With their professional factory race team entering its eighth racing season and their blue-colored hand tools gracing the work benches of many world class mechanics and bike shops, Unior has made a name for itself in the bike industry over the years. However, as those areas represent their main focus of business on the bike side at the moment, their aftermarket sales are not necessarily pushed, apart from their multitools, and it's not surprising that their level of consumer recognition could be much higher. Looking at their precision products and lineup that covers every aspect of bike tools, and much more beyond that, it's not far-fetched to say that it should be.
Situated in Slovenia in central Europe, Unior owns multiple factories spread over the small country with a population of only about two million people. About 2,100 out of those people are employed by Unior, totaling about 3,750 employees worldwide. Unior's field of expertise in metalworking spans far wider than just the bike industry and is split into four areas: forging, special machines, hand tools and tourism.
As a renowned supplier to the automotive industry, their forging and sintering department is utilized by many car brands, including big players like Volkswagen and BMW and boutique labels like Ferrari and Lamborghini. While many of the machines in the factory buildings can't hide the decades of heavy use, Unior's special machine department is building a lot of their high-tech manufacturing equipment—from CNC machines to laser cutters and other production equipment—on their own, and they have branched out into offering custom solutions for other manufacturers.
Among other things in the tourism sector, Unior is also owner of two ski resorts with their own bike parks in the summer time, which comes in handy for the Unior Tools Team and grass-roots team to hit practice laps on. With the dedicated staff working hard on bringing more people to the bike in general, many projects around Ljubljana – including running a race BMX track, building pump tracks and working on the establishment of a trail network together with the city – are keeping them busy beyond running their own race teams.
Unior is building many of their machines - as well as those of other manufacturers - in its special machine department.
Alongside the introduction of their 2017 Unior Tools factory race team in Slovenia's capital Ljubljana—including their two new downhill racers Rudy Cabirou and Taylor Vernon—Tine Mahkovec the head of Unior's bike tools division, and team manager Grega Stopar took us on a little tour in two of their plants for a look behind the scenes of metal manufacturing.
Unior's head of the bike tools divison, Tine Mahkovec (center), kept pulling small and large tools out of bins in every aisle.
Unlike their recently introduced multitools, the size of that wrench might turn out to be a bit unhandy on your next ride.