Bridge Bike Works isn’t simply any bicycle startup. Quite than design one thing and outsource the engineering, manufacturing, portray, and meeting, they opted to create all of that capability in-house, in a model new manufacturing unit.
Based mostly in Toronto, Canada, BRIDGE has been quietly constructing, testing, and iterating on the design for his or her first mannequin, the Surveyor all-road bike. With a wholesome recruitment of former Cervelo engineers and seasoned designers to the founders’ deep expertise in biking retail, distribution, becoming, and constructing, plus manufacturing and composites trade data, they’re near launch.
I visited their headquarters and manufacturing unit to see how they’ve put all of it collectively…
Essentially the most spectacular strategy to enter isn’t via the workplace doorways. There, you’ll discover the standard sectioned-off rooms, desks, and computer systems.
The higher manner is for them to roll up the double-sized supply door and reveal the impeccably clear workshop. They’ve assembled a small machine store with a HAAS CNC vertical mill because the powerhouse, and different machines and instruments together with presses, bandsaws, handbook mills, and even a small CMM (tolerance validation station) desk.
The equipment, properly researched and scavenged off the secondary market to protect capital, permits them to obtain uncooked aluminum bar inventory and machine it into the molds, inserts, mandrels and tooling wanted to provide the carbon fiber body tubes and joints on web site.
Pre-preg (quick for carbon fiber that’s impregnated with epoxy) rolls in the identical bay door and goes straight into the freezer till it’s wanted.
At room temperature, the resin contained in the uncooked carbon sheets will slowly remedy -first it would soften and get cheesy, then harden and turn out to be unusable- so it’s saved at -20ºC (-4ºF) till it’s wanted.
The sheets are reduce into smaller shapes on this Autometrix reducing desk inside an excellent cleaner room. This room is stored air-tight with sticky mats on the entrance to drag any mud and dust off the underside of your footwear as you stroll in.
It’s additionally local weather managed, so that they pull the carbon rolls in right here in a single day to melt to the best degree for reducing the following morning. If it will get too heat and cheesy, it could’t actually be reduce or assembled correctly, so this lets them stage it.
The CNC reducing desk permits for precision shapes in addition to optimizing materials utilization. All scraps are saved to them be used as chopped carbon fiber for his or her dropouts.
After the carbon is reduce into the mandatory items, it’s kitted in batches and put again within the freezer to allow them to pull out simply what’s wanted to make a component. Or, it goes straight over to the tables to be wrapped round a mandrel or bladder in the event that they’re prepared for manufacturing.
3D printers kind the mandrels that the pre-preg is wrapped round, in addition to laminating guides (proven above and beneath). Additionally they 3D print elements and a few instruments prior to creating them in metallic, “de-risking” among the product growth.
Not solely may this allow them to supply customized geometry sooner or later, it makes it very easy for them to tweak the designs and take a look at new shapes and layups throughout growth. It’s additionally a lot quicker and cheaper than outsourcing it or making them out of metallic.
For sophisticated elements just like the headtube, BB, and seat/high tube junctions, these 3D-printed pre-forms or mould guides are used to help the laminators. With a stuffed up latex bladder, the laminator can wrap pre-preg round it and usually make the form of the half.
Nonetheless, relatively than utilizing a 200+ pound mould, these types make it simple for his or her composites specialists to work with and make sure the correct match into the precise mould. As soon as all of the carbon is laid up, the bladder is then emptied and the bladder and laid-up carbon are positioned into the mould. Air is then pumped into the bladder to offer stress onto the mould haves and the mould is positioned right into a heated press.
For straight tubes, The mandrels are wrapped with a non-stick movie, then wrapped with carbon. This lets them simply slip the mandrels out after the tubes are molded.
As soon as prepped, the tubes and joints are positioned contained in the molds and air tubes are run to inflate a bladder and press the carbon outward, which is crucial for evaluating the carbon to form it and successfully make all of the layers one piece.
Small slits known as resin channels give the surplus resin someplace to go, which finally ends up as “flashing” that’s simply sanded off after the tube has cured.
The device, or mould, is then put right into a warmth press, the place stress and temperature are managed to heat and soften the resin whereas all carbon layers are compacted to create a strong piece.
Observe how a lot open house there may be of their manufacturing unit. As they develop, they will merely add machines to extend manufacturing quantity. They might even open up manufacturing for different manufacturers (years from now) who wish to transfer some or all of their carbon bicycle manufacturing to North America.
