Becoming a bicycle, part 5

Welcome to final assembly. You’re at the end of the Bike Friday tikit production line (and because the operation is so compact, you could still hold a reasonable conversation with someone at the start of the line).

Damon Vold assembling a Bike Friday tikit. Photo by John Rezell/Bike Friday. All rights reserved.

The frame is finally assembled, and many of the components have already been installed. Looks like bolts for the water bottle cage are being added. (The water bottle bosses are on the back of the seat tube.)

The black bag on top of the frame behind the headset? That’s storage for a Quick Transit cover. Some folks call it a “shower cap.” When you get to your destination, you fold the bike, undo the Velcro closure and pull the cover up, out and around the machine. Is it a bike? A stroller? No one need know.

The installer retrieved all the parts he needed to complete this bike from the pockets on both sides of what looks like a hanging suit cover. No running here and there for parts or accessories. No wasted motion means increased efficiency. Outside the production line, there’s a long rack of suit covers holding the parts for about a week’s worth of production.

What’s more, virtually all major parts of the bike, with the exception of the narrow front hub, are industry-standard components. You can get them almost anywhere, though it might pay to get some spare tires and tubes, especially in smaller markets.

Within a few minutes, this tikit will be folded, boxed and shipped to its owner, who will then adjust seat, pedals and handlebars, those personal contact points with the bike, to duplicate the positions they would occupy if installed on a traditional diamond frame.

When I visited the Bike Friday factory, I saw boxes with shipping labels for Germany and China. That’s right, Bike Friday—or rather, Green Gear, the company that makes Bike Friday machines—exports assembled bicycles, all sporting frames made in Eugene, Oregon, to China, the world’s bicycle workshop.

More evidence that the Bike Friday team makes some highly unusual, and desirable, bicycles.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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