American Bicycle Group (ABG), the Chattanooga-based maker of the high-performance bicycle brands Litespeed, which are road, mountain and adventure bikes with titanium frame, and Quintana Roo, triathlon-specific bikes with carbon-fiber frames, has added a paint and assembly line at its production facility just off Amnicola Highway near Chattanooga State Community College.
The new line for Quintana Roo triathlon bikes at its 40,000-square-foot Chattanooga plant at 4126 S Creek Road will allow athletes to order specific color combinations and bike configurations within a three- to five-day turnaround.
The carbon-fiber frames are made in Southeast Asia, the source of 99 percent of such frames in the world, said ABG President and CEO Peter Hurley.
ABG used to have carbon-fiber frames shipped from China to Taiwan for painting and assembly, Hurley said. But now, blank carbon-fiber frames from China will go to Chattanooga where that work will be done.
"We're bringing the frames in blank, and we're painting them and assembling them," he said.
The investment benefits bike retailers, Hurley said, since the Chattanooga bicycle-maker will no longer follow the industry practice of front-loading dealers with heavy inventory levels.
"In the past, we've gone out to our dealer base and said we need your 2018 orders now, it's November," he said. "Now, people can go online and they can customize how to build the bike and what color they want on the bike."
American Bicycle Group makes 30 different models between its two brands, which range in price from about $2,000 to $15,000.
"The lighter they are, the more aerodynamic they are, the more expensive they become," Hurley said. "That's what really determines the price of the bike."
ABG hired four additional employees for the paint and assembly line, he said, which brings the total to 35 employees. The company invested $100,000 in the new equipment.
Hurley declined to say how many bikes the company sells.
"None of us in the bike business say that, because it gives away what our cost basis would be," he said. "But it's in the thousands."
American Bicycle Group bikes are well-regarded in Chattanooga — and worldwide, said Michael Skiles, owner of Suck Creek Cycle at 321 Cherokee Blvd., which sells the Litespeed brand.
"They've got a great following in town, sure," Skiles said. "They've been doing it since the late '80s. They're arguably the world's oldest titanium frame maker."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or on Twitter @meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.