Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

A Visit to Blue Bikes!

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My trip to Taiwan has been one of the most amazing I can remember.  Of course the race was of primary importance and what a way to have the day turn out.  My first every 70.3 win of my nearly 10 year career as a professional. 

As I haven’t yet been able to wrap my head around that one, I am going to fast forward to race day +1; it is only 2:30 in the afternoon here, and it has already been an amazing day!

Today, I traveled with my friends at Blue to the factory to meet some more of the team, and to get a tour of the production line.  My MBA brain got all geeked out and excited over this, I assure you!

So here we are where the magic happens.  From the outside, it looks rather small, actually.  But the factory is actually sneaky big.

The bikes start with a bath.  That room was rather loud, so we moved on, and almost immediately could see signs of a production line.

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The production bikes move down the line with each “station” painting a different portion of the bike. 

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Decals are then HAND PLACED.  (insert paus here for you to read that again…..).  Yes, HAND PLACED on the frame without measuring tape.  Without a guide.  They use only a paper template for how it’s supposed to look.  I tell you, these people are artists.  Truly.

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High end carbon bikes get special treatment which requires special footwear to enter.

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And a special “air bath” to cleanse us of the outside world.

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Decals are applied to carbon bikes, also by hand.  Think of this….when you walk into your local bike shop and look at carbon frame, with logo, and sometimes intricate design, imagine that design affixed by hand.  Look at 2 frames side by side.  Can you see a difference?  My point exactly.  These people are truly artists with a steady hand and laser focus.  Good to know that if they needed to seek other employment, they could easily work as heart or brain surgeons with precise eyes and hands like that.

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Depending on the intricacy of the design, a designer might work for one full day on just one bike.  Remarkable.

Carbon frames also get special attention with regard to paint.  Here is a base coat going onto a carbon frame.  Employees painstakingly inspect each frame to make sure there are no bubbles or imperfections.  This is precise work!

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Bikes then go to the assembly line.  Again, there is a different line for mass production bikes, and one for high end bikes.  So that difference you see between a Schwinn at K-Mart, and a top end Blue is warranted.

The mass production line starts, quite obviously, with a lot of components.

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Each employee has one job.  Bottom bracket.  Cranks.  Cables.  Brakes.  Gear adjustment.  Disassembling the complete frame for shipping.  Then boxing.

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And even a special station that puts those plastic ties around the box that you can never get off by hand.

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Boxes are then loaded on to pallets. 

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And eventually on to trucks.

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High end bikes go to the high end assembly area where one employee works on one bike, start to finish.

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After today, I will tell you with certainty….I will never look at a bike the same.  This process is amazing.  Detail in every step.  Perfection in every step.  And brilliantly hard working, and focused person at every step!

What a day!

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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