One of the main reasons for publishing this blog has been to make it easier to access information that may be otherwise not so easy to come by.
Taiwan is of central importance in the design and manufacturing of mid- to high end bicycle components. But knowing what goes on exactly, and where, is another thing. Although the industry is centered around Taichung and Changhua, it is extremely decentered.
A drive down a country lane around here will see you passing uniformly designed industrial sheds located in reclaimed ricefields. You may be able to make out a name on some of them, probably not. On one road alone you would pass by key players in the global bike industry and not know it.
Pinarello and Colnago along with several other prominent brands have a range of models painted on these premises.
Maxway cycles HQ. This is a cool complex indeed with office block at the front, factory and warehousing (visible at the back), and just to the right of that (out of shot) is the proprietor’s house.
Some Louis Garneau and Fuji models, along with Prolite, and ElliptiGO to name a few are born here. Next door, a farmer is preparing his rice-field for seedlings.
One reason that information is hard to come by is that designers and manufacturers would rather do what they do out of the penetrating gaze of the market, particularly all the competitors out there. Well, perceived to be out there. This is a key reason the view from this blog is partial and piecemeal.
An “innovation” is quickly absorbed into the the market, anyhow, by which time “innovators” are already working on something “new” — and new is only ever relative.
Have a read of a recent post over at Taiwan in Cycles in relation to “selling a fantasy”. The focus of the article is the link between pro racing and the wider market. But it could also be made in relation to the innovation aspect of the business. There is, of course, also a link between pro racing and getting innovations accepted and moving in the mass market of course.
My visits and talks with various suppliers have been the source of quite a lot of content on Satin Cesena since I initiated the blog just after this year’s Taipei Show. As you might imagine, there is much that is discussed and viewed that can’t make it into content. This was very much the case last week when I visited my seat post clamp supplier.
There was a whole lot going on including stress testing of components. A new carbon seat post for example was in the process of being stressed through 100, 000 cycles. The degree of flex was remarkable – much more than you would expect under conditions of normal usage. Since the seat post belonged to a major manufacturer and had yet to be released, an interesting video clip of the process and the machine at work was not possible.
There are a whole range of components produced on these premises, and represent one point in the supply chain leading ever onwards to the retail outlets. They have their own suppliers and of course move components to other suppliers or directly to brands.
Ridley and Giant are some of many customers who have their orders processed here. Accordingly, there is not a lot that I can show regarding the different processes.
These were some alternative clamps that I was looking at. There is the option of designing your own, but since the range is large, there is no practical need to go down that road.
Another batch comes out of the CNC machine.
It’s done quickly and efficiently.
These will be soon on their way to be finished.
In a way, this is a non-post! It is more about what will remain unseen rather than can be brought to light. Of course, one place where you can get a perspective on some of this is the Taipei Cycle Show which is approaching very quickly indeed. Booth selection for March 2011 will be taking place some time next month. This is an interesting process that I hope to give readers some insight into.
The focus of the show is, traditionally, components and even with four days of covering the 3000 + exhibitors, it’s hardly enough time to get around and discover everything. Many of the companies that supply the heavy machinery utilized by component manufacturers attend and have displays of their machinery at work.
There is quite a lot to see and I hope to be able to gather as much content on these sorts of processes and everything else within the action-packed allotted time frame. Oh, and there is also the seminar series and the International Bicycle Design Competition final judging. Finding the time to cover this as well as manage my own booth will make for a frenetic couple of days indeed.