Intense Cycles has been on a roll lately plowing out aluminum and carbon bikes, with some great highlights in the 27.5 and 29-inch wheel sizes. With a new influx of capital from a 40% revenue growth this past year and a small-business loan, they're expanding, hiring, and reinvesting in product development, tooling and marketing. Intense owner Jeff Steber wanted to bring the company to the next level, so they have hired CFO Eelco Niermeijer, COO Chad Peterson, and their most-recent addition is CEO Andrew Herrick (formerly of Crankbrothers).
It feels like some bike manufacturers are creating fewer aluminum bike models, while Intense Cycles is still very passionate about alloy frames, and they're building them in-house at their Temecula California factory. In addition, they create most of their own linkages, bolts, axles and various other parts in-house on an assortment of CNC lathes and machines. Their carbon frames are made in China, since they have the best expertise in molding the raw carbon-fiber materials, and separate rear and front triangles are then shipped back to the factory for final assembly. To keep inventory and costs lower, the carbon and aluminum frames share most of the same assembly parts.
A big philosophy of Jeff's is efficiency, and that covers all the operations within the factory, including just-in time inventory for their parts and frames, and using local third-party companies to powdercoat and anodize parts, and make cardboard shipping boxes. This not only supports the local community, but it saves time and money since no transportation costs are incurred, and it has allowed their aluminum bike turnaround times to go from months to a week.
The life of an aluminum frame and many of its parts start on the factory floor, where they store a variety of raw billets and tubing of various sizes and shapes. Some portions of the frame, such as thin sheeting for the monocoque sections are created off site before eventually being welded into a full frame.
Intense uses about 15 Haas Automation CNC machines in their factory, including various types of lathes/turning centers, vertical/horizontal machining centers and rotary tables to create custom parts and frame entities. The US made Hass machines are efficient and reliable, and since they're based in Oxnard California, replacement parts are close and less expensive. They run the machines 20 hours a day, cranking out parts as needed for frames and assembly components, and they save any scrap aluminum bits for recycling.
The CNC-machined parts, whether its yokes, bottom bracket shells, head tubes, bolts, etc., get deburred, and anything that will be welded gets a thorough water soluble chemical washing to remove contaminants.
Continue reading for more of the Intense Cycles factory tour and photo gallery.
The various monocoque frame sections and associated sundry parts are jigged up and welded in-house by their master craftsman. Each model and frame size has a different jig, and they even keep jigs around for older non-production models if required.
Once the welding has been completed, the alloy frames need to be heat treated for re-tempering purposes, followed by any facing, and QC alignment checks and adjustments. After these final stages, the frames are sent off to the local powder coaters.
Intense sells their bikes as frames, frames with a kit, and complete pro bike builds that are almost ready to go straight out of the box. They assemble the raw or painted aluminum and carbon frames, combining the front and rear triangles with mostly in-house produced linkages, axles and bolts.
The frames come in a slew of bright colors, though custom colors can be requested.
On the horizon are some new and interesting products from Intense Cycles, including a probable carbon downhill bike, hopefully built around the 27.5-inch wheel size. We get to announce a new model on March 17th to the world, but we have been sworn to secrecy until that time, under the threat of death.