During a recent trip across Europe we thought we would drop in to Lapierre’s headquarters in Dijon, France to take a look behind the scenes and see how bikes make it into the riders hands. Whilst there we had the opportunity to speak to Nico Vouilloz as well and find out whats cooking for the next years, which when looking around the factory is pretty evident, whether you like it or not E-bikes are breaking more ground.
Lapierre is one of the key companies in the bike market having been around for more than 60 years and now in the hands of a third generation of the Lapierre family. Recently, with investor support Lapierre have expanded its outreach and now is taking on the USA market.
We started our visit in the marketing nerve centre before starting a walk around the production facility, all very interesting. Lapierre is a serious company with some great success stories around it, now they are one of the big players forming the bike market as it moves toward the gradual take up of electronic technology.
A pretty normal show room greets us as we enter their headquarters, however we start to take note which bikes are at the front of the display. E-bikes.
Jumping thorough into the sales and marketing department we discover what we will all be riding a few years ahead. Pretty cool though that if you work here you get a desk and a wall behind you where you can put your bike for lunch rides.
We tried to make a entrance in here but we were not allowed, and yes that is Nico Voullioz on the phone, we wonder what secrets are cooking here?
The international after sales support office.
Here is where after-sales can find any part going back at least 10 years.
A treasure trove of parts and pieces, need a derailleur hanger? They have it.
Every conceivable part for any Lapierre bike.
Moving out of the repair area we wander into the service part of the warehouse.
Tires arriving for the bike assembly line.
Now we start to walk into the production part of the facility. The first thing we come across is the wheels department.
Hubs ready to be laced.
A bit stack of rims.
Lapierre builds its wheels by hand with a machine finishing the tensioning and alignment.
Here the laced hubs are changed into wheels as each worker threads and starts the initial build.
Each wheel is laced here.
A machine helps tighten the spokes correctly.
This machine does the final alignment.
All the settings in this one little box.
It’s quite impressive to see a wheel come out of here perfectly aligned.
A stack of wheels ready to be mounted.
Tyres and discs installed and ready to be ridden.
We move into the production line part of the factory, here we can see where 120 bikes per day are assembled.
This is where all the incoming parts are stored.
Brakes are prepared here.
Hoses are cut and trimmed.
Each part of the bike is built up in stages, here the bars are assembled.
Each worker knows about 80 percent of the different jobs inside the factory.
Here road bike handle bar/stems are put together.
The frames sit ready to be finished and undergo final assembly.
Completed handle bar palettes.
Forks set and ready to bolt up to the front end.
The frames are all mounted and have their hardware added in batches, each frame gets the hand built treatment.
Shocks are added here and also checked if necessary for tuning.
The E- bike revolution is coming.
How far into the future is everyone going to be riding with one of these, probably one of the most expensive components on a bike.
Each bike is built up by a team of final builders.
Every tool that one would need to build a bike is at this work station. Precision is the key.
Each bike is completely built up then reduced down to a packed bike.
By having a bike built up completely Lapierre can be sure that quality control is top notch before being sent to the shop.
These tags are added to each frame at the start of the build process and the information that it represents follows the bike. Therefore it’s possible to see who did what at each stage.
In the special order section bikes are built up to customers specific needs.
Special builds have their own dedicated parts section that clients have commissioned to have built up.
In this dark corner of the factory are all the press test bikes. If we are lucky enough we can take one out for spin.
The test area at the back of the facility is where all the bikes undergo strict testing to make sure they meet all the engineering safety standards. We were not allowed to shoot inside, but rest assured they beat the bikes to the limits to make sure on track the various components don’t break.
Finally, we sat down with the main man himself Nico Vouilloz, you can read his interview here.
Thanks to Lapierre for the visit and the insight to bike production.