Bridge is even making their very own forks for the Surveyor, which they’ll additionally supply to different body builders.
The elements are impressively clean inside and outside. The design of the elements lets all the tubes be sleeved collectively, then bonded and overwrapped to attach them.
Whereas this isn’t as light-weight as a one- or two-piece monocoque body, it presents a number of benefits. First, they will produce fewer distinctive important tubes, merely trimming them to size to suit the assorted body sizes provided. So, fewer manufacturing and tooling elements saves time, cash and house.
Second, and extra importantly, it lets them use the absolute best manufacturing methodology for every explicit half with out having to compromise anyplace.
Headtubes, backside bracket junctions, and many others., are finest molded with a customized bladder as a result of it could develop inside to correctly fill the extra complicated shapes. Straighter tubes like a downtube or head tube can simply be made with strong mandrels that may be slid out after laminating and changed with a selected diameter bag for correct compaction.
As soon as all of the elements are made, they’re put into this Benchmark framebuilding jig for meeting. These jigs dial in all the obligatory geometry particulars for every measurement. Bridge has additionally created customized elements to index every vital tube to make sure excellent alignment at each step.
After tubes are overwrapped with carbon, every joint is wrapped with a vacuum bag and/or compression tape and put into an oven to compress and remedy them to create the body, nevertheless it’s not completed but.
Within the again nook are two sealed chambers with doorways product of filters. On the left is the paint sales space, and on the best is the reducing and sanding sales space.
A massively outsized Duroair system pulls air out of the rooms (therefore the filter-screened doorways to let recent air in), retaining all mud and overspray out of the ability. It even UV cleans and charcoal filters the air, so staff are respiratory fantastically clear air and so they don’t have to fret about capturing all the expelled air.
As soon as the entire body comes out of the oven and has completed cooling and curing, the now fully purposeful body must be prepped for paint. The overwraps are stuffed with top-end aerospace grade filler and sanded clean earlier than going into the paint sales space.
Additionally they have an autoclave, which isn’t in use… but. They are saying it may come in useful for future part manufacturing.
For now, it simply appears cool.
Their influence testing jig let’s them take a look at body sections for 2 important ISO 4210 requirements: Falling Mass, and Failing Body. These checks are vital to cross for security and to insure it’s as much as requirements earlier than sending out frames for extra complete lifecycle testing with a 3rd get together.
For this take a look at, a really inflexible metallic fork and having the top- and down-tubes each locked into place, it places nearly all the pressure from a falling weight into the headtube. If it passes checks like this, there’s nearly no manner that very same pressure may really break the body whereas using, the place there’s fork flex and human flex taking on extra of the influence forces.
The important thing for many of those checks is that issues gained’t catastrophically fail beneath a tough, blunt influence. And so they’re often measured at forces that may in all probability eject you from the bike earlier than it broke anyway.
Right here’s their first rideable take a look at bike. Cables are taped exterior the body right here, however will run totally internally on manufacturing bikes. They’ve put all kinds of riders of all ability ranges and configurations and dimensions on it to get completely different suggestions that’s gone into refining the layup.
This prototype has already been ridden a number of thousand miles, with rider suggestions despatched to the design and engineering group for refinements which have gone into their subsequent spherical of preproduction testers.
Right here’s what the completed product will appear to be, with a number of part builds and choices out there. Select from pure highway to extra gravel-focused builds, making the most of their 40mm tire clearance (which they are saying is near trade main for a “highway” bike). Examine the complete tech particulars in our launch submit to see all of the little particulars.
They’ll supply 5 colours, all of them painted with Cerakote…which is an attention-grabbing a part of the event course of in itself.
They are saying an entire Cerakote paint job will solely add 60g, versus a mean of 150-200g (or extra) for paint. And it’s harder and longer lasting, and doubtlessly much more eco-friendly. However they’ve been working with Cerakote for some time to get the components proper, testing base coats, and extra.
This portray within the lobby illustrates the emblem. Whereas it resembles a motorbike, too, it is smart of the identify Bridge…and is a fairly killer piece of artwork painted by a BRIDGE buyer.
Wish to hear extra about their enterprise and bikes? Take heed to my podcast interview with the founders, and pre-order your frameset or bike on their web site to get in early. BRIDGE expects manufacturing bikes to be rolling out of their facility in October 2022!