How Bicycles Are Made

A bicycle also known as a cycle or bike is a two-wheeled transport device that is powered by a cyclist through pedalling. It is used for short distance travel, as an exercise and in some cases, it can be used for competitive cycling. They were introduced in the early 19th century and their design has barely changed over the years. There are different types of bicycles based on their use including racing bikes, all terrain bicycles, stationary bicycles, tandems, unicycles and tricyles. But how are bicycles made? What machines are used to make bicycles?

Manufacturing bicycles

The process begins with blocks of steel which are then pierced and moulded into tubes. The tubes are then manipulated to minimise their weight while maximising their strength. This is done through a process known as butting which is the manipulation of the thickness of the walls of the tubes. It also ensures that the thickness at the joints and towards the ends of the tubes is increased to maximise on the strength. This is based on the fact that the joints and the ends receive the highest stress levels while the centre of the tubes receives minimal stress and therefore they can be made as thin as possible. Butting is also responsible for the improvement in the resilience of the tubes and the entire bike.

There are different types of butting including single, double, triple or quad- butted. Single butting occurs where only one end of the frame is thicker while in double butting, both ends are thicker than the centre. In triple butting, both ends are butted but at different levels of thickness while in quad-butting, both ends have different levels of thickness and the frames centre thins towards the mid- point.

The manufacturing process involves machine making different components that are then assembled manually and in some cases by machines. Assembling the tubes to form the frame of the bicycle is done by hand --brazing. In some cases, it can be done through a welding machine. Different parts are joined together with plastic binders or a very strong type of glue. The final product is then tested for weakness by skilled and experienced builders and then packed for sale.

Assembly and Machinery used in the bicycle manufacturing process

The assembling process involves several processes including tailoring the tubes to suit the bike, brazing, welding, gluing, aligning different components, cleaning and finishing. This involves the use of machinery such as the welding machine, polishing machine, automatic electrostatic spraying machines and equipment, grinding machinery and many more.

Extra information about polishing machine

How long does it take to build a bicycle?

Mass market bicycles produced in factories can take less than 30 minutes to build and assemble. But this is only possible for fully automated process. However, racing bikes and other types of customised bikes may take longer. A manual manufacturing process takes around two to four days to finish on one bicycle. Remember that the length of time require to make a bicycle is also dependent on the technology available, availability of different raw materials and the availability of technical skills to run the machines and carry out the product testing.