FACTORY VISIT – ZUMBI CYCLES
THE SIMPLICITY OF LOGIC – Polish hand crafted bicycle frames.
A dozen or so kilometers from the bigger city, one bus and several cars per hour, cows mooing in the distance – idyllic, homely and peaceful. If you were looking for a big fuming factory, nothing of this kind would be found here. However, a small manufactory would be just right. Only the car, spotted in one of the courtyards, labeled with company logos, could suggest some relationship of the owner with bicycles …
‘A relationship’ is rather a mental shortcut in this case, which does not completely reflect the state of affairs. Just round the corner there is a modern bicycle factory, where employees share their past and present with bikes and imagine no future without. Welcome to the Zumbi manufacture-Service Global Manufactor of Zumbi Cycles, where everyday life is intertwined with work, work with passion and the passion is what brings the team together. The team where no random people are met.
Paul Matuszynski. A legend of Polish cycling subculture. The talented rider evolved in times when downhill bicycles were almost inaccessible. As in many cases, when the need becomes a creative impulse, this was the same here – the subsequent attempts to create a bike resulted from their lack on the market. First for himself, and in time for others. The brand has grown steadily until now, when Zumbi is recognized in foreign bike parks, and in Poland fresh bikers are not quite aware of what is going on in their own backyard.
Imagine three small rooms (two on the ground floor, one above). At less than 100 m2 of space works carefully selected team of experts, each of who is a specialist in their field. That’s how the new Zumbi Cycles was created. The brand has existed on the market for 18 years and during that time there were some episodes of frame production outsourcing. Now, a new chapter in its history started – a factory in which bicycle frames remain under the control of trusted employees. These are not random people, from recruitment or job advertisements since certain skills and qualities cannot be described in the CV. The team was completed with great care and consequence so as to create perfect machinery where everyone becomes its irreplaceable cog.
When Paul and his idea of a simple, extremely sturdy bike with timeless design attracted the right people, thus it was necessary to organize the production properly. From the idea through design and realization – the equipment needed to create the bicycles is by the manufactory team, created under the watchful eye of Mark, one of the best European production process specialists. If bicycles are built from scratch, from a stack of tubes and several other aluminum parts, why should work be subordinated to existing standards and equipment? Isn’t it logical?
The simple construction of the Zumbi bike hides the strength, functionality and geometry of the user, which is what matters most in downhill and enduro bikes. Not only mathematical calculations, but also Paul’s knowledge and many years of experience, are taken into account in creating a custom machine. Having combined these factors, we get a bike that is perfectly suited to the person. The color scheme of the Zumbi bike leaves room for imagination, thanks to three ways of painting. In addition to traditional techniques such as powder coating or anodizing, a true artist, who is able to bring the most precise designs to the frame, aids Zumbi.
Since the idea is agreed, the custom bike takes around 30 days to complete. The machines of standard dimensions and look are available much faster, in about seven days. The whole process: from measuring, cutting, welding and folding can be accomplished within a week owing to the use of specialized tools, created for the manufactory. These devices enable to maintain the correct angles while welding, but the geometry check is followed by a specially prepared table. In Zumbi all dimensions are corrected to zero with no errors possible.
The principal ‘raw material’ from which Zumbi bikes are produced is the 7020 aluminum alloy airplane manufactured in Germany. In addition to several types of tubes with circular cross-section, a custom-made item is made of a 20X30mm rectangular section, from which the swingarms are formed. And since we are already here, it is worth mentioning the unique way of fixing the rear wheel. A CNC element normally welded to the frame to form the rear axle mount is particularly vulnerable to breakage and damage in most bicycle frames. Zumbi bikes were strengthened by placing the edge of CNC element inside the frame and welded (see the photos below!). The simplicity of the Zumbi bikes is justified not only in the care of a timeless look, but above all … in durability! Another logical thinking – the less processed the material, the more robust.
Zumbi are all created by hand. In Poland. From the best materials available (and those do not have to be looked far for-the decals with the company logo is ordered from … Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski). The entire process of creation is controlled and monitored. This is not a bulk production where anonymous people stand by the assembly line mechanically doing their part of the job. From a small factory, Zumbi bikes are sent to a modern distribution, sales and marketing center in Myślenice, from where they are shipped all over the world. The Zumbi bike maker has had its fans for years … although mainly abroad! It may be surprising that the website has only recently been updated with Polish version, but when hearing the anecdote that the instructor from the Portuguese bike park associates Poland with Zumbi (his Polish student heard about this company for the first time), and French customer asks for an additional „handmade in Poland” engraver, it is no longer so peculiar …
Remember to have a look at www.zumbicycles.com