Tour of Bike Friday factory - recommended
I was in Eugene, Ore., this week w/my son looking at the U of O and we arranged to stop by the factory (shop, really) where Bike Friday folding bikes are made and give it a quick tour. Highly recommended if you are in the area. They have a show-room with a bunch of bikes (including a few used ones on display), and then the "factory" itself.
They have a "just-in-time" inventory model -- they order the parts and components for each bike after the customer places an order, and they don't start a frame until all the parts have arrived. They make all the frames and forks by hand -- on a really interesting array of custom-made jigs, frames and racks. Most every work station appears to be custom-made or have machinery that was heavily adapted for their needs. They appear to be big believers in continuous improvement -- any place in the production process where they think they can improve it has an orange tag hanging from it.
My interest is in BF as an N+1 bike or a replacement for my commuting/touring bike. I have ambitions to take a trip to France w/in the next couple of years and w/the steady increase in airline fees for bikes, something like a bike with S&S couplers or Bike Friday makes sense to me so you can pack a bike in its own suitcase and just check on the plane like regular luggage...W/Bike Friday, you can also turn the bike carrying case into a trailer, which makes particular sense in Europe, where you could tour from town to town and then hop on the train w/your bike (in a case) to move onto the next area (some trains in Europe take bikes; some don't - but w/Bike Friday you don't really care).
Anyway - interesting, super-nice people, great way to spend an hour. We also could have arrange a tour of Co-Motion while in Eugene but didn't get organized in time....
I was also at Bike Friday last year after a ride from Klamath Falls to Eugene. I had a Friday Pocket Rocket for years and recently purchased a Friday Air Glide, the touring bike. They are indeed great folks to deal with.
Have toured the Friday and Co-Motion facilities a few years ago.