Time Bicycles has released a short film detailing the making of what it describes as the “the world’s finest carbon bikes (opens in new tab)”.
‘Perfection in Every Strand’ sees the redoubtable French brand lift the lid on the many stages of its production process.
The film, just under five minutes in length, takes place entirely within the Time factory outside Bratislava, Slovakia and takes you on a journey, from the initial weaving of the carbon fibre strands through to the finishing touches applied to each frame before it is boxed ready for shipping.
Founded in 1987, Time has a singular approach to making carbon frames, with several of the processes on show either unique to its factory or largely unused by the industry as a whole.
Its Braiding Carbon Structures (BCS) process sees the fibres woven into bi-directional ‘socks’ which are then pulled over wax frame moulds. Time says it allows for “continuous and unbroken fibres that run the full length of a structure”, something that’s “unheard of in the cycling world”, where most brands use a standard prepreg layup, which Time believes is less structurally sound.
For something so obviously advanced, the BCS process looks on film to be surprisingly organic. The threads are woven on machines that resemble knitting looms, conjuring up images of woollen jumpers being lovingly made on the Shetland Isles.
In fact, the surprise of the film is just how hands-on the entire process is. This is a traditional factory, run by humans rather than machines. Each step requires the skill of a craftsperson and ‘Perfection In Every Strand’ shines a light on their painstaking work.
This is artisanal stuff at times (we see a humble pair of scissors being used to trim carbon), which only lends credence to Time's claim that it's making some of the very best carbon bikes in the world. If nothing else it demonstrates just how labour intensive carbon production is, helping to explain the often exorbitant price tags.
Also shown in the film is Time's use of Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) machines, which helps to minimise defects. Here the carbon-clothed frame moulds are injected with resin with the aim of pushing out air pockets and eliminating voids between layers. According to Time it's the norm in both the aerospace industry and high-end car manufacturing but not in the bike world.
Once this process is finished Time melts the internal wax moulds from inside the frames, recycling and reusing it later in the week as part of its commitment to being as sustainable as possible.
The film also details the gluing together, the sanding, the painting and the final application of the frame’s decals. The expertise and the attention to detail is apparent in each and everyone of these steps.
If Time's intention was to shine a light on the dedication required to produce quality carbon bike frames, then ‘Perfection In Every Strand’ achieves this. In just five short minutes it successfully dissects the end product to lay out not just the ingenuity and skill required but also the care, and dare we say, love, that goes into the making of its frames.
The result gives you both a greater understanding of the French brand's practices and a deeper appreciation for the human involvement in creating a cutting-edge product often assumed to be the work solely of machines.
Even in the highly-competitive world of bicycle technology, where you might guess that secrets of production are kept close to the chest, transparency can be a good thing.
You can watch 'Perfection in Every Strand' here.
To find out more about Time Bicycles visit timebicycles.com
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.
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