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BikeFriday possible sale. Not a bike, the company.

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BikeFriday possible sale. Not a bike, the company.

Old 10-16-19, 07:26 AM
  #26  
Jarlybart
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Originally Posted by linberl View Post
That has indeed changed the industry. BF has moved in that direction with several offerings (hub, mid-drive). But again, if people don't know about the product, they can't sell it. They Haul a Day is, imo, an amazing cargo bike with electric assist - carries as much as full sized cargo bikes with a smaller and easier to park footprint. But they just haven't been taking advantage of marketing exposure to compete with the top sellers. The folks I know who have HADs are always stopped by people asking about them - which shows there is interest there, but cargo bike purchasers absolutely want a shop where they can try the bike out and compare to other bikes. Their HAD is a better system than the Tern e-cargo bike and better priced, actually, but Tern is in stores and as a result sells better. Cargo bike owners don't typically shop for bikes online. BF biggest problem is lack of exposure and marketing. Their production system is much easier to remedy.
The biggest issue that BF has with retailers is pricing. Though they are cheaper than pretty much all the cargo bikes made, the retailer also makes much less as they don't get a very good discount for it to make logical sense. If they can get their profit margins in line with what everyone else is doing, they might have a chance.

The second part of this is that the dealer don't feel supported. Not one person from BF does what the rest of the industry does which has reps who visit the stores. If you can't afford to support your dealers it's hard to compete.

Third, the warranty is too good for a retailer to want to support it. May sound nuts but some bikes like the tikit have a lifetime warranty. As a retailer that could mean handling the same bike many times over a 10-15-20 year span at great cost to them in shipping among many other services. BF just doesn't pencil out for retailers.

It's a great concept, great product and they have had many great designs that have been thrown to the side once Hans was gone due to ego, just hard facts. tikit is a great example of that but you could say the same for recumbents or even the Air Friday which really is a great bike if you understand it. I truly hope that they find a buyer but buyer beware, there are a lot of details that will need to be worked out in the sale of the business, make sure you are buying not just the name/business but also ensure all the tooling is worked into that deal as well. Details matter.
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Old 10-16-19, 07:30 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Do we really know the issues and needs at Bike Friday.

Is it possible that Alan Scholz simply wants to sell out his share for one reason or another, and that Hanna Scholz can't buy him out.

It sounds like they've also been trying to grow the company with new products (haul-a-day & pakiT). But, they may still be stuck with word of mouth advertising.

We have a LOT of Bike Fridays here in Eugene, but even so, I'm constantly telling people I meet that it is a Eugene product.

I wonder if they actually own their shop. That could be bad if they had an opportunity to buy the land 30 years ago and passed up on the opportunity. I'm pretty sure they did move about 25 years ago, so perhaps they purchased the current location.

No doubt there is also increased global competition. Hard to sell niche $2000 bikes with $300 bikes flooding the market.



Do they always have a queue? If that is the case, then sales isn't the issue, although they could likely increase production. Or is the problem a queue in the spring/summer, and idle machines in the winter?

In manufacturing, there is a "Just in time" approach. That can be difficult for a small shop.

However, if one considers a bike as a collection of parts, then one should still be able to stock up. Interchangeable parts have been important since Eli Whitney.

In theory they could make a collection of rear triangles, main frames, forks, seat masts, & wheels. The triangles/forks vary with brake types. Goosenecks could be stocked as straight pipe.

So, order comes in, one has frame subunits pre-assembled, and one simply powder coats and installs the subunits to the main frame. In theory one should be able to go from order to packing and shipping in 48 hours.



cross-training employees to weld up stock in the winter, and do assembly and finishing in the summer.

Of course, holding inventory is expensive for a number of reasons.
Everything you said there is good in theory but it takes one really important thing and that is money. No money, no stock parts. Figure out how to make money and the rest could work itself out. The team is in place and ready to do all of these things...hungry to do all of these things and want to do all of these things(trust me...we have talked about all of this OFTEN).

Come on white knight...ride in on your white Haul-a-Day and save the day!!!
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Old 10-16-19, 08:56 AM
  #28  
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What is BikeFriday in 2019?

An adventure/travel bike company? (New World Tourist, Llama, Pocket Rocket, Two'sday)

A city bike company? (pakiT)

A cargo bike company? (Haul-a-day)

A special needs bike company? (Bantam)

A fleet bike company? (OSATA)

An e-bike company?

