Bike Builders

First there is Skip who opens the shop early. He uses the pre-dawn to make his rounds, cleaning and lubing all the machines on the shop floor. He spends all his days maintaining our tools and building new fixtures. Skip is the bike builder who builds no bikes.

Next through the door is Mike or Chad. Mike is our lead machinist. He does the CAD drawings of frames that guide us as we move from tube set to finished frame. Chad hits the finishing department and tries to work his way through whatever didn’t get done the day before. He fires up the drills and fills the air with the whirring noise of things being built.

Jennifer and Rob arrive. Inventories get sifted through. Parts orders get readied. Rob sorts a stack of folders, orders for new bikes with designs from Dan or Neil already done. He evaluates their work, makes notes for changes, improvements.

The welders, Stef, Tim and Yoshi, show up. They wheel the freshly prepped tubes from machining into their own department and assemble them in the frame jigs. Gas lines get fitted to the jigs. Oxygen gets purged. Joints get tacked and then checked for alignment.

Painters come, too, Staci and Jordan. They pull primed frames from the drying booth and begin sanding out imperfections or begin masking for top coats.

In the office, the blinds slide noisily aside and Karl sits down at his desk, cracks his email to see what’s come in over night, questions from shops from all over the world. Orders get pulled off the fax machine. The coffeemaker stirs to life.

Throughout the morning, the rest of the crew rolls in, Matt and Mary, Dan and Nick and Lloyd, Seth and Lauren, Sutts. The whirring sounds rise and fall. Compressors fire and shut off, and frame-by-frame the boxes fill up in shipping.