3 Tours – Serotta, Seven Cycles and Independent Fabrication

I had a great tour of the Serotta Factory in Saratoga Springs NY yesterday,  even though I got a little lost and arrived late.

The Serotta Bicycle Fit Centre (white building), with the bicycle frame factory behind.

I was very impressed to hear (and see) that they make everything themselves, even having their own carbon fibre tubing production facility at Poway, Calfornia, Serotta Composites.

The only thing they don’t do in-house is anodize the seat-collars.

Here are the pictures from my visit:

Frames from Serotta's past adorn the walls.

Vintage Serotta frame

 

Modern bikes from the Serotta stable.

 

Tubing storage

 

Tube mitring fixture on horizontal mill.

This area is for checking the alignment of a particular frame part.

 

The automatic BB shell clamp on this alignment table now has a remote safety switch after somebody lost part of a finger..

 

Tig welding

 With metal frames, rear triangles are tacked first, then the alignment is checked, then welded completely and alignment checked again. 

This mill is fitted with an abrasive facer to finish carbon BB faces squarely.

 

Automatic seat tube reamer.

Head tube reamer/facer.

 

Milling machine set up with a sloting saw to cut seat binder slots.

 
 

A quality control area.

Some testing is carried out here, with "go/no-go" and other tools.

A frame number stamping/rolling device for titanium and steel.

Frame preparation area - this area is separated from the main workshop to keep out dust and dirt, before frames are painted or carbon frames are bonded.

 Serrotta have a very extensive & high quality painting facility.  There are 5 automotive-stye paint booths:

1. Bonding booth – stays, etc are cured here.

2. Paint mixing – computerized system calculates amounts of paint to minimize wastage.

3. Spray booth with circulatory underfloor ventilation.

4. Spray booth with circulatory underfloor ventilation.

5. Drying booth – sealed from painting booths to prevent dust ingress.

These fame sub-assemblies have been masked and the lugged sockets blasted to aid the bonding of the epoxy.

 

One of the five painting/finishing booths at Serrotta.

This frame is designed to accommodate the Shimano Di2 electronic shifting gubbins.

Paint mixing room - a computer program calculates the amount of paint to mix so that little or none is wasted.

Epoxy bonding booth - the carbon frames are held in a fixture as seen here and the temperature is cranked up to accelerate curing.

This carbon frame is being assembled with epoxy in a fixture.

Serrotta carbon.

All sorts of frame components are stored in this area.

A rear dropout sits atop the material from whence it was hewn (in-house, of course).

 

5-axis cnc machine.

This bottom bracket shell is made..

..from this..

..not by specially trained mice, but with th 5-axis cnc machine.

A carbon head tube with metal reinforcement.

Titanium tubing

Swaged in-house by this machine.

Machined parts are put through "rumblers" filled with abrasive particles to remove machining marks.

Dropouts are machined from blanks made on a lathe.

Lathe

Final finshing, polishing & packaging area.

WORKSHOP TOUR – SEVEN CYCLES, BOSTON
Seven Cycles began in 1997, and make carbon, titanium and steel bike frames.  They hope to make 3,000 bikes this year.
Karl Borne kindly gave me a great tour of the shop.
 
Here are the pictures I took:
 

This bike was made by Seven for a show in Germany.

 

Entering the workshop floor..

Completed sizing charts come through from the customers..

Dropouts and other frame parts are selected here.

Rear dropouts

Titanium tubing is ordered once a year in bulk from Haynes International. The tubes are long..

 

.. so they use this lathe to cut the tubes to short lengths. The tubing can pass right through the chuck from the end...

 

.. and are supported on these scooter wheel rollers during the cutting.

 

Tubing for a build in progress.

The chief bender shows me how to match bend a pair of stays on a hydraulic bender..

a little more..

..There we go.

The angle is checked with blocks and a protractor on a surface plate.

Bending mandrels for different sized tubes and bend radii.

The progression of the bend is monitored by watching the gauge as it contacts the small angle boom.

Watching the gauge.

Around the shop floor..

A tig welded frame

Tig welding in action.

A computer system tracks the progress of each frame in real time, and the customer can be told exactly which stage the build has reached.

CNC machine

Painting and Finishing area..

Seven Cycles decals.

.

A very clean weld.

Frame packing area.

Employees' bike parking.

 WORKSHOP TOUR:   INDEPENDENT FABRICATION.

Marty at Geekhouse told me how to find “Indy Fab” on a commercial estate in Boston.  They were about to move 60 miles north to New Hampshire to new premises when I visited.  Most of the employees will move with the company.

The company was started in 1995 by Mike Flanigan, Jeff Bucholz and Lloyd Graves.

Custom bikes began in about 2000, and the company was then employee-owned.  In 2008 Gary Smith bought the majority of the company.

There have been as many as 20 employees in the past, but now there are about 10.

Indy Fab makes steel, titanium and carbon frames, but also uses a blend of materials on some frames, eg carbon and titanium.  They are well known for hardtail mountain bikes, but now make approximately 50% road bikes and 50% mtbs.

Some cross bikes are also made by the company.

Every bike is custom built over an 8-10 week turnaround period.

Here are the pictures:

Indy Fab's HQ then, but not now.

Inside.

In-house bike photo studio

Frames.

Cleaning tank.

Stuff..

This gas fluxer underneath the bench adds flux to the acetylene line. The flux is absorbed into the flame when brazing and enhances the quality of the weld when brass brazing. A bright green flame indicates the flux is in the flame.

A reel of silver brazing alloy.

Head tubes are reamed and faced on this ancient lathe. Most of the machines here are 60 - 70 years old.

 

More old machinery.

 

An American-made air powered file.

When titanium is welded at Indy Fab they use a "double pass" weld. the 1st pass is a fusion weld to help seal the purging gas, then the 2nd pass is made with filler rod.

 

Tubing storage area. Indy Fab are beginning to combine titanium orders with other companies to reduce the cost of ordering from bulk-only aerospace materials suppliers.

 

Painting/finishing area.

Lugged carbon design.

Final frame finishing.

Ok, that’s it for the Independent Fabrication tour.  Hope you liked it, and I hope the factory move went ok..
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3 Comments on “3 Tours – Serotta, Seven Cycles and Independent Fabrication”

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