BizVoice July/August 2014 - page 50

BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – July/August 2014
“Virtually every major race (at least
once) has been won on Zipp wheels and
SRAM components,” offers Zipp/SRAM
public relations specialist Dan Lee.
In fact, a stroll through the company’s
facility reveals the famed – and framed – yellow
jersey of 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos
Sastre (of Spain). Sastre rode to victory for
Zipp-equipped Team CSC/Saxo Bank.
Additionally, Australian Mirinda Carfrae took
the women’s 2013 Kona Iron Man World
Championships with Zipp/SRAM equipment.
Starting line
With a staff of around 300 in its
70,000-square-foot building, Zipp takes a
different tack on building wheels and bike
components than many other companies.
“One thing that’s unique is that it’s a full
manufacturing site,” Lee explains. “A lot of
the bicycle industry is overseas or outsourced.
But Zipp full carbon wheels are made here in
Indianapolis and our hubs are made in Indiana.”
“We purchase prepreg unidirectional
carbon, which means it already has resin
applied to the carbon fabric, and slice it into
component parts on an automated cutting
table,” adds James Lipe, manufacturing
engineering manager for SRAM’s Zipp
facility. ”The prepreg component parts are
assembled into rim-shaped preforms and
placed into a heated press to cure them into
composite bike rims.”
While the company acquires spokes from
Belgium and bearings from Switzerland, the
rest is built from the ground up in Indiana.
That not only helps keep jobs here, but allows
for a streamlined process so the brains behind
the technology can collaborate effectively.
“We have a full test lab and our
engineering is done here,” Lee shares. “So it’s
a full process where the manufacturing
engineers and design engineers can talk to
each other and can all be out on the factory
floor checking things. It makes for a very
efficient process.”
Taking on component manufacturers like
Shimano and Campagnolo is a task that keeps
Zipp and SRAM in high gear, striving to develop
the latest technology. Fortunately, many of the
best minds are educated right here in the state.
“We definitely pull (engineers) from
Purdue (University) and Rose-Hulman (Institute
of Technology),” Lee states. “We were just
featured as a ‘manufacturer of the week’ by
Purdue. Those schools are important to us.
And we developed a software tool for our aero
bars last year, and we worked with (Rose-
Hulman) to develop (the Vuka Fit phone app)
to help people select the correct fit.”
Next gear
Zipp is quite visible in the cycling world
and makes an effort to associate with the top
riders across the globe.
“We sponsor professionals for a number
of reasons: It’s good exposure and shows our
products can be used at the highest level,”
Lee relays. “Nobody uses wheels in a more
demanding way than pro riders because of the
miles they ride and the conditions they ride in.”
He adds that sponsorship also allows the
company to receive feedback from those using
their products in the most rigorous ways.
“With SRAM, we have a whole
department that spends a lot of time with our
professional athletes and is constantly talking
with riders and the mechanics. They give us
critiques on what we’re doing well and what
we need to improve. Our engineers talk to
them as well.”
SRAM is also visible through its
charitable endeavors, like its efforts with
World Bicycle Relief (WBR) – created in
2005 by SRAM co-founder and executive vice
president F.K. Day.
“Around the time of the (Indian Ocean)
tsunami in 2004, we decided to look for a
way bicycles could help people. Now we
work with WBR and there are about 182,000
bikes in the field, mostly in rural Africa,” Lee
quantifies. “These bikes help people get jobs
and they ride their bikes to school, or health
care workers see more people, or
entrepreneurs carry more stuff.”
He adds that the Buffalo Bike used for
the project is very durable and contains parts
that can be replaced in the field.
Road to the top
Zipp sells through distributors and its
products can be found at independent bicycle
dealers and shops.
“There are some online retailers that sell
our wheels, but most are independent
dealers,” Lee clarifies.
Despite competition, Zipp’s wheels – and
their distinguishing dimples (that aid wind
resistance, much like those on a golf ball) –
continue to lead the pack, according to Lee.
“Zipp wheels have been proven to be
faster, more durable, and there is meticulous
attention to detail and design that goes into
them,” he concludes. “We’ve done high-level
computer simulations to test out the
performance – and with wind tunnel usage.
Zipp has been a pioneer and leader in high-
performance carbon wheels for many years.”
Dan Lee and James Lipe, Zipp/SRAM, at
It may not be blessed with mountainous vistas or rolling vineyards like
the grueling stages of the Tour de France, but Indianapolis’ west side
is home to one of the world’s most notable cycling companies. Zipp
Speed Weaponry – and its parent company, Chicago-based SRAM –
are go-to resources for professional and high level cyclists.
Zipp Rolls On at World-Class Speed
Master builder Nic James uses innovation and attention to detail to make Zipp wheels the preference of
many professional cyclists.
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