Wait, you're telling me this little company is all of the above?

Okay, Mr./Ms./Gender-neutral-honorific-title Marketing Manager with basically no budget, how do you reach your target audience(s)?
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Old 10-16-19, 09:19 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Jarlybart View Post
The biggest issue that BF has with retailers is pricing. Though they are cheaper than pretty much all the cargo bikes made, the retailer also makes much less as they don't get a very good discount for it to make logical sense. If they can get their profit margins in line with what everyone else is doing, they might have a chance.

The second part of this is that the dealer don't feel supported. Not one person from BF does what the rest of the industry does which has reps who visit the stores. If you can't afford to support your dealers it's hard to compete.

Third, the warranty is too good for a retailer to want to support it. May sound nuts but some bikes like the tikit have a lifetime warranty. As a retailer that could mean handling the same bike many times over a 10-15-20 year span at great cost to them in shipping among many other services. BF just doesn't pencil out for retailers.

It's a great concept, great product and they have had many great designs that have been thrown to the side once Hans was gone due to ego, just hard facts. tikit is a great example of that but you could say the same for recumbents or even the Air Friday which really is a great bike if you understand it. I truly hope that they find a buyer but buyer beware, there are a lot of details that will need to be worked out in the sale of the business, make sure you are buying not just the name/business but also ensure all the tooling is worked into that deal as well. Details matter.
The Haul-a-day is also one of the smallest full cargo bikes available. So, say Yuba vs Haul-a-day, there are complex decisions for a buyer.

Bike Friday, of course, needs to exploit the reasons a person might choose the Haul-a-Day over the Yuba.

The one British forum user that bought the Haul-a-Day apparently loves it because she was a smaller rider, and wished for a small cargo bike.

Nonetheless, cargo bikes are a large and expensive market. Motorized cargo bikes? There might not be a reason for a company not to make multiple models/sizes. Yes, tooling and setup??? They could even be sold independently under different brands if one wished.

A lifetime warranty is complex. Hopefully Bike Friday isn't getting too many bikes being returned for warranty work. Unless the Tikit is getting returns for something like the cable system. Do they all have cables? I suppose longterm support could be a reason to kill off a model.

I always expected that very few Schwinn Varsity bikes were ever returned for a replacement frame under their warranty (which I believe now is expired).

Nonetheless, perhaps there is a way to get money from a warranty claim. So, a repair from the manufacturer, but make sure that the remote shops are selling tires, tubes, tune-ups, etc.
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Old 10-16-19, 09:45 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
What is BikeFriday in 2019?

An adventure/travel bike company? (New World Tourist, Llama, Pocket Rocket, Two'sday)

A city bike company? (pakiT)

A cargo bike company? (Haul-a-day)

A special needs bike company? (Bantam)

A fleet bike company? (OSATA)

An e-bike company?

Wait, you're telling me this little company is all of the above?

Okay, Mr./Ms./Gender-neutral-honorific-title Marketing Manager with basically no budget, how do you reach your target audience(s)?
The honest answer...have no family and never sleep so you can target-market each of those user groups. The owners are not even willing to do what it takes nor pay anyone to do what it takes to reach all of those or even half of those markets. This is why they are targeting only one market now that I am no longer there and sadly it is the market where they make the least amount of money which is saving the earth. Great thing to do, no question, but if you really want to save the earth you will buy a nice used bike for $100-300 and call it good. They won't be buying any $1350 and up bikes to be their daily driver which could, if you live in a place like Eugene, can get stolen at any moment unless you can shove it under your desk at work...which yes, is possible with some BF bikes.

The bikes that pay the bills at BF are the higher-end bikes. They are priced in the realm that matches the skills of the builders best, unlike the Haul-a-Day/OSATA/Pakit bikes. Pocket Rockets and nicer NWT/Llama's are what pay the bills yet they want to focus on the bikes that make almost no money for the company. In the end...old habits are hard to break.

