Opinion: The Table

Mar 16, 2017
by Richard Cunningham  
table


"Jeff, can I buy one of those welding tables?" I was hanging out with Jeff Steber outside the Intense factory and I noticed workers were stacking some metal tables in the yard behind the shop. He wouldn't take my money. Jeff set one aside and told me to come pick it up in a week. It was an awkward moment.

I had paid a surprise visit to Intense to drop off a test bike, which should have been no cause for concern. I live an hour south, and I drop in every so often to say hey and, if he isn't busy making a secret project, to talk tech with Jeff. Today, however, as I passed the threshold of the Temecula, California, factory, I sensed something was amiss. Jeff met me in the foyer and before ushering me into the factory's inner sanctum, he turned and said, "RC, you came here on a big day for us." It was not the kind of "big day" I was expecting.

I grew up in metal fabrication shops and I looked forward to passing through the hallway that separated the administration offices from the daily mayhem of the Intense factory. I anticipated seeing odd shadows cast in pink light against its concrete walls and hearing the buzz and crackle of TIG welders. I expected to smell ozone and the sweet scent of coolant emanating from CNC machining centers humming somewhere in the back of the building, and I looked forward to handling the freshly-cut bottom brackets, frame journals, dropouts, and linkages, all neatly arranged in rows, awaiting their turn in the building process. I'd finish my lap around the factory in the assembly area, running my hands over beautifully painted frames, lined up on wooden racks...and I'd allow myself to reminisce, for a fraction of a second, about a time when my fingers played across my own finished creations.
Intense welding
Intense photo

Stepping into the factory, I was confronted with a wall of bicycle boxes, floor to ceiling, stacked neatly on aisles of new scaffolding. The atmosphere smelled like fresh tires, corrugated cardboard, and the pungent assembly grease that wafts from new drivetrain components. Storage occupied the space where manufacturing and frame assembly once took center stage. Only two of six machining centers were left standing and a crew was busy, hastily disassembling the welding department. I watched men cart the TIG machines into shipping containers behind the shop. Assembly fixtures and work-tables were piling up in the fenced yard beside stacks of old shelves and furnishings.

table

Jeff was visibly moved by the goings on, but he managed to sound committed when he announced that the day had arrived when Intense would no longer manufacture bicycles. He explained that the management took a long, hard look at the costs and returns of Intense's aluminum manufacturing. The short story was that they had over 20 employees and most of the factory devoted to aluminum frame production. Aluminum bike and frame sales had dwindled to half of what the factory was designed to handle. Darkening that picture, frame sales had all but dried up as new customers demanded complete bikes. The reality they faced was that
Intense's successful range of made-in-Asia carbon bikes was subsidizing its manufacturing operation. By the end of 2016, Intense's aluminum production had been shifted to Asia. The factory was converted to a warehouse and that's when I showed up.

There was no turning back for Intense. The market for used manufacturing machinery is pennies on the dollar, and retooling the factory would cost millions. CEO Andrew Herrick said that employees who could not be absorbed into the new Intense were given severance pay and assistance to new employment. Jeff, who designs and builds Intense's aluminum prototypes, kept enough equipment to assemble a king's workshop in a corner of the new warehouse. Steber admitted that shutting down manufacturing

Intense M9 promo
Intense photo
has given him a lot more time and a substantially larger budget with which to concentrate on future projects. There was, however, no hiding the fact that this was the end of an era. The finality of it hung in the air. I could see it in his eyes.

I know that feeling. I had a small mountain bike manufacturing business. The handful of people who worked beside me were as proud as I was to watch the aluminum and steel we shaped with our hands become painted frames lined up on our wooden racks. We grew up with the business, and so did the mountain bike industry. At some point, I believed that small frame makers like us were going to be eaten alive by established big brands and I made the decision to sell. I remember the day escrow closed. The concrete floor I had walked for a dozen years felt foreign. All of my tools belonged to someone else. The men who forged their dreams to fit into mine had a new employer. Miraculously, I stepped into a new career as the editor of a popular mountain bike magazine, but it was bittersweet. I studied the check in my hand. The voice inside me said I was not going to make bicycles again.

table
table

Years later, I paid a visit to my welder, Travis Decker, who now owns a custom sheet metal business. There, surrounded by his massive computerized punches and bending machines, I saw a familiar sight - my old aluminum work table. Travis had purchased it for almost nothing after the new owners decided they had no use for it. Every bicycle I had made had been designed, assembled, welded and aligned on that four by eight foot slab of aluminum. A measure of my soul is locked inside that table, along with crumbs of history that span from the first fillet-brazed, rigid steel mountain bikes to the dawn of full-suspension. That Travis is still using it today is an honor that I can't covey with words.

table

I drove back to Temecula and, as promised, my prize was waiting - standing alone in the fenced lot. I unloaded the table in my new workshop and inspected it more closely. Its aluminum top was bowed slightly from intense heat and pockmarked by high-voltage arcs. Its unpainted rectangular steel legs had a patina of rust, except for where its previous owner's boots had rested. A haphazardly crafted U-bracket was welded to one side to hold the TIG torch, and a hole near the center that formed a swivel point for heavy welding fixtures bore witness to thousands of aluminum frames that were either tacked together or finish welded on this plain-looking, three-foot-square metal table. It was an honor to have it. A few days later, I fired up my torch and the first project began to rise up from its well-worn surface.


MENTIONS: @intensecyclesusa




303 Comments

  • + 236
 RC this post was amazing, conveys the emptyness of abondonded spaces and the inhumanity of big business. Ever think about becoming a hobbiest frame builder once again? At least you now have the table once again.
  • + 45
 I agree it was a great post and sad to see the domestic production of intense bikes come to an end, but I don't see how it conveys the inhumanity of big business. It's difficult to run a profitable manufacturing business in a state that is not too friendly to business all when the consumers are demanding a different product (carbon!).
  • + 18
 I just think it's cool to own one of those tables. Some of Palmer's DH rigs were probably built on it.
  • - 8
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 16, 2017 at 15:20) (Below Threshold)
 @westeast: I agree, well said. High moral values and vague ethics aside I saw a red aluminium Tracer 2 last weekend. It was from 2012. It was so stunning. Then few months ago I saw a Recluse in oerson. What a piece of shit, sorry... even if it had graphene in it and 3D printed Ti axles. It looked like cheap piece of shit...
  • + 30
 @WAKIdesigns:
Because it doesn't have a fake carbon weave graphic like your bike? Sorry but I think that looks like a piece of shit , like a cheap hood on a Honda Civic. Carbon Fibre on bikes doesn't use that pattern for production. I owned a Recluse and now own a new Tracer, I think they look better than any of the other all blacked out bikes that flood the market. People like different things, I think we can both agree on that.
  • - 27
flag Ryanrobinson1984 (Mar 16, 2017 at 16:22) (Below Threshold)
 @creativefletch: sorry but wrong
  • + 9
 I think it reflects forces somewhat outside of our control - and it is full of melancholy. Automation is fundamentally changing just about everything there is, and will be. This the Fourth Industrial Revolution - the Age of Autos. Perhaps we ought to hold hope that because of this, our sport will be that much more accessible to those who hope to try it.
  • + 58
 Slighty bowed aluminum top?
Congratulations, you now own the
"Swingarm Manufacturing Table"
  • + 9
 @westeast: I'll be first to go negative on this great post and respectfully ask you how it would have made a difference if Intense had been making their frames in Colorado or Arizona or wherever. Given Mr. Stebers' obvious passion, I imagine he considered moving to another state before pulling the plug.

It's not like the rest of the US is crammed with non-boutique builders that are making great bank.I, for one, am sorry that's the case.
  • + 3
 @codypup: when he had to get investors and "management". Once you do that,you no longer call the shots. You sell your soul and this is the price paid
  • + 24
 @flowmotiontours: I disagree that it's "forces beyond our control". It's not outside forces buying carbon bikes, it's us. Well, some of us. I hate carbon. Yes, in 2017, I HATE CARBON BIKES.

Sucks to read this, but I totally get it. Things change.
  • + 4
 @codypup: Good point and not a negative comment at all. Regarding the states, I just list the state aspect as one of a possible many contributing factors that led to Intense shuttering domestic manufacturing. It seems clear that the consumer demand for carbon bikes is the largest factor, but the fact that CA ranks among the lowest handful of the 50 states to do business in doesn't help either. If you're arguing that the US as a whole is becoming or is not so business friendly (unless you're goldman sachs or some pharmaceutical company) then I'd agree with that too.
  • + 4
 interesting to compare Intense to Nicolai (who don't and will probably never do carbon). www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5Jkjy_Jh5Q
  • + 7
 @tacoma73: I am not a fan of carbon but don't mind it when its done right - Unno or Robotbike. These are superbikes and cost a small fortune but arguably are a premium product.

It is the generic "low cost" carbon bikes that I don't like and these are the ones that are in direct competition to aluminium frames.

On another not Guerrilla Gravity seem to be making Al bikes in the US at a reasonable price.... discuss.
  • - 4
flag manchvegas (Mar 17, 2017 at 9:28) (Below Threshold)
 The death of pig metal... Now instead of 26 ain't dead on PB it's gonna be "pig metal ain't dead yet"!
  • + 5
 @manchvegas: I own a cf frame, and have owned all sorts of carbon sht, and sorry but in most cases it ain't worth it. Like most of minimal performance gains causing maximal financial losses. I do respect carbon frames but Intense bikes look like cheapest generic carbon frames for German direct sales brands. Apart from the issue that YT looks better. They went from being dominating Ferrari to Daewoo/Chrysler Crossfire and kept the price tag.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: Waki, at least the 'Jack is made in Poland. Plus they only make carbon bikes. IMO Intense should have stuck with what they know - US made aluminium frames rather than devaluing their own product by "making" carbon bikes.
  • + 1
 @tacoma73: I don't hate them I just recognize that certain models I'm interested in are only offered in carbon so at some point the bike I want (er, need) only comes in one material. Sad but true.

#hightower
#switchblade
#sb5.5
  • + 1
 @westeast: it has nothing to do with California yet the entire USA and labor costs in Asia.
  • + 3
 I read this article and yet I'm waiting on a frame from Nicolai to be manufactured and delivered to my door later this year.

