Grips Made in the USA
may be one of the least talked about components on a bike, but often times are one of the most critical. As a vital point of contact that, for many athletes, can mean the difference between a good day of shredding or a trip to the hospital. But these small cylinders of rubber actually take some pretty extensive manufacturing with some high tech machinery. We spent a morning at ODI in Riverside, CA, to get an idea of what goes into the brand's widely respected grip designs. As the brand's manufacturing, sales, and marketing headquarters, the new facility proves just what is possible with the right mindset and resources. Not Just Grips
Though grips for bikes and motorcycles are a big portion of ODI's manufacturing there is a lot more taking place in the company's huge facility in Riverside. ODI's parent company, Edge Plastics, manufactures everything from POP promotional systems to pool filtration systems and airline meal trays. Many companies choose to work with Edge Plastics after having issues with overseas production or to help speed up lead times and quality. Edge prides itself on very stringent manufacturing standards which can be especially important in many safety items, like pool drains, the facility produces. A new state of the art facility has helped to improve these quality standards by creating an extremely efficient system.
As we toured the facility production was in full swing. A 100-meter long aisle was filled with plastic production machines popping out an amazing number of various products with a multitude of uses. One station was producing pool drains, another plastic pieces to protect a horse's hooves, while another was stamping out meal trays for Alaskan Airlines. Edge Plastics really understands the benefits of diversification and it is an amazing sight.
Opening in the early 80's under the name Ornate Design Incorporated, the brand began with the original mushroom BMX grips and Boogey Boards. ODI was the first brand to introduce a lock-on style grip in late 1998 because of safety concerns with unexpected grip slippage and time constraints with grip installation. As technology has progressed, so have the brand's grips. Creating high quality grips is not an easy task despite all development being done in-house, but ODI is able to keep a close eye on quality and production.
Most steps of ODI's production process are done in-house. Tooling for each grip design is machined in the company's tooling room where each grip cavity is CNC'd with extreme precision. Subtle intricacies are of the utmost importance when it comes to these cavities, as little flaws will resonate through an entire grip line. Given just how intricate some of the grip designs are it's amazing watching as machinists meticulously craft a grip's unique contours.
| We pride ourselves on doing everything in-house from mold construction to packaging. Our facility focuses on keeping manufacturing and production all in the US which allows us to keep quality standards high and make important changes as needed. That is something most companies these days can't do. - Colby Young, Bike Brand Manager at ODI |
Working with top level riders and a variety of athlete influenced brands allows ODI to continue to improve their products with a good amount of rider input. With their California based manufacturing they are able to work closely through prototyping, development and production. During our visit, World Cup DH racer, Aaron Gwin was in house working with product managers on his signature grip. Gwin has been working closely with ODI to develop a grip that will actually be his own. Rather than just taking a random grip design and slapping Gwin's name on it, ODI has made a huge investment in his knowledge and podium based race career.
ODI has developed a huge array of grips, with many brand signature options, but very few athlete signature models. The Gwin grip
(yet to be named) is the brand's first since the John Tomac signature attack grip in the mid-90's. This dedication to Gwin and US racing is a very meaningful relationship that stems deeply in ODI's commitment patriotism. "We feel Gwin is a great asset to us as a brand and we want to help him succeed as a US rider.
" explains Colby Young "He has had such a strong showing on the World Cup, we want to help him succeed and we are behind him 100%
| I was really excited about this project, because ODI wanted me to actually give a lot of input in the grip's design and construction. I really want to design something that I will race and train on all the time. I want it to be my personal grip that other riders can purchase. - Aaron Gwin, ODI sponsored Downhill Racer |
| With a huge custom US manufacturing facility, ODI is devoted to immense product quality produced in a quality work environment right in the US. After spending a significant amount of time on ODI's industry changing lock-on grips, it is apparent the brand's stringent quality standards and development work. Supporting a brand like ODI is easy, since we all need grips, but understanding the greater implications of the brand's philosophy is what makes their products even more unique. In an age based around cheap production, even cheaper labor and diminishing quality, all in the name of business, ODI understands the value of quality. - J. Carr|