TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN)—Bigger and busier were two commonly heard sentiments as Taichung Bike Week kicked off Tuesday in three popular hotels along the industrial city’s bustling downtown strip. (Click on link above to download the PDF newsletter.)
Industry folks shuffled in and out of the Evergreen, Tempus and Splendor hotels all day as the omnipresent throngs of scooters motored by on Port Road. Bike Week and Ride On are expected to draw between 1,500 and 2,000 product, sales and brand managers to Taichung over the next four days.
“There’s a lot more traffic here,” said Rotor sales manager Phillip Lucas, as he taped up posters outside his small meeting room in the Evergreen Ballroom. Rotor moved to the more centrally located Evergreen this year from the less busy Splendor. “There are a lot more people coming past,” Lucas said.
The Evergreen Ballroom—former home of the annual industry dinner—is a new addition for exhibitors this year, and the allotted space for 80 companies filled within 48 hours, noted Steve Fenton, an organizer for the annual gathering designed to pair product managers with sales folks in an informal, inexpensive venue as they finalize spec for next year’s lines.
After the Splendor disappointed many vendors last year with its lack of support, it’s back on the map this year with a small group of new exhibitors and room for 60 to 80 additional companies as Bike Week continues to gain prominence in the industry, Fenton said. It’s also hosting Wednesday night’s industry dinner.
With spec deadlines varying across the industry, the timing of Bike Week is always fodder for discussion, but organizers’ decision to congregate a week earlier this year appeared to be well received.
“This is where we need to be. Actually, there appears to be no good time to do OEM. Whoever you speak to, it’s always too late or too early. At some point you have to have an OEM show somewhere. Timing’s always going to be a compromise,” said Richard Todd, international sales manager for Ergon International.
Product managers from most of the large North American brands have already wrapped up spec decisions, but this week is still timely for Europeans and some Americans. And many product managers make the trip anyhow, using the time to peruse Bike Week as well as meet with Taiwan factories and vendors.
This year, Ride On moves downtown after years of being at the remote Freshfields Resort, about 45 minutes outside Taichung. Starting Wednesday, Crankbrothers, Fox Racing Shox, FSA, Magura, Mavic, Vittoria, Selle Royal and Hayes Bicycle Group present their new lines to OEs at nearby Hotel One. Linking the proximity of the coinciding events is a win for everyone, said René Wiertz, president and CEO of 3T.
“Now with Ride On being next door and the people that are here growing in importance, it’s more equally spread out. It’s all in walking distance now. That’s fair competition, I think,” he said.
Sprinkled in with conversations about product trends, lead times and pricing were comments about the overall state of the industry. While optimism abounds, there is some concern, particularly among Taiwan manufacturers, about how the struggling European economy will affect next year’s orders. Europe represents more than 70 percent of Taiwan’s exports.
Inventory levels are high and distributors are hoping to offload some of the excess product during the holiday season, said Jeff Chen from wheel and hub manufacturer Joy Industrial. Orders are down from Europe as consumers in the troubled euro zone keep a tight hold on their wallets. “It will be a difficult year,” Chen said.
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