I'm going from plastic back to aluminium and steel. #makemetalgreatagain
  • + 1
 @gonecoastal: the issue with Nicolai is that it is recent few years when their products started to make sense due to poliferation of carbon. These days their work really stands out. And to people who think that carbon is superior by default please check luescher teknik on instagram. Raoul will delaminate your view of the world. Carbon frames and components are great when done properly, but that is true with any other material. That is rarely the case and carbon is better than alu for masking poor job. Raoul cuts through frames and you can quickly see that things like Trek proudly made in US is not worth much
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: The fab work on the G16 (and the rest of their frames is art)
  • + 2
 @gonecoastal: keep us posted on how it rides. They make beautiful frames. Since they released the Helius ranfe they have really got their things together in terms of aesthetics. Simple straight clean lines.
  • - 1
 @westeast: If you think Utah or Texas or Michigan are really better to do business in thanks to lower taxes or less environmental protection or less expensive property prices then you're missing the picture. California has strict construction codes and environmental laws but it's a great place to do business. The state is loaded with engineers open to jumping into the sports industry from its established defense and auto industries. It also has state-funded short and long term disability, an excellent education system, excellent banking and venture capital infrastructure, and investment tax credits available to offset capital investments. Fortunately for Intense it's also easy for California companies to secure outside funding and establish partnerships with companies in Mexico and Asia--- This has allowed them to remain relevant as the market shifted away from $3000 aluminum framesets.
  • + 3
 @Marcencinitas:

For an employee, Cali can be great if you can make enough money to survive and are fortunate enough to not have to deal with a tough commute. The cost of living vs wages ratio is way better in the states you mentioned and damn, I don't miss the Cali commute. Also, I'd rather work in Ogden for Enve than SoCal for Intense. I'll admit that Intense is unique in SoCal though, with roots and a following that helps. Outside Cali all we're seeing is a shitload of their bikes on sale ALWAYS thru Jenson, etc., effectively cheapening their brand. Not sure how they can convince any shops to carry their bikes anymore.

I ride ten times as much in SLC vs when I lived in SoCal because the commute killed all my free time. Northern Utah's a hub for both manufacturing and outdoor sports companies, though we're a little weak in cycling companies (Scott USA, frowny face for Canfield moving to Washington, and I don't consider Fezzari a viable bike company).

Anyway, not a pissing contest. Not saying Intense should relocate and moving from Cali would wreck their street cred and history and negatively affect their sales in that large market. If your business works in Cali then good, but if you can maintain the same sales while reducing operating costs by moving elsewhere whilst simultaneously providing your employees with a better work/life balance, then it's worth looking into.
  • + 1
 @WasatchEnduro: Good points. I would only add that people tend to homogenize the California experience. My commute to work is 15 minutes, if I ride my bike, seven if I drive. And my trail network is two minutes from my house and I don't think I live in the only part of California where that is true.
  • + 1
 @codypup: That's dope. Yeah I could be happy in some areas like Tahoe.
  • + 1
 @WasatchEnduro: Yeah, spent two years in OC, used to go to the park and look longingly, north, towards home.
  • + 1
 @codypup: Pretty much everyone in Carlsbad and San Marcos is a couple minutes from a trail that can connect to other trails that run all the way to Mexico.
  • + 165
 Friggin' brilliant work, RC. Got me all misty-eyed....about a table. A table. Damn.
  • + 4
 excellent indeed! i was hoping for a few more paragraphs so i could savor the misty eye a little longer, well done RC!
  • + 5
 I had a few tears in my eyes. I must admit. Reminded me of when I had to close my workshop back home in Croatia when we decided to move to Switzerland. I still miss that place.
  • + 2
 Agree. Thanks for the story RC.
  • + 49
 "Darkening that picture, frame sales had all but dried up as new customers demanded complete bikes"

I know that complete bikes offer a bit of a cost savings but I'm surprised to here this. I personally have never looked to buy a new complete bike. I love the idea of starting with a frame and building up the bike custom with every part that I want.
  • + 23
 I agree start with a frame, and hang the parts you want, but we are the minority, most buy complete and then buy complete in 2-3 yrs when the bike is "obsolete" as is no longer in style. Most think its some kind of magic building a bike, christ its like IKEA now. A couple of allen keys, and two hrs and you are done.
  • + 28
 Well, you can´t blame people for going the "value" option in the days of forced obsolecence in the bike industry.
I love a good custom build as much as the next guy, but in times where my 10000€ bike is worth as good as nothing after about a year i´ll happily choose one of the "cheap" complete offerings out there that offer 99% of the performance the custom build does. Few years ago, that would not have been possible, but let´s face it, todays components all work rather well, so you do only miss out on the geek factor. Whether you have a 40 or Boxxer, it really doesn´t hold you back anymore, so people started to care less and less.
Us bike geeks do not matter that much in the grand scheme of things. It´s just not worth it for a growing business to focus on us.
  • + 4
 Same here. It's so much more fun to build the bike piece by piece and unless you're getting a bike on closeout the cost difference is usually not too much.
  • + 4
 @lake-st: Right, its not hard at all. There might be a few special tools you need like cup presses, bottom bracket and cassette tools, etc. but its not much. As long as your careful to buy all the right sized parts its a breeze to put together.
  • + 3
 @Loki87: I don't blame people for going for the value. I'm just surprised that there were so few people looking to go the custom build route.
  • + 3
 @westeast: Plus you can part hunt for a custom build as well. Get things on sale, buy things second hand on the buy/sell on pinkbike, etc.
  • + 4
 @westeast: Agreed. We were literally just crunching some numbers on some of the Santa Cruz build options, and you can pretty much buy parts a la cart and build for the same price these days. Not much benefit to buying complete on some of their offerings.
  • + 7
 I am really hoping brands still offer a frame only build. I know the cheaper route is to go full build, but there is something about spending a few hours researching parts, picking colour schemes and then building it all. I just like getting lost in the art of building a bike. Once done a crack a beer and just stare at it for hours at my accomplishment.
  • + 19
 Part of it is also the standards thing. If I buy a new frame, either DH or trail, I'll need to buy new wheels, and likely BB, cranks, and fork since many of those are likely not to transfer. At that point, it is pretty much a wash to just get a complete bike, sell the old one and trade out the components you don't want as they wear or good deals pop up, especially given there is no off season here. I would rather go the build it from the frame up route, but it often doesn't make sense, money wise.
  • + 3
 @pcmxa: totally agree with you, the standards and wheel size changes are the only reason I have bought complete bikes, although admittedly not new.
  • + 6
 Mental note; do not get @lake-st to build my new bike. IKEA... seesh!
As a bike mechanic there is alot more to building a bike than most people think. There is building a bike... and then there is building a bike right.
  • + 1
 Market demand, I find it a pain in the arse that in Aus we can't get frame only options that are available from the same manufacturers in other countries...
it's even worse when they decide to sell the "+" size version of a bike and to import your own frame you get stung by import taxes..
  • + 8
 @dirt-unit: no offense as I do appreciate bike mechanics, but I think your giving yourself a little too much credit here. If you have all the correct parts it's not that hard to simply assemble a bike. It's a little harder than just using a few Allen keys of course. You do need a few bike specific toold like cup presses, bottom bracket took, etc. But there really isn't that much too it that.
  • + 2
 Totally agree. The only complete mtn bike I ever bought was my first one I ever bought. A Trek Antilope 830 back in 1992. Every bike since then has been a custom build.
  • + 0
 @dirt-unit: I was gonna stay out of this, so thank you for speaking my mind for me!
  • - 2
 @sino428: maybe you've been working on your own bike too long and don't realize how good a bike can actually ride...
  • + 3
 Agreed. My first 2 bikes in the early 90's were full bikes but I have built up frames after that. I think your bike has a little more soul when you spec what you want.
  • + 6
 @dirt-unit: ya but it's not rocket science...learn a couple tricks of the trade and get a couple of specialty tools...I agree that it doesn't just assemble itself but a person with attention to detail and a tiny bit of wrenching experience should be able to build a bike.
  • + 4
 @highcountrydh: I appreciate your concern but my bikes ride great. Like I said I appreciate what bike mechanics do but let's take the ego down a couple notches here. It's not rocket science to assemble a mountain bike. Your a little full of yourself if you think only bike mechanics are capable of assembling one 'the right way'.
  • + 5
 @dirt-unit: Ok so you still face head tubes and BB shells not anymore, so special tools you need not much and if you don't have them make them, I'm a mechanic HVAC and have repaired my cars motorcycles my whole life and I laugh ever time I hear people talking about building a bike, its parts hanging, sure you can F it up but anyone with a bit of sense can do it, not to slag bike mechanics I know there are great ones, but most I have seen are hacks and know nothing about mechanics, only bicycle assembly.

A good mechanic can build/rebuilt anything motorised or not, thing is there is not much that can be rebuilt on bicycles anymore, its parts replacement.
  • + 5
 @dirt-unit: My mechanics favorite quote from customers, "I do all my own work on it" he replies, "I know..."
  • + 0
 @lake-st: uhhh, suspension?
  • + 0
 @sino428: perhaps you are the one who is full of themselves if you think that by building a bike or two a year has imparted you with the same amount of knowledge as people who do it daily, for a living! But hey, must be my ego talking
  • + 2
 @highcountrydh: We are talking about assembling a new frame and parts here. Please explain to me what part of that is so difficult that the average rider can't do it themselves?

Just because you do it for a living doesn't mean you can do a basic task any better than someone else. There is no special skills involved here. Does someone who does landscaping for a living cut grass better than the average guy with his own lawnmower? Maybe the landscaper will do it faster but the end product is going to be the same. If you clean houses for a living are you somehow able to mop a floor better than everyone else? No you are not. You are simply providing a service that people don't want do themselves. There are some more complicated things like suspension rebuilds that definitely take some specialized knowledge. But simple assembly of a new bike is not one of them.

Again I'm not trying to shit on bike mechanics here. If that's what you do and make a living off it that's awesome. But don't act like you can bolt a few parts together any better than anyone else just because its your job.
  • + 3
 @sino428: "building up the bike custom with every part that I want" You started this thread off with this statement which to me implies custom built wheels. If you're using pre-built wheels, then it's not really a custom build with every part that you want, since a wheel is made of separate parts. Buying pre-built is getting someone else to complete part of the build for you. The average consumer is not willing to attempt a wheel build, and if they are, they are not likely to pull it off properly the first several times. There is subtlety in the process of balancing tension that requires experience. There are also things like internal hydraulic brake line routing, pressing cups, shifter cables and limit screws settling after initial use, torque specs that sometimes need to be adjusted due to manufacturing variations, finish, and grease friction differences. All things an experienced mechanic will go over the first time, where the average consumer will likely slap the bike together and hit the trail, resulting in failure, noises, sloppy performance, and frustration.

