Taipei Cycle Show (3) – touched by royalty

It is possible to have too much of a good thing. I am Cycle Showed out – 11 straight hours of walking the aisles, going to the meetings, hearing the talk. The work stuff is work – that goes with the ECF day job so no commentary here. But other impressions of Taipei Cycle Show?

The bike business matters here

I cannot imagine a bike show anywhere else bringing the President of the Country to do the opening ceremony. OK, it’s the 25th anniversary, but this is a field in which Taiwan really sees itself as a world leader. Just how much of our day to day kit comes from Taiwanese providers I can’t tell, but I had just had no idea of how many big international brands were actually Taiwanese in origin.

Bling Bling

Taipei Cycle Show stand

Show bling 1

I guess I had assumed that an Asian economy and the bikes I have seen on the streets lend themselves to urban workhorses, the sort of bikes that really feel at home in the Netherlands, Germany or mainland China. If this is a big market surely it will be one of the best places to see utility bikes and cargo bikes?

Not a chance. Acres and acres of bling. Carbon fibre everywhere, multicoloured components and the vast majority showcased on lightweight dropped handlebar road bikes.Typical micro frame on show at Taipei

The exceptions are a good range of electrically assisted machines; a fantasy of multi-coloured panniers and an amazing range of micro-frames, bikes for adults built onto small designs, way smaller than your compact road racing bike. I keep thinking they are folding bikes, the layout is similar, but they are mostly rigid.

Apparently the bling serves two purposes. Firstly the show is hugely

Show bling 2

Show bling 2

important for component and frame manufacturers to sign up with international bike companies who will buy in their own specification. So on the stands you have to demonstrate that you can do high quality work no matter what your core business.

Secondly when the show opens to the public on Saturday nobody going out of their way to come to a bike show wants utilitarian bikes. Now that does feel like the shows I know. The affluent middle classes here want bikes that demonstrate their lifestyle.

There is a hill near our hotel that had a steady stream of lycra clad roadies out training until 9 yesterday evening, all in full kit.

Show bling 3

Show bling 3

As an aside

I’ve been to most of the shows in the UK since I started work in the sector and before that I went along as a consumer. I was at the Harrogate shows in the UK in the early 70s because my Dad was involved with English Schools Cycling. It was only when I saw some poor bloke in a superhero costume today that I recalled being volunteered to stomp round the Harrogate festival in a Michelin Man suit because they were one of his sponsors. I think it must be a horrible a suppressed memory that resurfaced today because of jet lag. Ouch, painful and embarrassing. I’m not sure that would improve my credibility here, thank goodness there was no Facebook in 1973.

We are not worthy.

Ok the President coming was cool. Fantastic to feel that cycling really is important. Meeting the top people from Giant and SRAM is cool. But today I met cycling royalty.

Ernesto Colnago.

If you have to ask who then it doesn’t matter. It’s a cyclist thing.

80 years old, looking as fit as a fiddle. I spoke no Italian, he speaks no English. I don’t care. My work here is done.