Bridge Bike Works invests in making North American carbon fiber bikes

TORONTO (BRAIN) — When collaborating on a new brand, Michael Yakubowicz and Frank Gairdner didn’t just want to build a bike. They wanted to create the entire process from pencil to paint under one roof.

Bridge Bike Works is the result, a brand in development for three years and designed to design and manufacture carbon fiber frames, forks and parts in North America. Its 8,200 square foot facility — 2,000 of which is reserved for showroom and office space — is in Toronto, with the first pre-production prototype completed this week for testing. Production bikes are expected by August, with 60 pre-orders filled.

Bridge also has ambitions to begin OEM carbon fiber production.

Yakubowicz, owner of Blacksmith Cycle in Toronto, and Gairdner, an experienced sporting goods manufacturing entrepreneur in North America, share a passion for sports and have partnered to create a brand that won’t chase every trend. workmanship while hoping to please the basic cyclist.

“I think maybe that’s what makes us unique, because we’re not driven by marketing decisions, but rather by creating the best possible product,” Yakubowicz said. “Almost everyone who has a hand in our process has extensive experience in the cycling industry.”

For example, of the eight full-time employees, Bridge has brought in two engineers formerly from Cervelo. Don’t call it a boutique brand.

“We try to compete, price-wise, with those big brands,” Yakubowicz said. “For us it was about investing in people, engineering and focusing the product on our customers, which means we’re not trying to be a brand trying to sponsor a professional racing team, then to convince people that this is the bike they should be riding.We design an all-terrain bike for enthusiasts.

This first model, the Surveyor, is designed around the geometry of the road but with clearances for off-road tires up to 40mm. “We really worked on the engineering to ensure maximum tire clearance with as racy and performance-oriented geometry as possible,” he said. “So the idea is that it’s kind of your N+1 killer. We think it’s a really versatile lightweight road and gravel bike that potentially with two sets of wheels , you could do 90% of your driving.”

What you won’t find is an integrated seatpost clamp or a tight-fitting bottom bracket. While the brand opts for an oversized D-shaped downtube and integrated cables, it uses a standard 27.2mm seat clamp and a T-47 threaded bottom bracket.

The MSRP for the frameset—which includes a Bridge Bike Works fork, seat clamp, and front derailleur clamp, plus thru-axles and a headset—is $4,000. Full versions will start at around $6,250.

Going for domestic manufacturing was the plan from the start, Yakubowicz said, a strategy that was particularly timely given the supply chain issues plaguing the industry over the past two years.

“We started this project before COVID and always wanted the bike to be built nationally. In terms of the investment in people and the community and really the quality of the product, doing it locally was the best way to do it. “

Bridge was able to raise initial funding for the project primarily through California-based Ovare Group and Washington-based Digsbury Ventures, as well as private investors. Although fundraising is still ongoing, Bridge has already secured the necessary funds to move its initial Surveyor model into production later this summer.

Yakubowicz said the company had no problems securing raw materials and sourcing carbon from North American manufacturers. In less than a year, it has equipped its factory with CNC milling machines, cutting tables, presses, ovens, an autoclave and all the rest of the machinery necessary for its processes. Bridge also has in-house 3D printing capabilities

“It allows us to be really nimble and fast in terms of design and iterations, but it also means that if we want to cut a new tool, we don’t have to outsource it and wait four weeks. let’s just design. , cut it in two days and start working.”

Like all brands, getting components has been more difficult, but “we’re actually in a really good position in terms of available groups, and our online build configurator for the public is tied to the inventory we have in stock. stock or what we’ve got of actual estimated ship dates,” Yakubowicz said. “This configurator is supposed to be able to build complete bikes that will ship before the end of the year.”

While the social and environmental reasons were obvious, Yakubowicz added that having complete control of the manufacturing process will primarily benefit the consumer.

“We think people are more aware of where their products are made and how delivery times have been affected,” he said. “So even in terms of delivery times, doing it locally means that once we’re in production, we aim to deliver frames or built bikes in weeks, as opposed to months or even years, which that you’re seeing from a lot of big bike brands.”

The Bridge facility is leased for five years, after which it will be determined if larger space is needed, Yakubowicz said. And it could be if the OEM business side takes off. Yakubowicz said Bridge has the ability to produce carbon fiber bicycle components.

“We have had conversations about potential original equipment production for other brands, frames or components. But we think we will probably expand in the future to produce for other companies as well. We are completely carbon focused. Essentially the construction hollow carbon parts, that’s what we designed this facility to do.”

With his experience, Yakubowicz is understandably a fan of the retailer, and building a dealer network for the Surveyor – which will likely be joined by a more gravel-focused model in 2024 – is already underway. A dozen North American and international dealers have been selected. The direct consumer will also be another sales channel.

“Our direct-to-consumer sales are really for people who don’t have local dealers,” Yakubowicz said. “But in terms of our dealer network, we’re going to refer as many local sales as possible to those dealers. I mean, I’m obviously biased because I own a bike shop and I strongly believe that a good bike shop bikes local is always the best place to buy a bike and we would love if dealers are looking to contact us and find out more about the brand.

He expects first-year sales to be more direct-consumer oriented.

“But as we grow, our preference is that each year our dealership sales take a bigger share. You know, if I had my way five years from now, I’d rather have 100 dealerships selling 10 or 15 bikes each per year rather than trying to sell 1,500 direct-to-consumer bikes a year.”

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