In what is a daylong process, raw frames are prepped for painting, taped up, painted, cured, and then given a clear coat (as seen here). This room must remain dust free at all times.
If you’ve watched any elite level cyclocross in the last few years, you couldn’t help but notice a trend. When it comes to the European World Cup circuit, at least, Ridley Bikes is the dominant player.
In the last eleven years, seven of the men’s world championship titles have been achieved aboard one of the Belgian bike-maker’s top-shelf ’cross steeds. But that’s really no huge surprise considering the tiny country that’s best known for its beer and chocolate has also produced 12 of the last 16 men’s world title winners. Why wouldn’t they ride a domestically produced bike?
“Because Belgium is such a cycling county, it’s very important for us to have a large presence in the professional ranks,” explained Jochen Bessemans, Ridley PR and marketing manager and RoadBikeReview’s personal tour guide during our recent visit to their Belgian headquarters. “Our success at the professional level is something we are very proud of.”
For 2013, Ridley is providing road bikes to the Lotto-Belisol WorldTour team, as well as ’cross steeds for Fidea and Sunweb, two of the sport’s top squads.
“It’s a huge commitment for us,” added Bessemans. “For Lotto it comes out to about 2 million euros a year when you include equipment. It’s four bikes for each of the 29 riders.”
One of the most important tasks here is designing transfer stickers that assure all paint ends up where it’s supposed to. Every model size gets its own custom packet of transfer stickers.
All those bikes come out of Ridley’s world headquarters, which is located in an industrial park just off the E313 highway in Paal, about an hour east of Brussels. They don’t do any manufacturing here (that all happens in Asia). Instead raw frames arrive at the back-end of the 12,000 square meter facility, then make their way through a labor intensive process where the finished product is a ready-to-ride hand-painted frame dressed with high-end components.
Here’s a sneak peek gallery from our visit with extended captions. Check back soon for a full details from our daylong tour inside the walls of Ridley’s world headquarters.