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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Out From The Giant Shadow: A Catalogue Of Taichung's Independent Bike Shops

In talking with many bike shop owners they have expressed no small amount of anxiety over the rise of Giant as a competitor in the bicycle retail business.

These small shops, which are often owned and operated by passionate and enthusiastic cyclists and mechanics, are being run out of business by the hard tactics of Giant Inc. the corporate bicycle juggernaut that controls much of the manufacturing end of the bicycle business.

Unable to compete against the strong-arm corporate tactics Giant uses to wrest control over the retail side of the industry in Taiwan, these smaller shops have formed an informal union, which is often more like a support group, to discuss tactics, share resources and make closing down and boxing up less painful.

Giant and Merida have all the corporate clout on their side, so they really do not need any more help selling their products. That is why I will be dedicating this page to some better alternatives that support the Davids in Taichung who must go toe to toe against their Giant competition.

This will be a growing catalogue of bike shops and resources that exist beyond Giant and Merida's reach and I hope my readers will choose to support their community shop (LBS) over the Walmart of bicycle retail.

Check back regularly as I will continue to add viable alternatives for your bicycle needs.

NOTE: Locations Now On  Google Maps.

Taichung Bike Catalogue:
1. T-Mosaic Bicycles:
Manager: Rocky Huang
No. 912-1, Sec. 2, Liming Rd. Si Tun Dist. Taichung, TW. Tel: 886-4-2251-6788

T-Mosaic is owned and operated by Rocky Huang. Rocky has made built a reputation as one of the finest bike mechanics in Taiwan. He has also made a name as a stellar amateur athlete. It always helps when the people at your Local Bike Shop (LBS) ride as hard as you do.

T-Mosaic has been my LBS for the past three and a half years and they have been an excellent resource for all kinds of bicycle equipment and information.

T-Mosaic specializes in Colnago, with many frames personally signed by Ernesto Colnago himself. They also sell other pedigreed Italian brands such as De Rosa and Pinarello bikes. Although these frames can often run over NT 100,000.. Rocky stocks a wide range of these Italian brands from entry level to expert. A full entry level Italian steed can be yours for around NT 50,000.

Aside from the Classic Italian brands, T-Mosaic sells more reasonably priced Scott and Louis Garneau bikes. They are also selling LITESPEED bicycles, which made their name for titanium racing frames.

Rocky is rolling out his classic steel 650B sized frames under his own TYA brand. TYA frames retail for NT 39,000.

Rocky Huang

2. Modus Velo
Manager: Tim Kao
492 Yumen Rd. Xitun Dist.
Taichung, Taiwan
Tel: 04-246-17020
Cell: 0921-240424

ModusVelo is a small, but well stocked shop just at the bottom of the hill from Tung Hai University off Xi Tun Rd.

The shop is stocked with a variety of very high quality bicycles and equipment, including: Willier, Cinelli, Colnago and others. I was surprised to find a selection of Lynskey 330 and 430 frames on sale. There is a beautiful, handmade, steel Waterford hanging in the window. I was told the shop could help custom order from Waterford per customer request.

The store was clean and well organized. It is close to major road ways. The staff were nice and kept gentle distance, but were friendly when I asked questions. I am not sure about their English ability, but I see they have several foreign customers.

Cinelli Galore
3. Bike Journey
Manager: A-fu
458 Chung-ming South Rd.
Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: 04-237-19028

Wall of Steel

When I first passed this little shop a little over a year ago, I noticed it was a Gios shop. Gios is an Italian manufacturer of bicycles that continues to produce some really attractive steel frames. The blue and white color scheme is an eye catcher.

Gios has moved on to produce frames in aluminum and carbon fiber, but they continue to offer a wide selection of affordable steel for steel lovers. The key here is AFFORDABLE.

Bike Journey specializes in classic steel bike frames in the Italian style with Colnago, Tommasini and other steel frames. Some are replicas of classics and others are originals.

They also sell a number of "Small Bikes" with 20" wheels.


Even if you are not a steel lover, I highly suggest stopping by the shop just to meet A-fu and gawk at his Moots Vamoots. The Vamoots can only be described as the Maserati of bikes. The titanium welds are exquisite... and A-fu says it is too stiff for him. Make him an offer on it... change the wheels and get a more comfortable ride.


