Santa Cruz Bicycles Tour - Part 1
In April I had the opportunity to head down to Santa Cruz to check out their facilities and ride their new bikes, the Tallboy LT, Superlight 29, and Highball AL.
I also got to escape this:
And see some of this:
I had forgotten what it looked like.
Santa Cruz Bicycles is a unique company in that they've got international appeal and the image of a large boutique brand, but their facilities are very limited and they run more like a mom-and-pop operation. On the one hand, there is a great family feel among the staff there, and everyone mountain bikes. You also have a system where a bike goes through a lot of people's hands before it gets to a dealer--this means blemishes tend to get noticed before they go out the door. On the other hand, things move slowly at Santa Cruz. There are no bikes built, boxed and ready to go except for ones that have already been ordered and are waiting for the UPS truck to pick them up that day. That's right, NO open stock of boxed bikes. So, when you order a Santa Cruz, your bike goes into the queue and has to be assembled before it can go to ship. Needless to say, with their bikes in such high demand--particularly right now--this means you might have to wait a bit for your bike.
Their warehouse/factory space is two small old cannery buildings divided by a loading area. They're so cramped for space that everyday, they haul out palates of components and frames to make room to assemble their bikes. Every day. And every night, all that shit gets hauled back inside. Every night.
When shipments arrive, it creates even more of a jam. That's palates of Maxxis tires mixed in with frames.
The assembly process starts with this:
The cart is rolled to a work station. Here, the wheels are taped for tubeless set-up, and rotors, cassettes, tires and tubes are mounted.
While this guy assembles the cockpit.
And these guys assemble the frame.
Loctite on the pivot bolts. One guy here assembles all the pivots.
When complete, bikes are boxed and shipped.
Santa Cruz is now offering a custom color program. All of those bikes are powder coated in-house.
I don't have photos, but Santa Cruz also builds their wheels in-house. Wheels are hand-laced and built by a machine. They're then checked for tension and true on a stand.
All-in-all it's an impressive operation particularly given the limited amount of space they have to work with.