Tour: Intense Cycles – Temecula, California

We got a chance to take a tour of Intense Cycles’ Temecula, California facility and saw first hand how they do things over there. Intense is one of the few bike companies left who still fabricate, weld, and build production bikes in house. Check inside for a video and details to learn more about Intense’s process and facility.

Intense is an American bike company through and through.  While many might try to claim this for marketing purposes, Intense is one of the last who still produce their bikes almost entirely in house.

Jeff Steber started Intense Cycles back in 1991. He was at the forefront of the downhill scene as it evolved over time and arguably still is. Intense has always been a bike company that has tried to address the needs of riders and stay above the competion in an ever evolving sport. With their focus on lean processes as of late, and in house manufacturing, they have the ability to adapt rapidly to the market and produce bikes in a more predictable manner.

On our tour of Intense’s Temecula, California facility it was obvious that Intense has stuck to their guns of creating quality handmade products. From the materials, to the machines, to the vendors they choose, Intense is about using quality local resources and keeping a close eye on all phases of bike construction.

Video:

Making a bike frame

Intense does almost all frame building and production in house. One of the items they don’t do at their Temecula facility is hydroforming. These parts come in from an outside vendor formed and ready to be welded together in-house.

frame pieces (click to enlarge)

Intense uses frame fixtures to align the parts of the frame together for welding.

frame fixture (click to enlarge)

Each frame is tack welded together in the fixture before final finish bead welding is done. Intense keeps these master frames on hand to ensure consistency.

tack welded frame (click to enlarge)

tack master frames (click to enlarge)

Once the tacked frame has been checked it is hand welded by one of Intense’s skilled craftsman.

finish welding (click to enlarge)

The result is a machined and handcrafted beauty.

finished frames (click to enlarge)

Intense does their own heat treating. It is a two step process involving an initial short heat treatment with a hand inspection afterwards and then a final longer treatment.

heat treating area (click to enlarge)

frame inspection after first treatment (click to enlarge)

After welding and heat treatment the frames are then sent off to a local powdercoater in Temecula.  Intense offers a big color palette for buyers to pick from, and with their powder coat vendor being close by they are able to offer this to their customers.

frames back from powdercoat (click to enlarge)

Once the frames come back from powdercoat they are then hand assembled, stickered, and packed ready to ride. Intense builds anywhere from 10-18 frames a day.

frame being built (click to enlarge)

completed frames (click to enlarge)

Making small parts

Intense keeps  a decent stock of aluminum and specialized tubing on hand for machining parts like dropouts, rocker links, and bottom bracket shells.

aluminum stock (click to enlarge)

aluminum stock (click to enlarge)

To make handling these long pieces of stock easier they’re cut down with a large bandsaw.

stock saw (click to enlarge)

Intense likes to keep their American made theme going throughout their processes. They use American made Haas CNC machines to create their small parts.

Haas machine tools (click to enlarge)

various machine bits (click to enlarge)

The resulting product from CNC is checked for correct tolerance after each process.

chainstay yokes (click to enlarge)

bottom bracket shells (click to enlarge)

dropouts (click to enlarge)

dropouts (click to enlarge)

pivot bolts (click to enlarge)

Intense makes sure to keep all of its machining waste that is reusable or recyclable.

machining waste (click to enlarge)

Intense doesn’t keep a ton of spare parts in stock. They are now using a Toyota style lean manufacturing process so that they don’t hold too much inventory and get stuck with dead stock. Since they have their own machines and designs they’re able to create spares whenever the need arises if they don’t have it in stock.

spares (click to enlarge)

History lesson

As we mentioned earlier Intense has been at the forefront of the gravity scene for a long time. Their shop is a museum full of retro rides from past and present champions. Many of the bikes that are stored in their facility has built the sport up to what it is today.  So much so that in the early downhill days, many riders on other teams would ride Intense frames but with different decals to pacify their sponsors.  Intense has helped pioneer and improve racing performance from the onset of the sport.

prototype M1 with obvious moto influence (click to enlarge)

the black M1 with red rear in front is Shaun Palmers famous M1 (click to enlarge)

Leign Donovan's World's bike also hangs from the rafters (click to enlarge)

Thanks to Intense for letting us invade and have a look around the place.  If you get a chance to see it for yourself, its worth a visit!

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