4. Green Life (Bianchi)
Manager: Aaron Huang
No. 204-1 Guoguang Rd. South Dist.
Taichung, Taiwan
Tel: 04-228-796-96


Celeste is a great name for Bianchi's trademark color for it is as beautiful as the bikes it covers. Even Bianchi's brawniest race machine gains an air of class with its Celeste colored contours.

I have passed the big Bianchi sign outside Green Life more times than I can count and I have always intended to go in. I am glad I did.

Aaron was great at answering questions and was willing to make offers on his frames. Although he carries the largest stock of Bianchi bikes I have seen in Taiwan, he also has Masi, Bosso and a few other cheaper Taiwan brands in the shop.

Steel and Celeste

Bianchi makes a number of different types of bikes and it is possible to get hold of a race bike or a cruiser for a decent price. They also have a great selection of steel framed bikes that start in the low NT 40,000 range... if it is in your size. They can also order any Bianchi frame from the catalogue.

Take a look at the bikes and be sure to chat with Aaron about his four month adventure riding from Beijing to Paris.

Bianchi Stock

5. Famous Bikes
Manager: Tom Jian
No.5 Xitun Rd. Sec.2
Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: 0933239055

Famous Bikes

Famous Bikes is an excellent resource for all types of cyclists who are looking for something "better". Famous is the QBP retailer in Taichung and aside from the high end brands such as Storck, Willier, Kuota, Cannondale and other race frames, Famous also has access to QBP's full catalogue of bikes the rest of the cycling population might like. Jamis, Salsa and Surly are three companies that offer some fantastic bicycles for Taiwan riding, that are well speced at a reasonable price. I highly recommend going through the catalog to see what Famous can help you obtain.

The shop is run by Tom Jian and his wife. They can both communicate in English and Tom's wife speaks quite well.

Famous also has a number of lower priced Louis Garneau bikes and a wide selection of excellent components that won't break the bank. I am aware of several foreign cyclists who go to Famous for their bikes.

How Much Is That FELT In The Window?

6. Bike Dome Dusseldorf
Manager: Chen Chao-bang
No. 90-26 Xitun Rd. Sec.3
Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: 04-2706-9862
Open Monday-Saturday 1:30pm to 9:30pm

Beyond Bike Dome

I heard about the Bike Dome many years ago and it was rumored you could get anything there. Every time I step inside I am surprised by the selection. You can find Kuota, Orbea, Basso, Specialized, Louis Garneau, De Rosa, Colnago, Bianchi and many other brands of road and mountain bike frames, bikes and components.


It seems that many of the frames are overstock items that could not be moved before the new year's models and a great bike can be bought for a good price. The components are not bad and I found the carbon Kuota Kharma below with the new SRAM Apex groupset for NT 50,000.

The atmosphere is casual and the manager can communicate in English. This is a grat place to look for bargains.

Intersting Offer

7. Specialized Fma
Mark Chen
No.166-30, Sec. 3, Xitun Rd. Xitun Dist.
Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: 04-246-18987


Although Specialized is a Mega-Brand with close ties to Merida, I included it in my list as they offer a number of deals on complete bikes and especially on WSD frames. Many of the frames can go for NT 88,000, but there are several lower level alloy frames available for NT 35,000 with components that are just fine.

They also sell some titanium Dedacciai.

With a valid I.D. and a credit card can get you a test ride on any of the bikes in the shop.

Customer service isn't always attentive, but it is not bad.
8. Bike King Bicycle Boutique
Manager: You Wen-ting
No. 102-2 Taichung Harbor Rd. Sec. 3.
Taichung City, Taiwan

Orbea Bikes

Bike King Bicycle Boutique is sponsored by Orbea, but they sell a number of very expensive bikes. Aside from the Orbea products you can find Cannondale, Cervelo, Neil Pryde, Pinarello and all sorts of bank breaking fare. If you are serious about racing then take a look.

9. 185 Warehouse
Manager: James Murray
185 Warehouse 321 Buzi Rd. Beitun Dist.
Taichung City, Taiwan

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
10. JBC Pro Bicycle Shop
On the corner near Specialized.
Big Space For So Little

I am not sure how serious they were about selling bikes. It appeared to be a small aluminum frame manufacturer putting bikes together to sell out of their building. They didn't even have a name card for me to take. The saving grace was their selection of cheap alloy road bikes that might be just right for a beginner or a person who doesn't want to spend a lot on their bike.

