Miche has been an established brand in cycling for nearly a century. Today the brand is a trusted name, and has defiantly retained its cherished Italian production, instead of outsourcing to Asia like so many others. BikeBiz was approached by Miche’s UK distributors Chicken Cyclekit, who offered us the chance to tour the company’s factory in Northern Italy with a group of IBDs. Obviously we couldn’t turn down the chance to take a sneak peak at one of Italian cycling’s best kept secrets.
As we arrive at Miche HQ, we are greeted by Miche marketing director Manuel Calesso and Miche’s European agent Peter Cole. After a brief introduction, we’re led straight onto the factory floor. Although the warehouse inhabits a gigantic square footage, it just can’t keep up with the growth of the brand. Almost every corner of the space is taken up by machinery, or large reserves of boxed up stock, sitting on tall industrial shelves. Recently, the company have added vast vertical storage units that soar up through the roof and out to the exterior of the building, cleverly designed to house vast quantities of stock, whilst making all products retrievable at the push of a button.
As we continue through the factory floor, different pieces of machinery are highlighted, most of which are handmade in-house by an experienced team of engineers who are constantly tweaking and updating each to achieve the optimum quality of production. We were particularly bowled over by a Wonka-esque contraption, which slowly draws an extremely large spool of steel through to a conveyor belt, at which point a giant hydraulic arm swiftly slams down onto it, and out comes a perfectly formed gear. There were similar machines for the production of (amongst other things) spokes, sprockets and hubs.
The warehouse is bustling with workers, each dedicating themselves to one specific piece of machinery. One worker is replenishing the stock of axles slowly dropping one by one into a machine and coming out encased in fully made rear wheel hubs. Each wheel is hand spoked, hand tensioned and meticulously tweaked to ensure optimal precision by a team of experts, overseen by Miche’s own master craftsman Renzo, who also
happens to be Miche’s longest standing employee.
From the factory floor, we make our way to the testing room. We’re told that the tests far exceed any form of official approval needed by regulatory bodies, in fact, Miche’s PR representative Peter Cole tells us that when tested, most Miche products prove to be four or five times the average competence required by law. Taking centre stage in the room is Miche’s rolling road, which is designed to test the strength and endurance of a tyre on a myriad of different road surfaces and stopping speeds.
Elsewhere and especially poignant, is their crash testing facility. Inside the machine, a wheel is propelled at force directly at a large ominous metal block. Obviously, no wheel is left intact, but compared to the examples shown of Miche’s competitors, their wheels fair extremely well. A ripple of shock reverberates around the group upon inspection of a specifically well-regarded company’s wheel, out of which spokes are protruding at all angles.
As we finish the tour, Alesso doesn’t let the opportunity to get the valuable opinions of his audience elude him, and asks the dealers’ opinions on just about everything from graphics, to price points. Ultimately Miche have thrived by ensuring that their products live up to Italian constructions lofty repuataion, and hopefully that will be the case for another 97 years.