Tuesday, July 21

MOOTS Factory Tour

As I mentioned awhile back when I was in Steamboat Springs before the Breck Epic I stayed under the roof of the MOOTSfactory. I didn't actually sleep in the factory, but a few stories higher than the shop floor in the "executive suite". After spending some time acclimatizing to the elevation of the third floor Pete-unh and I were given the MOOTS Factory Tour on the first floor. Spectacular. Pete-unh and I asked a lot of questions, we and got a lot of answers on our tour that lasted a bit longer than the average tour. The problem is that the tour was almost three weeks ago, and I have the attention span of a hamster. I can only remember a little of what was said, but with the help of all the photos Pete-unh took I think I can piece it together for you.

I had to wait until Sears delivered my Craftmatic bed to the "executive suite" before I could take the tour. The original bed was nice and all, but there's just no beating a Craftmatic. Did I mention Craftmatic is a new sponsor here at Bad Idea Racing?

All right, the Sears guy left, so we could get back to business. I just love my Craftmatic bed, by the way.

This was either the recycling bin at the MOOTSfactory or my new travel frame in progress. Very few customers actually have the opportunity to cash in on the lifetime warranty, and recently a customer called about his cracked FIFTEEN YEAR OLD FRAME. He wanted a warranty, and yes, that's what he will get. That's pretty sweet.

Once inside we were greeted with a huge wall covered in ti tubes. These things vary in price from $60+ dollars a foot to $90+ a foot (if I remember right). By my rough estimations that wall has over one billion dollars in tubing hanging on it.

"Pffffttttttt.... titanium. What a bunch of hosers."

This is either the MOOTS Margarita Machine or the really cool tool they use to miter some of the tubes. I seem to remember there was salt all over the floor and a pile of limes on the bench, so I'm going with the margarita machine.

On the floor are all the cool tube benders and up on that shelf (and the one above just outta the photo) are the nifty little jigs they use to check to ensure the bending of the stays is perfect. Once the stays fall nicely into the jig they are locked into place and mitered in two's as a happy pair. Wow, I remembered something.

I think this is one of the three machines that MOOTS uses to create all their little bits and pieces outta hunks of raw ti and aluminum. They do most of their machine work in house. Well, it's either that or the back of the vending machine than serves up nothing but Hunny Buns.

This is where they keep the MOOTSgimp locked up (note his extended feeding tray prepared to accept the gimps breakfast at top). They only break him out for the annual Christmas party. The gimp knows how to party and he can also play a mean accordian.

This machine which is almost 100 years old and as big as a baby elephant serves only one purpose at the MOOTSfactory....

it cuts the slots in the back of MOOTS stems. Seriously, that's all it does.

"You still don't get it, do you? That's what it does! It's *all* it does! You can't stop it! It'll wait for the stems! It'll reach down your throat and tear your f*#king heart out to get to them! It hates stems."

I think these were MOOTS ti coffee creamers they're working on for Interbike. Be sure to get in line early, as quantities will be limited.

This is either a poorly assembled soft serve machine or an Anvil frame jig. Considering the propensity of the MOOTSfolk towards sweets (as evidenced by the giant Hunny Bun vending machine) I'm going with the soft serve.

These were just hiding in a lonely corner beside the gimp cage. I guess let argons be argons....

Matty's been welding at MOOTS for over a decade, but when no one is looking he just sits there staring out the window wishing he was outside playing on the swingset.

What I did actually bring home from the MOOTS Tour:

I did ask a lot of questions. When we were looking at all the ti tubes I asked about the difference in quality from different ti sources (Russia, China, America). MOOTS gets their ti tubes from Haynes (here in the States), but they had a sample of a cheap ti down tube that I was able to look at. Normally you (the consumer) don't get to look down the inside of a tube, but I did. Looking down the inside of a cheap ti tube you can see lots of wavy weird shit going on. I can imagine (in my very non-expert opinion) that the wavy tube is pretty inconsistent in quality, and when compared to the Haynes ti it just looked scary. The Haynes down tube looked like shotgun barrel, smooth, geometrically perfect... just neat-o.

There are a lot of steps in the MOOTS process of making frames. They don't just measure the tubes, cut and miter them, and take a welding rod to them. There were many in between steps, steps I had hoped to remember when I would get around to writing this, but alas I took no notes and retained very little information in my head. Along the way as we followed the process from start to finish I would ask "Is this a step that another company could skip in the name of saving a few dollars and keeping costs down?" The usual answer was "yes". MOOTS really sweats the details when it comes to getting a perfect miter, super clean surfaces to work with, double pass welds, QC checks all over the place, just meticulous methods all over the place and a staff that has been around for a long time. It was hard to find an employee that hadn't been with MOOTS for more than a decade. I felt like I had a greater appreciation of what makes the difference between a $1,700 ti frame and a $3,000 ti frame. Sure, some of it is materials related, some of it is having the proper tools to do a thorough job, but the biggest cost and most important thing seems to be time.

I'm a bike geek. I was wowed and amazed. Anybody can go on the tour, so if you really wanna see how a quality bike is built from the drawing all the way to getting it's decals (and you happen to be in the vicinity of the MOOTSfactory), stop by (during normal business hours) and get the full tour. Just be sure to bring some change since the dollar slot in the Hunny Bun machine is out of order.

Hopefully I didn't give out too much misinformation in this post, but when there's not enough information I believe you can make up for it with a double dose of misinformation.


Anonymous said...

Rich- nice post. Very interesting to read.


Anonymous said...

Your post is a great advertisement for Moots --- I now aspire to have one!!! Must start saving now!

Anonymous said...

I see a unicycle hanging from the rafters with the bikes. I guess now I'll be shopping for a one-wheeled Moots. Nice stuff, even with all of the misinformation.

Peter Keiller said...

Great job Dicky. Facts and details are overrated.

I'm not sure how many middle school gradumecated nascarbillies consider GENUINE MOOTS frames every year...but when they loose their license for DUI, your Tour de Babble will have them all sewn up!

Moots is lucky to have you.

I miss you.

Anonymous said...

As an engineer and a cyclist, I drool. This is like porn, and honey buns, forget about it...aaagggggghhhhhhhh.


Doug Brummett said...

Bah! There's no difference between a $1700 and a $3000 Ti frame to me. Neither will ever enjoy the pleasure of my straddling of them. I did have a $250 used Litespeed once. Probably made of that low rent tubing you thought so highly of. Hmmm, now I am hungry. Any idea where I can get a softserve in N. AL?