There’s a lot to be done be­fore steel is ready to be part of a bi­cy­cle

Cyclist - - Columbus | Insider -


The process be­gins with iron ore. Once mined, the iron is smelted in gi­ant blast fur­naces, where any im­pu­ri­ties are re­moved and car­bon is added, which makes the iron into crude steel.


Crude steel moves to the foundry for se­condary steel­mak­ing – the process of re­mov­ing oxy­gen and adding ma­te­ri­als to form the spe­cific recipes that Colum­bus uses, such as com­bi­na­tions of vana­dium, nio­bium, nickel and chrome.


From here it’s formed into cylin­dri­cal bil­lets. To be made into a tube re­quires hot lam­i­na­tion, a process of ro­tat­ing the tube at a tem­per­a­ture of 1,450°C in such a way that a hole forms in the cen­tre.


Now that it’s a tube, it finds its way to Colum­bus, which will first re­fine its di­am­e­ter and width us­ing a cold draw­ing process – push­ing it through a die un­der tremen­dous pres­sure. It’s cut and then ei­ther put through fur­ther cold draw­ing to cre­ate the butts, or sent through a cold lam­i­na­tion process to cre­ate a ta­pered shape.


A sin­gle tube can go through the draw­ing process as many as 15 times, and that ma­nip­u­lates the steel on a mi­cro­scopic level too. The tubes must re­turn to a hot oven to de-stress the steel’s crys­tal struc­ture, of­ten be­tween cy­cles of cold draw­ing.


The tubes are then pol­ished, cleaned and oiled and sent to a frame­builder.

The frame­builder must cut the tube to length, pre­serv­ing the ra­tio of the butting where pos­si­ble, and then mitre the tube into the cor­rect shape so that the edges of each tube tes­sel­lates with other tubes. From there the tubes are welded, brazed or lugged to­gether be­fore fi­nal sand­ing, paint­ing and pol­ish­ing.


Add wheels and a driv­e­train, and presto – you have a bike. (NB. You might want a sad­dle as well…)

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