Saturday, July 04, 2009

7 How Its Made : Bicycles

1. Mass Produced Metal Alloy Bikes : Episode 3 from Season 1 of Science Channel's How Its Made series explores the making of bicycles. The narrator was the show's first ever anchor, Mark Tewksbury. Now some of you might be bothered that this is not the "enthusiast" level bicycle and may even ridicule it for its lack of craftsmanship. The manufacturing steps are really interesting to look at regardless. Some of you may also be bothered by Mark's accent. It may help to know that he's a Canadian with an interesting athletic background and How Its Made is a Canadian documentary. For nerds like me, watching this show is better than having ice cream. Let's hope they run it on Discovery forever.

The part on bicycles starts from 0:43 seconds. Video courtesy --> bamboopasia.

2. Colnago & Milano Carbon Bikes : Part of Bike Radar's 'Industry Insider' series, they have a video revealing the full production process of a Colnago EPS frame. It shows how the filament wound carbon fiber tubes are cut and glued together with lugs. They are then placed in a jig to ensure proper alignment and cooked in an oven to cure the bonding agent to create the carbon frame, after cooling ofcourse.

While you're there, also check out the recently uploaded section on how Milani Bicycles in Italy create carbon fiber prototype frames. The video shows the laser cutting of carbon fiber sheets, making of small prototype parts, and the vacuum bagging and autoclave baking process for carbon fiber frames. There's a really hilarious section towards the last 3/4th of the video when an employee at the company comes from behind, blocks the camera and admonishes out in Italian yelling "Hey kids, what are you doing here? You can't film. Everyone out!!" Ha, that was classic. I really think it may have been a joke. Or else, Bike Radar may have forgotten something in the editing process. Surely that uomo can't drive out a bloke like that. Che cazzo...?

3. Cyfac Custom Carbon Frames : Chris from Texas shared with me this video from French custom bike manufacturer Cyfac. The video shows carbon tube assembly and "Carbon Stratification" which is basically their multi-layer reinforcing procedure. In this process, they combine custom molded carbon fiber tubes, epoxy, and three layers of carbon - Kevlar, serge carbon (twill) and taffetas carbon (crisp, smooth, plain woven). Now I have read that as a result of the differentiated fiber layers, stratified composites are particularly susceptible to bending at the side of the composite where the lower denier fibers are located, or in other words, its not as stiff as a homogeneous composite. I wonder whether this structure affects the Cyfac frame in certain situations. Feel free to comment.

Thanks Chris, and thanks also to Teamcyfac1.


See All My Articles Tagged With 'How Its Made' to Learn How Bicycles Are Designed And Created.

* * *


  1. What got me the first time I saw that on TV was how fast they thread the spokes into the rims by hand, they do in a few seconds what would take me a decent chunk of the afternoon to do...

  2. Marrock : I agree with you. Sometime last year, I saw a video of how employees at Shimano's facility somewhere in Malaysia put together those wheels. They are FAST. I wonder how much those spoking machines cost.

  3. Yeah, that and that cold-setting frame table would be rather useful to have in the ol' home shop.

  4. Great post Ron, you made my weekend!

    Check out Holland Mechanics website.

  5. The only thing that bothered me about the first video is that they kept calling brazing welding.

  6. Ronsonic : Yeah in the truest sense, they are different. But both welding and brazing use metal to join two pieces of metal. The fashion in which they do this is different. Mark is not an engineer or a shop guy. He's clearly reading off a script.

  7. Alloycowboy : Thanks you're pretty resourceful. I'm lusting for one of those machines now :)


Thank you. I read every single comment.