After a 13 hours flight from Amsterdam, I get out of the airport and take a bus to the HSR, the high speed train, flying through Taiwan. Everything is organized and in only 37 minutes it covers the 130 kilometers to Taichung. Taichung is the place to be for bike production. Affordable bikes are not made in Taiwan anymore, as companies expand to cheaper countries such as Cambodia, but Taiwan is the place where the best production companies are found. Raaw being based in Germany, we of course looked at production in Europe. Shorter supply chains are always better, but there simply is not facility in Europe covering the same production processes, know-how and experience that the leading companies in Taiwan have.
It's exciting, I honestly had hard times falling asleep, the first frames are finished! When I arrive, we no longer need to discuss about technical details, but we finally get to build the frame and go through the process of assembly.
The production of the Madonna starts with hydroformed tubes and forged parts. The tubes get CNC machined down to the exact fit and are mounted in the welding jig. Years of experience show what the welders are capable of; the complex welds are all done by hand and show some true art.
When all parts are welded together it's time for the oven, where the aluminium gets its treatment. We use 6066 T6 aluminium, which isn't the lightest, as it has a relatively high density, but it's very strong on impacts and has a long lifetime. After all parts of the frame get back from the oven, it is time for the final machining. All the bearing surfaces and component interfaces get their final shape, before being send to the paint shop.
As we go through the whole process and get to finally assemble the frame, it really is as if the bike is born, putting all the pieces together is better than Christmas! The photos down below show the assembly of an XL frame that we used for testing and therefore didn't need to be painted.
Next to the ISO test standards we also use the experience of our production partner with their own in house test standards. Additional tests that simulate big impacts on jumps are an example of how we are able to see what the frame looks like after a few years of riding. For now we're finished and head back home, we're proud to work with Genio Bikes in Taiwan and could not wish for a better execution of what we produce on our screens.