11. Bikerlink CLOSED
Manager: Ike Liu
193 Dadun 18th St.
Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: 04-231-03949

Both Bikerlink and Fifi are worth a try

Bikerlink is a store I have been in a few times as it is right next to Fifi, a halfway decent pasta restaurant with about the only calzone in town. Being on a side street it might be easy to miss.

I have to admit that I have only window shopped, but I have always been impressed with the selection.

The bikes range from the very expensive brands such as: Willier, LITESPEED, Ridley, Cannondale, Kuota, and others... to the mid range Kona, BH, Marin and a variety of Taiwanese alloy brands.

Bikerlink has even hopped on the bandwagon for branding its own frames to offer better prices on composite and steel framed bikes. The lower end road bikes start at NT 18,000 and work their way up incrementally by changes to the groupset-- typical Shimano Sora/Tiagra.

The shop also boasts a wide variety of downhill mountain bikes, which have become increasingly popular this year in Taiwan. They may even supplant the fixie craze.

As far as components go, I was pleased to see Chris King hubs and headsets. They have a variety of FSA equipment and Token products to round out the selection. It is well stocked and fairly priced.

In speaking with Ike, the manager, he told me his ultimate ride would be a Pinarello Dogma. I'll have to start asking the question of all the shop managers. You can really get an idea about a person by their choice in dream ride.


12. Hong Shiang - Irland GT
Manager: Chen Bing-hong
No. 527 Taiyuan Rd. Sec-3
Beitun Dist. Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: (04) 2437-0663
Cell: 0923-234544

I am not simply interested in the high end, but I also feel there is plenty of room for the lowest end. These are the work horses of Taiwan. The Irlands, The Top keys and the Jelums. These are the bikes of students and foreign workers. This shop sells low-end Irland alloy bikes and just about everything under the sun. I am sure you can find a cheap set of wheels and parts to boot. The atmosphere was relaxed and I didn't see a hint of carbon fiber. Excellent! Check it out if you are simply looking for wheels.


13. Sam Bike CLOSED
Manager: Sam Huang
No. 611 Mei-tsuen Rd. Sec.1
Taichung, Taiwan
Tel: 04-2375-3905
Cell: 0937-218-055

I have been bast this little shop a number of times, but never found a reason to stop. I finally figured I should take a look if I am going to keep working on my Indy-shop catalogue, and I am glad I did.

Sam Bike is an unforgettable name in its quirkiness to the English ear and they really don't have much stock on display. They could easily be dismissed as by a passer-by as a fly by night bike store that was built to make a quick buck on the growing trend toward road bikes.

It is not.

When I stopped in I asked Sam, the owner, what kinds of bikes he sold as I could see a small assortment of bikes lined up on the sales floor. He replied, "I'll get you anything you want. I sell all kinds and I can get all kinds."

Hmmmm... that left me searching for more conversation.

I then asked what made his shop different among the other shops in the area and I was surprised by his reply.

Sam told me that it was all about the proper fit. His philosophy, which I can totally agree with, is that when a customer comes in looking for a bike, he will spend up to two hours doing a fitting to then find the right frame and components for the rider. He also will make adjustments to a rider's current bike to achieve better performance or resolve issues with pain or discomfort.

If you are looking for a bike that will fit or need to solve a pain problem, have a discussion with Sam.


14. Longmao-Bianchi Shop (CHANGED DEALERS)
Manager: Tseng Mei-feng
Address: No. 605 Zhong Shan Rd.
Lufeng Neighborhood, Shalu Township
Greater Taichug (Taichung County)
Tel: 04-26655308

Last weekend I swung by a little bike shop along Zhong-shan Rd. in Shalu, along the coastal plain between Taichung City and Taichung Harbor. When I saw the Bianchi sign, I couldn't resist the Celeste coloring and popped in for a look.

The shop is managed by Ms. Tseng Mei-feng, who was eager to tell me about their store. Aside from bike related services, the shop sells several brands beside the obvious Bianchi label.

According to Ms. Tseng, their customers are mainly interested in a wide selection of Cannondale and Gary Fisher bikes, along with Stevens. I was interested to note the Gary Fisher bikes.

