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Time Bicycles unveils plans for carbon frame factory in South Carolina

Published March 23, 2023

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (BRAIN) — Time Bicycles announced plans Thursday for the nation's largest carbon fiber bicycle manufacturing facility after acquiring a 140,000 square-foot factory in nearby Landrum.

"This is a huge moment for the cycling industry," Time CEO Tony Karklins told BRAIN on Thursday morning. "This is what everybody needs to be doing right now. This is what people have been doing for the last three years in Europe. It makes complete sense to do it. And the moment's now. It's not getting easier to do business far away. So we're really happy to be one of the leaders in this on the U.S. side."

Karklins said renovations to the factory will begin next month at the factory that sits on 30 acres and is the former home of Bommer Industries, a door hinge manufacturer. The first Time products should be coming from South Carolina by the end of this year, with a paint shop being the first service established, Karklins said. Some products manufactured in Time's Gajary, Slovakia, European factory will be completed here.

"By the end of 2024, we'll be able to do every single piece of manufacturing, from braiding the carbon sleeves, to weaving them, to injecting them, to bonding them, to matching them, to sanding them, to painting them. It will go from raw fiber all the way to a finished bicycle."

The initial machinery that will be used in South Carolina is based on manufacturing 10,000 units in one shift, and Time will have the ability to adjust that. "We expect this will lead to other projects, and potentially big projects, so we're putting it in an environment where it can grow rapidly."

The South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved development credits for the project, while also awarding a $400,000 Set-Aside grant to Spartanburg County to assist with building improvement costs. In addition to state benefits, Time received support at the county level, from the South Carolina Research Authority, and the S.C. Fraunhofer USA Alliance, a technology and development partner. The $6.5 million investment will create 105 jobs in the initial project phase.

"It's always exciting when a renowned company such as Time Bicycles decide to invest in our state," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement.

Being located in a rich technology area was an important consideration for Time. BMW's U.S. manufacturing plant is in Spartanburg, and it has developed a longtime partnership with Clemson University on composites technology.

"Their composites program is leading edge," Karklins said. "They have done significant work over the last decade in resin transfer molding technology. And that's the reason why we've come to the area because we are the one bike company that exists in resin transfer molding. Resin transfer molding is the way automotive and aerospace are manufacturing carbon fiber products. So the tech is there."

Additionally, Time will work with Krauss Maffei — a BMW machinery and tech vendor — and S.C. Fraunhofer.

"So the three of us are entering into some pretty interesting collaborations on how to advance and further introduce resin transfer molding into the bike industry," Karklins said. "There is so much aerospace and automotive high-tech manufacturing going on in that state that it's amazing."

In 2016, Karklins was one of the founders of Allied Cycle Works, a domestic carbon fiber manufacturer based in Arkansas and now owned by an investment group led by members of the Walton family. 

Time Bicycles is owned by the Cardinal Cycling Group, which Karklins formed with a partner in 2021 to buy Time's bike and frame business from Rossignol. The same year, SRAM acquired Time's pedal business from Rossignol.

Cardinal later bought Detroit Bikes as well. Detroit claims to be the largest U.S. maker of steel bike frames. 

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