The Fenix Macleod is just plain different in the best possible way. They’re the green bikes in the foreground and they use the same frame, yet can be set up with road or mountain bike parts. Or any combination of the two (think monster cross). Why? Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes ya don’t. Either way, they’ll travel with you in a very compact package and give you the freedom to not only bring your bike with you, but bring exactly the kind of bike you’ll need!
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…
I bet you have a really great bike product idea. Cleaner gear shifting, better pedals, lighter shocks, glow-in-the-dark tires, tastier supplements, smart-phone performance tracking. You watched countless Shark Tank episodes and Kickstarter videos and thought, “Hey, I can do this.”
When we launched Fortified Bicycle in 2012 we had lots of ideas, too. Like most ideas, ours were borne out of a problem. In our case the problem was bicycle gear wasn’t designed for urban cyclists. Our first bike light product came after a friend had his light stolen. Riding home that night he was hit by a driver who couldn’t see him. So we made the world’s first anti-theft bike light and it got our company off the ground.
Everyone told us not to do it, and they had genuinely good and persuasive reasons: the bicycle industry is really tough; making products in the U.S. is too expensive but if you make it overseas the Chinese will copy you; and so on. Our favorite came from an industry veteran: “How do you make a million dollars in the bike industry? Start with $10 million.”
Well, we did it anyway. And because we’re teachers at heart, we’ve shared our battle-learned lessons during guest lectures at MIT and Boston University, and in past articles. Now, we’re teaming up with Bikerumor to bring these lessons to future bike entrepreneurs in a new series. Let’s get started…
Weaver Cycle Works made the short trip from Collingwood, NJ, to show off these beautiful lugged and fillet brazed frames. Above is a disc brake cyclocross bike that joins the tubes with a combination of the methods and comes together with creative parts placements and a nice polished finish.
Roll on down for closeups and more…
We’ll start the weekend off with 19 unicyclists in Moab, because, why not? Able to ride on one wheel what many would struggle to do on two, the GoPro video put together by John LeSage and 18 of his buddies almost makes us want to pick up a mountain unicycle. Almost.
The Philly Bike Expo is just a fraction of the size of NAHBS, but it brought out several regional builders that we’ve never seen at the bigger show. Breismeister and Belladonna are two, as is JBryant, who brought along his latest fat tired adventure touring bike.
Above, hailing from Queens, NYC, Breismeister’s steel road bike has a few nice touches, particularly the shapely wishbone seatstay and dropout. More pics below…
Photo submitted by Michael Dalgleish, “A ride Nov 9/2014, waiting for winter, this could be the last ride, hopefully not.”
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We have no idea how to pronounce it, but Etxeondo looks like it would be fun to say. Named after the village in Spain they were founded in, they have a proud tradition of making their own high-performance kits since 1976. A high performance Windstopper kit, the WS Team Edition is the same kit used by the Team Giant Shimano Pro riders in the coldest stages.
As the weather changes, there is a lot of new clothing coming out. Check out some of the new ideas after the break…
Revanche Bicycles from Tuscany, Italy has shared the Ombromanto. Custom built with a mix of Columbus Spirit, Life and Max tubing, the fillet-brazed beauty features a modern oversize bottom bracket and tapered headtube.
A well made fillet brazed bike can also be beautiful before paint when well built. See the details shots before and after paint after the break…