Intense Cycles Factory Tour

by Brian Mullin on January 23, 2014

Intense
Cycles has been around the bike industry since the very early 90’s, and
founder, designer and president, Jeff Steber has been a pioneer in made
in the USA aluminum frames. His early downhill bikes were used and
coveted by many racers, and some even stuck their sponsors stickers over
the top of the Intense logo.

Intense
Cycles has been on a roll lately plowing out aluminum and carbon bikes,
with some great highlights in the 27.5 and 29-inch wheel sizes. With a
new influx of capital from a 40% revenue growth this past year and a
small-business loan, they’re expanding, hiring, and reinvesting in
product development, tooling and marketing. Intense owner Jeff Steber
wanted to bring the company to the next level, so they have hired CFO
Eelco Niermeijer, COO Chad Peterson, and their most-recent addition is
CEO Andrew Herrick (formerly of Crankbrothers).

It
feels like some bike manufacturers are creating fewer aluminum bike
models, while Intense Cycles is still very passionate about alloy
frames, and they’re building them in-house at their Temecula California
factory. In addition, they create most of their own linkages, bolts,
axles and various other parts in-house on an assortment of CNC lathes
and machines. Their carbon frames are made in China, since they have the
best expertise in molding the raw carbon-fiber materials, and separate
rear and front triangles are then shipped back to the factory for final
assembly. To keep inventory and costs lower, the carbon and aluminum
frames share most of the same assembly parts.

A big philosophy of
Jeff’s is efficiency, and that covers all the operations within the
factory, including just-in time inventory for their parts and frames,
and using local third-party companies to powdercoat and anodize parts,
and make cardboard shipping boxes. This not only supports the local
community, but it saves time and money since no transportation costs are
incurred, and it has allowed their aluminum bike turnaround times to go
from months to a week.

The
life of an aluminum frame and many of its parts start on the factory
floor, where they store a variety of raw billets and tubing of various
sizes and shapes. Some portions of the frame, such as thin sheeting for
the monocoque sections are created off site before eventually being
welded into a full frame.

Intense
uses about 15 Haas Automation CNC machines in their factory, including
various types of lathes/turning centers, vertical/horizontal machining
centers and rotary tables to create custom parts and frame entities. The
US made Hass machines are efficient and reliable, and since they’re
based in Oxnard California, replacement parts are close and less
expensive.

They
run the machines 20 hours a day, cranking out parts as needed for
frames and assembly components, and they save any scrap aluminum bits
for recycling.

The
CNC-machined parts, whether its yokes, bottom bracket shells, head
tubes, bolts, etc., get deburred, and anything that will be welded gets a
thorough water soluble chemical washing to remove contaminants.

The
various monocoque frame sections and associated sundry parts are jigged
up and welded in-house by their master craftsman. Each model and frame
size has a different jig, and they even keep jigs around for older
non-production models if required.

Once
the welding has been completed, the alloy frames need to be heat
treated for re-tempering purposes, followed by any facing, and QC
alignment checks and adjustments. After these final stages, the frames
are sent off to the local powder coaters.


Intense
sells their bikes as frames, frames with a kit, and complete pro bike
builds that are almost ready to go straight out of the box. They
assemble the raw or painted aluminum and carbon frames, combining the
front and rear triangles with mostly in-house produced linkages, axles
and bolts.
Intense sells their bikes as frames, frames with a kit,
and complete pro bike builds that are almost ready to go straight out
of the box. They assemble the raw or painted aluminum and carbon frames,
combining the front and rear triangles with mostly in-house produced
linkages, axles and bolts.

The frames come in a slew of bright colors, though custom colors can be requested.

On
the horizon are some new and interesting products from Intense Cycles,
including a probable carbon downhill bike, hopefully built around the
27.5-inch wheel size. We get to announce a new model on March 17th to
the world, but we have been sworn to secrecy until that time, under the
threat of death.

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