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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chinese University Student Bikes Taiwan and Discovers A Foreign Culture

A reader sent me this link to a Beijing University student's report on his experience cycling around Taiwan. Although I haven't really studied my simplified characters since Mr. Norman's class in college, I think I got the thrust of the article.

The kid loved Taiwan and especially the friendly people and reliable service. Taiwan was a dream come true for the young man who still insisted on labeling his gorgeous photos "Taiwan China". The foreign culture he found was cleanliness, kindness and friendliness. He was not expecting Taiwanese people to be so culturally different that what he knows from China.

Check it out for the photos.


A Big New Bike Shop That Is Not A GIANT: 185 Warehouse REVIEW

The Front Door

Last Saturday my wife and I were on our way back from our ride in the Dakeng Scenic Area when we stopped at a convenience store to take on liquids and discuss our route home. We pretty much had two options; (a) Dong Shan Rd., which is often clogged on weekends with holiday makers who bully their way through the lines of traffic, and (b) Buzi Rd., a wide boulevard that links back up to Taiyuan Rd. from the "big tree" in Dakeng.

We chose (b) and I am really glad we did. This gave me the opportunity to stop by and check out a new addition to the cycling retail landscape. We stopped to visit 185 Warehouse, a gigantic store that offers a wide variety of bicycles and related merchandise.

Apparently, the owner has been working as an OEM in Taiwan's bicycle industry for many years and decided there is money to be made in the retail sector, so he brought his engineers over to the retail side. This gives the store a huge amount of knowledge to draw from. The other thing the store seems to have that other stores don't... deep pockets.

With a lot of the smaller stores, they simply can't afford to maintain the overhead. This means there is a lot of stuff they simply can't afford to have in stock. The Warehouse seems to be able to manage greater overhead to offer a lot more merchandise.

During my visit I met with manager, James Murray, an engineer and wrench for the Warehouse. I was pleased to find James and I have similar opinions on cycling, frames, tires, materials and tastes. He seemed very knowledgeable and passionate about his work.

The House Brand

This unique shop takes its odd name from the plot number in the zoning district, though the name "warehouse" may be a bit of a misnomer. The interior is not some cavernous box filled with packing crates or maybe a couple Arks of the Covenant. The design is slick, clean, bright and organized by the major brands.

There are techs on hand who are certified in the big three; SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo, so each brand is well represented to suit a rider's discerning taste.


The first floor is currently filled with house-brand complete bicycles and frames. This is an excellent option for those of you who have contacted me in search of a road bike for Taiwan, but keep finding the sticker price a little high.

The house brands start below NT12,000 with the combination of Shimano Sora/Tiagra 8 or 9 spd. These are not high-end bikes, but they may be all a beginner needs... for a while.

Crank Brothers

The rest of the first floor is a virtual showroom of components that can often be hard to find. A few months ago I contacted the regional supplier of Crank Brothers pedals to inquire about the a set of CandySLs for my wife. I was pointed to only one store, which had only one set... in blue.

I come to the Warehouse and find a stock of both the old style and the newer redesigns. Finally, I don't need to worry about the shipping fees.


Not only are all the major component manufacturers represented with their own section of floor space, but they offer the latest models as well.

What's A Bike Like You Doing With Pedals Like Those? Yuck!

The work area is at the back of the store behind a locked door. I am not sure why this is, but a window allows customers to view the work being done in the back. The work area was clean and orderly with plenty of space to strip a bike down.

Service Center

With so many goodies on the first floor, I almost forgot to go up to the second floor where the higher-end bikes can be located.

The second floor held a large selection of well-known brands such as: Colnago, Pinarello, Cannondale, and Scott. The showroom floor had models at different price points for different riders or aspirations. I am happy to find a place that has a large stock of Cannondale bikes. The CAAD10 and Super Six are worthy of serious consideration. The CAAD10 is the pinnacle of alloy technology. The prices on frames and complete bikes was about standard for the brands.

I was told by James that he was looking into some other boutique brands to offer an even greater variety of frames, materials and design. In the future we may see a very wide selection, offering the customer something we don't seem to have enough of...choice.


The approach the Warehouse takes to clothing and bikewear flies in the face of all retail convention and locates it on the second floor, in the back corner.

Most retail spaces force the customer to walk past the clothing to get to the bikes in the hope that a customer will pick up an item they hadn't planned on buying on the way to and from the check-out counter after picking up tubes and oil.

The clothing was well stocked, but the choice of shoe brands was limited... heavy on Shimano. I tend to be a SIDI man.

Uncle Ernie's Ride

Moreover, I was led to believe the owner and staff have very close connections with the manufacturers and thus can bring their relationships to bear and source anything you are looking for. I inquired about Continental 4000 GP tires in 25c x 700. They can get them. I couldn't before without having to pay the $USD40 premium online.

Good For A Hit Before Riding

Another aspect of the Warehouse that makes it a little different is its incorporation of the "cycling lifestyle" approach. The store includes a full service cafe and the garden on the roof can be used for larger parties to gather and enjoy.

It really helps that the store is along a major bicycle corridor where riders of any ability can roll by before or after a ride.

One small detail that stood out were the lockable bike racks out in front of the store. Riders can drop in and lock their bikes in front of the store to shop without worry. A little piece of mind goes a long way.


This is a big store with a lot to offer. It fills a certain space in the current market that smaller shops can not entirely fill. The Warehouse goes toe to toe with Giant and Merida's retail stores, but in doing so offers what the customer deserves-- choice.

Giant operates several stores that are also large and full of cycling gear. They also sell franchising rights to entrepreneurs eager to sell Giant bicycles and equipment. The trade-off for the license to sell Giant products is that the corporation mandates 90% of the merchandise must be supplied by Giant and thus ties the hands of the owners to carry what customers may be looking for. This limits choice and, in the end, restricts innovation.

The Warehouse looks to fix that problem. I hope it works out.

Now I am not encouraging anyone to forsake their LBS or small bike shop. I do not plan on switching from T-Mosaic and I really want the little shops to stay afloat amid these larger and better financed outfits.There is room for them too. But when you really need to find something, the Warehouse may be where you can find it. This is just one more option that is out there that is not a GIANT shop.

One final note: Currently, everything on the floor that is not a bike or a frame is 15% off!

Talking Shop
185 Warehouse
321 Buzi Rd.
Beitun Dist.
Taichung, Taiwan

Check Michael Turton's blog post as well:

Taiwanese Cyclist Grabs Gold!!!: 蕭美玉贏得金牌!!!

Chinese language news sources are reporting that the Taiwanese cyclist, Hsiao Mei-yu has captured the gold medal in today's 100km road race at the Asian Games in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Hsiao crossed the finish line in 2:47:46, defeating Santia Tri Kusuma of Indonesia by a mere 51 hundredths of a second.

With this amazing victory Hsiao becomes the first Taiwanese female cyclist to win gold and tops her bronze medal performance in the 500m Time Trial earlier in the games. Hsiao's gold medal performance brings Taiwan's gold medal count to 10 for the games with 49 medals in all.

Here is some video of the event:

Another report following the 500m TT:

Report in English... HERE