I will repeat it again...if you are even considering the purchase of this company...do it quickly!
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Old 10-16-19, 09:47 AM
  #31  
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CliffordK...I am very familiar with the Yuba Mundo and the Haul-a-Day. My son spent his first few years on a Yuba. ;-)

Google Jarl and Yuba with Haul-a-Day...I know a thing or two about them both.
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Old 10-16-19, 09:54 AM
  #32  
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The high end NWT and LLama orders are not going to keep the company going - there's a limited market and it is not growing; I'd be willing to bet the secondary market is more active than the primary. The cargo bike/urban bike/electric bike market is the future. BF saw that and tried to respond but didn't go all in. They can get funding and management to either follow/lead the trend or they can pare down radically and revert to being a niche bike manufacturer for high-end custom travel folders. One means potential growth and jobs, the other means a minimal staff and jobs. I would hate to see them disappear; the folks I've had contact with during my BF purchases have been exceptional. I hope someone comes along with the $$$$ to keep them going in some form.
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Old 10-16-19, 10:00 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I always expected that very few Schwinn Varsity bikes were ever returned for a replacement frame under their warranty (which I believe now is expired).
The old Schwinn lifetime warranty expired the day Schwinn was sold in bankruptcy court back in 1991.
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Old 10-16-19, 10:03 AM
  #34  
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The only reason I say that is because currently, they are the only bikes they are able to make an actual profit on and are unlike any other folding bike in the world. I personally believe, if done right, the Haul-a-Day and the Oregon Traveller are what will make the company the most profit. It will take marketing effort to get there but I had already put some good time into that effort and was just waiting for the word go...which I never got. So many missed opportunities because they were not "ready" to make the leap. I had a functional Oregon Traveller sitting behind me at my desk for months just waiting...and waiting...and waiting. Shot video and photos of it in use, web page built and just needed some final touches to ensure we had all the facts straight about it(technical info that I just didn't know and could not get from anyone). To say the least...I was not the only one frustrated there with how things were run. This is why I will hold firm to the fact that BF does not NEED the Scholz family to keep going. I could see Hanna staying in a marketing/outreach role but that is about it. Being President of that company with Alan still involved is crushing her soul...literally. She is a very sweet person and needs to be in a role that fits her nature instead of fighting it each day.
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Old 10-16-19, 10:11 AM
  #35  
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Obviously on the outside I haven't seen profit margins on each bike.

I'd have to wonder how much cheaper it is to make an OSATA frame than a Pocket Rocket frame. Is the different seatpost and other aspects more marketing than any actual cheap part?

Of course, groupsets and other finishing components can vary tremendously in cost, but I'm not sure could fully account for a $1000 vs $2000 bike.
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Old 10-16-19, 10:14 AM
  #36  
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Selling a business like this at a time like this is a hard thing. I felt really bad a couple years ago when legendary builder (of non-folding bikes) Bruce Gordon tried to sell his shop and couldn't find any buyers.
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Old 10-16-19, 10:31 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
What is BikeFriday in 2019?

An adventure/travel bike company? (New World Tourist, Llama, Pocket Rocket, Two'sday)

A city bike company? (pakiT)

A cargo bike company? (Haul-a-day)

A special needs bike company? (Bantam)

A fleet bike company? (OSATA)

An e-bike company?

Wait, you're telling me this little company is all of the above?

Okay, Mr./Ms./Gender-neutral-honorific-title Marketing Manager with basically no budget, how do you reach your target audience(s)?
Interesting to look at it that way.

Kid's bike company? If any can actually afford it?

I think all of their wheels fall in the 305 to 451 group. Mostly folders, although some that don't fold easily (OSATA/haul-a-day).

There is no reason why they couldn't make 700c sized bikes. Perhaps even selling them through a completely different marketing system, so few might even notice the cross-over.

Could they expand into the Rivendell market (which we all know also gets cash strapped this time of year). Perhaps even sell to Rivendell.

Yes, I know, brazing vs welding...

If they could get a solid pre-order, even if it is COD, they might be able to get the bank loans to do winter manufacturing.
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Old 10-16-19, 11:44 AM
  #38  
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I love Bike Friday, however this is a really rough market. The trade war is a destabilizing force. Everyone is suffering.

I don't envision anyone buying BF in this market. I hope they will be ok....regardless it's time to order everything from BF. I'm thinking about a tandem.

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Old 10-16-19, 01:06 PM
  #39  
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I went to the Bike Friday page. No notes about selling the company or mergers on their web page, although they are trying to sell some of their "classics".

https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-b...s-to-the-world

I did find their Dealer page, and was moderately surprised at the number of dealers listed around the world including Europe and Japan, as well as a number scattered across the USA and up into Canada. Even Australia.

https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bikes/dealers

Although, looking at the map there are quite a few gaps. For example nothing in London or Cambridge. Rome? Milano?