It seems like you're describing a build from a box, which is pre-built, not a true custom build, like you originally stated.
  • + 3
 @sino428: wheel builds, checking and correcting spoke tension on pre-builts, proper bearing adjustment, pre-stretching cables, shortening and bleeding brake lines, proper torque of fasteners, use of grease where appropriate, use of loctite where appropriate, initial suspension setup, brake lever angle, brake lever spacing from the grips, correct chain length, seat angle, proper routing of cable housing and application of frame protection to eliminate cable rub, shall I continue? These are all things that a professional mechanic does on a build, frame up, or even a lower end, pre assembled bike in a box that differentiates their build from a home mechanic "bolting a few parts together". Hell,do you know how many left crank arms I've chased threads on in the last 22 years because people don't know which way to turn the spindle? There's a big difference between "bolting a few parts together" and building and tuning a bike. And it's never a good idea to degrade someone else's profession, be it landscaper, house cleaner, or mechanic by saying "anyone can do it just as well" because you probably can't and you look like an ass.
  • + 5
 @mecabeat: If I buy a set of Enve's - selecting DT 240s, and M60forty HV rims - then they build the wheelset and send it to me, is that not a custom wheelset? Yes it's pre-built, and also custom. Also, you don't always have to have a spec-built wheel to have a good wheel. Lots of companies can provide top-notch pre-built wheelsets.

To everyone else - i've been building bikes for 18 years, i've done literally hundreds of builds. I'm the guy that my friends and their friends bring their bikes to to get what they screwed up "done right". Hell i've even fixed the work of local shops on occasion. That said, aside from building a wheel, getting a drivetrain perfectly in tune, and getting hydraulic brakes set up a specific way, there's nothing difficult about building a bike from parts. Many guys I know will build up a complete bike, and even ride it a couple times, then bring it to me to get the brakes and drivetrain "just right". If you are not fussy, you could skip the "just right" part and simply hit the trails with the bike you assembled. I can think of one guy in my riding group right now that is just like that in fact - i've repeatedly offered to tune up his bike but he doesn't really want to take the time to do it, and he rides 3-4 times a week.
  • + 5
 @highcountrydh: Brake lever angle? Spacing from the grip? Seat angle? Are you kidding me? You want credit for setting a f*cking brake level angle? Or getting the correct chain length? Give me a break man. Yea maybe the average guy walking in off the street who's never worked on a bike before might make some of these mistakes but anyone who has a basic idea of how a bike works and is semi competent with a wrench would be able to handle any of this.

And I never degraded anyone's profession. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a landscaper or house cleaner or bike mechanic. But the basics tasks that these jobs provide (like cutting grass) are services of convenience. To stay with this example a good landscaper would definitely have more knowledge than me about advanced things such as drainage, hardscaping, mulching, planting, etc. But when it comes to the part where they cut the grass, its just cutting the grass. Same goes for a bike mechanic. Talk about cranking open a fork or shock and rebuilding a damper, thats all great. I let the pros do that all day. Wheel building, same thing. But bolting my levers on the right distance from my grips? Pre-stretching cables? Come on thats basic stuff.
  • + 0
 @TheRaven: That's not what the current discussion is about. Sino428 is claiming that the average consumer is capable of building their custom bike just as competently as an experienced mechanic, and that the only difference is speed. Having custom wheels built for you is enlisting someone with experience completing part of the build. An average consumer may slap a bike together and be perfectly happy ridding it, oblivious to the fact that performance is hindered, and/or premature wear and failure is being caused. The point is that build speed is not the only benefit a skilled mechanic brings to a build.
  • + 1
 @mecabeat: I agree. For this particular conversation I think we were more talking simply about basic assembly like if you bought a frame and them bough all the parts separate. I guess it wouldn't techically be a true 100% custom build. It was more buying a frame and all the parts vs buying a complete bike.
  • + 1
 @sino428: wheelbuilding is part of a custom build, as is cockpit layout. I see shitty work from home mechanics all the time when they bring in their bikes for suspension service, stating "I do everything else myself" all this basic shit that you say anyone can do. You've also changed your argument from average rider to someone with basic bicycle knowledge whose semi competent with a wrench. Believe me, the two are not the same. And you do degrade people's professions when you say it's just cutting grass, bolting together parts, pounding nails. You negate their experience learned from doing the same tasks thousands of times. If you want to got send some of the big ass drops at mountain creek on a bike that someone just "bolted together" good luck with that bro! Now I'm pissed at myself for wasting some of my day with this moronic argument.
  • + 1
 @highcountrydh: If you are talking about some average Joe off the street that may walk into your bike shop yes they may screw up basic things. But the original subject of this conversation is was about people buying frames from Intense. Someone who is going to buy a frame at that price point and build it up is clearly not just some random person who knows nothing about bikes.

I'm sorry you are offended by my comments but I am not degrading anyone's professions. Like I said, some aspects of those professions do involve relatively simple tasks. Its not about experience. Its about what you end up with at the end. Whether a landscaper comes and cuts the lawn or someone pulls out their own mower and does it themselves what do you have at the end? The same cut lawn. I know people who run their own landscaping business's and they would never be so silly as to tell someone they couldn't possibly cut their own grass as good as they could. They know they just provide that as a service to people who most of the time just don't want to do it themselves.
  • + 0
 @highcountrydh: It's only freaking seals, o-rings and oil if you can"t manage that, then you will have to see a shop.
And for FindDigeRepeat its a bicycle for christs sake, try milling heads for moto's or sleds or grinding three angle valve seats, milling valve pockets in pistons or lightening rockers the list goes on and on ,that is not just bolt on.

For those that understand no works are needed for those that don't no words will suffice.

And I am Not I repeat Not slagging Bike Mechanics, I like most people who work with there hands and heads, the rest just pay.
  • + 2
 @sino428: I figure with 27 years of experience of working on mountain bikes (and breaking lots of thing in the process) I have a fair idea of what I am doing and what I shouldn't be doing. I do most things myself but leave suspension tuning and wheel building to the pros. Altho saying that with enough time and the right tools I think I could even do those myself.

I think most people who build bikes up from frames probably have a good idea of what they are doing (or not doing).
  • + 2
 @fartymarty: I'm the exact same way. I even take my bike to the shop for brake bleeds because I find them annoying to do. I leave wheel building and truing to the shop and I send my suspension out for rebuilds (I'll change do simple oil changes myself). I am not in any way saying bike mechanics aren't good at their job. They I'm sure could build up a bike much faster and more efficiently than I could. The only thing I took offense to was the few bike mechanics who chimed in and acted as if anyone who isn't a bike mechanic couldn't possibly build a bike up properly. That our bikes must in some way have something wrong with them because they weren't build up at a shop.
  • + 7
 I can't believe I actually read through all of this banter, but I did.

The fact is @sino428 is spot on...assembling a bike from the frame up is a joke to those that have done it a few times, and a moderately confusing, but perfectly doable task for those doing it for the first time.

Initial suspension set-up / brake levers... (really? I mean REALLY?) / cable stretching / etc etc etc....all ridiculous attempts to justify having a "pro" assemble your bike. The fact is, the majority of "mechanics" at local bike shops are kids these days as rarely can a shop afford to have well compensated tried and true mechanics working on all of the bikes.

Just about anything can be done, albeit occasionally requiring special tools, simply by browsing the web. I mean look at the tech tuesday parktool articles...it's unreal how much salient information is available in easy to follow formats.

Maybe it's just a california thing, but quite frankly most local bike shops (even those with stellar reputations) have been jacking their service/labor prices up through the roof just to stay solvent. I need a $30-40/brake bleed like a I need a hole in the head.

Let's be real...disassembling and rebuilding a fork isn't something everyone is willing to do...it takes time...it takes patience...and it takes a little knowledge to-bout. But for anything outside of this range of a procedure, there is absolutely no reason why your average joe can't figure how to do anything/everything he needs without stepping foot into a bike shop.
  • + 2
 @sino428: I was trying to clean a rental house I was managing and I could not get the tub to look even the least bit not revolting. It had years of crust built on it. I gave up and paid $60 for a professional cleaner to clean the bathroom. This women did such a amazing job I was floored. She made it look bran new. I asked her how she did it and she told me about her trick of mixing two cleaning products and a cretin brush she found works wonders. Just saying.
  • - 1
 @GRMTBR: pissing into the wind,bro!
  • + 2
 @GRMTBR: that's a special job so that's perfectly reasonable that a professional would have a better technique. To go back to the landscape example that would be like if your rental house being overgrown with 3 foot high grass. It's an extreme case and of course a professional landscaper would be best equipped for that.

But that wasnt what we were talking about here.
  • - 1
 @sino428: now cleaning a tub is a specialized job, but mopping floors or cutting grass, or building a bike from frame up isn't? You're a complete jackass! Have a great night!
  • + 5
 @highcountrydh: Don't start calling me names just because your butthurt that someone called you out on your "I'm a mechanic and know better than everyone else" bullshit. Grow up.

And yes, a tub with a years worth of crust built up on it is a special job, unless you think that is normal.
  • + 1
 @sino428: Not sure who typed that tub cleaning comment, maybe I got hacked...or I was logged-in on some shared computer (work?)...I sort of get what I/they were saying, but not exactly.
  • + 1
 @dv8416: or take it for a ride in the woods
  • - 5
flag highcountrydh (Mar 17, 2017 at 22:06) (Below Threshold)
 @sino428: tell me I'm full of myself and to keep my ego in check and I'm butt hurt, and then be butt hurt because I called you a jackass... hope the next time your mechanically brilliant ass takes your bike into the shop for an annoying (can't actually do it myself) brake bleed, or wheel true, the overrated, egotistical mechanic puts a hotdog in your seat tube, TROLL!
  • + 1
 @highcountrydh: you're a retard lol
  • + 3
 @highcountrydh: You are full of yourself. Just look at the garbage you have been tying all day. All because someone suggested that people could assemble their own bikes without much an issue.

I'm not worried about anyone messing with my bike that the bike mechanics I know and take my bikes too aren't so full of themselves as to get offended that I dared to put my own bike together. They realize that not everyone needs them to do shit like shorten their chain or adjust their brake levers for them (I still can't believe you tried to say that was difficult and should be done by a mechanic) . And they are more than happy to just handle the things I don't do myself.
  • + 32
 This sucks. Skilled people lost their jobs. Someone that supported a family and a community. People would rather pay a gazillion dollars for the latest and greatest Asian carbon with disposable and rapidly obsolete components draped over it than pay for something made by their neighbor that supports their own local economy. That's life in the 21st century I guess.

It's hard to get too teary eyed over intense though. For a premium, made in America product I sure saw a lot of them with broken and with shoddy welds and misalignments. I wanted them to be great, but they weren't.

