Factory Tour: Intense Cycles

Company Spotlight

Intense Cycles has been on a roll lately plowing out aluminum and carbon bikes, with some great highlights in the 27.5 and 29-inch wheel sizes. With a new influx of capital from a 40% revenue growth this past year and a small-business loan, they’re expanding, hiring, and reinvesting in product development, tooling and marketing. Intense owner Jeff Steber wanted to bring the company to the next level, so they have hired CFO Eelco Niermeijer, COO Chad Peterson, and their most-recent addition is CEO Andrew Herrick (formerly of Crankbrothers).

It feels like some bike manufacturers are creating fewer aluminum bike models, while Intense Cycles is still very passionate about alloy frames, and they’re building them in-house at their Temecula California factory. In addition, they create most of their own linkages, bolts, axles and various other parts in-house on an assortment of CNC lathes and machines. Their carbon frames are made in China, since they have the best expertise in molding the raw carbon-fiber materials, and separate rear and front triangles are then shipped back to the factory for final assembly. To keep inventory and costs lower, the carbon and aluminum frames share most of the same assembly parts.

A big philosophy of Jeff’s is efficiency, and that covers all the operations within the factory, including just-in time inventory for their parts and frames, and using local third-party companies to powdercoat and anodize parts, and make cardboard shipping boxes. This not only supports the local community, but it saves time and money since no transportation costs are incurred, and it has allowed their aluminum bike turnaround times to go from months to a week.

The life of an aluminum frame and many of its parts start on the factory floor, where they store a variety of raw billets and tubing of various sizes and shapes. Some portions of the frame, such as thin sheeting for the monocoque sections are created off site before eventually being welded into a full frame.

Intense uses about 15 Haas Automation CNC machines in their factory, including various types of lathes/turning centers, vertical/horizontal machining centers and rotary tables to create custom parts and frame entities. The US made Hass machines are efficient and reliable, and since they’re based in Oxnard California, replacement parts are close and less expensive. They run the machines 20 hours a day, cranking out parts as needed for frames and assembly components, and they save any scrap aluminum bits for recycling.

The CNC-machined parts, whether its yokes, bottom bracket shells, head tubes, bolts, etc., get deburred, and anything that will be welded gets a thorough water soluble chemical washing to remove contaminants.

Continue reading for more of the Intense Cycles factory tour and photo gallery.

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on the trail.

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  • Joe says:

    They run their CNC machines for 20 hours a day? You mean minutes right? I had to cancel my G1 dropout order after 6 weeks of no response.

  • wheel-man says:

    Please list the bike companies that only sell carbon frames now. Certainly no medium to largish bike company. Most people aren’t looking to buy a bike with a $2500+ carbon frame… Yes, for us bike nuts, carbon is mostly where it’s at, but we aren’t most people.

  • harri Indroharto says:

    Intense Carbine.Nice Bike

  • Moose says:

    kept me engaged!!
    damm haters

  • RideHARDer says:

    Great article Brian, I will I could take a tour of their operation. At least It certainly appears aluminum has fallen out of favor among the MTBR crowd.

  • K.W says:

    Aluminum is dead to me especially name brand aluminum . Short life span compared to carbon and heavier ,more expensive , weaker and more flexy , Save your money and buy generic carbon then all the branded guys will be forced to lower there prices. I love vpp suspension but it definateley isn’t worth the extra money compared to the single pivot generic chinese bikes.

  • Evil E says:

    Granted aluminum has it’s drawbacks like weight, but it’s still a viable alternative to taking the plunge with carbon. With an aluminum hardtail, you have to deal with a shorter lifespan because of how aluminum fatigues. The stress on aluminum in a full suspension application is lessened by the “give” suspension provides. Yes, name brand USA made aluminum frames are more expensive than generic Chinese carbon frames, but you get what you pay for. I would take a quality alu frame made by a reputable brand over a generic carbon frame any day…especially if you have to deal with a warranty issue, or service after the sale. To each their own though, right.

  • Scotch Hennesy says:

    I’ve been riding aluminum hardtails and FS bikes begining in the late 80s. Since switching to a Carbon FS Giant Anthem X, with an array of carbon goodies (post, handlebar, seat rails)..I would never return to an aluminum bike. This bike feels like nothing I’ve ever owned. Light, fast, snappy and mutes all small trail vibrations like an overweight girlfriend! I’m a Carbonite! LLC!

  • Wheeler says:

    Always liked the Intense bikes I have owned in the past….maybe it is time to revisit the brand.

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