Posts in the category Feature

Factory Tour: SRAM’s Taiwanese Manufacturing Part 1 – RockShox Suspension, SRAM Drive Train, More

SRAM Taiwan Factory Tours Suspension Shifters Derialleurs Carbon production043

It may be hard to believe, but SRAM hasn’t always been the industry juggernaut they are today. Like many bicycle companies before them, SRAM started with an idea. It was an idea for a product that at the time seemed so crazy that it took an outsider to the industry to think it up. After working his way up through the fledgling personal computer industry, the gears had started turning for Stan Day Jr.

In 1986 Stan had an idea for a new type of shifter after being frustrated by the need to reach to the downtube on his bike while training for a triathlon. After leaving his job to work with his father for another job that didn’t end up panning out, Stan met engineer and designer Sam Harwell Patterson on a ski trip in 1987. The two discussed his idea for a shifter, and Sam thought he could make it work. Just a few months later Sam had developed a functional prototype that was a rotating barrel that mounted to a special handlebar – the first GripShift.

Near the end of 1987 the “original six” decided to launch their new shifter at the next big trade show in 1988. Sam would be the head of engineering, Scott King the director of finance and administration, Jeff Shupe would be the head of manufacturing, Michael D. Mercuri the head of OE sales, Stan’s brother Frederick King Day or F.K. joined Stan in managing operations. The team headed to the trade show with a product, but without a company name. After a number of rejected possibilities, SRAM was chosen based on the S from Scott King, R from Stan’s middle name Ray, and AM from Sam Patterson.

While the original GripShift opened the door for the company to try and take even a little market share from the gigantic Shimano, the original design left customers wanting more. So Sam went back to work which led to the adoption of a shovel cam instead of the original helical cam. The design allowed for a much smaller shifter that functioned better and was able to be dialed in for shifting index feel. Called the SRT-100, the shifter would lead to their big break as it was finally picked up as original equipment.

Originally planning to manufacture the shifters in Chicago, a visit to Taiwan where the bikes were to be produced resulted in a change of plans. As we experienced for ourselves, Taiwan is very close knit in their manufacturing and it results in very short lead times. So, on the very same trip Stan set off on establishing a factory in Taiwan. Eventually, they were able to lease a tiny building for SRAM to build their shifters. Little more than a guard hut, the space served its purpose as SRAM was simultaneously building shifters back in Chicago for bikes that were made in the U.S. and the aftermarket.

Having established themselves in Taiwan, the rest of the story is probably more widely known. In 1994, SRAM took a stab at their first product other than a shifter, the ESP 900 plastic derailleur. After a rocky start, SRAM went on to find derailleur success with their X0 product line after acquiring Sachs’ bicycle division in 1997. The first of many acquisitions, SRAM continued with the purchase of Rockshox in 2002, Avid and then Truvativ in 2004, Zipp in 2007, and finally Quarq in 2011.

That may be a long back story, but it’s important to paint a picture of SRAM’s manufacturing today. Truly a global company, SRAM currently has around 3,000 employees in 18-20 locations around the world with the Headquarters still in Chicago and most of the manufacturing (except chains which are made in Portugal) carried out in Taiwan and China. Focusing mostly on SRAM and RockShox’ high end product, their largest Taiwanese facility is the 42,000 m² factory in the Shen Kang district, just outside Taichung. As the first full sized SRAM factory, the facility was built in 1989 and began life as a giant warehouse. Now a sprawling development of different buildings, the Shen Kang factory even has a new clean room for assembling high precision parts like the RockShox Reverb seat post.

As birthplace to many of our favorite SRAM and RockShox products like XX1 and the Pike, there is a lot to see after the break…

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Home Workshop Series – Part 4: Getting into the Big Tools

Antique-headset-press

From the first three articles, someone could easily put together a home shop to do 75% of the repairs on their bike. But once you get past the surface of adjustments and basic components, it is gonna take some pretty large and expensive tools to start working further.

A lot of home mechanics have low-buck ways of replicating these tools, and those methods probably work. Coming from a shop background though, we recommend using the right tool, or taking it to a shop. While you might save money making your own headset press from threaded rod, nuts and washers, the cost savings evaporate if you accidentally wreck that new Chris King headset. A proper headset press will keep the surfaces parallel, and with the proliferation of press-fit bottom brackets, they now double as BB installation tools, so much that Park re-named theirs “Bearing Cup Press” instead of “Headset Press”.

A caveat applies to this post in the series, that all these tools need proper training. Any of these large special tools can do a lot of damage if used wrong, so if you don’t know what you are doing, it would still be best to pay a pro for installation or removal. Or take a class.

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How to Break Into the Cycling Industry – Transition Bikes’ Kevin Menard

KevinBusinessCardFront

Kevin’s business card at Transition Bike Co.

It’s a new year, and perhaps your resolutions of shedding the shackles of corporate life for the fun and adventure of cycling are still fresh in your mind. Here, as inspiration (or a kick in the butt, take it how you will) is proof positive that it doesn’t much matter what you’re doing now, you can indeed break into the cycling industry…

BIKERUMOR: Who are you and what are you doing here?

KEVIN: My name is Kevin Menard and I own 50% of Transition Bikes. As an owner of a small business you end up doing a ton of things on a daily basis but my main title is sales and marketing director. I drive the brand direction and image of the company and all the relationships with our fine customers.