And what's special about Intense now? Why is it worth 10 grand? Someone in Spain designs them. Someone in Asian lays the carbon and someone in America designs the stickers? What's the difference between them and YT or Fezzari or a Motobecan. that's the bike industry in 2017. Brands are meaningless
  • + 10
 On the bright side there's people like this: dirtmountainbike.com/bike-reviews/trail-enduro-bikes/starling-murmur-steel-bike-thats-blown-us-away.html . Demand is so high he's filled with orders so isn't taking more at the moment apparently. So there's still enough demand to support at least one little guy.
  • + 4
 Yes, its true, some jobs are lost, but over the increase in efficiency creates more, better paying jobs. Progress has costs and benefits, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: Right, and those jobs are better, because they involve skills beyond bending and welding aluminum tubes. Design, engineering, marketing, consumer research and trend forecasting... a lot of these can't easily be exported because then you lose relevance to the buyer.
  • + 7
 @kiksy: Wow. Just checked the Starling site. The Swoop just shot to the top of my wishlist - highly functional, utilitarian simplicity. Custom built. No complicated mess of pivots, bushings, linkages and bearings. Threaded bottom bracket. No boost in sight. Solid, long-lasting and dependable steel, but still light. More power to him, he's definitely working to a vision I can get behind.
  • + 1
 @kiksy: Awesome I own 3 bikes one carbon 1 steel and 1 Ti. My steel bike is my favorite by a wide margin. It cost the least and is the most fun to ride and I'm faster on it in unlikely places. There's nothing quite like the ride of a good steel bike. Think it might be time to start building my one frames.
  • + 1
 @kiksy: got me one on order... can't wait till it arrives.
  • + 1
 @kiksy: and yes they are pricy but I figure its better giving the frame builder my money than the component makers who mass produce things. The frame is the soul of the bike. You can always change the components later.
  • + 1
 The negative side of the global economy. Carbon is what the average buyer wants, and the best place to get good carbon is Asia, thus all the brands are going there. Intense's frames weren't great. They were FANTASTIC. Easily among the absolute best alloy frames ever made. The craftsmanship and attention to detail were incredible. They certainly did have some quirks, but that's what you get when every unit is handmade by an actual human being.
  • + 1
 @Bikethrasher: I've been looking at a Ti hardtail; I thought they rode very similar to steel, just with less weight. What Ti bike do you have?
  • + 1
 @kiksy: Starling looks cool.
  • + 1
 @kiksy: I'm actually bummed about that. I want a starling so bad
  • + 2
 @hamncheez: It's a Lynsey. Don't get me wrong it's a fantastic bike. It does ride beautifully and I'm lucky to have it. But There's something about my steel beater. Its just so much fun to ride.
Then again I rode a steel 27.5 plus bike last spring that rode like a cheap aluminum bike. Way too stiff. Had 0 spring and felt totally dead. Pretty much the opposite of what steel should ride like. When I asked the rep why they made it so stiff? He said it's a trail bike and that's the way they ride. I've owned a lot of bikes in my time and, I couldn't disagree more. My Lynsky, my Mad Dog and my 5010 all walk that fine line of being stiff and compliant in all the right places. I've ridden more than a few carbon bikes that are too stiff and dead feeling as well. Both mtn and road. Not all frames are created equal. I'm 180 pounds with gear so it's not like I'm lite. Find the right builder and I don't think you will be disappointed with Ti, Steel, or carbon. But don't be disillusioned by the media and think all bikes these days ride really well. There are still a lot of just ok riding bikes out there.
  • + 2
 @Bikethrasher: Makes sense. Well built is well built, regardless of the material. And the same applies to poorly built.
  • + 1
 @kiksy: when we decides to manufacture a frame - we looked inside the UK but had problems with finding tooling in the middle ground (between mass production and boutique) but we DID find MILC in France who are beyond busy - fabrication in steel aluminium and titanium.
  • + 1
 @endlessblockades: the times the starling is posting on test tracks is heartening as well
  • + 1
 @hamncheez: Hamncheez is exactly right about the inexorable nature of progress - any other course of action would have been delaying the inevitable.
  • + 24
 There was probably an article like this one, written in the year 1907, bemoaning the slow gradual death of the wooden horse cart fabrication shops that were failing with the advent of the automobile. Those jobs are gone, and are never coming back.
  • + 28
 Is that what you took from this? Another industrial "waah we're losing our jobs" article? Different strokes I suppose.
  • + 3
 Jeff is going to regret the crap out of this decision in a few years. With Taiwan's balancing act becoming harder and harder to maintain and the Trump administration, I can assure you alot more stuff will be made at home. Apple and Ford have high stakes to play, lowering prices to manufacture as low as they can and they moved back as soon as they could after the election. Call it what you want but there is no connection to wooden carriges. Bikes and Aluminum have been around and will be for a while longer.
  • + 4
 @siderealwall2: I'm interested to see how direct sells model and in general, imported bikes survive the trump agenda. Will manufacturers absorb the cost or pass the increased cost to the consumer? The big manufacturers are doing very very well, especially with the supplemental income from the EU E-motorcycle sales. I hope this topic is thoroughly discussed here on PB.
  • + 2
 @nicolai12: Same here. The rest of manufacturing industry jobs (and more every day) have seen a relative halt in lost jobs. You live in Monterey, very close to my hometown of Aptos. In Aptos there were a fair amount of fabrications and supply stores, but the namesake bicycle brand of Santa Cruz still exported their labor because of the price to manufacture carbon fiber. I think the incentives to manufacture at home will outweigh the (proposed, mind you) import tariff. Most capitalist economies will need some sort of federal intervention to outweigh the fundamentals of human/corporate nature (Aggregate Demand intervention). I have a friend that rides a handmade FRO taser, and loves it to death. Won't even punch a hole in it to install a dropper. You can go into macroeconomics and the Keynesian theory if you want to really debate it but pride in ownership is most certainly backed when you ride something from a factory that you can drive to, and you help put food on the table of a family in your respective country.
  • + 1
 @j-t-g: No, I thought it was a well written elegy to a fading way of building mass produced items, and the author's romantic attachment to well-worn welding tables. But the larger context of the piece is concerned with the macro economic forces that led to Jeff's decision.
  • + 2
 @siderealwall2: "pride in ownership is most certainly backed when you ride something from a factory that you can drive to, and you help put food on the table of a family in your respective country."
No debating that, but that sentiment does not automatically mean healthy sales volumes. The NAHBS bikes certainly have abundant pride in ownership and ridership, but I don't think many of those fellas are getting rich doing it, let alone able to capitalize a factory and overhead of workers.
  • + 1
 @twozerosix: Sure, that's where the Ag.D.I. comes into play. The people at the handmade Bike show's are doing just what the title implies, building bikes by hand. Intense took a lot of those processes and made them mechanical. Fortunately good frames need good people overmatching and assisting construction. Things made in the USA often carry a premium, but the ability to advertise as such definitely boosts sales comparative to not.
  • + 26
 Hey Devinci; don't read this article! Keep making aluminum bikes in North America from locally-sourced aluminum. You're fighting the good fight.
  • + 0
 Being from quebec it always baffles me to know that devinci does locally welded exceptional bikes at a very competitive price and people would rather pay a premium for an international brand that makes their bikes in china.
  • + 25
 Not made in North America anymore and selling at MEC. That's a double whammy of crapola.
  • + 19
 Atleast you know that if you crack the frame 15 years from now, MEC will still refund you.
  • + 29
 @Thimk: And their frames have a chance of being straight now. I guess there's a few upsides.
  • + 23
 Makes me want a guerrilla gravity even more!
  • + 1
 I love my VPP link though. Frown
  • + 6
 Yeah. I can barely resist pulling the trigger on a raw aluminum Trail Pistol that I can't quite afford yet!
  • + 8
 @schofell84: You should ride a Guerrilla Gravity bike. Don't get hung up on the what name can be applied to a suspension platform, as that matters far less than what the actual kinematics are tuned for.
  • + 1
 @m-t-g: I've tried- our local shop that demo's is apparently only open part time ....
  • + 1
 @schofell84: What shop is that?
  • + 1
 @m-t-g: Keene valley ny, whatever its called. I've tried to go look at GG's and exprezzo's 3 times and once I called to see if they had a zee brake set in stock to purchase (I was at the local lift access park) and called to make sure someone would be there so I could buy them and they stood me up.

Also- I've talked to the owner of the DH park and he'd love to do a demo day!
  • + 1
 @schofell84: Good to know. Tell the owner of the DH park to contact us, maybe he can get some demos for the park.
  • + 4
 @teamtoad: I've got the very bike. It's a pleasure to ride and worth every penny. First, it's a fantastic, confidence-inspiring ride. Second, it's an affirmative statement about American manufacturing and the joy of beautiful, handmade things.
  • + 14
 @RichardCunningham:

"Way back" in the '80s I was an average late-teen with less than average bike skills but read MBA and always thought 2 things: 1) it would be so cool to be Tomac or Overend and 2) it would be cooler if I could build a bike...not assemble it, but build it. I always thought the creators were the coolest.

Fast forward to me picking up a bike after a long absence from riding and I feel I let a good part of life go for no particular reason. I can't wait to get back out this year, and it makes me think of how you must feel as the spark of creation leaps from that table again:

Then..."The voice inside me said I was not going to make bicycles again."

And now...."A few days later, I fired up my torch and the first project began to rise up from its well-worn surface."

I hope that feeling is the same now as it was then. Post a pic when you're done ;-) .
  • + 13
 i think its a sad day when handmade in your home country is moved abroad. regardless of what it is. makes me proud to own an orange with hope bits on it. made up the road by a bunch of blokes in a warehouse. carbon has never done it for me anyway. metal and welds and machining always win me over. intense will never mean the same thing to me any more.
  • + 10
 For those who do not remember what brand was RC's (or never knew he was a famous frame builder)...

www.blackbirdsf.org/xframe/images/vk2016/vk2016.jpg

www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/v/user_albums/mrkawasaki/mrksmantisprofloater
  • + 1
 And if you didn't have the big bucks for a Mantis, you could buy one of the bikes he designed for Nishiki. The Alien comes to mind as there were a couple guys in my area doing very well racing those at the time. I liked the later model Mantis XCR frames with the aluminum front triangle and the chromo rear elevated chain stay design - very innovative for that time!
  • + 1
 Mantis are unicorns for retrobikers like me (Pros´s Closet took one to NAHBS). I used to hide the MBAction mag under my studying books and devour its contents... a true MB world window for young boy in a small north of Spain town
  • + 1
 I'd never put those pieces together... Major thanks for the lesson!!
  • + 13
 Awful news. Guerilla Gravity or Foes it is!
  • + 3
 Guerilla Gravity > foes
  • + 8
 I proudly own three of these bikes, each handmade in Temecula and some of the best out there: a third generation M1, a Tazer HT of the second generation and a late M9, now on big wheels with Steber's blessing, better than most new bikes.

Jeff... I salute you misty eyed!

