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10 dec 2010, BMC Bikes HQ, Grenchen, Switzerland

I had a chance to visit the BMC bike headquarters with Bike Switzerland partners, John Klemme and Chris White. John and I first discussed working together over five years ago when my family and I  were still living in  Switzerland, but it was last year I first led a few trips for him. It was a great experience and I look forward to continuing next summer, and developing some hiking tours in the future. 

It was a good time to catch up with John, as we met in the Geneva train station and trained up to Grenchen together. Chris hopped on board along the way and the three of us chatted about bikes and next years trips. 

We were warmly welcomed at BMC by Steven Jonckheere, BMC’s Swiss Marketing Manager, and given a five star tour. Later Markus Eggiman, the BMC Brand Manager, explained in detail two of the bikes we use at Bike Switzerland. We got to see and shoot the offices, from marketing, to administration, to research and design, but when we headed to the neighboring building housing the IMPEC facility, we had to leave our cameras at the door (although see below for some select images and videos)! Top secret technology is needed to build one of the best bike and certainly THE most innovative and original carbon fiber frames on the planet. 

It starts with a machine to weave the tubes and each tube is woven for its specific place on the frame in a specific size. Whether it be a 57 cm seat tube or a chainstay for the 53 cm model, the one robot would weave each tube around a form. Then these tubes were cooked and trimmed. Afterwards they were all glued together on a frame table and heated again to set the glue; then painted. Almost everything was done by a robot allowing for high precision whether it is for injecting the exact same amount of glue to each joint for lay up or weaving a tube that has exactly the same thickness in the same places each time. This gives consistent quality throughout the process and throughout the production cycle. 

Back in the main HQ building we got to see where BMC stocks their frames and parts, IMPEC and others,  for their SWA or Swiss Assembly program. This allows them the ability to build up bikes specifically for the Swiss market to interesting specifications, such as lower gearing for climbing in the High-Alpine! 

All in all, a very exciting and informative visit. I left BMC with a greater understanding of what it takes to run a successful bike brand and to how it looks when you pay such great attention to detail and have dedication to quality. Long live Swiss Precision! 

Me, Chris White, and John Klemme (l to r) in a strategic planning meeting Swiss style, on the train to Grenchen and BMC.

 

It was a grey day, but bright and cheery inside!

 

3 jerseys greet you as you walk in the door: the Stars and Stripes (the 2010 US Nat. Champs jersey of George Hincapie), the BMC Pro Team jersey, and of course Cadel Evans' Rainbow jersey of the 2010 World Champiohships in Australia. BMC Pro Cycling Team just received the exciting news that they were selected for the Pro Tour 2011!!!

 

Looks like a busy office where things get done. There was cool BMC kit, frames and bikes everywhere you looked.

 

Here's a BMC cyclo cross bike!

 

Steven is telling us that these Team Machines are ready to be built up right here at BMC HQ!

 

The Yellow IMPEC is Cadel Evans' from the Tour and the all black one is called the Noble. Sweeeeet!

 

They even had the controversial Floyd Landis's Tour winning Pro Machine on the display floor.

 

My favorite rig in the whole place was our friend Tyler Hamilton's Olympic Gold Medal winning time trail bike.

 

Even though I couldn’t bring my camera into the IMPEC FACTORY, BMC could and they made some great videos that show how things work in there: 

BMC IMPEC Factory Tour

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