL carbon frame. I even got to ride one, as well as see how they come together from the time you talk to your shop until the time it’s boxed and shipped. And every last bit of the frame is made there in their own facility. Rolls (not tubes, mind you) of prepreg carbon comes in, frames go out, and that goes for all of their carbon bikes, not just the top of the line HL.

They also make titanium bikes, which will be the subject of Part 3. Here, and in Part 2, we’ll show you how the carbon frames are designed, made and tested, along with an overview of their entire operation. Come along, join the ride…


Factory Tour: Hero Bike’s DIY Bamboo Bicycle Workshops & Semester Carbon/’Boo Campaign

Hero Bike Factory Tour storefront

We’ve written about Hero Bike a couple times now, first to showcase their Semester bike Kickstarter campaign, then about their build-a-bamboo-bike workshops and kits. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we took a detour from our Greensboro, NC, office to their Greensboro, AL, shop to see how they make the bikes and kits from locally sourced bamboo. And by local, we do mean local. All of their bamboo comes from within a five mile radius of the shop. They grow some on their own land and harvest it from locals’ properties.

Hero Bike was started by the HERO group, a community program originally developed to give at-risk youth something productive to do and, now, as a job training program. Indeed, Mike Gillis, the sole hero present on Thanksgiving Eve found out about the job but had to apply through AmeriCorps to get it. It’s one of several businesses under the Hero umbrella, and their neighbor business assists with the DIY bike building kits that ship out to home tinkerers.

The two bikes they build here -the pencil shaped Semester and the DIYers- couldn’t be more different, showcasing an entirely new way to make bamboo/carbon tubes…


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…