Love from Transylvania,
Mx
  • + 6
 Just recently had my brushed aluminum 2011 Tracer into a welding shop to have a small crack in the rear triangle patched up. Cost me all of $20. I plan to keep this hand made in America beauty shredding the Shore for a while to come. The welds on it are a work of art in themselves.
  • + 4
 Yes, they obviously sound fantastic. Keep going, the whole thing will be welds!
  • + 4
 Hate to say it but those welds will not hold. The heat of welding the crack almost certainly made the frame more prone to breakage in the area around the weld. You'd need to have the whole rear triangle heat treated again which you might be able to do with your oven and a cooler of ice. As is though...it will fail near that weld guaranteed.
  • + 1
 @topherdagopher: Yup crack right next to the new weld might take a while but it will fail, but Reynolds 853 now it gets harder at the weld.
  • + 2
 @topherdagopher: A home oven would only get hot enough for the tempering. The hardening phase comes before that, requiring around 1000 degrees.
  • + 5
 To be completely honest, I've never cared for RC's writing in product reviews. Perhaps he's done them too long, but they seem formulaic to me. However, the articles he's penned of this nature are extraordinary. I'd love to read more like this. Well done, sir, well done.
  • + 1
 This is a completely brilliant piece. For my part, the somewhat formulaic nature of reviews actually makes it really easy to mine them for the information I need really quickly - and when the format is deviated from, it really does draw attention to products that are meaningfully different. I happen to like it - but I'm also the kind of weirdo who writes 70pp academic papers and cites Vern Felton, RC, Cam McRae, and Dave Tolnai (PinkBike and NSMB) in them...
  • + 5
 How much cheaper is it to produce in Asia really? I don't know about North America but I am under the impression that goods of comparable quality aren't much expensive if European made than if they're made in the Far East. Cars built in France, Belgium or The Netherlands aren't much more expensive than Asian alternatives. Of course shipping is expensive, cars are heavy so that might be a reason. Then in the bicycle department, I've got some home mechanic quality tools from Tacx (The Netherlands) and some child seats and accessories from Polisport (Portugal) and it isn't expensive by any means. In fact, Polisport might be the cheapest you can get. Until recently all Magura gear was produced in their German plant in Bad Urach. Nowadays it is only the top of the line gear (just like Shimano only does top of the line gear in Japan) but their lower level gear wasn't expensive either, back when made in Germany. Of course with the boutique brands I understand that people are willing to pay a small premium for the "local produce" label but the thing is that most people are just fine with gear that simply works. And in that case there is still a viable European alternative available. So that got me wondering, is the situation so much different in the US?

In this particular case though apparently the Intense customer developed a preference for a drastically different frame material. And maybe that (from my admittedly armchair perspective) may be a trend with those North American brands. Make the highest end frames out of carbon and in many cases shift that manufacturing to the Far East. Obviously the same goes for European brands like YT and Canyon. But there still are quite a few high end frame manufacturers whose top level full suspension frames are made locally and out of metal. Ancillotti, Nicolai, Liteville, Starling... Even the shop where I used to work welds up custom geometry metal (steel) road and trekking frames. Again of course my perspective may be a little single sided as I don't live in North America but am I correct that North America brands (almost) always use carbon for their highest end frames and if so, why?
  • + 7
 You cannot manufacture carbon in California, it is so heavily regulated. Not sure about regulations in other states but I think even companies like ENVE have to outsource certain parts of manufacturing.
  • + 1
 I would guess that making cars domestically in europe and USA has a lot to do with import tariffs. Shipping things via ocean is actually quite cheap, even for heavy things. There are import tariffs in the USA and Europe for complete bicycles, but obviously they are not high enough to offset asian manufacturing.
  • + 6
 There are catalogs available online that can link you to the manufacturers to get price quotes... but as an example...an original first production year Steelwool Tweed (review can be found in issue #138 of Dirt Rag magazine)... the frames were taiwan made road touring-ish with tig-welded & lugged/brazed Tange Prestige double-butted chromoly and had vert drops and eccentric shell BBs (so they could be setup geared or fixie or internal-gear hub). Retail on the frameset was about $700USD and the price Steelwool paid F.O.B. to the factory (Maxway) was as I recall, $80USD. Now this ws 2008 so of course those prices aren't accurate anymore for that example (what with 9 years of inflation, changing dollar values, material/labour cost changes, etc), BUT you know those generic black undecaled carbon hardtail frames you see on ebay for as little as $300USD... they're being made by decent manufacturers in china and are of relatively good quality finish and construction, and the ebay sellers are able to make a good profit on them at that low $300 price. They're not as super engineered as a Trek or Specialized with the fanciest spec carbon... but for most buyers... they're good ENOUGH.
  • + 0
 @deeeight: Actually in most cases those ebay frames are roughly equivalent to the "last generation" of top-shelf frames. So buying a 2017 MY ebay carbon AM FS frame would be like buying a new 2013 Enduro...etc. Not bad considering that the Ebay frame is probably STILL cheaper than a 2013 Enduro (carbon) frame.
  • + 1
 The cost TO YOU of these things is all about the same because that's what the market bears. The cost to the manufacturer, on the hand, is much less when they do it in Asia.
  • + 1
 @creativefletch: Thinking of it, that's kind of sick in a way. So carbon manufacturing is too heavily regulated in California (supposedly because of environmental regulations and/or worker conditions) so we have it done in Asia which probably have less stringent conditions. But doesn't Specialized also manufacture carbon components in house? Maybe the difficult thing is when working with dry fibres. That's cheaper but also harder to get right than to work with pre-preg material.

@parallaxid: I used two examples. One is expensive stuff like cars, the other is relatively cheap stuff like plastics from Tacx and Polisport. Both are made in Europe and are competitive compared to imported goods from Asia. If that can be (be it due to tariffs or not) then something middle ground like a decent bicycle frame should work just as well. Then again it may be related to what @WaterBear mentioned, the margin on cars, tools and components is much bigger than it is on bicycle frames so there is less room to play with pricing.

But that goes a bit beyond my main question. How much cheaper is it to produce in Asia? If Intense would weld up their aluminium frames in Asia to their same standards, how much cheaper would that be? There is also this emotional aspect as people enjoy buying something something made in Europe, North America, OZ, NZ or Japan. So people are willing to pay more. More for something from Hope if made in the UK instead of if they'd have it done (to similar standards) in China.

The reason I mentioned carbon is it strikes me that so many North American companies choose carbon for their frame materials even if it is not their strength. Sure I'm now aware companies like Guerilla Gravity, Foes and Canfield still have their top of the line stuff in aluminium but I'm still under the impression that the top level frames from US brands are more often (not always indeed) from carbon than those from European brands. So my question was, is this true and if so, how come?

I think companies need to play to their strengths and impress us that way. Hope is known for their CNC work so that's what they focus on. Magura is more into injection moulding so that's what they do. Shimano is great with forgings etc. It would be silly for a company like Nicolai to abandon their in house production, let alone replace metal with plastics.

In my mind Intense was on a similar level to Orange bikes and could ask similar prices. With this shift, they moved to the level of YT and Canyon. Great bikes still but you need to ask a much lower price to be competitive.
  • + 2
 @vinay: Carbon is cool. People want cool, thus people buy carbon. Doesn't matter if it's actually better or not, doesn't matter that it's more expensive. It's cool. It doesn't matter what you do best...if your competition is doing carbon, you must do carbon. It doesn't even matter if your alloy bikes are lighter, stronger, cheaper, and cooler looking than your competitions carbon bikes. They're not carbon, thus they are not cool.

It's the iPhone effect all over again.
  • + 1
 @vinay: manufacturing overseas isn't actually that much cheaper when you factor in tariffs, logistics, quality, and the headaches and expenses of production thousands of miles away.

I've seen various articles stating 3-10%. Wages in the far east are rapidly on the rise as well.
  • + 1
 @schofell84: Blanket statement. The truth is, it depends on many factors, primarily who the overseas vendor is, and the quality processes of the domestic company. There are too many variables (some of which you listed) to apply even a range of costs. Manufacturing large heavy things that don't fit neatly into shipping containers, require careful handling, or incorporate tech is going to be cheaper and better domestically. There's no better place in the world to build a "good" bike than the Giant conglomerate in Taiwan. "Good" means many different things, but I'm talking about a high quality product using modern processes and technology that fits with current tastes at a very competitive price. Its taken them decades to get to this point.
  • + 1
 @twozerosix: I answered a blanket question. Thanks for chiming in though.

Compare guide ultimates to hopes and get back to me.

Compare GG Megatrail to whatever aluminum Chinese wonder rig you'd like and the results will be similar.
  • + 1
 @deeeight: Nailed it - if an overseas shop can make a carbon frame, ship it, a retailer pay the eBay fees and still make money getting that to a consumer - that price is reflective of at least more than the minimum.
Considering that virtually all of the per-frame cost is tied up in just two things (labor, and fixed costs for dies/molds/autoclaves) after the initial design investment with finite element analysis and some ride testing is done, there is no logical reason that a high end Trek/Specialized/Yeti/SantaCruz/Intense frame on a volume model would cost meaningfully more than twice the open-mold option after enough of them are made: so that's still a ~400% margin on the frame realistically, and OEM pricing on the parts for complete items...
In case anybody is wondering why the direct sales brands are able to bring so much disruption into this market, deeight just drove the nail in flush with one hammer strike here.
  • + 2
 @tehllama: The direct sales brands have to be taking less margin, and maybe they can do that if 1) they have no domestic distribution channels to pay (other than the internet) and 2) they are in it for the 'long haul' vs maximizing profit margin immediately.
You left 'materials' out of your per-frame cost but otherwise what you're saying makes sense. Could be some variability in the raw materials, especially since Big Red S has super-duper McLaren black-ops stuff.
Maybe that extra margin goes to warranty claims? Kind of like our USA predicament with Social Security. Nah.
  • + 1
 @twozerosix: I didn't leave out materials as a cost driver, they're just that small a part of the equation. The raw materials are uniformly cheap compared to retail pricing. No matter what sort of voodoo brands would like for you to think is happening with the materials science, none of it is truly cutting edge: just clever repurposing of advancements made elsewhere to fit this application.
[If you think I'm being ridiculous about this, consider that the biggest game changer in the industry of the past decade has been devising a way to house and actuate an off-the-shelf office chair gas cartridge inside a seatpost. Legitimately brilliant, and totally redefines entire genres of bikes can do; but not at the bleeding edge of human understanding].
Most of the margins for bike companies are really just for risk hedging - so many ideas are serious flops, and the cost of missing trends is quite high, so what may externally look a bit like profiteering is actually just structural resilience in the way they do business.
  • + 2
 @TheRaven: Alright, so maybe it is a cultural thing and North Americans consider carbon cooler than in Europe? Personally I think that unless it's done properly (like Unno and Robotbike.co do) it is stupid stuff. But it is very personal. I think steel and titanium are cool, especially if you can see the raw welds. I can appreciate aluminium from Orange and Nicolai. But with far eastern carbon Intense faces some tough competition. And in a way they're late to the game whereas with domestically welded aluminium frames they were only fishing in the pool of brands like Orange, Nicolai and Starling. And in North America I think they were relatively unique that way.

The iPhone effect? When I started my current job four years ago my boss asked me what color iPhone I wanted? What, I was responsible for a 700 euro fragile piece of equipment in my pocket, what for? Well for the occasional text and call. Alright then, get me the SIM card and I stick it in my dual sim Nokia 101 (currently upgraded to Nokia 107 as the 101 proved insufficiently dust proof unlike the 1000 and 1200 I had before that). The iPhone effect? That would be like if I'd date a rich girl and have diner at her parents place. "Hey see, that glass you're drinking from? It is really special, costs 700 euros." I'd go all shaky, drop it or crush it in my fist.

@tehllama: The material is closely related to the production process and that's where it gets expensive (or where corners could be cut). It takes much more labor to make a frame from dry fibres or even pre-preg carbon than it takes to weld from metal tubes. And cutting titanium or Reynolds 853 steel is much more taxing on cutting tools than cutting aluminium. With carbon there is also wear on the molds. So maybe a big name brand says this mold is good enough for so many products after which it is a write-off. And that may be where the manufacturer says that they still can get quite a few more cheaper products out of it. It may not be up to the standards of the big name brands, but admittedly still good enough to be sold at a lower price. At least that's what I expect to happen. That is, I don't think the big name brands will tolerate it if the manufacturer will use their molds and cause wear whilst they weren't done with it yet.

@schofell84: Agree it is a bit of a blanket statement if taken out of the context of the article. But in context of the article the question is: how much cheaper is it for Intense to have their frames produced by that particular manufacturer in the far east instead of do it at their own facilities.
  • + 1
 @vinay: Great reply, I especially like the iPHone analogy.

I know firsthand how rough Titanium is on tooling (even making comparatively flimsy satellite parts), and that does very significantly drive end cost - but in terms of proportion to realistic retail prices, that's actually pretty much in line with what Ti frames sell for. In the precision regime required to make bikes, the tool life can be worked around (at least the skilled and creative metalworkers and machinists I worked with are great at it) to where the difference is actually pretty minor when averaged out by individual units sold.

I do suspect that all but a few brands have some restrictions on what happens with molds after they're worn beyond comfortable tolerances, but those are honestly the ideal ones to use for destructive testing on the QA side, because if the first bike made after the mold is no longer in use still meets minimum testing standards, then one can be sure that at least in the process sense, the last bike to enter the customer pipeline is GTG.

It really is a case where the aesthetics possible with composites are a huge driver - coupled with the fact that a lot of the headline figures look more attractive (overall weight, stiffness under pedaling load). That alone can justify the higher price, especially since the same 6061 AL material is shared on many bikes all the way back to the elastomer days - so carbon fibre looks new and exotic.

Considering how few riders actually beat on their equipment hard, the differential is pretty trivial - most people would rather be seen with a piece of crap phone that has an apple logo on one side and a shattered screen on another than have a perfectly functional Nokia brick - that's just the way it is. The larger and higher margin market is what always drives development, and the users that actually do use every capability available (including ruggedness) are always so far in the margin that it's never cost-effective to develop stuff just for them.
  • + 1
 @tehllama: re: your comment on titanium, this is accurate - I had a custom titanium cx frame built for me, and my builder didn't mark up the tube set he bought with my $1000 deposit. They were beautiful butted tubes; awesome how what feels like an almost empty box is in reality full of some seriously high-grade tubing. It was from Feather Tech Titanium in CO. My builder certainly had no less than 15 hours of work to complete the frame, and his highly skilled labor should absolutely be valued at a high rate befitting fine craftsmanship. Its near impossible to scale up volume though; the only way to make more $ is through scarcity and demand.
  • + 4
 Wow! This made so many rich and vivid memories come rushing back from those "early years".

Interesting to think I've touched at least one of these welding tables, maybe both at different times in their history.

These (RC, and Intense) were 2 of the biggest puzzle pieces for me in the past 27+ years in the saddle, though until this moment they were 2 somewhat separate, disconnected orbits... the hanging out / riding with RC one, and the... for 10 plus years there was nothing I would ride besides Intense one... various forms of the original Uzzi SL (the Horst Link version... I skipped all of those early VPP bikes... handled like wretched stinkbugs... but I digress...)

RC's shop, and his Thursday night rides at Chino Hills and Anaheim Hills had become a vibrant mini-scene, and along with places like the Bike Beat made up a thriving community in those early days of mountain biking.

I was revelllng in this new sport and these coolest of people that I'd discovered and quickly connected with.

Soon had the amazing privilege to meet and hang (or try to hang!) with passionate riders like RC, Big Ring Eddie, Katrin (aka Katwoman), and so many others who helped to shape these years, my skills and me as a human.

RC would regularly put the hurt on us while also imparting sage wisdom on subjects you might expect such as riding technique, bike setup and fitness... and these nuggets still stick with me to this day. I often find myself reverting to the fundamentals that he taught so many years ago... and still find myself quoting / plagerising him when helping new(er) riders advance their skills.

But as I got to know him more, it became apparent that there really was very little boundaries or ceiling on the subjects that he could philosophize at length about. We used to joke that he had the world's worst case of "Male Answer Syndrome" (you know the guy... who must concoct an elaborate answer or story, rather than ever utter the words "I don't know".

The only difference was... RC's knowledge and experience base WAS that broad... and he could actually back it up.

I'm not sure there's another "life philosopher" I've had - who's sometimes random / often practical nuggets of wisdom have stuck with me on a deeper level. Here's one that just popped into my head now (to closely paraphrase):

"Instead of focusing on the physical attraction, you should find someone who you really enjoy talking to and being with... because we all end up looking like farm animals anyway."

Tell the truth... how many times would that have kept you out of trouble?!

RC is one of the most creative problem solvers I've ever met. If there's a doctorate in MacGuyver Engineering, he's teaching the class.

As some of you may or may not know, he has quite a background in pioneering and developing the early frame and suspension designs.

At some point the great John Tomac needed a new "DH" sled that was worthy of him, and his current employer / sponsor / bike company Raleigh didn't have a clue.

So RC was hired to design, develop and bring this new and groundbreaking machine to life.

If you've ever seen pics of Johnny T hauling on a black framed with raw swingarm and seatstays bike, with the shock mounted to a rocker/swing link just below the top tube (like the later Rocky Mountain Element or Giant ATX 990), probably with a pie plate for a chainring and a disc rear wheel, that was RC's creation.

s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a8/0a/a3/a80aa3b27444bfd5bad905cd26129d27.jpg

If I remember correctly, Johnny T soon switched to Giant, and the same frame may have just been resprayed in yellow and rebadged as a Giant... or maybe Giant just quickly made a copy. I don't know or remember. It made the basis for the Giant ATX 990.

Being invited into this inner sanctum had allowed me to witness these heady days (and formative, transformational years) of the sport we all love, with both a birds-eye view and at the same time microscopically up close.

In these days of pre-CAD bike design it was fascinating to watch RC work his magic.

He actually WAS using “CAD”… what he called “Cardboard Aided Design”, with card stock and push pins representing links and pivot points, stuck to a regular cork pinboard. Crude but effective!

These were the times RC was alluding to in the post - a time when people actually made shit with their bare, grubby hands - because they could… and because they had no other choice.

So one day as the JT prototype is on wheels and getting ready for testing, RC says to me (something to the effect of) “Hey, you’re a pretty strong rider, you’re about the same size as Johnny T… why don’t you take this out for a few weeks and try and break it.”

Well… as as a wide-eyed “kid” just a few years out of high school, taking this all in… I may as well have been Neil Armstrong after the moon landing! What a memorable and thrilling moment (and few weeks!)

And no… I wasn’t able to break it ;-) But I will say… it was a magical riding and handling machine that easily surpassed anything I had ridden up to this point. It was amazing and exhilarating to be the only guy to ride Johnny T’s bike before he did!

Thanks for the great memories and wisdom RC!
  • + 1
 Thanks for the backstory - always great to read these vintage legends!
  • + 6
 I can't tell you how much I appreciate this article. It's focus is both spiritually and politically poignant. Cheers Braddah.
  • + 5
 A hand crafted M1 through M9 is a work of art. If you understand about welding and machining. You can appreciate these frames at a whole different level. To me carbon fiber has no soul.
  • + 4
 gotta be a little heart breaking for the original owner jeff to not be able to walk out into the shop and see your design and hardwork being produced by co-workers, friends and family with their heart, soul and pride in workmanship. after starting his living and breathing business from the ground up. now he has to put his name on something he orders from some poor underpaid workers that need to meet a quota. im sure with the new ceo guy from crank bros and possibly others there's alot of people eating at the Intense trough.
  • + 3
 well he could always go back to hairdressing.
  • + 7
 Hats off RC. One of the best and most thought provoking articles I have ever read on this site.
  • + 8
 Great story! Thanks for sharing Smile
  • + 3
 We should definitely be getting as many bikes as possible built in Asia. I find the fact that they don't ride bikes, and couldn't possibly give a fuck about our experiences with our friends in the mountains leads to them delivering the best possible products for us to enjoy.
  • + 3
 Change.... there's similar situations in many industries. The sport is going main stream. Two of my friends have a business creating climbing holds. They used to manufacture everything themselves but demand got higher and they started selling abroad more and more so eventually they outsourced production. Now they're only making the master holds and send them to the factory. Good or bad? I think for them it takes away the boring part of production. For a creator / maker, the most interesting part is not production but product development. As long as you can be in the development and make prototypes, I think its all good!
  • + 3
 Another bike that was on my short list goes the way of the Dodo bird. I'm being drawn to Orange bikes more and more. Artisanship is important folks. If only for the fact that fewer and fewer people employ these types of skills. Which means the pool of really innovative talented people with extreme hand skills is also dwindling. For every 100 guys who can really weld maybe one of them has engineering and design skills. Fewer hand skills is never a good thing.
  • + 3
 its a sign of the times. Intense doesnt want to be a blockbuster or hastings caught with their dick in their hand while everyone else seeing the writing on the wall. Put your blackberry on the shelf. It was amazing while it lasted.
  • + 2
 Blackberry? Ha. We are about a year away from saying the same thing about the iPhone.
  • + 3
 Yeah blame China ,for this and that ,or is it shame on me cause I want to make the most outta of my profit,and...well how can I sponsor so many "riders"and still have profits of that ?maybe it's impossible but I just talk to the gods and hope that some one believes in that ,just make the game on going. It's all a joke ,the economy, but game on ,just merge
  • + 3
 Nice article, crummy situation. This hits home because I got my professional start in a welding shop. even though I am in a completely different field now, I still do a fair amount of welding and will always appreciate the trade. Technology and profits are double edged swords and I hope the folks that lost their jobs land something solid to keep the bills paid.
  • + 2
 This makes me even more motivated to get my old Orange built back up. There's something nice about looking down at your frame and knowing it was hand made just an hour away. Sad to hear Intense closing down their US lines but if the manufacturers want us to buy Carbon bikes then they've got to manufacture them somewhere they can maximise their profits.
  • + 4
 one more small step towards total dependence on our glorious Chinese overlords.. we give away far more than bike frames when offshoring manufacturing capability.
  • + 2
 Intense was one of those brands that stood apart from everything else. I still want to own an uzzi one of these days. Now they are part of the mainstream bunch of soulless frames.
Some years ago when you were getting one of their frames you were getting a piece of equipment built by specialized workers who, most likely, loved their job and put dedication in to it. With carbon you just get a sterile part built by asian girls who don't even care about bikes. For them building a frame, an ipad or a toaster is the same.

I still don't care much about carbon, maybe I will one day, but for now I am more interested in other materials like different steel alloys and aluminium.

Foes will soon take the aluminium Intense lovers/fans and grow their business a bit.
  • - 6
flag WaterBear (Mar 17, 2017 at 6:38) (Below Threshold)
 The racism is strong. You can love American (or generally Western) made frames without hating Eastern made ones.
  • + 4
 @WaterBear: Racism, what does it have to do with the subject? I don't understand...
  • + 2
 Awesome write up. You really put light on the pressures businesses face to be profitable in a market where the consumer just wants cheaper and cheaper prices. Sad to hear about this happening to Intense, but I know its more common than we want to believe.
  • + 2
 I had a 2009 gunmetal gray Tracer, and then replaced that with the Tracer 2 of the same color a year later. I've been to the Intense factory a few times. They took care of me when I mistakenly bought a medium sized frame thinking it would fit me. They told me to take my bike there and they'd swap the front triangle free of charge. They even gave me a few t-shirts and some socks. They're very nice people who seem to want to make their customers happy.

There was something about having something made in your own backyard. These days, everything come from somewhere else. What's still made here? I would say produce, but even some come from China like garlic. For Christ's sake, can't we grow our own garlic?

I wish those who were laid off from Intense the best, and hope they find employment soon.
  • + 2
 This is the world people want.

The idea of pride, honour and hard work has died. Nothing is built to last anymore, no one make's money on something that just goes, and goes, and goes. Nobody make's money on a product you yourself can maintain and manage (I.E Swedish bicycle manufacturer Cresent, who put more work in the "service" side than actually improving their bikes, sure they make shitty ass commuters, but still). Everything is made in China. And i can get that, but still, something is f*cked beyond words..


There is no honour, only Instagram, there is no pride, only facebook.
Start eating them redpills boys and girls. Today.
  • + 3
 It is going to change. One bike and purchase decision at a time. Foes here I come.
  • + 4
 Makes me cherish my 2012 Intense Tracer 275 even more. One of the last handbuilt in the USA bikes. Wow. Am never going to part with it.
  • + 2
 From reading these articles I think many are now considering building their own frame sometime in the future. With the beautiful handmade creations of last months show I'd love to see an article about how the average joe buys a tube set and puts a 4130 bike together on a budget.
  • + 3
 www.ufv.ca/bicycle-technology/bike-frame-building-101

Not an article but a class,the teacher is non other than Paul Brody.

Some of his other projects

flashbackfab.com
  • + 2
 @rideonjon: Brodie, a true Hall of Fame Legend! Definitely ahead of his time. My Sovereign treated me so well.
  • + 2
 f*ck, I bought a 951 largely because it was the only frame produced here.
I did not know they shut down production, and don't remember reading it on here.
Yet another group of employees laid off because the Chinese can do it 'cheaper'.
It's no wonder why the Chinese are coming here to Kalifornistan with WADS OF CASH, buying up
everything in sight.
A -complete a*shole- Chinese national offered me $50k less than what I was asking for my house a few weeks ago-again-
because he had cash, and was of the opinion that we Americans are inferior in business, thus he could steal my house from me. I told my realtor to not even respond(which she didn't obey, but did tell the prick 'no').
We Americans happily shop at Walmart because we can save 30-cents on fricken toothpaste, oblivious to the fact that WE are responsible for this shit happening.
I've personally never shopped there, nor will buy Chinese made goods if I can avoid it.
Now it looks like another bike manufacturer has become dead to me
  • + 11
 With some cultures, Chinese and Indian in particular, prices are always open to negotiation. They expect an exorbitant ask and respond with an inadequate offer. It's a game. There's no insult necessarily implied.
  • + 0
 Great story, thanks for sharing. Smile
  • + 13
 How dare that SOB place an offer on your house!! And you almost had to communicate with them? Woah, close one!
  • + 3
 You do realize that intense off shored their manufacturing to TAIWAN?

Guess it's because we all look and sound the same to you.
Carry on.
  • - 2
 @bishopsmike:
If you lived in a country that wasn't owned by another from the get-go, you'd understand

@ledude:
Doesn't it get tiring looking for posts that you can pretend to get butt-hurt over?
  • + 3
 @YoKev: I never get tired of calling out stupidity....it's what I do.
  • + 1
 @ledude: tell China they dont own Taiwan
  • + 7
 Powerful rant. My girl friend is a Chinese national. Protip: They move to CA because there aren't enough US nationals with degrees in science and engineering to fill the tech jobs out there. Most students in my graduate department are foreign nationals, and there are plenty of Chinese, and I go to school on the freaking East coast.

Probably his offer had nothing to do with an opinion of you. In my experience the Chinese students feel like fish out of water in this country.
  • + 1
 Because only white people have money and they're all hard working. Chinese people with money are a*sholes. Not only do the chinese not only do it cheaper, they do it better. Do you own a tv? cell phone, clothes? toaster? You probably bought china made goods.Low cost products would not have gotten china where they are today. They make excellent products. I myself have a handmade Brodie Sovereign I ordered from Paul Brodie himself. In terms of cost, it was the equivalent of 280 hours of work and only less expensive than my most recent car and my home. This is the main reason Intense and others are closing up shop. Not that I don't love the bike, there's no way I could afford or justify that expense at this point of my life. My Rocky Altitude Rally i paid 6k for is superior in every way and the build quality is excellent.
  • + 4
 Great article if a bit sad, I just bought a 2015 Spider 275A frame in the classifieds one of the last ones made in cali, maybe even on that table!
  • + 6
 Foes is till in Pasadena building bikes. looking at buying one now.
  • + 1
 * San Dimas
  • + 1
 close, they moved down the road bout 30 min east of pasadena.
  • + 2
 They left Pasadena and moved the production east...to San Dimas.
  • + 2
 They're now in San Dimas
  • + 3
 Get a guerilla gravity
  • + 2
 I heard they're in San Dimas
  • + 1
 @jflb: Are they really in San Dimas? (sarc)
  • + 2
 @chasejj: yeah they're actually in San Dimas
  • + 1
 @joalst: No shit?
  • + 1
 it will be interesting to see what happens to the "new" direction of the bike industry if Trump does indeed whack China/Asia with heavy import duties on product. Will those new/increased costs make decisions like this haunt Intense and others who have also done the same?
  • + 1
 I could be wrong but isnt the current CEO also the previous CEO of crankbros? you know.. the company known for making crap for a long time and now intense is sending off its business to asia. this really sucks. As a california native and someone that goes to temecula a few times a year to ride this really sucks in every way. loss of jobs, not made in the USA, poor management ( if its true about the CEO coming from crankbros)
  • + 1
 That would be interesting if it were true
  • + 1
 Surfboards are moving towards Golf Clubs an Tennis racquets .

Firewire has been widely accepted in a once custom only market , made in Thailand and on consignment all over the world with 11 time world champion Kelly Slater backing them .

Imagine Specialized consigning bikes to shops with an 11 time world champion . :-)

That would change the industry a bit .
  • + 1
 This article hit home, literally. I live in the Temecula/Murrieta area. Guess I won't be seeing yall riding out on x-trail and the nursery anymore. It was a bit of pride saying that the Intense factory and where they test their new rigs are the same trails I ride.
  • + 1
 I find it very sad for Jeff because you know he loved to do what he did. Make bikes!!! I am very lucky to know who actually builds my bikes and to be able to sit down and have a beer and pizza with him is even better!! Do you know who built your bike?? FOES FOR LIFE!!!
  • + 1
 Ive had both an M3 and an M9. Funny how dropouts have no breakaway parts and would cost 350$. Also funny that it took 6months in 2016 to replace a front triangle on warrante and I received a product of obvious lower quality as per welding work. Funny that when I then had the back-end replaced for over 1000$ it took 3 days to show up. More recently, intense is no longer a boutique brand but a line stocked by a nation wide outdoor sports vendor (MEC) in Canada which may/may not provide servicing comparable to a bike shop.

Intense made great bikes (with a leased/copied VPP linkage design). It's a very sad and unfortunate day for the dedicated and loyal employees of this company. People that stuck with the company and believed in its vision and its potential. However, I have no compassion for JS at all....your personal CEO or whatever title you give yourself ambitions are the direct cause of these events. You've lost your direction trying to be the next giant or specialized when you could have been just fine making great hand made aluminum bikes. You also had the arrogance of thinking people would buy your products at 15000$ CDN. Guess what JS....the public has spoken. Your greed cost a lot of good people their livelihood. I hope you sleep well JS.

I, for one, just bought myself a nice new reasonably priced TY Tues.
  • + 1
 Excellent article and more than proves your mettle in the writing world.

I rode one of your Mantis Pro Floater with that Noleen shock bikes back in the day. Next after that was an Uzzi SL (broke it). Followed by another Uzzi SL (broke it). Followed by an Uzzi SLX. I moved away from Intense after that as they moved to VPS.

Hearing this somehow feels like the circle is complete. One door closes, another opens...
  • + 3
 I don't see how this is what Intense customers want! One of the reasons to ever get an intense for me, would be it was made in my hometown, SoCal!
  • + 1
 Well written RC. After years of owning 6 Intense bikes I had the chance to visit the factory in 2013 and meet Jeff, Sam Wilson and RTW. It was really cool meeting these guys and seeing where my frames were produced and seeing the CNC mills turning out linkages and other pieces. I left wondering how long they would be able to keep up aluminum bike production though. It didn't seem scalable and the writing was on the wall about carbon sales starting to take over. The new bikes all look great and push all my buttons, but I'm still a buy a frame and hang my own parts on it person. Not sure if the next one will be an Intense or not. We will see when the time comes.
  • + 1
 I don't know why but it reminded me of the collapse of skateboarding in the late 80s early 90s which was an absolute horrifying shame. However companies emerged doing niche products and things and I think this could be the plan for Intense, or use some of that manufacturing space for proving R&D projects in carbon
  • + 4
 Too late for Trump to save Intense
  • + 3
 Doubt he will be able to save his own ass, its only a matter of time, guy is a timebomb, just don't stand too close.
  • + 2
 Not going to miss Intense "quality craftmanship" - crooked welds, non-right angle dropouts and shock mounts, etc.. just sayin'
  • + 1
 buying my second bike it came down to an intense spider, the mantis and the turner -i bought the intense and loved it. the (sadly broken) frame still hangs on my wall -memories
  • + 0
 Back in 2009 some people at my local bikeshop pitched me the concept of the "Intense M6" to be THE ULTIMATE DOWNHILL weapon. It was HANDCRAFTED IN AMERICA up to a very-high standard that would be compared to the FERRARI of mountain bike world. So basically i asked the mechanic if i could ride the bike to see if it lived up to the expectation...
The ride felt sluggish, the setup was unnecessarily heavy and the geometry didn't feel comfortable. It was a very stable bike though, i guess that was it's strong point.
The further i got immersed in the sport the more i kept hearing about how my '06 (bought used) Stinky was so fragile, the geometry was so bad, it was bound to snap due to fatigue, etc.

Years later Intense M6 bikes kept showing up in the workshop with their swingarms snapped at the welds, the linkage also cracked in multiple sections rendering the frames unusable. Inexplicably, my brittle kona kept enduring whatever i could throw at her no matter what.

Last year my left swingarm cracked afterall. I got it professionally reinforced and welded for €50 (luckily i didn't pay retail price).

I still ride my bike whenever/wherever i feel like. As for the handmade Intense M6 frames that kept showing cracked at the workshop...

...that will be around €150+ for each rocker arm ordered from the official website.

/rant
  • + 0
 You only ever see or hear about the broken ones. For every one that broke, 100 didn't. But you don't hear about those because they are out on the trail shredding. Though your comments about broken frames perfectly illustrate another one of the big reasons for the move to carbon...carbon can be repaired.
  • + 1
 @TheRaven: His article literally stated he drove down the road to get his frame repaired for cheap....
  • + 1
 Jeff still has the "Kings workshop". I'm sure he will still prototype new bikes from there. I can't even imagine how difficult a decision it was for him to make. Jeff is still the owner and I'm sure has final say.
  • + 1
 Markets flow in this small world. The Tracer hit and no one complained. Costs have brought time back to where small builders with spartan ideals are thriving. My first Trek was built in a barn, it didn't look like a Session.
  • + 2
 Certainly sad hearing an American bike manufacturer is no longer making their own bikes. Wonder if that tables is where my Uzzi was born.
  • + 1
 I remember just staring at an early copy of MBA and just wondering where that piece actually was on the frame! End of an era but a new beginning! Can't wait to see what rises from that sweet table!
  • + 4
 Well, this wasn't just downright depressing.
  • + 4
 Best writing I've seen on pinkbike. Well done RC.
  • + 1
 The first dual suspension bike I owned was a 97 uzzi sl. Damn, it's been twenty years. I was going to give it to a local bike store so the owner could salvage what he wanted off of it. Might have just changed my mind....
  • + 2
 Photo I took in 2014 of that Table at the Intense factory.
www.pinkbike.com/photo/10521192
  • - 1
 I visited the factory in 2005 and it was a bike nerds dream afternoon. It's a simple space in an industrial park and the textured wall just outside is where you would see all the pictures of the prototype bikes. The real issue here is not California's business environment, but the fact that carbon is now the bike material of choice. The aluminum frames don't compare! (And I have owned many of them) I knew when Intense came out with their first carbon bike that this would happen eventually. What is sad is that carbon frames can't be competitively made in the US. If we could figure that out - then Intense could truly be American made.
  • + 2
 It's articles like this that make me really like PB. You're a heavyweight, RC. We're lucky to have you contributing here.
  • + 2
 Change is one of the most difficult things we have to accept - even when the pro's out weigh the con's
  • + 1
 Pretty sad really, gutted for Intense....

Why oh Why did they stop making Tazers, I'm sure they would have sold well right?
  • + 2
 At least Brent Foes hasn't sold out, one of the last frame makers refusing to go Asian.
  • + 3
 Awesome story, got my eyes all watery
  • + 3
 Great article. Thank you.
  • + 1
 Great Read Richie, maybe you can lay hand to keypboard on the growing challenge of progressive trail building in SoCal and otherwise pristine locations in our Country.
  • + 4
 Cool article
  • + 1
 Woo that is sad to see that history and development done by Intense is now over Sucks that! but carbon is not the future it is too toxic
  • + 1
 Everytime I bitch and moan about prices, a welder loses his table. I thought the article was great. The bicycle rust belt. Have a good day.
  • + 2
 Bait and switch add for Intense. My experience with them was painful, customer service just awful, like pulling teeth!
  • + 2
 Best of luck to the guys that lost their jobs.
  • + 2
 Why not keep assembly in the USA like Santa Cruz at least?
  • + 4
 The bikes are assembled in the USA at Intense HQ in Temecula, CA. RC mentioned this in the article.
  • + 1
 $$$ a 5 year old asian boy is cheaper than anything you will find on the USA
  • + 1
 upside is that Jeff Steber may now have some room to set up amps and dums kick out the jams!
  • + 2
 Love the look of clean welds & raw frames.
  • + 2
 But how is this going to MAGA!?
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham: So what did you make when you fired up the torch? Bike stuff, airplane stuff or something else?
  • + 1
 Wow. Quite a bit heavier than what I was anticipating. Thanks for this, RC.
  • + 1
 Another excellent piece by RC. Thanks. Please do not retire.
  • + 1
 So, Intense's aluminum bikes are gonna be cheaper now, right??
  • + 1
 legit ran out of popcorn before I finished that argument lol
  • + 1
 That was good work. Captured emotion but was value free.
  • + 1
 It was a pleasure to read it. Keep up the good work! Thanks.
  • + 2
 Great article!
  • + 1
 Please Richard show us the product of you swinging the torch
  • + 1
 Based on the title I was hoping this would be about doing tables.
  • + 1
 Well that was depressing...
  • + 2
 Welcome to U.S. Manufacturing. I've been through multiple shutdowns now. Factories full of extremely skilled great working people all kicked to the curb to Outsource jobs other places to quote stay competitive.
  • + 1
 @properp: I've gone thru 2 jobs like that. A lot of pride with one of them. We weren't making the "15% growth", only 7%, still $1.9 Billion in sales with $400,000,000 in profit... So we got the ax. Pretty messed up. Thanks Motorola! I was going to post a rant about it, but didn't. Wink
  • + 2
 @oldschool43: me x 5 the saddest was to see Crane Cams go to the scrap yard. All that speed freak history sold as scrap for Pennies on the dollar. Just like a welding table at intense fabrication.
  • + 2
 @properp: Yeah, the town I live in, Kenosha, WI was home to AMC. The whole town was pretty much a giant factory at one time. Maybe 7 factories, 22 buildings scattered throughout the town. 15,000 employees. Until 1987, when Chrysler took over. Tore most of it down and shifted production to Canada and few US locations. Kept the motor plant... Until.. it was torn down about a year ago. Think it was 3.2 million square feet. 4x5 large city blocks. Just a slab of concrete now. It was the original building (added on of course), which was the Sterling Bicycle company before it was bought by the car maker. Even kept the original bike company entrance as they added on. Almost every straight 6 in the Jeep was made there. So was the 5.7 Hemi in the Ram. All gone. The guys and girls that worked there, loved it! Other than that slab of concrete and few fenced in grass fields and large empty mowed lots near the railroad tracks and the motor plant (2 of 3 staging areas for 10,000 finished cars) there is nothing left of AMC. No signs. No markers. Unless you grew up around here, it's just a fenced in area or an oddly placed field to a visitor. It's sad.
  • + 2
 @properp: And we had Buehl Motorcycles down the road too. Harley killed those, because they had 3% growth, not 6%. The whole factory was for sale. Tools, tables, machines.. I walked through there at the auction, sad... They still had posters of the first Buehl win hanging on the wall!! Like 20 employees making american made sport motorcycles. I was mad, not sad.. It was 8% of Harley's business..
  • + 2
 @oldschool43: our race team Liberty waves racing Won the SunTrust Moto GT at Daytona on a Buehl. The reality of a Buell is against other performance V twins it did not stand a chance. A completely stock RC51 would spank any fully modified Buell. You can't keep building overpriced underperforming products and expect them to sell. This is sad to see the motorcycles disappear though. I know they had a following. I'm sure there were a bunch of guys that poured their heart and soul into the company also.
  • + 1
 @properp: Nice!! Yeah, I know the last Rotax they were using was about the same as the one in the Aprilla, could never get that rim brake to work right though. And it wasn't an american engine. It was cool rooting for the local under dog. I would pass the shop if I headed out west. Buehl and Jordon Motorsports were a couple buildings down from each other. Moto ST. I always wanted to race a TM 660 Supermoto at a small track against a twin in the ST class. 75hp, 250lbs. My supermoto is a blast to ride, but being a DRZ 400 SM, it's not very fast. But after riding my wife's old R6 on and off for 5 years, that's a good thing. Ha.. Oh the tickets I'm glad I didn't rack up. My latest dream bike, Husqvarna 701. I just want something I can play with and still ride on the highway from time to time without screaming at me the whole time. "SLOW DOWN!!" even with a 16x39 (can't do 17 because of the clutch rod) 75mph is way too much. Basically pinned in 5th.. Doesn't do 90 though.. sadly, or 140...
  • + 2
 @oldschool43: im on a TW200. It's a underpowered pig slug that is a absolute blast to ride. I sold my R1. I'm still racking up tickets even on a TW200.
  • + 1
 @properp: I like the TW. Yeah, I only got one ticket on mine. On the way to work. 6:30am, not a car in sight, coming up to a red light. Had that,"I wonder..." and proceeded to do about a 200 foot stoppie. The longest one I'd ever done to that point. At around 150 feet, out of the corner of my eye, I see a black and white pulling up from the right... Some super young cop. I was hoping i was old enough, like, "Oh, he's old" and would let me off. We work on points. You start with 12 points. 10 over, 2 points. 20 over, 3 points. Dui, 5 points. Doing the nicest stoppie ever, priceless.. oh and 6 points and $257.. It was worth it, but I have to wait 3 years to get another 6 point ticket. I think the anniversary is this June... Nice..
  • + 1
 That was a great article.
  • + 1
 Great article.
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