You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that Taiwan and China is the centre of world manufacture in the cycling industry, high-end to low-end.
Three quarters of all bikes are made there. Flip over your latest frame and you’ll probably see the Made in Taiwan (or China) sticker. It’s pretty incestuous: Taiwan’s Giant (the world’s biggest bike company) makes some stuff for Trek and things you wouldn’t expect happen (all of German brand Storck stuff is made there.)
It’s cheaper to manufacture of course but importantly they are a centre of excellence, in particular in carbon. There is a passion for manufacturing and design in Taiwan. A couple of years ago while taking lunch outside the main exhibition I was struck by the disappointment of a group of manufacturing design students who were not allowed into the main halls. Much the same disappointment probably would be exhibited amongst teenagers in the UK not allowed into the auditions of Big Brother or X-Factor.
The Taiwanese on the whole are not avid bike racers, although there is a fair bit of leisure riding of the “pootling along the tepid river kind.” So you do get a fair bit of random impractical stuff thrown up as well as good stuff … a few chuckles can be had at the Taipei Cycle Exhibition.
Taipei Cycle is probably the second biggest show in the world (after Eurobike). It is mainly for the industry but has a bit of glitz with the big brands wanting to present themselves in the best light. Not every big brand, as we know them, has a stand though. Specialized, Scott, Cannondale, Trek weren’t really there this year. Taipei Cycle is less for dealers and consumers than Eurobike and Interbike… although there is a general public half day on the Saturday.
In the mountain bike arena 2011 was all about 29ers. All carbon manufacturers (and there are a lot of them) had sub 3lb frames with buyers from brands caressing. I was expecting to see a lot of 650b/27.5in action in 2012, but there was little.
Talking to rim suppliers they are getting good orders on that size and work is going on this format for sure. There were improvements on existing stuff; the lowest claimed weight I saw on a 29er frame was an unbelievable 860g (less than 2lb). More tyres were on display than I had ever noticed before, but not much tubular mountain bike action surprisingly.
Some fireworks occurred on Friday when the UCI and some wheel builders had a meeting. The UCI wants to regulate/ accreditate racing wheels (like they are trying on road frames). This is for rider safety reasons of course, rather than the money to be made from testing, accreditation, UCI branding, having wheel manufacturer meetings, living on expenses and the pure pleasure of making rules.
Took a few snappy snaps.