Santa Cruz Factory Tour: Where bikes are born

Take a peek inside one of the world's most respected MTB makers

Company Spotlight
Santa Cruz/Juliana factory, HQ, demo center and retail space, all in one. Photo by Mike Thomas.

Welcome to Santa Cruz Bicycles. Come on in (click to enlarge). Photo by Mike Thomas.

When you walk in to the factory side of the Santa Cruz headquarters, the first thing you notice is the checkered floor. The second thing you notice is the tape. From start to finish, every bike Santa Cruz builds and releases into the wild, follows the path of these sticky markings. Our penchant for “everything organized” was in its glory every step of the way.

Frames and their suspension packages ready for assembly. We spy some future Nomads, V10s, Tallboys, and a Bronson.

Frames and their suspension packages ready for assembly. We spy some future Nomads, V10s, Tallboys, and a Bronson (click to enlarge).

Though Santa Cruz has only in this facility—which used to be home to Wrigley Gum—for about a year, already the process has been revised and refined three times.

Santa Cruz bikes, taking their first steps of the build process: suspension assembly.

Santa Cruz bikes, taking their first steps of the build process: suspension assembly (click to enlarge).

Once the suspension is installed, the frame continues its journey on Santa Cruz’s numbered homemade build carts. In fact, word is they were designed by the company’s COO who used to be in the engineering department.

Frame ready for “picking”—components are added to the tabletop, and wheels to the hooks underneath as it follows the path through the assembly line.

Frame ready for picking when components are added to the tabletop, and wheels to the hooks underneath as it follows the path through the assembly line (click to enlarge).

On board is a holder for the frame, as well as a table top where “pickers” can easily place the smaller components as they roll through the rows of shelving.

“Picker” picks a peck of parts …

“Picker” picks a peck of parts … (click to enlarge)

The V10s Greg Minnaar and Steve Peat rode to World Championship victories. Photo by Mike Thomas.

The V10s Greg Minnaar and Steve Peat rode to World Championship victories (click to enlarge). Photo by Mike Thomas.

Frames lined up for assembly (click to enlarge). Photo by Mike Thomas.

Frames lined up for assembly (click to enlarge). Photo by Mike Thomas.

Continue to page 2 for more from our Santa Cruz HQ tour and an expansive photo gallery »

About the author: Kristen Gross

Kristen Gross loves bikes, all sorts, and above all, XC mountain bikes. She races in the pro category and gets a lot of joy from teaching others the way of the trail as a mountain bike skills instructor—especially women who are just discovering cycling. She is a USAC-certified coach, and she runs her own freelance writing business based in Carlsbad, Calif. You’ll find her either writing or riding, bringing over 10 years experience to both. Why does she ride? To offset her addiction to Coca Cola and Lay’s Potato Chips.


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  • Loll says:

    Is great to see all of these, but lets get to the question behind everyone’s mind, did you see anything “new”? Please disclose as much as possible without getting in trouble.

  • Peper says:

    Loll those are “new bikes:)”

  • Corth says:

    Awesome!

  • Jeff says:

    Putting shocks on a frame doesn’t make it a factory… Article gives a false sense that the frames are actually made in the US.

  • AngryBee says:

    Factory is a building or group of buildings where goods are manufactured or assembled chiefly by machine.

  • Warren says:

    That’s no more a factory than a grocery store is a farm. This article should be re-titled. While I’m at it I think someone should do an investigative journalist piece on what the profit margins are in the bicycle industry. Ten thousand $ bikes and $100 dollar tires makes you wonder.

  • tom h says:

    I don’t know about the manufacturer’s margins, but I do know that dealer margins are razor thin, I was a buyer for a medium-sized retailer for many years, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay in business when your customers expect huge discounts on complete bikes. You may continue to wonder about $10,000 bikes, but be assured it is not likely that shop people are in it for the money.

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