Gary Fisher made his name as a long-haired pioneer in Mountain Bikes, but the company was absorbed by Trek and has expanded into other types of rigs. One of my favorites is the Presidio, which was formerly sold as the Poprad under the LeMond label.

LeMond, was the company formed around Greg LeMond, the cycling legend, former World Champion and three time Tour de France winner. LeMond was bought out by Trek and lived as a Trek boutique brand until 2009, when Greg and Trek had a major falling out following LeMond's continued public accusations against Lance Armstrong and other riders sponsored by Trek. LeMond was forced to fold, but Gary Fisher picked up some of Lemond's road designs to add to their offerings. What I liked about the steel Poprad was its CX geometry with a low, road style bottom bracket for better road handling.

This little bike store had a full range of inexpensive Taiwanese brands as well. It is surely worth a look if you live near Shalu. I saw some pretty good values in the shop.

15. Tai Hao Bike Supply Store
Manager: Huang Chao-hsien
Address: No. 90 Han Xi South Rd. Sec-3
Beitun Dist. Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: (04) 2437-9499

If you live or ride in the Beitun area near the river, this little shop might come in handy. Although it is not well stocked with the newest bikes, fanciest equipment or dazzling displays, I can imagine coming to Tai Hao for a deal on a new or used bike (primarily mountain bikes), or if you are in the area and really need a tube, tool or service, then this place would be fine.

The owner, Mr. Huang is extremely enthusiastic and cherishes his beloved orange Bianchi road bike. The bike has been loved to the state of having to have the head tube rewelded, but Mr. Huang will extoll its virtues at length. Sorry, no English if you need it.

Bottom Line: Limited, but cheap. Hey... it's there if you need something right away.


16. OZO Design Co., Ltd
Manager: A-Min Huang
Address: No.83 WuQuan 3rd St., West Dist.
Taichung City 40348, Taiwan
Tel: 886-4-2375-8416
Cell: 0986-578-544

If you're looking for a fixed gear or single speed bicycle... or even if you're not, I would encourage you to go down to OZO and check it out.

I have been by numerous times on a short-cut I sometimes take through the community just south of the Taichung Art Museum, but I have never been inside. It had always looked interesting and so I had a little time and stopped for a look.

Was I ever blown away. It almost made me wish I was on the market for a stylish single speed or fixie.

The manager, A-min, was the most natural and congenial guy. He welcomed me in and with no hesitation started talking to me like a person. We mixed it up in Taiwanese and Mandarin, with a little Atayal as A-min is an indigenous Atayal speaker from Hoping. I have to confess, I am totally turned off when I go into a shop and the service people are too nervous or unsure to really be helpful, so I really welcomed A-min's attitude.

The bikes are all specially ordered and built up individually. One little flourish I though was cool was the up-side-down Taiwan logo for the head badge. It was local, unique, local, and by turning Taiwan around, it removes the country from its usual geographic context and helps "reimagine" Taiwan.

The bikes are artfully designed and well thought out. This is what fixies can really be about.

17. Cheng Yi Xing Bike Shop
Manager: Mr. Lai
Address: No. 109 Wu Chuan West Rd. 1st St.
Taichung, Taiwan
Tel: 04-2372-2879

I really wish I had not had to use my phone camera as the picture isn't very clear.

This shop is for the cheapie, the beater, the utility rider, the vegetable market special. There are no "group sets" and no Italian names. This is the place you go to get the basket tightened. If you are looking for a cheap bike, check this out. Mr. Lai seemed very busy with neighborhood business and his shop does quite well. Nothing fancy, but there is a market for that. Awesomeness on the local factor.
18. Xingfu Bike Shop (Mercedes Bike Shop)
Address: No. 1211 Wenxin South Rd.
Dali District, Taichung City, Taiwan
Tel: 04-2406-9957

I pass this shop every Wednesday evening when I do my night rides, but I am always in the heat of battle and have never really had the chance to stop in. The shop is way nown Wenxin Rd. near the OK Convenience Store where the Wednesday morning rides start. The shop looks interesting and has plenty of bike parking, so I was excited to go in.

Unfortunately, the guy working there was not very interested in telling me about the shop. They sell Fuji, Swiss, Hummer, and a few other brands with lots of wheels for mini-velos and folding bikes. When I asked what made the shop special, the guy said, "Nothing. It is just a typical bike shop." Sold!

