VOUZELA, Portugal – Inside a factory nestled among eucalyptus trees in the Portuguese countryside, workers gently cut thin strips of sticky carbon fiber and press them into molds. It is slow and careful work.
But after each mold is cooked in an oven heated to 200 degrees Celsius (about 390 degrees Fahrenheit), an incredibly light frame comes out for a bike that can sell for around $ 7,000, which helps speed up Portugal’s growth largest nation for bicycle production in the European Union.
Demand for bicycles is sky high, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic. Several people have decided to step in to stay fit after long lockdowns or avoid crowded trains and buses on the way to work. Politicians aware of the climate benefits of cycling are adding more cycle lanes to their cities, including in Paris, Berlin, Lisbon and Barcelona, Spain.
And it has been a boon for northern Portugal, home to a heavy concentration of manufacturers with straps for bicycles. About 60 companies in the region assemble bicycles or manufacture their parts and accessories, including handlebars, brake pads and helmets.
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