It’s a nondescript building on a narrow side street in Riverside, the same kind of generic metal building that fills light industrial areas all over town.
But inside, the small crew at Velocity USA is turning out rims that become some of the more sought-after bicycle wheels in the world. Consider that a finished pair of wheels can easily run $1,000.
Each day, the staff of six cuts up about 100 20-foot aluminum rods. They bend them, join them, drill them and polish them into 300 rims a day. That’s about 100,000 a year in 20 different models, ranging from 16 inches to 27 inches. They’re made for mountain bikes, road bikes, tandems and others.
The staff doesn’t turn them into complete wheels, with spokes and everything, ready to go on bicycles.
About 60 percent are shipped straight to bike shops and other companies that turn them into finished wheels. The other 40 percent go to Grand Rapids, Mich., where Velocity’s other shop turns them into wheels.
Matthew Ruiter, general manager, said the two shops are just how the company evolved.
Owner Tom Black, a Michigan native, was living in Australia in 1989 when he started making rims. His brother, John Black, was still back home in Grand Rapids and handling distribution.
A few years ago, Tom Black decided to move his operation to the United States. Costs had gotten too high in Australia, and most of the rims were being sent to the U.S. anyway. Black wanted someplace a lot warmer than Michigan, and his wife wanted to be near the ocean.
So in 2012, he moved the operation to that shop on Goodwin Street. He put an ad on Craigslist, got hundreds of responses and hired his small staff.
So each day, the aluminum rods are cut and turned into rims that get turned into wheels that get put on bicycles.
“We’re pretty much worldwide,” Ruiter said, “everywhere where there’s a major cycling market.”
Slideshow: Velocity USA
Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296
Location: Goodwin Street in Riverside
Product: 100,000 bicycle rims a year