6.6.2 Batch production
After the first 50 I got a small-firm government loan to produce batches of 50 bicycles; 400 in a year and a half.
Designing and manufacturing low-cost tooling was a harder job for Ritchie than designing the bicycle. There are many design routes to producing a lighter frame or a more easily manufactured frame that are not available to a small batch manufacturer. He had to use soft, mild steel for the main tube as he could not bend stronger alloy steel, and the main tube had an aesthetically ugly kink from the bending process. Plastic parts were machined from the solid and metal plate was drilled, cut and bent. The process is essentially scaled-up craft production.
During this period Ritchie learned from customers, and from riding his own bicycle. Indeed, sometimes detailed redesign was necessary in the light of problems and failures brought to his attention by users. The business remained vulnerable, although there was helpful press exposure (see Kew for a ride).