Miche isn’t the best known components manufacturer around – not when you compare it to the likes of Shimano, SRAM and FSA – but it’s had its fair share of success when it comes to high-performance components.
Recently acquired by Wilier Triestina, Miche can lay claim to supporting the Italian individual pursuit team to 2020 Olympic gold, plus a World Championships title and world record (in no small part thanks to time-trialling maestro, Filippo Ganna) with its Pistard Oro crankset, as well as podium-topping success at Unbound this year.
Yes, if you look carefully at winner Ivar Slik’s Wilier Rave SLR, those are Miche’s Graff Route carbon hoops he rolled on to victory.
Meanwhile, a quick glance at the timeline Miche showcases on a wall in its San Vendemiano HQ, an hour north of Venice, reveals a history that dates back to 1919, starting out in bike design before progressing to motorcycles.
The Miche we know today really came into existence in 1948, as a separate components arm to the Michelin family’s (no, not that Michelin) wider businesses.
Miche’s presentation room is awash with products past and present. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
Miche’s presentation room is awash with products past and present. Over time, it sprawled into making everything from seatpins and quick releases, to hubs and the brand’s first full-carbon wheelsets in 2005.
And while it might not be the first name you think of when it comes to cycling components, Miche (pronounced ‘meeka’) hopes its growing range of carbon wheelsets – both at the ‘Supertype’ top level and more affordable models – will establish the brand as a major player in the components arena.
In a world where components are struggling to make it to market, it’s refreshing to see stock on the shelves of a working factory. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
Then there’s the link with Wilier – could the marque also become a supporting brand à la Roval (Specialized), Bontrager (Trek), Cadex (Giant) and Syncros (Scott), as well as a purveyor of its own products at both an aftermarket and OEM level? Time will tell.
Either way, there’s a growing trend towards bike brands extending their influence into the world of components.
Inside Miche’s manufacturing process
We got an inside look at how Miche goes about its daily business, with a tour of its production line. Here’s what we spotted along the way.
On its production line, Miche has racks of uncut and cut chainrings. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
Each row is numbered, corresponding to an internal code system for each product Miche makes in house. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
We love to see a neat and tidy workman’s desk… Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
…this one features the schematics for chainrings designed to fit a Shimano Ultegra R8000 crank arm. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
This machine is over five metres tall, with the visible pistons able to stamp through steel to create the necessary shapes for sprockets. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
After the stamp machine has been employed, the still-untreated sprockets come out looking like this. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
There are several of these devices around the factory, so Miche’s engineers can batch test the sprockets for cut accuracy. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
There’s something slightly mesmeric about identical sprockets arranged neatly on top of each other. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
This robotic arm is designed to cut smaller sprockets, running through a series of pre-programmed movements, depositing a freshly cut ring. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
This is the result. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
All this machining inevitably leads to some waste. Miche tells us this is disposed of responsibly. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
Of course, Miche also makes wheels. Here, one of the Italian brand’s wheel builders begins lacing a hub to a rim. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
Once the wheel builder has finished a wheel, it’s put onto this jig for tensioning. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
The two arms at the bottom of the tension machine gradually torque up the spokes to the right tension. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
Once the wheels have been tensioned and trued (Miche allots a 75-second time frame for the trueing machine to do its work, before the wheel is either accepted or rejected), it gets racked up ready for packing. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media
The wheels are boxed up for storage – they’ll be packed later as wheelsets or individual wheels. Ashley Quinlan / Our Media