Founded in the 1990’s during the early mountain bike craze, Cube Bikes has rapidly grown over its 24-year existence to become the largest bike company in all of Germany. In fact, Cube is one of the largest bike company’s in the world when it comes to volume. That’s quite the feat when you consider that Cube Bikes aren’t available in North America (yet), and the fact that it is entirely privately owned too.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Cube flew Singletrack and a whole bunch of other cycling journos to their brand new factory in Waldershof. The plan was to see the 2017 bike range, whilst checking out their brand new assembly line, R&D lab and design studios to see how each Cube bike comes to life.
The new factory has been entirely built from the ground-up, and it is absolutely enormous. Some 40,000 square metres enormous. The factory includes a huge warehouse for holding stock, and Cube also setup a temporary showroom to display their entire 2017 bike range. If you’re familiar with Cube Bikes, you’ll know that a lot of space is required to do such a thing – their lineup of road bikes, kids bikes, hybrids, mountain bikes and e-bikes is in a word; super-dooper-massive.
The showroom installation was primarily setup to allow Cube dealers to come through and check out the shiny new range of bikes and accessories. In addition to bikes, Cube also produce helmets, backpacks, apparel, shoes, pumps, pedals – pretty much everything you’d need in a bike shop.
If you’re looking for more information about the Cube 2017 range, then check out our article on the brand new Cube AMS full suspension race bike, as well as the story on some of the specific highlights from the Cube 2017 launch.
Alongside the new bikes and gear, Cube also wanted to show off its brand new factory.
Commissioned just five weeks before our tour, the new factory is an absolute behemoth. As Cube has grown and developed over the past two decades, the company was finding its existing assembly plant was bursting at the seams trying to keep up with demand. In order to manage future growth and demand for its bikes, Cube decided to build an entirely new factory just a few hundred metres from the old one. According to Cube, they don’t want to move again, so this new factory had to be built with that in mind.
Because the factory was still relatively new during our visit to Waldershof, the assembly line wasn’t yet up to speed. Perhaps for this reason, we weren’t allowed to take any photos during the tour, so you’ll just have to make do with these slick shots that have come direct from Cube.
Compared to most other bike brands that have their bikes assembled in Taiwan or China, Cube assemble the majority of their bikes in Germany. At the Waldershof factory, Cube receives all of the components required to assemble their fully-built bikes. That includes frames, drivetrains, tyres, grips, saddles, forks, accessories, and every other part that goes into creating a complete bike. Most of these components come from Asia, and arrive in the warehouse next door to the assembly line. From there, the Cube factory turns that big batch of parts into complete bicycles, which are then packaged and shipped all over the world.
Cube manage their own assembly for a number of reasons. For a start, it’s actually a little cheaper than paying Asian factories to assemble complete bikes then ship them over to Germany. In Europe, taxes are quite high for importing a complete bike, and shipping is pricy too. It’s actually quite a bit cheaper to receive a whole bunch of small boxes, than it is to get one big bike box. They also cite increased flexibility for assembling bikes on home turf, so they can turn around small batches of specific models as demand changes throughout the season. And one of the other big reasons for assembling in Germany is the fact that they’re employing locals rather than sending that money off shore. On that note, the Cube factory employs 250 people across the assembly line and warehouse.
There are two levels to the new Cube factory. Each and every frame is hooked onto the conveyor belt, where it begins assembly on the bottom level before moving upstairs. On the bottom level, each factory worker is responsible for one job or installing one part, such as a crankset or a derailleur, or machining threads into rear disc brake tabs. On the upper level of the assembly line, each bike is then tuned and setup by an individual mechanic, so the brakes and gears are adjusted by the same person. In the name of efficiency and accountability, each frame receives its own individual barcode that means every bike can be traced back to the assembly line and the mechanic that built it.
It’s a pretty impressive sight to see each frame moving through every step of the assembly process, though it’ll be even more impressive once the factory is running at full speed. Once the new facility is running at 100%, the assembly line is expected to pump out 3500 bikes per day. That means Cube will be expecting to ship over half a million bikes annually, which is a staggeringly large amount!
In addition to assembling complete bikes, Cube also handles wheel building in house too. With the exception of Mavic system wheels (like the Crossmax hoops), each wheel is built at Cube and is added onto the frames as they pass between the lower floor and the upper floor. During our visit, Cube was testing new automated wheel building machines and tracking the speed at which they could produce wheelsets alongside their human counterparts.
One thing that we notice during our tour around the factory is a lingering citrus smell, which comes from the final cleaning process at the end of the assembly line. To remove any grease and gunk incurred from assembly, each bike is cleaned and prepped before it’s padded up and placed into a cardboard box and prepepd for shipping.
After having the opportunity to see how Cube designs, tests, assembles and QC’s all the bikes in their enormous range, we certainly developed a newfound appreciation for the level of detail that goes into producing a complete mountain bike. And with the ability to continue its growth and ongoing development well into the future, it’s clear that Cube will be a brand to keep a close eye on in the international cycling market.
If you’d like to know more about Cube bikes, you can head to their UK website here.
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