I wonder if they can ship in conex box quantities??

Of course, they may not wish to scare off potential customers with speculation of a future bankruptcy.
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Old 10-16-19, 01:59 PM
  #40  
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The bikes that pay the bills at BF are the higher-end bikes. They are priced in the realm that matches the skills of the builders best...Pocket Rockets and nicer NWT/Llamas...


The cargo bike/urban bike/electric bike market is the future.
It kinda sounds like rationale for selling the company in two pieces:
1) BikeFriday: Custom adventure/travel folding bikes (Pocket Rocket, NWT, Llama, Two'sDay), intellectual property for Air Glide & Sat-R-Day.
2) Green Gear: Off-the-shelf save-the-world folding bikes (pakiT, Haul-a-day), intellectual property for tikit & Silk.
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Old 10-16-19, 02:15 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
It kinda sounds like rationale for selling the company in two pieces:
1) BikeFriday: Custom adventure/travel folding bikes (Pocket Rocket, NWT, Llama, Two'sDay), intellectual property for Air Glide & Sat-R-Day.
2) Green Gear: Off-the-shelf save-the-world folding bikes (pakiT, Haul-a-day), intellectual property for tikit & Silk.
I wouldn't split it that way.

First of all, they have their entire store/shop/administration in a tiny building in West Eugene. Splitting the company would double the overhead.

Unless, they are growing to the point of needing a larger factory.

There is likely enough overlap between models that there is no reason to split.

Also, as suggested, perhaps use some of their motorized experience with the haul-a-day to explore motorizing more bikes. Rocket powered pocked rocket (well, not a real rocket).

I posted a link to resellers. So, I suppose the practical question is whether some resellers only pick and choose certain models. So, some might specialize in cargo bikes, and only sell the haul-a-day (plus Yuba, and a few European bikes).

Others might sell a full line of BF products, especially if it is done as custom orders.

My guess is there is also some overlap in tooling for things like rear triangles and forks, even if there may be some differences in tubes and welding.
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Old 10-16-19, 05:03 PM
  #42  
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Fair enough, but before they commit to inventory, those various resellers will require robust marketing support for the company's brand image and all those different models aimed at disparate user communities, and there'll need to be a better plan than Underpants Gnomes to pay for it.

https://vimeo.com/79954057
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Old 10-16-19, 05:23 PM
  #43  
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Looking at Bike Friday from the outside as far as manufacturing goes the proprietary products are only the frames, so raw materials, subcontracted fabricated parts, and components are the price variables in manufacturing. the constants are labor (the most expensive labor is the weldor as he is the most skilled of in house tallent) and overhead the same as any business.

There is a time for expansion and a time for contraction, both are critical to survival and profitability of any business. knowing when to act and in which direction is best done with an accountant to see where your trending and a close look at the industry to see how everyone else is doing.

A few of the folks that have gotten out of the bicycle business are True Temper in mid 2016, American Classic in early 2018, and ASE filled for chapter 11 (Performance Bicycle and Nashbar) in 2018.

If it were me, I would concentrate on the most profitable product lines, shelf the models that are not helping the situation, store the tooling or make them custom order only and charge accordingly. Sometimes handing over control of a business to others will only hasten the end. I feel it's better to get small and ride out the storm.

Best Wishes: Mike
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Old 10-16-19, 08:12 PM
  #44  
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Frames will be printed in the future. Hence their manufacturing is behind the times. I think they are stuck in no man's land.

Thanks
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Old 10-16-19, 08:28 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by downtube View Post
Frames will be printed in the future. Hence their manufacturing is behind the times. I think they are stuck in no man's land.

Thanks
Yan
I'm not sure that mass production frames will be "printed". Pure plastic has come and gone as a frame material.

Reinforced resin is still the big thing.

I have thought the next big thing will be monocoque woven fibers, but we're not quite there yet.

Nonetheless, Bike Friday has chosen to continue making chromoly steel frames, while some competing manufactures have moved to aluminum, or hydroformed aluminum. Of course, some of those manufacturers have also had frame failures at the mid-joint.

Bike Friday's bikes are still solid, viable bikes, and will remain so long into the future.

