Cycle manufacturing hotbed Taiwan has been producing OEM bikes since the ‘60s, before moving into ODM and self-branding with the likes of Giant and Merida. Over the years, Taiwan’s reputation for high value, high quality manufacturing (and reasonable prices) has spread widely. With that in mind, Taiwan is a fitting host country for the largest bicycle trade show in Asia, Taipei Cycle, and for showing off the best the manufacturing stronghold can offer the world.
Exhibitors come from 36 different countries to the self-styled ‘gateway into the Asian bicycle market’. It’s not the largest bicycle trade show in the world, but it’s one of the most significant show for the West and the
UK to investigate business opportunities with potential suppliers.
Taipei Cycle is run by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). BikeBiz speaks with one of the key players behind the show – one Jeremy M.C. Horng – TAITRA’s executive director of the exhibition department. So just how popular is Taipei Cycle with the UK trade?
“Visitors from UK are always listed on our top ten international visitors.” Horng tells BikeBiz. “Every year there are about 200 to 300 UK visitors coming to our show. Half of our international visitors come from Asian countries, and the other half comes from Europe and the US.”
It’s not hard to see why the show (and territory) is important to the cycle world when, according to 2011 Taiwan bicycle export statistics, Taiwan exports 4.38 million units overseas with the average unit price is USD 380. Among them 2.89 million units (66 per cent) are exported to Europe.
Demand to attend the show has led TAITRA to increase Taipei Cycle’s size, as Horng explains: “Though there were some accidents occurring such as the Japan earthquake in recent years, the numbers of visitors from Europe and the US have remained stable. Furthermore, due to the rise of new growing markets in Asia, we had significant growth in visitors from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. As a result, we are optimistic about the number of visitors at the next Taipei Cycle Show.
“The Nangang Exhibition Hall is fully booked and more than a hundred exhibitors are on the waiting list. Therefore we’ll extend our exhibition area to TWTC Hall 1 2F, in conjunction with the 40th TaiSPO (Taipei Int’l Sporting Goods Show). At this new extension we have another highlight: functional fabrics and sports wear, which showcases another strong industry in Taipei. We will also organise fashion show that gets bicycles, parts, accessories and sports wear involved, to present new bicycle riding styles.”
TAITRA has been working on the show’s offering to grow those attendee numbers, not least with its d&i awards which are now in their second year. Sadly, they’re something the UK has been shy to get involved with so far.
“In the first year the awards collected 207 entries from 16 different countries, and 74 winners were selected by iF Design Forum. In their second year the Taipei Cycle d&i awards has been open for registration since August and so far we already receive entries from ten countries, already exceeding the 2012 level.
“I believe winning this award is an undoubtedly an encouragement to all participants, especially through a thorough evaluation by iF Forum Design. It’s a pity that we haven’t seen any entries from UK register for this competition so far, and we really look forward to see some more entries from the UK to register before the deadline cut-off of December 20th.”
Taipei Cycle is probably one of the best places for the trade to get an early sense of trends. Earlier this year, according to Horng, Taipei saw lighter products, more durable materials and creative design. He expects more of the same in 2013, as well as products made with eco-friendly materials and accessories that are more user-friendly. Expect e-bikes too.
Visitors can take advantage of the three shows that Taipei Cycle is connected to that run alongside it – SPOMODE, TaiSPO (in its 40th year in 2013) and DiWas – featuring a total of 5,000 booths. After studying visitor stats, TAITRA found that 1,100 buyers visited Taipei Cycle as well as TaiSPO, and now makes it as easy as possible for visitors to move between the shows.
Aside from the strength of the show, Horng is bullish about the state of manufacturing in the territory: “Taiwan bicycle manufacturers devote a lot of effort into R&D, and that is the reason why we have unbeatable strength in manufacturing high quality, high value and innovative products at reasonable prices. We can tell the growing strength from the rise of average unit price of Taiwan complete bikes from US$ 257 to US$ 380 in three years (2009-2011), and till the statistic survey done by September this year, the average unit price keeps rising to US$ 399.7, which is already an eight per cent year-on-year increase.”
And there’s good news for cycling levels too: “Nowadays there are international associations like ECF and Bikes Belong organising events to promote cycling. This encourages more people to get on their bikes and helps the growth of high-end markets in Europe and US. I think this trend matches the core value of our industry—to cultivate high-end markets.”
And if that wasn’t reason enough to make the trip to the show (running March 20th to 23rd), there’s the culture too: “This is a great platform not only for purchasing bicycle products, but also for people who are searching for suppliers or planning to get into Asian market. Besides, there are lots of special gourmet and cultural scenery in Taiwan, please come and visit in March and enjoy our culture and food,” he concludes.