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SRAM wireless shifting caught on video, more details emerge

SRAM Red wireless electronic shifting road bike drivetrain spy shots from 2015 Tour Down Under

Just before the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under kicked off, we spotted the AG2R team testing prototype SRAM wireless bits on a training ride. Now, it looks like up to four of the team bikes are running the system in competition, too, and we’ve snagged quite a few more detail (albeit phone cam quality) pics, including a look at what’s (not) under the bar tape!

Video and tons more photos below…

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Review: Yakima Fullswing 4 Bike Hitch Mast Rack

Yakima Full Swing review bikerumor (8)

When Yakima offered up the chance to review their new Fullswing rack, admittedly a lot of my motivation was due to my desire to find a rack that could easily carry fat bikes. Sure, now there are a number of racks meant to carry the monster tires, but at the time my options were pretty limited. Tired of my fat bikes wiggling their way out of home-brewed solutions, the secure mounts of the Hitch Mast style rack were intriguing. Hoping to carry a few fat bikes and my wife’s beach cruiser to our ocean destination, the Fullswing capability of the rack made it seem like a done deal.

After a year’s worth of use, I’ve learned quite a bit from the use of the Fullswing. In certain situations it can be amazing. Yet, in other circumstances depending on the bike there are certainly better options. As it turns out, the Fullswing is a pretty impressive rack – just maybe not for the user you would expect…

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Niner creates new RIP 9 & JET 9 Carbon models, plus all-new entry level EMD 9 hardtail

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Niner’s two most popular full suspension frames, the XC-oriented JET 9 and the do-it-all RIP 9, both get new base level carbon models that bring their price points down a bit while bringing the standards up to date. For hardtail fans, the EMD becomes a single-model entry level bike that gets anyone on a 29er for just $1,500.

For the new Carbon JET and RIP, the big story is that they combine an alloy rear triangle with a carbon front to create a new mid-tier offering. Now, you’ll be able to choose from Alloy, Carbon (with alloy rear) or full-carbon RDO bikes. For the RIP 9, this is an entirely new tier. For the JET 9, it may seem like a slight downgrade from the current carbon model, but what Niner’s not making a big deal of is that the front triangle is now RDO level. So, you’re getting the top-end carbon front triangle with their excellent alloy rear end. Ya give a little, ya get a little.

Both use an alloy rear end that’s functionally similar to the one found on the all-alloy models, tweaked only to accommodate the different  linkage interface on the carbon front triangles. The alloy rear is about half a pound heavier than the carbon rear, keeping the RDO models well established as their top offerings with higher end complete bike specs, too.

The RIP 9 Carbon model keeps the full carbon rocker arms and oversized angular contact bearings of the RDO, and it sticks with the standard threaded BB shell!

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Why Isn’t Road Tubeless More Popular? Part One – How We Got Here

Bontrager RXL TLR Wheels Road tubeless (6)

Road Tubeless is an interesting topic, because it came on the scene very fast in 2010, and many thought it would become the next big advance in road bikes through 2011 and 2012.  However, as we venture into model year 2015, it still has not taken off in a significant way, with modest or underwhelming offerings from a handful of suppliers that may or may not work together.

So, what’s the hold up?

Well, to put the whole situation into perspective, we need to look at the evolution of mountain bike tubeless tires.

Lets step back to 1999, when the first standardized mountain bike tubeless system, UST, was launched by Mavic. Established over 16 years ago yet really only becoming popular in the last half decade, mountain bike tubeless also took a while to catch on, even though there are arguably a lot more benefits to tubeless tires off road than on. But, despite nearly universal agreement that mountain bikes perform better with tubeless tires, there is still not an agreement what the interface between tire and rim should look like…

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Review: Jamis Renegade adventure gravel bike lets you go rogue from the roads

jamis renegade adventure gravel road bike review

The Jamis Renegade was developed with racing in mind, replacing Tyler Wren’s cyclocross bike as his rig of choice for the Crusher in the Tushars gravel road race. Fortunately for the rest of us, the engineers and product managers kept some non-race features that make it far more versatile than its trophy case may suggest.

After getting an up close look and weighing it at Interbike (check that post for frame details and photos), the size 58 demo bike was packed up and shipped in for a long term review. It still had a little Bootleg Canyon dust and scratches on it, but was in otherwise good shape. Our test bike was equipped with mechanical Shimano Ultregra drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes with American Classic Argent Tubeless wheels and Clement Xplor USH 35c tires. The cockpit is Ritchey, with a carbon WCS Link flex seatpost and alloy Comp bar and stem. At just $4,199 for the complete bike with full carbon frame and fork, it’s a pretty good package on paper.

Here’s how it measured up on the road. And off of it. Waaaaay off of it….

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The New Pivot LES Fat Might Be the Most Versatile Fat Bike Yet!

Pivot LES Fat Bike carbon aaron chase single speed 29+ 27+ (2)

Pivot just recently announced the signing of Freeride star and pioneer Aaron Chase. So naturally, the first bike that Pivot has him introduces is…. a fat bike. The Pivot LES Fat is not just any fat bike though, it is what looks to be a category crushing jack of all trades that just happens to be fat.

Now, there are a number of bikes out there that make that claim to be versatile, but how many of those are built to adapt to 4 different wheel size standards? Better yet, Pivot claims that 26 X 3.8, 26 X 4.8, 27.5+ and 29+ wheels and tires can all be run on the LES Fat without compromises in geometry. Throw in the ability to run rigid or suspension for the front end, 1x, 2x, or even single speed drivetrains, and internal dropper posts and you have a serious contender for the new fat super bike.

And in case you’re wondering – yes, there are gratuitous (corked!) backflips on a fat bike after the jump…

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