12th April 2013
We are very excited to be stocking Time bikes at our Exeter store! Time Sport International is a proudly French manufacturer of bicycle frames and components. Their products are designed and manufactured at their factories near Lyon and Paris. Unlike many of their competitors, Time have chosen not to outsource their manufacturing to the Far East. We were lucky enough to be given a tour of their Lyon factory. Read on to find out more about the brand or pop into our Exeter store to take a look at their frames.
One thing that sets Time frames apart as not only a quality product but also a piece of craftsmanship is their RTM (Resin Transfer Moulding) manufacturing process. No one else in the bike industry has the know how or manufacturing capability to build bikes in this way. It is a process used in the best products in the world in safety critical areas. These include Lamborghini and Ferrari car chassis, Boeing Dreamliner landing gear and Airbus A380 wing supports. It's a complicated and time consuming process but Time feel that the flawless results are worth it.
Time take the frame all the way from strands of carbon to the finished product in their factory near Lyon. This gives them absolute control over all parts of the process. The first step is to take the carbon fibres and weave them into a tube. Some of the tubes are pure carbon and others have vectran or kevlar fibres weaved in to provide additional stength or comfort qualities.
The next step is to feed these tubes over a beeswax mould. The moulds are again made in the Lyon factory and allow Time to create intricate shapes and to ensure the finish of the inside of the frame is as perfect as the outside. The wax is reused 10 times, melted down and injection moulded back into shape to reduce wastage. This step is very complex, each frame and each size has a specific order in which the tubes are fed over the moulds and then tied into place with carbon strands.
Once the layup is complete the frames are then carefully placed into the metal outer moulds by Alain who deals with all of the resin injection process.
Once the mould is closed it is then tilted up on one end and heated up to 100ºC. Hot enough to keep the resin liquid but not hot enough to melt the wax. The resin is then mixed and injected into the mould via one entrance at the bottom. The resin is then forced up through the mould and out through 3 exhaust ports. The process is carefully controlled and the exhaust ports opened and closed in specific sequences. This all ensures there is no chance at all of any air bubbles in the frame which could cause failures.
After the injection process the frame is then cooled again. Once cooled it is then removed from the mould to have any machining, sanding and bonding done. The wax mould is also melted out of the frame leaving a clean finish inside. Many other manufacturers use a bladder mould inside the frame which is left loose inside. Time also produce their own carbon moulded dropouts, seat clamp hardware and other small parts which are bonded to the frames. These parts are made through a process called CMT (Carbon Moulding Technology) which due to some secret techniques we weren't allowed to photograph. All bonding is done with the frame held in a jig to ensure perfect alignment.
The frames are then tested using ultrasound, profile projection and 3D measuring to ensure there are no flaws. Time have very strict standard on what makes it through quality control to make sure their customers get a perfect frame.
After testing the frames are then painted in a dust free and temperature controlled environment. Stickers are then applied. In certain places (such as handlebar markers) lasers are used to ensure the exact alignment of the stickers. For their VIP finish frames all the graphics are painted on rather than stickers.
Then it's time for the final touches. Headsets and forks are fitted (using Time's unique QUICKSET system).
The frame is then packaged up and sent out. If Time or us don't have a frame in stock it usually only takes 4-6 weeks from ordering to it arriving at our door. Then we can build your frame up into a beautiful bike of your specification!
For more information on Time or getting one built pop into our Exeter store, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01392 426191. Steve and Hugh are our Time specialists at Exeter.
Time products on our website - http://www.bikesheduk.com/time
Time's website: http://www.time-sport.com/
Road Cycling UK's factory visit: http://roadcyclinguk.com/riding/factory-visit-time-sport-921.html#slide-1
Bike Radar's factory visit: http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/article/time-factory-tour-video-how-carbon-frames-are-made-36784/
Bike Radar's factory visit video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZZkpWc0MJY