The pandemic-triggered “bike boom” has changed the landscape of the cycling industry in a myriad of ways. Taiwan, which ranks among the top three bicycle exporters in the world, has seen first-hand the changes triggered by a massive jump in interest. Hosted by Taiwan Excellence, Taiwan’s Cycling Brands Online Product Launch invited five brand representatives to speak about their companies’ latest innovations and give some insider insights into the industry.
According to Leonor F.M. Lin, president and CEO of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), Taiwan, which she called the Kingdom of Bicycles, is the largest importer of cycling goods to the United States, with 38 per cent of the market share. As a result of working as an industry hub, combined with an efficient supply chain and large-scale manufacturing, Taiwan is able to produce advanced products, while also providing competitive pricing. Lin says that the global bicycle market attained a value of 15 billion USD in 2020 is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 5.2 per cent in the forecast period of 2021-2026, reaching a value of 68 billion USD by 2026.
To contextualize this massive growth and explain how companies will try to adapt to changes in the market, the executive vice-president of Specialized and Bicycle Products Association board member, Robert Margevicius spoke at the presentation and put forward some interesting insights.
According to Margevicius the global bicycle business, which had experienced stable sales for more than 25 years, now is up more than 38 per cent for the year. The jump in sales has caused demand that far exceeds supply and is now resulting in lead times of more than 300 days—a challenge for the supply chain and the industry in general. Cycling businesses are also up against major increases in the cost of raw materials, freight and logistics.
Margevicius says it will take a year or more for the industry to fully recover and build back up the inventory, but he thinks that this consumer behaviour (more people buying bikes) is likely to stick beyond the time of the pandemic. Industry projections predict a 43 per cent increase by 2030 between North America and Europe.
Taiwan’s Cycling Brands Online Product Launch showcased five brands (KMC, Maxxis, Novatec, Dizo bikes and Pacific Cycles) that are looking forward towards this continual growth with their innovations.
In 2020, Margevicius says that ebikes really saved that day with high sales and available inventory. In the presentation, Taiwanese chain manufacturer KMC highlighted its latest ebike specific solutions. KMC’s chains are recognized for their strength and durability, along with their ability to withstand high-tensile stretch.
The company provides complete drivetrains for ebikes (which require chains that can handle extreme loads of torque). Speaking about the ‘e-12’ ebike-specific chain, Adrian Bleiler, global sales manager of KMC said that The key ingredient in the design is ‘Shield Tech’, a “patented new riveting tech that utilizes a reinforced pin design, which significantly increases pin power.”
“We are very confident to say that it’s 25 per cent stronger and we are the only chain manufacturer who can offer e-bike specific chains,” said Bleiler. He also noted that the brand’s chainring roller seats between teeth are matched to chain rollers for smooth component engagement, and that KMC’s EPT anti-rust treatment technique provides up to 20 years of anti-rust or anti-corrosion capabilities.
Novatec, which is one of the top five bicycle hub suppliers in the world, presented its G24-carbon fibre gravel wheelset and M30-carbon fibre gravel wheelset. Founded in 1971, the company’s hubs account for 17 per cent of the global market.
The G24 carbon fibre wheels are the first hookless and tubeless ready wheels from the company. Jeff Chen, chief marketing officer of the Joy Group, says that the wheels, which weigh 1,575g/set are great for all kinds of cycling adventures or even daily commuting. The cassette body is compatible with Shimano HG, Shimano 11-speed, SRAM XDR and Campagnolo 13s.
Novatec’s M30-Carbon Fibre wheelsets come in enduro and all mountain versions, both available in 27,5” and 29”. The enduro wheels weigh 1,915g per set for the 27.5” wheels and 1,980g for the 29”. In line with the growing popularity of the discipline, the company also makes wheels for emtb as well.
Taiwanese company Maxxis is one of the top 10 tire brands in the world. At the Taiwan’s Cycling Brands Online Product Launch, the company introduced its latest gravel tire, the Receptor, and the second generation of its Shorty MTB tire.
Frank Liu, the OEM sales manager of Maxxis, said that the semi-slick Receptor is the perfect choice for riders who want to go the distance on the road as well as off the beaten track. He also explored the differences between the Shorty Gen 2 and its predecessor. Maxxis used feedback from regular and pro cyclists to make design changes such as splitting the centre knob into two knobs, raising the edges for mud clearing and making the tire slightly narrower to dig into the mud more easily and provide more comfort.
“If you are looking for a Mid-Spike tire for wet or extreme dust conditions, the new Shorty would be a great option,” said Liu.
Started as a carbon frame developer, Dizo Bikes has collaborated with Japanese carbon manufacturer Toray to develop carbon fibre composite material for more than 25 years. In 2016 the brand started making full bikes, which David Tsai, Dizo Bikes sales representative, says are light, stiff and fast. In the presentation the company debuted its new carbon gravel bike, the Grover, which Tsai says is ideal for comfortable bikepacking or exciting races. “This bike allows you to easily tackle tricky terrain,” said Tsai. He highlighted features such as a front and rear luggage rack, fixed mudguards and a removable three-bidon design.
The bikes are currently sold in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Europe, but Dizo is actively looking for distributors in other countries.
Pacific Cycles has been in business for more than 40 years. The company, which is known for its out-of-the-box thinking and clever solutions, presented two of its bikes at the webinar. The MOOVE is Pacific Cycles’ ebike designed for urban environments. It has a single-sided fork (think Cannondale Lefty), an integrated anti-theft system and a low step-thru frame. The integrated Shimano battery and start/stop button add a clean look to the compact ride.
Rounding off the presentation, Mendu Baya, a designer for Pacific Cycles said that Pacific Cycles’ MICAH is “the perfect companion for the elderly and people suffering from cerebral palsy, designed with adjustable handlebars, seat height, position and angle and to maintain a comfortable sitting position.” The newest iteration of the MICAH includes upgrades to make the bike more accessible to a wider variety of riders—as Margevicius pointed out in his opening remarks, there is a big market for all types of fresh new cyclists.