Will top racing cyclists only be riding with Belgian bicycle frames soon?
Most bicycle frames are produced in Asia. But this year, a high-tech, light and super-strong model will roll off the fully automatic production line at REIN4CED in Herent, near Leuven. This revolutionary development has been eagerly anticipated at the top of the racing cycle world.
Not that the current racing bikes for professional use simply fall apart. For years, they have been made of carbon, a light and stiff, but at the same time also brittle and rather fragile material. For Michaël Callens, this was enough reason to do a PhD at the KU Leuven on an improved and super-strong material: carbon alloyed with steel fibres. After four years, this led to the formation of a company with the suitable name of REIN4CED.
The company is currently in full swing building itself up. Even the machines still need to be delivered. When the production line is fully operational shortly, a staff of scarcely 40 will be enough to build 20,000 frames per year. In Asia, on the other hand, there are no less than 800 people on the go to build the same number of items in a year by hand. But there is a high bar. If a whole host of orders are shortly rolling in from large bicycle constructors, there is a chance that new branches will open up over time and - who knows - even new products.
Will the cycling sector be shaken to its foundations? Will the winners of the Tour de France soon be zooming across the finish line on only Belgian-made frames? Only time will tell.