I guess you could stop by here if you are in the area and need a tube or a quick repair. Maybe. Too bad, It looks so much better from the outside.


19. Star Bike 
Manager: Chang Yun-cheng
No. 23, Alley 118, Yong-fu Rd. Xitun Dist. 
Taichung City
Tel: 04-24638792
Cell: 0963160998

While passing Fuke Rd. I have seen signs for a "Bike Stop". I finally followed the signs to Star Bike. 

Star bike is a modest little shop that sells a few secondhand bikes and offers riders the use of their facilities for DIY wrenching or wrenching help. You can simply pull in for some air or chain lube if you need it. 

Aside from patching, fixing and selling a few necessities, Star Bike offers their own brand of CroMo road bikes. The S980 is an attractive steel frame with slender chain stays and a carbon fork.

I didn't have time to do a test ride, but it might make a handsome alternative to some bigger brands. I was quoted NT10,000 for just the frame and the complete bike shown above was quoted at over NT100,000 with full SRAM Rival.


They had a second model as well with beefier stays. Drop in and Check 'em out.

They do not speak English.


20. Author Bikes
No. 163, Liming Rd. Sec-3 Xitun Dist
Taichung City, Taiwan


I dropped in to the Author concept store on Liming Rd. The store is spacious, with plenty of stock on hand. The store is in the same model as Warehouse 185, where they showcase the OEM bikes and hold other high end bikes in the back. A buyer can pick up Pinarello and the German brand, Storck.

IMG_8626 Most of the Author bikes were mid to upper range mountain and road bikes. There were some lower-end bikes retailing for under NT10,000, as well as children's bikes. IMG_8617
There are also bags, racks, bibs, jerseys and other equipment. he have a full service mechanic station in the basement behind the stairs. 

Author is a very slick attempt at the bicycle concept store and they execute it pretty well. 


20. Sunny Story Bike:
Manager: Lu Sheng-yin
Address: No. 350 Shang Yang Rd. 
Fengyuan District, Taichung City, 420
Tel: 0933-464028


As an early birthday present, I went out last week and picked up a new set of bibs. As a man with a taste for long rides and too few opportunities to indulge in the finer things in life, I decided I needed a new pair of Assos bibs. Assos is the Swiss made gold standard of bib shorts and my last set fit me perfectly. For the price you pay they'd better be good.... and they are.

My problem was finding a vendor.

Assos felt their Taiwanese vendors were not moving stock fast enough and decided to consolidate to fewer vendors.

Rather than spend a day hunting for the few suppliers who still carry the brand, I went straight to the official Assos distributor; the most unassuming major bike shop in central Taiwan-- Sunny Bike.


Sunny bike doesn't look like much on the outside, but their connections with the powerful Shen Yang company, one of Taiwan's largest owners of bicycle distribution rights, little Sunny Bike is a major source for just about anything you want.


Apart from being one of only two official Assos dealers in central Taiwan, Sunny Bike is also the regional distributor for the French brands Time and Look Bicycles.

Look is one of the few carbon fiber bicycles that I really wouldn't mind having. The legendary 585 was an amazingly balanced bike. Look provides house designs for their crank arms, stems, forks and their signature pedals. The Look 695SR Mondrian pictured above is the SR version to be Super Stiff compared to the standard model. They were offering discounts as high as 45% off for the Look. So tempting.

Sunny Story is the regional distributor of Lightweight Wheels as well. 


They also had a supply of Colnagos, Ridley, Stevens and others.


The all alloy Colnago Prima pictured above is a size 46 and is perfect for a lot of women who are looking to get into road cycling. The Shimano 105 grouppo makes for a nice, easy, reliable shift on a double chainring.

As a 2010 NOS bike, Sunny was offering up for a negotiable NT35,000. A steal for what you get.


Sunny also has connections with Rikulau, Taiwan's custom titanium and steel bike maker. The bike on display was a gorgeous Reynolds 953 steel frame with Tung Blossom design.

For a lot of Taichung residents Sunny Bike may seem a bit out of the way. But if you can make the trip it is surely worth it.

The owners understand some English, but do not speak it well.

... and if you ask nicely they may even show you their Dorcus.