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Friday, April 8, 2016

A Match Made In Heaven...or Taichung: Taichung Bike Week and Eurobike Sitting in a Tree


Last month the increasingly obsolete Taipei Cycle groaned to a close-- a dinosaur of a show in an industry that has created more bottom bracket standards in the past ten years than I have changed flats. 

Taipei Cycle has been increasingly directed toward the retailers and the emerging markets with many of the major players sleepwalking into town for an expensed drink...if they even bother coming at all. 

The real action in the bicycle industry heats up during Taichung Bike Week in October, when industry managers converge on Taichung to finalize the specifications on the products and their prices that will be coming out the following year or two. As opposed to Taipei Cycle, Taichung Bike Week is entirely about looking into the future. 

With the current state of the bicycle industry when even the Giant mega-empire has lost a quarter of its value over the past year, getting a jump on manufacturing has become essential as it can allow brands to implement new technologies they hope will invigorate stagnating sales, or to nail down the production details (prices) for an extended model run for more than a single season. Production errors and unforeseen market problems in the past have led to far too much overhead failing to sell in the premium market with brands hoping to break even elsewhere in smaller markets past the model's expiration date. 

Taichung's central location plays an essential role in allowing 90% of the top OEMs to be within 40min. of the city. Representatives from the OEMs and brands can hustle off to iron out the details immediately following a presentation. 

One of the advantages of Taichung Bike Week is that it is a closed convention by invitation only, organized by industry volunteers for the industry without having to play ball with the local government or the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). It also caters to Taiwanese OEMs and their supply chain, keeping the center fixed in Taiwan for the time being. 

This year Pro-Lite CEO, Steve Fenton, who also serves as the chief organizer of Taichung Bike Week, has reached out to Stefan Reisigner, a board member of Eurobike, to help with the organization and logistics of the event aimed at putting more brands in contact with their OEM counterparts more efficiently. Taichung Bike Week, which has often struggled with Taichung's limited exhibition space, has also procured space at the Lin Garden Hotel as a 4th location to host presentations and visitors.

The seventh edition of  Taichung Bike Week will be Oct. 18-21 this year. Eurobike is working with TBW to provide attendees with a new "matchmaking tool."  The matchmaking tool will enable exhibitors and visitors to show off what they have to offer and what they are interested in before the event starts. Using their accounts, they will be able to make appointments and receive contact suggestions customized to fit their profile.

According to Fenton: 
It is all important that we use the 4th location to bring in even more brands that need bigger space to present their ideas and products and the 4th hotel will do this. The hotel is Called The Lin [Garden]and is about the same distance from Evergreen Hotel that Splendor is but in the opposite direction. It’s easy for us to arrange a shuttle bus every 30 minutes and as you know it’s never hard to get a taxi in Taiwan as they are everywhere. The location offers a huge amount of space for brands who need either large presentation rooms down to a small booth of say 3 x 3 mts. Best of all its got a huge space for the TBW party which we have struggled with over the last 2 years due to no space left in the three venues we use now. We decided to go ahead with a 4th venue after asking many exhibitors about whether they feel we should talk to the City Government about using the exhibition centre they are building and the answer was a very clear no. As you know the event is run by the industry for the industry and we are a team of volunteers who do not get paid or take anything out of the event for free.
With the dual pressures of a dim forecast for the entire bicycle industry through 2018, and the rise of the direct sales model for branding online (the Canyon model), what happens in Taichung and how it happens only increases the importance Taichung Bike Week plays as the linchpin of the entire industry and possibly the most important week of the cycling calendar.  



Don't miss the this Sunday's 2016 running of the Paris-Roubaix and Taiwan's Feng Chun-kai as he supports Lampre-Merida. Feng scored as DNF last year and also failed to finish last weekend's iconic Tour of Flanders.

The China Posts reports on an up and coming cyclist.