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Thomson factory tour(5 posts)

Thomson factory tourLook381i
Nov 23, 2002 2:05 PM
Just got back from a cyclocross race at the L.H Thomson factory in Macon, GA. Thomson, of course, makes seatposts and stems. It also has a mountain biking course in back of the plant, part of which today became a cyclocross course. After the race, some friends and I received a personal tour of the factory by Mr. Thomson. Some (not me) own a Thompson seatpost and know them to be good, but the tour made us realize that these things are the Rolexes of components.

Mr. Thomson started business 34 years ago making components for Boeing airplanes. After his daughter got involved with the Carnegie-Mellon cycling team, he took her suggestion to branch into cycling components. Gary Fisher suggested seatposts. To make a long story short, he now sells $3 million or more a year in 96 different sizes, colors and shapes of his two products.

Most impressive, though, is the quality control. His cycling parts are made to the same standard as his airplane parts. Every step in the process involves the best machines and personnel, and each seatpost and stem is measured, weighed, and scrutinized by sophisticated gear before moving on to the next step. Mr. Thomson seem like the kind of guy for whom perfection is the lowest expectation. Many of his machines are of his own design, like the one that makes the setback (bent) seatpost.
sounds like an interesting tourj-son
Nov 23, 2002 3:28 PM
I've got a Thomson post on my mountain bike and my wife has one on her road bike. They seem very well made and we've never had so much as a creak out of either. But, seatposts are one of those parts that I don't get that excited about.

Sounds like you had a good time, though. And Mr. Thomson sounds like the kind of designer/manufacturer that we need more of in this industry.
sounds like an interesting tourFez
Nov 24, 2002 7:42 AM
"They seem very well made and we've never had so much as a creak out of either. But, seatposts are one of those parts that I don't get that excited about."

That is the mark of a good component. Thomsom seatposts have a great finish, are lightweight and never slip in any direction. The stems are rock solid also (although could lose a few grams to satisfy the weight weenies).
The stem breakage tests . . .Look381i
Nov 24, 2002 12:05 PM
Mr. Thomson showed us two stem breakage tests that are hard to believe. One involves attaching a solid, straight "handlebar" on which are mounted heavy weights at each end. The whole apparatus is then lifted about 5 feet and dropped to see if the stem can resist the instant deceleration. His stems will survive. No other sem he has tested survived a test at even half that height.

The second test connects the stem to a huge rotating device that tries to torque it to death. The stems are designed to withstand about 900 foot-pounds. I think that's about 3 or 4 times the power an typical automobile engine produces. He says that his stems don't need to be that strong to resist breaking but they do to be as stiff as he wants them.

He knows that his stems are designed to mtb specs and that roadies are looking for a lighter version.

His new sub-150 gram seatpost is aimed at roadies. I expect he'll come out with a lighter stem soon as well.
re: Thomson factory tourSadlebred
Nov 23, 2002 6:22 PM
The cross race was tons of run. It was a really good course. I missed the tour as I was waiting for the results to be posted for the Women's race.

Thomson has been VERY supportive of cycling in Georgia for the last several years. I can't tell you how many posts and stems I've won that have been donated as race prizes, and they are among the nicest prizes ever given!

Did you notice what was anchoring the tape on the cross course? Seatposts....