Perhaps an advertising issue that steel can be made a light as aluminum? Need to embrace newer (and more expensive) steels?
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Old 10-16-19, 08:46 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Nemosengineer View Post
Looking at Bike Friday from the outside as far as manufacturing goes the proprietary products are only the frames, so raw materials, subcontracted fabricated parts, and components are the price variables in manufacturing.
I'm not sure how many custom parts they outsource. I suppose it depends on tooling. So, for example, do they have a CNC or a punch to make dropouts, or perhaps a combination of a punch and CNC? Is it cheaper to outsource and buy dropouts by the thousand?
Originally Posted by Nemosengineer View Post
There is a time for expansion and a time for contraction, both are critical to survival and profitability of any business.
Seasonal fluctuations can be hard on any business. And, hard to "contract" in the winter and "expand" in the spring, especially with employees such as the framebuilders.
Originally Posted by Nemosengineer View Post
If it were me, I would concentrate on the most profitable product lines, shelf the models that are not helping the situation, store the tooling or make them custom order only and charge accordingly.
Of course. My question, however, is whether the shelved products would still be viable. For example their Recumbent, Air-Friday, or TiKit. Is there a price point they would be viable to both produce and sell?

Keep in mind that most of their sales are semi-custom, and at least used to include things like a full custom gooseneck once the customer was happy with a temporary stem shipped with the bike.
Originally Posted by Nemosengineer View Post
Sometimes handing over control of a business to others will only hasten the end. I feel it's better to get small and ride out the storm.
I think it will be difficult, especially if they wish to both partner, and retain control.

Keep in mind that Burley was a Eugene, made in the USA cooperative that was sold out and became an importer. Of course, demands and competition in the trailer business likely changed significantly over the years.

Nonetheless, the right partner could take the company in unexpected directions.

I wonder if there would be a possibility for a partnership with a moderately unrelated business like Co-Motion. Have they explored the possibility?

I also think that our local bike co-op may be slowly collapsing.

While a non-profit and a for-profit may not join, it is possible that Bike Friday could pick up some of the co-ops former product lines (or at least design similar products).
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Old 10-16-19, 09:12 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post

Could they expand into the Rivendell market (which we all know also gets cash strapped this time of year). Perhaps even sell to Rivendell.

Yes, I know, brazing vs welding...
Partnering in some form with Rivendell, in terms of cooperatively farming out their frame builds to the same Taiwanese firm which crafts Rivendell’s frames is a potential option. Combining “buying power” with Rivendell will undoubtedly (and unfortunately for some of BF’s workforce) reduce the financial pressure on BF, to still produce a brazed, steel, high quality frame which is the foundation for both bike brands. (I dont believe ALL bikes will be printed any more than I think ALL cars will be built of carbon fiber or bonded aluminum, as the niche followers of steel will still demand steel) Power in numbers, and these two brands don’t share the same market space (per se) but could follow the same sourcing model.

Stranger things have happened. In my industry (office equipment) two struggling firms within the same business space, Konica and Minolta, joined forces to become Konica-Minolta and the sum is indeed a greater market player then they were separately.

I’m not suggesting that BF and Riv need to merge, but some form of cooperative partnership could benefit both.

Last edited by FolderBeholder; 10-16-19 at 09:18 PM.
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Old 10-16-19, 09:25 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I'm not sure that mass production frames will be "printed". Pure plastic has come and gone as a frame material.
Print metal 'lugs'. Adhesive bond tubes. Minimize tooling. It's happening now. Reynolds stainless below; perhaps of interest to a small shop that custom builds many different models of adventure & city bikes?


Last edited by tcs; 10-16-19 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 10-16-19, 09:28 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Nonetheless, Bike Friday has chosen to continue making chromoly steel frames, while some competing manufacturers have moved to aluminum or hydroformed aluminum. Of course, some of those manufacturers have also had frame failures at the mid-joint.
You appear to be ill-informed on the BikeFriday tikit debacle.

The two different tikit structural failures (seatmast & handlepost) weren't the fault of steel any more than the Tern frame failures were the fault of aluminum; all were design issues. To think you are exempt from issues solely because you're building with steel is (dangerously, as some tikit owners found out) naive.

Last edited by tcs; 10-17-19 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 10-16-19, 09:30 PM
  #50  
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They can print titanium as large as 14"*14" pieces. It's happening.

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