The TPC team — Seth, Mike, me, Shay, and Justin — standing in front of a massive RockShox Pike replica that greets you near the entrance.
SRAM is one of the world’s leading component manufacturers and one of TPC’s biggest industry partners. It's also the brand I tend to gravitate toward when kitting out my own bikes at home. So when I heard that our purchasing and production teams were taking a business trip down to SRAM’s HQ in nearby Colorado Springs, I decided to be a fifth wheel and tag along.
I got a tour of SRAM’s impressive facility, a sneak peek at some exciting new products (which, unfortunately, I won't be able to discuss here), and a shuttle ride up to some ripping local trails. Most importantly, I got some insight into how the partnership between SRAM and TPC will continue to develop, which is exciting for us and our customers.
SRAM’s Colorado Springs HQ
SRAM’s global headquarters is actually in Chicago, Illinois. That’s where the majority of its sales and marketing teams are located, and it’s where it develops most of its drivetrain technology.
This second headquarters is in Colorado Springs, where RockShox was originally based. Since acquiring RockShox in 2002, Colorado has become the home base for SRAM’s product development and testing of gravity-focused components like suspension, dropper posts, brakes, E-MTB powertrains, and more.
The break area tells you a lot about a business. There's multiple espresso machines, plenty of ride nutrition, iconic suspension forks on display, and World Cup MTB racing on the TV. Plus it's immaculately clean.
The building we visited is the “new” Colorado Springs headquarters. It opened in 2019, but due to the global pandemic, it only became fully operational in the last couple of years. It’s located in a nondescript row of warehouses in the shadow of Pikes Peak.
The office area. Out of shot, there was a white board with details and dates for some upcoming product launches. I know what's coming, but have to keep my lips sealed!
The building contains offices, along with manufacturing and testing facilities. As you'd expect from one of the world's biggest cycling brands, it caters to cyclists with beautiful locker rooms, ample bike parking, and a break area stocked with plenty of coffee, tea, and ride snacks. Bikes and bike paraphernalia were everywhere, and it was clear there was a strong riding culture here — something you love to see in any workplace.
I wish we had locker rooms like this at TPC.
This might be a weird thing to focus on, but the locker rooms here were especially stunning. Employees each had a large locker, the entire locker room smelled amazing, and there was nice ambient music in the background. There were also multiple, very large, very nice showers. We experienced extreme jealousy upon seeing these showers.
Our Lead Purchaser, Justin, doing his best Vanna White.
We had to get a photo to show the whole team back at TPC. Our single small men's shower becomes a battleground after morning commutes and lunch rides. In comparison, this spacious and luxurious locker room was paradise. Visiting here has definitely given us ideas for how to improve our own headquarters in Louisville.
What we all really wanted to see, however, was the development area that takes up the entire back half of the building. Here, there are rows of kitted-out workbenches, a full machine shop, and a high-tech test lab. Engineers and fabricators were all building and tinkering with unreleased suspension products. While I can’t provide specifics, I can tell you that SRAM is already working on the next generation of MTB suspension. That's how long it takes to get components like this to market!
Unfortunately, this was the only photo I was allowed to take in the test lab (everything is secret). This is a very cool cargo scooter though. It's used to transport products and materials throughout the product development area. We use scooters at TPC HQ too and this would be a useful addition to our fleet!
The machine shop was immaculate. It looked like a cleanroom and it was kitted out with several Haas CNC machines. Here, fabricators can create things like fork lowers, crowns, and other components from scratch to test out different designs and concepts. The neighboring test lab housed three high-end suspension dynos which were seriously impressive. The two meant for testing forks were the size of small cars, and the one for shocks was slightly smaller. Each dyno was anchored to an extremely heavy and perfectly level concrete pad.
Suspension components are placed into the dyno and supported the same way they would be on a bike. The fork, for example, is braced at the steerer tube and axle. The dyno is then able to simulate the forces the fork will experience on the trail. By using data acquisition from real-world rides, the dyno can actually replicate the forces experienced on any trail around the world (for example, a World Cup downhill race track).
If you've watched SRAM product launch or how-to videos, you may recognize this set. This is where they're filmed!
I was hoping to take way more juicy photos of SRAM’s facility, but alas, the entire place is filled with unreleased and prototype products, proprietary equipment, and industry secrets. There were many times that I couldn’t film or photograph, but I got what I could. While I can’t divulge any specifics, I can say that there are plenty of exciting new products in the pipeline, and some will get released very soon.
Really though, the purpose of this trip wasn’t for me to try and snoop around (which I failed at). Instead, leaders from our purchasing and production teams came to meet with product managers at SRAM to strengthen our partnership and get more brand-new SRAM products on our website.
In the near future, you can expect TPC to become one of, if not the best online resource for both current and previous generation SRAM components, as well as other SRAM products like Hammerhead Karoo head units and Time pedals.
SRAM Technical University (STU) is an important resource for bike mechanics. Here, techs are getting up to speed with the latest RockShox Vivid air shock. Classes are done in person or virtually (note the camera setup).
Not only that, we also wanted to organize classes to get our bike techs up to speed with upcoming SRAM products and secure a solid stock of components and consumables for servicing and refurbishing bikes.
Our head suspension tech, Shay, was particularly interested in sourcing some perpetually out-of-stock hardware for some old RockShox forks. He’s helping build our in-store service center into one of the best in the state. To maintain the quickest turnaround time for suspension services (the goal is 48 hours or less) he needs a direct line to all the parts he needs.
After all the business was done. We were generously offered a shuttle ride to the top of one of Colorado Springs' best trails: Captain Jacks. Originally, we were hoping to ride down from the top of Pikes Peak, but a classic Colorado afternoon thunderstorm derailed our plans.
Fortunately, Captain Jacks and the subsequent trails we explored were all 5-star material. The riding was fast, flowy, and loose, punctuated with moments of butt-puckering tech. Colorado Springs definitely has great terrain for mountain bike and suspension geeks who are developing and testing world-beating components.
The SRAM crew regularly volunteers for trail work days. These pickaxes are kept in the offices for easy access.
A better look at the impressively accurate 30 foot tall RockShox Pike RCT3 replica near the entrance.
"Dive II" by Carl Sean McMahon. It was part of SRAM's pART project to raise money for World Bicycle Relief.
SRAM has long been a disruptor in the bike industry. Kind of like us!
Good local riding helps develop great components.