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Taipei Cycle Show: Heard in the halls

Published March 23, 2017
Who is this female impersonator? Let us just say that the champagne was freely flowing and all were having a good time. But wearing a faux blonde wig was part of the price paid to sip a few glasses of late-show alcohol.

Sharks and fast fish: The Taipei Cycle Show, a 30-year-old event in Taiwan, is going head to head with a much younger but more nimble Taichung Bike Week. The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), the government agency that organizes the Taipei Cycle Show, announced last October that it would move its traditional March show to Oct. 31, 2018. That’s a big shift on the trade show calendar and would put the expo — more or less — 10 days after Taichung Bike Week ends its four-day hotel-hopping show.

Something’s going to give since most companies aren’t eager to spend money to attend both. Taiwan’s bicycle manufacturers, led by former Giant executive Tony Lo, hastened the move by TAITRA to change the dates. After all, the big OEs have significant clout on the island despite whatever surveys may say. But some aren’t jumping for joy over the planned move. For companies selling to distributors in a global market, a March show continues to make sense. “If it’s not broke, why change it?” one told us. On the other hand, bicycle manufacturers find March way too late. Understandably. There’s not much new on display here in terms of bicycles. But Pro-Lite’s Steve Fenton, who boosted the fortunes of Taichung Bike Week into a product manager’s slice of nirvana, says, “bring it on.” And just in case no one remembers, it was SRAM executives who made Taichung the place to be when it launched Taiwanathon years ago so the company could more efficiently meet with customers.

They’ve been on display at Taipei Cycle before, but they still attract a crowd. The company, CKT, likes to position this as the heart and soul of an ultra-light e-bike. But that little motor buried deep in the bottom bracket keeps those cranks turning. Out of sight. Nice.

Making the move to Vietnam: Lots of chatter about Vietnam of late. Factory expansions. New factories under construction. And lots of interest in such things as labor and power rates, tariffs and worries over a China that has become less friendly toward its Taiwan cousins only 110 miles across the Taiwan Strait, a choppy slice of ocean. Vietnam, on the other hand, enjoys favorable trade status with the U.S. and, more importantly, Europe. Taiwan’s new president, Ing-wen Tsai, is a China skeptic and her party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is not a fan of the “One China Policy.” Most say there has been an ongoing pullback on investment in Chinese production as the Taiwanese hunker down to see what happens next. And bicycle sales in general are slumping on the Mainland.  Plus, a ton of Chinese IBDs packed with some big name brands have shut their doors. The word that pops up when talking with Taiwan executives is “uncertainty.” And “Trump” is often tied to that word “uncertainty.” Most here view him as a loose cannon, a view also widely shared among most Europeans. Business hates uncertainty. And when the Chinese sneeze, Taiwan catches pneumonia. 

News Notes: How well is Chain Reaction doing in China with offices in Shanghai? Scuttlebutt has it that the U.K. juggernaut is doing just fine as it somehow gets cycling’s many bits and pieces into the hands of Chinese consumers with a minimum of government hassle. It's hard to collect taxes on small packages making their way through the mail. 

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