KAV Sports Factory Tour (Part 1)

I’ve been hugely enjoying a new toy that arrived a few months ago – a custom-fitted cycling helmet. I’ve talked about it on rides, shown it to club members, and blogged about the experience of getting fitted for it. It’s an extremely comfortable helmet that has some great features, a unique piece of gear.

A few club members have expressed to me their interest in the idea of custom helmets that are 3D printed, wondered about the fitting process, about safety certifications, and about color choices (my helmet is a dark gray). It spurred me to answer an email from KAV Sports founder Whitman Kwok, asking me if I thought Different Spokes might enjoy a factory tour. I imagined that maybe one or two Spokers would come along, and we could have a nice ride along the bay, a nice lunch, and see KAV’s shiny new factory. (I had seen the old facility when I got fitted last winter.)

So I posted a ride last month and, to my surprise, 12 club members registered for it.

There were a few unusual things about this event. First, we were on a tight schedule, which is something that almost is never a part of a Different Spokes ride. Whitman was leading the factory tour on his day off, so I felt obliged to get the group down there at the agreed-upon time of 11:15 AM. Second, everyone who attended was treated to lunch. Finally, there was a sales-y aspect to the event – KAV Sports is not in business just for fun. I want to state unequivocally (as I did in my earlier blog post) that my only interest in this event was introducing the club to an interesting new technology.

Because we had agreed to do our best to arrive in Redwood City at 11:15, we left Peet’s at 8:30 sharp, and after a quick pee stop at the Mission Playground on Valencia (because the bathroom at Peet’s was out of order), we did not dawdle. Despite the complicated “Bayway” route we took, including all its twists and turns through parking lots, dirt patches, and SFO, plus a new detour in San Mateo due to levee reconstruction, the riders did a great job of staying together. After a second brief stop at Seal Point Park in San Mateo, we finished the route through mid-San Mateo County and found our way through an industrialized part of Redwood City to our destination.

It was a warm day, not brutal, but the air-conditioning felt great as we entered at 11:20, five minutes after the arrival time we were shooting for. Two Spokers – Darrell and Will – did not have time to do the ride, but wanted to attend the event, so they drove down to meet us and were there when we arrived.

Lunch had been brought in, and we sat down for yummy sandwiches that we had pre-ordered.

During lunch, Whitman introduced us to KAV Sports, and answered question after question from our group.

While we were eating and Whitman was presenting, Louie, who’s an engineer for KAV, was taking club members aside and fitting them.

After lunch, Whitman brought us up to the front entrance of their facility, and the tour began in earnest. This is getting kind of long, so I’ll stop here and write a second post later.