A Visit To Propain Bikes Headquarters

In 2006, Robert Krauss and Markus Zander traveled to Whistler to ride bikes, and they came away so inspired that they decided to start a bicycle brand of their own. From the first Rage model to today's complete all-mountain and gravity range, what started in a basement has grown into a global brand that manufacturers and sells direct to customers all over the world. The distinctive bikes are also being raced successfully at the highest level in both downhill and enduro by the company's team riders. To accommodate their growth, Propain recently moved into a new facility in Vogt in Southern Germany, and we decided to pay them a visit there to find out a bit more about how they do things.

What's better than new bike day? Not much! Propain has a show room and a demo center here in Vogt where you can take a bike for a test ride in the surrounding area, and pick up your new bike too if you wish. The direct sales brand also operates a network of "Friends", basically customers who have agreed to let other riders test ride their bikes in return for certain rewards. A convenient way to offer potential customers the opportunity to test ride a bike ("Friends" are listed on the company website).

Boxes and bikes. Frames arrive here from Asia, along with all the parts required to build up the complete bikes. Propain offers a full custom bike builder via their website, which means they need to stock a large variety of parts to be able to assemble to demand. Each new build starts with a picking list, which is assembled onto bespoke carts designed specifically for this part of the process.

Frame graphics are applied according to the customer's choice, and a lot of the wheels are built here in Vogt as well. Propain plans to open a US office and distribution center in 2020, which will start out stocking complete bikes only, but should move towards the full customization model over time as well. Full customization means a lot of extra work, but also offers customers a unique opportunity to really build the bike of their dreams.

Once the decals are on and the wheels have been laced up, it's onto final assembly. A number of workstations function in parallel, with each operator responsible for the complete build.

Once the bike is ready for inspection, it moves on to the quality control station. A different operator will now check the final quality of the build, to make sure that no loose ends get in the way of a perfect customer experience.

Once the bike is ready for consumption, it gets boxed up along with any extras or accessories that the customer might have ordered.

Propain frames are manufactured in Asia, but they are all developed and tested right here at Propain HQ. From checking tolerances to fatigue testing, Propain takes their quality control seriously. As a direct sales brand, they'll hear about any problems first-hand, and those are not the kinds of conversation that any brand wants to have too many of. Test more, fix less.

Propain was one of the first brands to invest seriously in a range of proper kids bikes. We love seeing these miniature versions of real bikes ready to be trashed by the next generation!

To conclude this factory tour, we were impressed with the level of professionalism displayed by this young brand, as well as the general stoke level which seemed pretty high, even though we were a bit late to our meeting and we were keeping people from their beers longer than one should in Germany. Be that as it may, Propain seems to be going places - in fact, they are busy opening even more office and manufacturing space as we speak! If you're looking for something a bit different to the ubiqitous Horst link bikes, made by a dynamic bunch of people who care about riding, put Propain on your radar.

For more information, head on over to www.propain-bikes.com.

photos by Brandon Turman

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