Monday, October 26, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Signature Snapshot: Titanium Cyclocross: 04

The titanium cyclocross bike we have been working on for Signature Cycles has arrived in the paint department where it has received its primer coat. Each bike that gets painted gets one of our seat tube handle inserts installed.
This device is the only place that the frame is touched by human hands during the painting process. As you can see it slides into the seat tube and has an expander wedge that tightens up to secure the frame to the device.... old-school quill stem style.
After priming the frame's dropouts are masked off.
After the frame has been painted it goes over to the detailing station where the masking is removed and the entire surface is buffed out by hand to a mirror finish.
There is an entire doorjamb at IF covered in the little painted circles removed from the frames.
There is also a bin of the screws that we use (and re-use) to protect the threads during the painting process. It looks like blue and green have been pretty popular lately.
The next step for this fine bicycle is to build it up.... as soon as Clint finishes painting the fork... gosh Clint, hurry up!
The parts kit has arrived from Signature and is being prepped for the build and resulting studio photo shoot to come.
Stay tuned....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IF Owners Gathering at NYC Velo!!!

If you currently own an I.F., or are just thinking of buying one, we are co-sponsoring a ride with the fine folks from NYC Velo (our newest NYC shop), on Saturday, November 7th. Show off your bike on a comfortable ride to Piermont, NY with like-minded individuals, and afterward I.F. will be on hand with some demo bikes and to answer questions. Don’t miss an opportunity to ride with a great bunch of people and get all your questions answered. We look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Signature Snapshot: Titanium Cyclocross: 03

Now we saunter over to the finishing department where the titanium cross frame we have been working on for Signature Cycles gets all of its final treatments that will make it into a rideable bike. For example: the headtube gets its final ream and face.

The seat tube is reamed out to eliminate the weld distortion and give it the proper inner diameter to accept the e-glass insert that will get bonded in.

The frame will go another round on the alignment table to make sure everything is perfect.
Then it will get the "wheel check" checked again to make sure that the wheel sits perfectly on the center line of the frame.
Each side of the tool is measured and if there is any variance then the inside of the dropout is filed until the tool sits perfectly centered.

After finishing, the frame is sent off to the shotpeeners. Upon its return it will go into the paint department. This frame is about to receive a most manly paint job....... stay tuned....

Signature Snapshot: Titanium Cyclocross: 02

Now we are catching up with the titanium cyclocross frame we are building for Signature Cycles during the second alignment check on the alignment table. There are plenty of steps that I am skipping throughout the process..... but that is what future (and past) postings are for. You can also check out more of our process at The IF Experience on our website (not mobile device friendly). We base our frame alignment off of the center line of the frame and do our best to make the frame as symmetrical as humanly possible. A step I skipped was tapping and facing the bottom bracket. Unlike the bikes we make out of steel and stainless steel, we tap and face the bottom bracket on our titanium bikes right after we weld the main tubes together. We have found that the distortion caused by welding affects the bottom bracket just enough to give us inaccurate readings on the alignment table. Facing it gives us a perfectly flat and perpendicular surface to mount the frame to the table and makes our measurements reflect the frames true alignment.

First we check the seatube to make sure that it is on center. Then we check the headtube (above) for the proper height and make sure that there is no twist.
Then we check the dropouts to make sure they are properly spaced and centered.
Finally we check to make sure that the chainstays and seatstays are centered. After the frame is nudged into symmetry, it goes back into the welding department to have its parts made and welded on. we have our own machining center in the welding area that is set up just for this purpose.
Above are the completed parts.
The parts are first cleaned and then are tacked to the frame in their proper locations.
After tacking all of the parts on they are TIG welded to the frame.

The final step in the welding department is welding the dropouts. We go through a process called the "wheel check" just before welding. The wheel check process involves centering a tool in the dropouts that is used to measure how centered they are in the frame. To adjust them we heat up the tack weld and either push the dropout in or pull it out. This is one of the most delicate operations in the process, you must really have a thorough understanding as to how metal contracts as it cools.

After the frame cools down it moves on to the finishing department..... stay tuned....

Signature Snapshot: Titanium Cyclocross: 01

This is the first of a few postings following this frame through some parts of the production process. We have been working with Signature Cycles on this custom titanium cross bike, and they have agreed to send us the parts kit to do a pro build and photo shoot of the completed bicycle here at our factory. Every day frames leave us to be built up in their respective shops and we find ourselves wondering how they turn out. Undoubtedly our customers outfit their bikes with the finest parts, so we are working together with Signature to create this opportunity for us to see another completed build and provide you with a glimpse behind the scenes.
At this point the frame has been machined and tacked together and has arrived in the welding department.
We put heatsinks into all of the joints to minimize the distortion caused by welding. The heatsinks do double duty... they are also a vehicle for us to deliver the argon gas to the inside of the frame. This is called purging, it is a critical step in welding titanium.
Perfectly prepared joints are also critical to a good weld.
We have souped-up our T.I.G. welding torches with large gas dispersion lenses. These lenses gently shield the area that is being welded with a current of inert argon gas, displacing the contaminates in the air and providing an ideal environment for welding.

After the frame is welded it gets it's alignment checked..... stay tuned.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Titanium Planet X: Binary Redux

You might notice this frame from a previous post.

Another stellar build. This time in the form of a Titanium Planet Cross.

This thing is built to shred with some ballistic handbuilt wheels and sweet Challenge tubular tires.

Once again, the small details make all the difference. For all of our cross bikes we default to top tube cable routing (unless otherwise specified) this makes for limited cable interference while portaging.

Note the protective layer of material placed over the binary graphics... it serves a double-duty, to keep the cables from dinging against the top tube and to protect the graphics from becoming scuffed.

Cross bikes are usually equipped with bottom pull front derailleurs, in order to make them work with the top tube cable routing we build into the frame a pulley that redirects the cable.

Close up of the super mean "blacked out" head tube area.

Massive tire clearance provided by precisely bent chain stays.

There must be no better feeling in the world than crushing it on the course with a SRAM Red drivetrain, EDGE deep dish tubular rims mounted to a custom titanium frameset made just for you.

Mud shedding Crank Bros. Candy 2ti pedals make for the final touch that completes the build. My guess is that you'll see this bike kicking some serious ass in Gloucester this weekend.