I remember, not too long ago (hey, hey) I went to a cycle show, and I saw the Taipei cycle show. I always wanted to get into a show. To sing my songs, and then become a cycle playing man. So here I am, in this Taiwanese city. The City of the stars, movies, women and bicycles. Well, I guess, I guess i’ll start.
None of the above is true, apart from the bit about going to the Taipei cycle show (just wanted to paraphrase Kool and the Gang). This is the first cycle show I’ve attended in Taiwan and the second only show for Headset Press and a very marked difference from the first. Four huge floors full of cycling stuff from the smallest part to the biggest and then repeated numerous times and then repeated again. It’s not just any old cycle show either. This show is the business end. This really drives the show and from my perspective – as a relative unknown cycling press attendee – very intriguing.
I had two days to take in the sights and products of the show and arrived on the first day a little worn. Wondering around looking at endless bikes and parts, I soon become confused if I had turned left or right and decided to just let myself get lost around the booths. Everyone is smiling away and saying hello as I walk past and I’m feeling good. Camera comes out and not so many friendly faces anymore. Strange that? Oh well.
Start looking at some cool products and a nice lady asks me if I’m interested in the products. I say yes, she says “follow me” so I do. We enter a small room full of their products adorning the walls. I’m thinking this is cool and I will have some more of this as I’m handed some green tea. I take a seat and off she goes telling me about products and asks me “what do you want to order, what are your customers interested in?” Oh dear. I tell her I’m press she nods and carries on, I don’t think she understood though. So on it continues. Now I’m thinking I don’t want this! Finally I manage to escape and not fill in an order request. It was very telling of the show and with that moment of mis-communication I was struck by the notion that, I may of come to look at bike products but, the show itself might be more fascinating to watch.
So I dedicated the first day to looking at stuff and the second day to the show itself. The second day was much more interesting. A lot of the booths on the floors are dedicated to OeM’s and a fair amount are in the business of making carbon fibre frames, these were busy booths. Some old hands were up and in and making the deals, whilst you could visibly see other ‘clients’ struggling with the designs on offer.
In theory you could turn up to the show and walk out with a ready built bike company with a range of bicycles built, assembled and supplied to you in a reasonable time frame. You will need some fairly deep pockets though but, the return could be great and plenty of punters seems to be there to try their luck and walk out with a good deal.
Taiwan is my home and although I’m adapting to life here many of the show’s attendees are from very different cultures and the culture shock can be telling at times. Not all though and some seem to relish the eastern adventure they get sent on by their employers. Those working the booths are only too happy to look after the buyers and often spoil them and get them very drunk at karaoke bars (maybe). The show itself was celebrating 25 years this year and todays show is a global show and the Taiwanese are just as professional as their European counterparts. I often hear people saying about cheap Taiwanese bicycles and sure you can get them but, they are just that – cheap. It’s not Taiwan that make them that way though. It’s the order they receive so the Taiwan bashing is very unfair. The frames some of these companies can make are outstanding but, if you want good or better, you pay more. So remember to look at the end company and not the Made In Taiwan sticker to make the judgement.
The Taipei Cycle Show is amazing but, it’s really about business and that business is dam big. So if you go for the bikes it would be easy to be disappointed. Saying that most key bicycle companies are there with a stand or booth. There was at least one good launch/announcement too. