Doing it Our Way: Trek Factory Visit

Sep 19, 2014 at 15:59
by Richard Cunningham  

Trek factory visit 2014 lead

bigquotesWe were founded by people who made things. There's something about making something yourself that keeps you honest, that keeps you connected to the product and to the person that is going to use that product.
Travis Ott: Trek global mountain bike brand manager

Trek Bicycles 2014
  Trek began here, in the "Red Barn," where founders Dick Burke and Bevil Hogg built traditional, hand-brazed road bike frames in the 1970's.


Trek may be the last of its kind, at least in the United States. While there are a handful of Cervelos out there that manufacture one or two bikes in their lineups, the last big-name dealer-based bike brands that sprouted from factories which proudly turned raw materials and boxes of parts into beautiful bicycles were Cannondale and Schwinn. While their names are still with us, air-conditioned cubicles have replaced assembly lines. The workers who welded and painted the frames, who laced the wheels, and who assembled the parts into bicycles are long gone - replaced by sharply dressed professionals and the modern bicycle business model. What we now call bicycle makers are actually branded marketing companies that are in the business of conceptualizing and selling bicycles, not actually making them. The people inside do the fun stuff, like industrial design, graphics, marketing, sales and warehousing, and they leave the dirty work to off-shore manufacturers where their products leave distant assembly lines, arrive in sealed boxes and then are shipped, unseen, to bike shops across the globe.

 Paris Gore 2013 This image may not be used distributed copied printed published or displayed without the prior written permission of the Photographer Paris Gore Paris Gore Photography . Doing so without prior written permission will result in a charge of 3 three times the Photographer s customary fee for such usage.
  Step inside Trek's 183,000 square-foot headquarters in Waterloo and visitors pass a museum that represents most of its 39-year history. The campus-like entry with its spacious glass meeting rooms, food court, and open work space belies Trek's Mid-western work ethic. Trek keeps over a thousand employees very busy in Wisconsin.


Some may argue that today's Trek is not much different than any other bike brand in the USA. Most products that carry the Trek name are designed here and manufactured elsewhere, just like the best of the rest. But, Trek does manufacture its own bikes – at its headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin, where it also has a complete carbon frame operation, and in nearby Whitewater, where Trek has a bicycle assembly plant that also produces high-end Bontrager wheelsets. If you have made the rounds to visit the various bike brands in North America, you will probably sense that there is a different vibe at Trek the moment you step into the building. Trek makes bikes, they always have.

 Paris Gore 2013 This image may not be used distributed copied printed published or displayed without the prior written permission of the Photographer Paris Gore Paris Gore Photography . Doing so without prior written permission will result in a charge of 3 three times the Photographer s customary fee for such usage.
  Trek's code of secrecy extends to almost every department in Waterloo. We were allowed to view far more than we were allowed to photograph - understandably so.


Trek started as a pair of entrepreneurs who thought they could make a better road bike frame back in the 1970s and it grew into a family business that became the largest brand in North America. Trek won't offer up any hard numbers as to how many bikes and frames it manufactures in Wisconsin, but they did say that they manufacture and paint the carbon Session, Madone 7 Series, and the Speed Concept 9 Series bicycles in its Waterloo Factory. In addition, all of its custom built "Project One" bikes are painted in Waterloo. Completes frames are sent for final assembly to their Whitewater facility. At one time, Trek manufactured all of its bicycles in the USA, and at the peak of its OCLV-branded composite production, it was easily one of the world's largest manufacturer of carbon-framed bicycles.

 Paris Gore 2013 This image may not be used distributed copied printed published or displayed without the prior written permission of the Photographer Paris Gore Paris Gore Photography . Doing so without prior written permission will result in a charge of 3 three times the Photographer s customary fee for such usage.
  Trek's do-it-ourselves way of business extends even to its race bike assembly area, where mechanics have their own machine shop in case they are asked to fabricate or modify parts for Trek's sponsored athletes.


Trek's made-in-the USA ethos, and its brief domination of high-end carbon manufacturing were cut short, however, as its competitors rushed to get Taiwanese and Chinese bike makers and composite factories up to speed, eventually creating the Asian carbon mafia that presently builds almost all of the world's enthusiast-level bicycles - including Trek's. So, why build here at all? The easy explanation as to why Trek continues to manufacture in the USA would be pride and the desire to continue the family legacy - a story that has been told many times over - but there is a less dramatic and perhaps, a far more compelling reason to manufacture in-house that deserves a listen.

 Paris Gore 2013 This image may not be used distributed copied printed published or displayed without the prior written permission of the Photographer Paris Gore Paris Gore Photography . Doing so without prior written permission will result in a charge of 3 three times the Photographer s customary fee for such usage.
  Somewhere near the carbon manufacturing wing, a frame is jigged next to a table laid out with the two-hundred-or-so strips of carbon that will one day become a new lay-up schedule.


When a company "out-sources" its manufacturing and its technology, it also exports a far more important asset: it exports the opportunity to learn from the manufacturing experience and the creative impulse to improve the product that can only come from being immersed in the building process day in and day out. Improvements that either simplify the process or the ones that lead to a whole new method of construction rarely spring from the minds of the product's primary designers or engineers. The workers who are on the assembly line, and the junior engineers who are tasked with solving the day-to-day production issues are most often the sources of creativity that provide leading manufacturers with their competitive edge. Every new idea or product that is exported to Asian manufacturers becomes a starting point - a golden opportunity to make a better or less expensive version in the future - and represents opportunities lost for those who chose to out-source it. Bike brands, armed with transplant aerospace engineers may have initially powered the rapid improvements gained by Pacific Rim carbon and aluminum frame constructors, but the factories are driving that bus now.

 Paris Gore 2013 This image may not be used distributed copied printed published or displayed without the prior written permission of the Photographer Paris Gore Paris Gore Photography . Doing so without prior written permission will result in a charge of 3 three times the Photographer s customary fee for such usage.
  "Hey, I have a good idea, let's make a 29er DH bike." "...Well, OK then, let's put a drawing together and get started." Taking a concept from theory to a rideable prototype can offer a lot more clarity to the decision making process for Trek's future lineups. Trek's R&D group also has a company-owned trail system right out the front door to give its experiments a quick evaluation.


The sharpest minds in a factory are not always squatting on a balance ball or peering at their smart phones in an air conditioned office. Whoever was responsible for the decision to maintain a competitive manufacturing presence in Trek's factory must have understood that its blue collar workers contributed far more than skilled labor - and that immersing its design and engineering teams in the complete manufacturing process could give Trek a competitive advantage at every step of the pathway which is required to to turn a conceptual prototype into a reliable product that a factory can pump out the back door at a fair profit.

Bontrager hand builds wheels in Whitewater WI USA.

Trek Bicycles 2014
  Trek's Bontrager group wanted the spoke holes of its rims to match the angles with which the spokes were laced to the hubs. So, they bought a robot and built their own rim drilling machine.


Knowledge gained from building bicycles in house can also be leveraged to gain advantages from overseas suppliers as well. Trek's carbon manufacturing facility functions as both a state-of-the-art production factory where they crank out Madone road and Session DH racing frames - and the carbon factory also doubles as a proof of concept laboratory, where the design team can work out layup schedules and new frame configurations in small production runs before Trek launches the new design with one of its overseas manufacturing partners. In-house manufacturing can also be a powerful negotiating tool with foreign suppliers, because Trek has first-hand knowledge of every step of the process and thus understands exactly where their supplier can offer significant savings.

 Paris Gore 2013 This image may not be used distributed copied printed published or displayed without the prior written permission of the Photographer Paris Gore Paris Gore Photography . Doing so without prior written permission will result in a charge of 3 three times the Photographer s customary fee for such usage.
  When Trek's workers pass by this rack of subassemblies awaiting their chance to be bonded into completed carbon frames, many of them can point to the parts that they had a hand in making.

bigquotesWorking with carbon fiber composites is different from most other materials. You have to have intimate knowledge of every aspect, from design and analysis, to manufacturing and process capabilities. By manufacturing in the USA, we maintain this critical connectivity. We each have a passion for our particular specialty within this chain and we challenge each other to push the limits in every facet - every day - it is truly concurrent design, engineering, and manufacturing. This is just not possible if you are not the manufacturer.
Jim Colegrove: Trek carbon manufacturing engineer

Trek Bicycles 2014
  Carbon frames are first molded in sections that are then bonded together here, after which the frames will be placed in carbon fiber fixtures and heat-cured in special ovens.


Composite manufacturing engineer Jim Colegrove says that Trek employs its own carbon construction method - one that is a hyper-modernized version of their original OCLV process. The frame is divided into sections which are laid up, molded and then cured separately. The "lugs," for lack of a better word, are bonded together in a carbon fiber fixture, which assures perfect alignment while the parts are being heat-cured into the final shape of the frame or swingarm. Colegrove says that this method allows Trek to maximize the fiber compaction in technically challenging areas, like the bottom bracket and head tube junctions of a frame, or the dropout and pivot junctions of a swingarm - and that the process also allows the main tubes to be made significantly thinner and lighter, because simpler parts can be further optimized for compaction and curing. When asked if Trek uses the same process for building frames off shore, the answer was no. While some of Trek's construction techniques are used where applicable, Trek's design team would rather work alongside the engineers at their host factory to optimize their frames using their existing manufacturing process. "The time required to introduce an entirely new manufacturing process could take a year or more," said Colegrove. "We insist on some things, but we choose suppliers who are good at what they do and have perfected their own methods."

Trek Bicycles 2014
  Racks of freshly baked carbon Session frames will soon be assembled in the Whitewater factory.


Many rear suspension designs require dedicated shock tunes, or unique configurations to optimize their performance and Trek falls into that category. Trek has its own suspension design and testing facility across the country in Valencia, California, where Jose Gonzalez and two other full-time employees evaluate new products and work with fork and shock suppliers, like RockShox and Fox Factory, to arrive at custom tunes for Trek's fleet. Gonzalez's team also prototypes suspension components that are unique to Trek - most of which are co-developed and manufactured by Trek's partner suppliers. The Trek Suspension Lab's location allows the team there to test products twelve months out of the year in real mountains - an advantage, perhaps a necessity, for a flatland bike company that is frozen solid for three months each Winter.

Jose Gonzalez at 2012 Trek Launch in Cortina D Ampezzo Italy
  Jose Gonzalez is an accomplished rider who left the motocross industry to make a name in the mountain bike biz. Jose heads Trek's Suspension Lab in Southern California. - Sterling Lorence photo

bigquotesThe ability to independently investigate and develop suspension technologies and exclusive tuning is a huge competitive advantage, as we are not solely dependent on what the primary suspension companies are doing. We have options if those aren't the best direction for Trek mountain bikes and that approach has led to Hybrid Air, DRCV shocks and now, Re:Aktiv damping.
Jose Gonzalez: founder, Trek Suspension Lab

Trek Fuel EX 27.5 FOX RE active shock testing Photos by Dan Milner and Sterling Lorence
  Gonzalez works directly with sponsored athletes and often with the press at product launches to gather vital information and feedback. Gonzalez's latest project is a joint venture with Fox suspension and Penske Racing. - Sterling Lorence photo


The most prolific suspension product to emerge from the Trek Suspension Lab is the Fox-made "Dual-Rate Control Valve" DRCV shock, seen on its mid-travel trailbikes. Trek's Hybrid Coil-Air version of the Fox 40 DH fork is another example, and more recently, Trek fired up a three-way partnership with Penske Racing and Fox Factory to develop their new Reaktiv shock that blends Penske's regressive damping valve with its existing DRCV shock. The Trek Suspension Lab is clouded with secrecy, but observant Southern California riders often catch glimpses of the team test riding new bicycle and suspension designs on nearby trail networks.

Trek Bicycles 2014
  Project One brings Trek's manufacturing power to the personal level. Customers can choose almost any color and component selection and get the added benefits of Trek's service programs and factory warranty.


Racing is a staple that all top brands leverage as both a sales tool as well as a means to develop and test new product. No surprise there. Trek customers, however, reap a secondary benefit from its racing development group. Scott Daubert is in charge of building and supporting the large number of individuals and teams who race on Trek bikes. Daubert says that a single ProTour road team can require over 50 bicycles - an average of five for each rider, painted in the team's graphics and with individual treatments for every member - and Trek sponsors multiple teams. Mountain bike teams, says Daubert, are less demanding, but even DH riders often get custom road and trailbikes for training, in addition to their Sessions.

 Paris Gore 2013 This image may not be used distributed copied printed published or displayed without the prior written permission of the Photographer Paris Gore Paris Gore Photography . Doing so without prior written permission will result in a charge of 3 three times the Photographer s customary fee for such usage.
  It's like a bike shop work area, only every part is the absolute best and every bike is a custom build for a famous professional racer.


During a busy year, the race shop cranks out up to a thousand custom race bikes on a tight schedule, which led Trek to consider making that service available to its customers. "Project One" is just that. Trek customers can choose from a selection of Trek's top-range mountain or road bikes and then add a custom paint scheme and component selection. Project One is another example of how mastering a process in small, controlled batches can make its way into production. For the people who work at Trek's in-house paint and graphics facility, Project One is a welcome creative challenge, and for Trek's marketing staff, Project One expands their opportunities to experiment with color schemes for future model years

An overview of the factory where Bontrager hand builds wheels in Whitewater WI USA.
  Wheel-building and most of Trek's US bicycle assembly takes place here, in Trek's Whitewater factory. - Trek photo


bigquotesThere's so much that you learn when you actually make something. Our engineers are able to walk directly onto the manufacturing floor and understand the whole process, and work out any potential issues with the people who will be executing the decisions they make. It makes all of our bikes better, because we're not removed from the process.
Travis Ott: Trek global mountain bike brand manager

Trek's decision to continue to manufacture in house is as much of a potential risk as it is a benefit. Bike brands that outsource all of their products are comfortably insulated from many of the pitfalls of manufacturing. Their cost per unit is negotiated up front, so they don't have to pay for mistakes or unforeseen cost overruns. Nor does the out-sourcing brand need to worry about what to do when hundreds of factory employees are standing around without work during the off season. Add a multitude of environmental and workplace laws to comply with, to the taxes, insurance and benefit burdens that a manufacturer must shoulder to do business in the USA, and an outsider may begin to understand that Trek's commitment to "made in the USA" is a sizeable and risky investment that is not shared by its competition.

Antonio Cortez works on assembling Trek P1 custom bikes in Whitewater WI USA.
  Trek uses a just-in-time assembly model that was developed in part, by Toyota. The system reduces the amount of inventory that needs to be warehoused and prevents choke points in the flow between each work-station. - Trek photo


Those in the know will flatly state that manufacturing always comes with substantial risk, and yet Trek - one of the most conservatively run business in the bicycle industry - embraces it. Trek is a privately held corporation, so precious few have access to their record books, but we'd bet a carbon Session that they don't always turn a profit on their made-in-USA production. It's also a sure bet that Trek wouldn't home-brew bicycles unless it contributed substantially to its bottom line in other ways. Trek's batting average is at the very top of the major leagues. Its products are consistently among the most reliable made, and they are competitive at the highest levels in every important cycling discipline. It is obvious that Trek is doing something very right and, if one makes side-by-side comparisons, the solitary difference between the bike brand from Waterloo and its competitors is that Trek walks the walk. While the other brands are blabbing up the press with the how’s and why's of their bike's construction, Trek is on the ground in the factory - actually constructing them. "Knowledge is power," they say, and it seems that the people at Trek know exactly what they are doing - doing it their way.





138 Comments

  • + 224
 *looks around, doesn't see any comments yet:


Looks like a session
  • + 108
 Your comment is a total Remedy for this topic!
  • + 93
 hope neg props won't Scratch it
  • + 91
 Looks like I need a Ticket to watch another pun show
  • + 92
 Don't Fuel the fire bro...
  • + 46
 I madone with this webside, the puns are just terrible.
  • + 42
 Y do we always do this?
  • + 30
 Those carbon frames are lush!
  • + 26
 Thats taking it to Far.....ley
  • + 25
 Is it time for me to break out my Stache of puns? Nah.
  • + 7
 only if you do it while i go for a Slash
  • + 53
 Scores wise, most of these comments range between 77 and 88 points. But the original comment receives a massive 9.9 out of 10.
  • + 22
 FX's sake, not these again....
  • + 6
 the Rhythmic succession of these puns is quite entertaining. however it isn't the first One of these comment Projects
  • + 34
 why not? these puns are superfly
  • + 19
 It seems Pinkbike users loves Pun Sessions every once in a while
  • + 20
 We domane-ate at puns.
  • + 1
 I bet all the bikes coming out of their race shop Shift as smooth as Pure Silque
  • - 9
flag WAKIdesigns (Oct 16, 2014 at 10:07) (Below Threshold)
 I don't like it how they try to slash the production on Taiwan in the article.
  • + 3
 the adaptation of these puns is so liquid! The message has diesel like power.
  • + 5
 I bet they are more than 4300 puns to be made out of this post
  • + 4
 I'm sure we'll eventually reach the Apex of this but until then the Skye's the limit with all the Wahoo's on this site
  • + 17
 As this Superfly Session of puns comes to a close, I have gained a Farley Lush Stache of puns. They are sure to be the Remedy to my poor comedy and Fuel a comeback into my stand up career. I will Slash Ticket prices so that you all can be in the front row.
  • + 2
 Trek's latest family movie is called Freelance
  • + 3
 Hopefully that roadie, that shall remain nameless, didn't lance off too much of their business. I would be a shame if they couldn't keep a strong arm in the industry.
  • + 4
 it appears that we have an ob-session with puns.
  • + 2
 These are the highest X-Caliber puns i've ever heard.
  • + 2
 Puns are over 9000
  • + 1
 its quite a far-ley out idea, but i hope this pun session will end soon.....
  • + 2
 Scratch that! this pun Session needs to stop or else I'll Slash someone's tire so bad there's the only Remedy is to buy new tires!
  • + 2
 I always slash in on the pun session too late
  • + 1
 quite the trek of puns over the course of topic.
  • + 1
 Us Neko-mancers don't much approve of these pun Sessions. You'd all better get the Hkek out of here, or ya'll have my Cousin Earl to answer to! And you'd better not call the Five-O's 'cause my sister Émonda from Cali is gonna come over and make y'all Stagger.
  • + 81
 gas is made out of liquid explosive dinosaurs
  • + 9
 WTF. Lol. So completely random. You sir are now responsible for the water that now permeates my work computer.
  • + 3
 i like this
  • - 10
flag aidanbrown559 (Oct 16, 2014 at 19:00) (Below Threshold)
 These are the highest X-Caliber puns i've ever heard.
  • + 12
 @aidanbrown wrong thread no puns here move along
  • + 5
 Yeah sorry dude wrong one.
  • + 18
 Good article and its always a good thing to see bike brands doing some domestic manufacturing

However, the bulk of Trek's production both CF and Aluminium Alloy is built off-shore by Giant, and Giant are the leading composite manufacturing company in the World for bicycles, interesting to see how much "knowledge" Trek have provided Giant compared to what Giant have provided to Trek Wink
  • + 2
 I like what your pointing out, yes they have a number of jobs here in America but many of them were shipped overseas to save costs.
  • + 9
 Oh, for crying out loud...this again? No, Trek bikes are not manufactured by Giant. They share an overseas manufacturing facility, yes, but the two companies are entirely separate within that facility. They do not actively share manufacturing processes, product designs, etc., because of the unavoidable facts that they are two different companies and are direct competitors.
  • + 14
 Snakeworth, if you follow motorsport at all you might be familiar with the term 'Ronspeak,' so named after long time Mclaren boss Ron Dennis and his tendency to use superfluously labyrinthine corporate verbiage for the purpose of liaising commonplace exactitudes.
.
What you just typed was pure Ronspeak, Giant doesn't make Trek bikes, they just share a common manufacturing plant in Taiwan, that has the word GIANT written above the doors and guys (and girls) in blue shirts with the GIANT logo on them walk round laying up, painting and assembling frames with the word TREK written on them, but Giant doesn't actually make Trek bikes because Trek pays some of the bills... okay...
  • + 9
 @snakeworth

Giant certainly make Trek, colnago, cannondale, canyon and many other brands in their c-tech carbon plant and aluminium alloy plants. This is a collaboration between customers and giant's engineering and production staff because the guys and girls in the plants are actually building the product.

It's not an industry secret that this happens, and giant actually keep the best tech for their own brand, and provide it to their customers 1-2 seasons later.

Giant will also refuse to manufacture design/engineering proposals from their customers that have flaws that could impact giant's reputation as a quality manufacturer.

How do I know this? I've just spent this evening hosting an event for Helen Jenkins, a world/Olympic triathlon champion who rides for Giant's women specific brand "liv" and I always spend time talking to people from giant which this evening included one of six global product managers. This guy is totally open to questions and will tell you who makes what for whom, how, when, where...
  • + 1
 It is the same with Kinesis frames. One company assembles them but they could have a number of different names on them. Engineers will use a CAD program and design everything and I believe a couple of prototypes are built by hand to check how a bike would actually feel and then the designs are sent to a factory where frames are produced in mass quantities. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I believe this is how it goes down.
  • + 1
 Seeing how Giant makes so many of other brands' bikes, it's odd that they still don't have a carbon Glory.
  • + 13
 I feel bad that the Lance Armstrong scandal probably cost some people their jobs at Trek. I really wish the rest of the North American bike companies would bring some manufacturing back to North America, but we are too far dependent on China to make every piece of shit we own. Like this Iphone I am using.
  • + 3
 Your iPhone was predominately manufactured in Germany. Only basic assembly was done in China. It's an interesting example because it shows that you CAN manufacture things in a first world country. This assumption that China is the only type of place you can build things and be profitable is false. You have to look at the large, well educated labor force in Germany and compare it to the US model of expensive education to understand why the US is failing as a manufacturer. US trade policies are the other arm of the beast... Fist bump for Trek for hanging in there the best they can in a country whose government has turned it's back on the middle class.
  • + 1
 Only the accelerometer made by Bosch Sensortech could be a German made component of the Iphone. They also have factories in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China.
  • + 12
 Good article. I went out to Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago to visit the Trek factory. Can confirm the amount of passion their employees have for what they do. I've always loved Trek but getting to go out there and meet the people behind the scenes gave me such a different perspective.
  • + 2
 I also toured Trek Factory last month. Great experience, I loved it. I thought some of the coolest things was the employee bicycle room and the paint and decal section. Good vibes in that place.
  • + 12
 Asian carbon mafia? You mean Giant, who manufactures most of Trek's line? Whoa, that's a very despective way to address the very source of the company's biggest revenues...
  • + 2
 Not only that...Giant is the largest bike manufacturer in the world, and owns 49% of Specialized!....mafia? I don't know, but it is safe to say that Giant has an influence in a big part of the market
  • + 8
 wrong...giant is not involved in specialized..... In 2001, Merida bought 49% of Specialized
Giant & Merida are the 2 biggest frame producer in Tawain
  • + 2
 I hope its not like Toyota and Subaru where the parent company will stop the other from racing. I don't care how good Giant, Trek or Specialised and I guess by the above comment Merida are they have enough money. They got it by being conservative and boring. Give me innovative and different any day.
  • - 8
flag Snakeworth (Oct 16, 2014 at 8:35) (Below Threshold)
 Once again, Giant DOES NOT manufacture Trek's bikes. They share an overseas production facility (likely for cost and/or tax reasons, I'd wager), but are completely separate and distinct within that facility. They don't make each other's stuff. That would just be dumb.
  • + 3
 they use the same equipment and process's its the same shit.
  • + 5
 They are produced by Kinesis Industry, which spun off of Giant a long time ago. Trek and Giant don't "share a production facility" for tax reasons, they simply have production contracts with the same manufacturer (Kinesis) to build their frames because they can do it better/cheaper/faster than competitors. Virtually every company that pays overseas suppliers to do their manufacturing does this. Each company's ideas and designs are protected by NDAs, patents, etc (at least in theory... doesn't always work in Asia). In short, they're made in the same facilities, probably by many of the same people, to different designs/specs of their choosing. There might be different production lines for each company, or the same line might tool up to produce a run of 1000 Trances, then retool for 1000 Remedys the next week. This is common practice.

It's likely that at one point Giant realized that they could save money by letting the manufacturing team (now Kinesis) build for other companies as well, which would create higher volumes for the mfr and lower costs for Giant. Win-win.
  • + 1
 @clemson you're right...I mixed them up...doh!
  • + 10
 Lots of people love to hate Trek, but the fact that they still make some bikes in the US is a big deal to me. Trek keeps innovating, and they stand behind their products on the warranty end.
  • + 6
 Trek has one of the best (if not the best) warranty programs out there
  • + 3
 this is the truth. my burry snapped a 2008 fisher roscoe frame and trek sent him a 2013 remedy frame free of charge
  • - 2
 I would have to disagree. Snapped the chainstays on my Session three weeks after purchasing and Trek gave me the run-around when it came to getting it replaced. Trek bikes are always fun to ride, but I would never purchase from them again.
  • + 6
 I have also had an awesome experience with Trek's warranty. Snapped the chain stay on 2007 Remedy and Trek hooked me up with 2014 Remedy.
  • + 8
 @geerumm huh, that's weird, and I would suggest, is the exception and not the rule. I work at a Trek dealership and have personally handled multiple warranties of snapped or cracked chainstays on full suspension bikes ranging from Top Fuels to Scratches to Sessions. Never had an issue, even when the customers bicycle past the timeframe that qualified for warranty. In fact, in two different instances in the last couple years they sent completely new frames that were nicer versions of the same platform when all they really needed to do was send a new chainstay.
  • + 0
 WHAT? One of the best warranty programms?
The fact, that I am waiting to get my Chainstay (Remedy) replaced for nine weeks now makes me kinda feel that this isn´t true.

Okay they said it woudn´t be a warranty case because, I rode mine in the Bikepark (you loose your warranty, if you ride it in the park), but they send me a new one for free is fine, anyway I am still waiting for my Chainstay and its not fun to watch the season pass by while I am still waiting for this crap.

Very generous of them, to let me wait this long, and (for me) its no excuse that I get it for free.

Sorry, my english isn´t the best, when I am angry.
  • + 1
 @guinnessRCD Dude it's like us Americans trying to warranty a Commencal bike or any other company from outside the country you live in. If you were from the states, I guarantee you would have a different warranty experience.
  • + 1
 Well, maybe you are right.
Anyway, no Trek for me anymore, maybe there are some (european) companies which could do better
  • + 10
 When will project1 come to the Session? I could spend hours in school configuring, and reconfiguring my DH bike....
  • + 5
 and ticket s, dj
  • + 7
 SCHOOL IS FOR STUDYING !!!! Study hard and have a good job. A good job is when you can spend hours configuring your session on project one. And buy it.
  • + 7
 everyone knows your priorities go : bike,bike,bikes,bikes,food,sleep,women,school,job... cmon bro
  • + 8
 I studied hard and got a crap job. I would have been better off configuring my DH bike on project1.
  • + 2
 hahahahaha
  • + 2
 If a meteor crashes to earth and kills you tomorrow, would you want to die while studying for an education that leads to a job in which you may or may NOT have the ability to configure a Project 1 Session at??? Or would you die happy by knowing that you have already had a meaningful life by spending hours configuring a Project 1 Session? That's what my asian grandfather asked me when I was young and needed advice in life.
  • + 10
 New found respect for Trek
  • + 6
 Back in the old days a guy traveled around the USA trying to get factories to allow the machine operators and other line workers to make suggestions about the products. No body listened here so he went to Japan. A few years later honda put Harley out of business. In the eighties Toyota taught gm the same principles. GM ignored them. Toyota took over the industry. There is some real value in making stuff with your own hands. It gives you insight into how to make the product better. Nice work trek.
  • + 5
 Trek and Bontrager are a perfect match they are both on top of my lists of favorite bike companies and I've ridden them all. The only gripe I have is that Trek killed Gary Fisher branding which IMO was a marketing floop. They truly pissed off a dedicated Fisher following. Now if they were smart (which I think they are) they should release a new Enduro bike under the Fisher branding something that's completely out of the box a game changer not that F1 Penske crap. I'm still waiting for this to happen Trek I won't give up on you. Lol.
  • + 4
 I know that this is a website based in North America but this is not their only market. Euros read that too aaand please don't bash Asian production because for us it does not matter whether it's made in US or on Taiwan. There is no reason why would Trek deliver a better product than a factory in Asia if only for a blunt assumption that people there are more disciplined and dedicated to their job by nature. Thumbs up for you Trek for jeeping it at home but still... And don't call that dirty job sent to Asia because I thought that the point of the article is that you love that job.
  • + 2
 well for me it matters,i wouldnt buy a carbon frame that polluted a river in asia to be made and would also not accept workers in these countries compromising their health. If you are ok w/ these dirty jobs you must be dirty too. If you ride a bike because of culture,you're a huge hypocrite saying that stuff
  • + 1
 fritzstyler - I've played that card three years ago. Since then I learned that there are stricter environmental regulations on Taiwan than in US. I live in Sweden, world's hub for pseudo-environmentalist, leftist, couch activist, green-labeled consumerism, where farmers use more sht on their crops than exploited people in China.Stop reading CHOMSKY!!! Big Grin
  • + 2
 the companies are based in taiwan but manufacture in china. not that i believe regulations are obeyed in taiwan. what a joke. how do they get out so cheap? yea and what about the wages the workers get and the huge profits the companies make, do you find that rightful? they make a frame with like 2% of the price they sell it.
i suppose you know potentially how disastrous carbon manufacturing can be. all capitalists are dirty. Bike sector especially needs to get real. They sell their crap in the price of a japanese mx bike and idiots go buy it. At least make it in a first world country so you dont seem like a ruthless idiot
  • + 0
 What you are doing is you are dehumanizing people in Asia and in what you see as opressing part of the world. There are no capitalists or communists, they are humans, your classifications and generalizations simply fail to honour the uniqueness of a human being. You have also no experience, you just read certain type of literature, watch certain youtube videos. I have been there and I realised that I am no better than. What is ironic is that you prop production in a country that is the very essence of consumerism, in many ways. a country Until you get that you will just be I have talked to Chinese owned company making carbon stuff and they were just people. You should also take Carl Sagans "blue dot" idea and realize that in 100 000 years the environmental issues you advocate for, will all be nothing more than life-form induced climate change. If you looked from hostorical and geographical perspective of the whole planet you'd see that what happens is nothing short of NATURAL. In the vast space no one can hear you scream. If you truly care then have no children. Contemplate that issue that environmentalism is motivated subconsciously by need of preserving human species, not ONLY holistic approach. No ideology will ever teach you that
  • + 1
 you thought i was calling the workers capitalists. WTF!! i meant the wages of the workers in contrast with the profits of the companies. Uniqueness of human being? Call me leftist but i dont think all humans are accountable for the injustice and the damage around the world. I'm not talking about myself ,i know i'm in a consumerist joke country too, but the laborers in Asia and the aboriginals ,and the tribes in africa dying by drought, what are they accountable for? They had no choice
Simply asking for the bike companies to live up to their responsibility, since bike is the most viable vehicle we have.
  • + 4
 Imagine A bike industry without chick brands and how boring it would become. forget about interbike and all that fun shit and put a huge halt on bicycle innovation. Nicolai keep pumping out those freakshows, Salsa and Surly keep making them beastly odd balls. I love all you guys.
  • + 4
 I like companies that put aside all the marketing bullshit, the bias professional athletes product reviews, paid media attention and don't try to reinvent every god dam single component and accessory possible by putting there brand name on it. I have a huge respect for intense, Ibis, Ellsworth, Transition and many other brands that stick to simply making mainly frames and few components. companies like trek and giant and specialized make sick products but at the same time I find it extremely odd that I can buy a 10 000$ mountain bike and my neighbour can have the same company name branded on his fanny pack or saddle bags. Where it bothers me is that the newbie cyclist looking to get his hands on a new set of shoes, or helmet, or saddle bags may make a decision based solely on the fact that there is a renowned brand marking on the product. This takes business from the little guy who maybe specialised in those products. It's becoming a monopoly as big companies buy out small ones. Everytime you buy a trek / giant / specialized accessory you are putting money into a huge corporation vs. buying an accessory from a company who is solely doing it for that specific product to make a living off of there hard work and passion. Small companies don't do it for the money, they do it for the passion, and that's who I support.
  • + 1
 ^+100000
  • + 4
 RC, your write ups are insanely very well written, i couldn't even find a spelling error! loved this article and your introspection. you do justice for PB, much appreciated!
  • + 7
 Why wasn't there anything on the Trek Trails??
  • + 2
 I will admit that they make a damn fine product. However, they have also killed many a good bike company(Bontrager, Fisher, Lemond) to get to where they are and I just can't support that. I'd buy another brand before a Trek(even used). But it's good to see someone still manufacturing in a first world country.
  • + 5
 I admit to not knowing much about LeMond (apart from the fact that Trek made LeMond bikes from the start), but Bontrager and Fisher have been working willingly under the Trek umbrella for decades. Keith Bontrager gladly sold his company to Trek back in the '80s, and Gary Fisher was designing and making bikes for Trek back when they were still called Fisher bikes, and then Gary Fisher Collection bikes, and he's still doing so today. How does it constitute "killing" companies, when they've incorporated, promoted, and widely distributed said companies' innovations and products to an extremely successful degree?
  • + 0
 Trek is basically a corporation who absorbs smaller companies. Bontrager may have willingly sold him his bike frame company but how many Bontrager bike frames are still being produced? 0. Fisher was in bed with Trek, not certain if he sold the company to them. They whittled it down bit by bit over the years.
mountainbike.bicycling.com/mountainbikecom/featured-stories/trek-absorbs-gary-fisher
As of this last year there are no more bikes with any Fisher endorsement. They likely absorbed the designers under Trek.
As for Lemond......well, let's just say Trek sided with a certain high-profile doper and kicked Lemond to the curb and then drug him through the dirt. They used to make nice steel bikes and then titanium bikes but Trek tried to put it to rest.
www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/greg-lemond-lawsuit-trek-broken-promises-lance-article-1.198217
Now I understand Lemond is trying via Look bicycles.

I just don't support those type tactics. I don't buy Specialized and I don't buy Trek. It's nice to see some of their innovation though. I believe the DRCV and G2 are great innovations that are understated.
  • + 3
 Daggggggg! I forgot Klein! They killed Klein as well!
  • + 1
 Klein was about oversized aluminum and killer paint. Bontrager frames were about incredibly well build steel. Trek decided that high end frames in the 21st century means carbon fiber. Fisher was about the legend of Gary. LeMond was about the legend of Greg. Both those legends play very well in the US, but have limited strength globally. Trek decided that the brand with the most equity globally was Trek.
  • + 1
 UPDATE: Trek is fully made by Giant in CHINA today. They use 304 s.s. spokes in their wheels (also China made) that are pure $hit. Trek treats their dealers like the quality of their spokes. They've turned into a mafia that doubles their BOM mfg cost to their dealers, who then have to retail it to end users.. Not cool..
  • + 4
 Big props for keeping jobs and manufacturing in North America - what a great company!
  • + 4
 See the overweight wheel builders? Proof that Trek builds their wheels in the US.
  • + 5
 Thanks for the 147 mm hubs you twats
  • + 5
 Props to RC for a very well written article.
  • + 4
 I own a Session and it's the best bike I've ever ridden! Big Grin
  • + 0
 Trek's carbon bikes aren't made very well. I broke a Remedy frame within 3 months of buying it new and the down tube cracked/shattered after laying it down in a loose corner. Bad customer service from the warranty department too. Thought I'd share my experience. Cheers
  • + 1
 Agree with the comments about Fisher, but there is nothing associated with Penske that is crap. Check out his race shops if you don't believe it, my house ain't that clean-ever.
  • + 0
 Still can not understand why sealed drive gearing does not exist, It is not that it can not be done, more that big S companies are scared that they would make less money ?
Same reason that can get all these different wheel sizes is to make more money & keep changing things by small amounts
  • + 0
 totally agreed
  • + 3
 No mention of all the companies like Klein they bought it and killed early on.........
  • + 0
 So thix wisconsin place, its a year round mecca for mtb and road riding that attracts the brightest and most passionate cyclists? Strange, google says its really flat with long snowy winters.
  • + 4
 Greg LeMond
  • + 2
 So wait... I was right when I told everyone there was only one family in Taiwan that made all the carbon frames.
  • + 1
 Good read. Nice to have a little insight to a major brand's manufacturing strategy.
  • + 0
 "blue collar workers contributed far more than skilled labor"


Ignorant comment. The lie collar workers in this scenario are very skilled.
  • + 1
 I like the idea of a 29er dh. Faster in the technical sections...
  • + 1
 A 29er Trek DH bike.... I look forward to it.
  • + 1
 so the now scott voltage looks like a session?!
  • + 1
 I will love to ride the 29er down hill bike it looks super fast.
  • + 1
 Didn't pinkbike do this last year?
  • + 1
 Quite a long... Journey they have been on.
  • + 1
 Great Article
  • - 3
 I find the way the article is written it tries to imply Trek is manufacturing in the US. They are prototyping in the US. Once they figure out how they want it built, they still have that done overseas for production runs.
  • + 8
 False. Did you read the article? A lot of Trek's bikes are made overseas yet Trek makes all of their high end road and mountain bike frames in the US. And these frames they make in the US are for customers not just prototypes.
  • + 4
 They make 3 frames out of how many in the US? Again the article is trying to make more of it than there is.


"Trek may be the last of its kind, at least in the United States. While there are a handful of Cervelos out there that manufacture one or two bikes in their lineups"

Trek only manufactures 3 of their bikes, so why imply they are different from other brands that manufacture as many?
  • + 2
 They're more just the high-end and custom bikes, but Trek still manufactures more bikes in the US than any other brand. Yes, they manufacture most of their bikes overseas (with those bikes still designed in the US), but it would be impossible for them to remain competitive in the modern economy without doing so.
  • + 3
 I would prefer my bike to be built somewhere else. Too many lazy Americans who don't take pride in their work. Which car manufacturers have the most success and dependability?? Not these domestic clunkers. Same goes for the bike industry...
  • + 2
 Hey geerumm, I bet you my US made Turner is built and designed better than whatever sweatshop POS you're riding.
  • - 1
 Agree, many competent framebuilders here. Trek is a nondescript, inflexible and bland boxmoving corp with mediocre product ideas fueling sweatshops, marts and lbs showrooms. Nice PR prose. Good job.
  • + 2
 geerumn- it's a new century my friend, catch up. You just parrot what you hear. I turned wrenches over half my life, if you buy that Toyota and Honda are so much better than American, how do you explain that so many foreign cars are made here with american workers. Nothing worse than a lemming. Also, the small guys hand building here in the US aren't getting rich doing it, so they do it for the love of their craft.
  • + 3
 Trek makes many more than 3 bikes in the US. They make the Sessions, high end Madones, high end Emonda, high end Domanes, all Speed concepts, carbon fuels and carbon superflys in the US
  • + 0
 Going with the american made car thing i gotta agree american cars are garbage and regardless of who builds them or where they're built they're poorly designed and engineered, and have the blandest styling (except for the ford raptor). They're so bad that chrysler is using the catchphrase "america's import" to sell it's cars, as if by associating their cars with imports magically makes their cars less shitty. old trucks are the only american made vehicles worth having.
  • + 2
 Work on a few thousand, then lets talk.
  • + 3
 I like this trashing of American cars thing, its funny. For all of you driving your fancy European cars, keep them until they're out of warranty and see how much you pay for every stupid sensor that goes bad, or electrical gremlin. I dare you to buy a an 7-8 year old Audi, Mercedes, or BMW with moderate miles on the clock. And those cheap Asian cars are exactly that. Cheap. Just when they break its usually not as expensive because you can find parts from a million wholesalers or salvage yards, since everyone and their mother drives one.
  • + 1
 "Sweatshops". Really? Is that how some of you perceive all Asian workplaces?
  • + 1
 @geerumm: Production quality actually went up for Rockshox when they moved to Taiwan. I've visited their facility in Taitung, Taiwan. Clean and modern.
  • - 1
 29er dh bike? please, just no.
  • - 2
 Hey I have a bad idea, lets make a 29er dh bike!
  • + 7
 Hey, I have something we should test the validity of! Lets design and build a prototype, test it, decide that no, it does not prove to improve the ride characteristics enough to produce, let's try something else. Companies testing things that are out of the ordinary is a good thing.
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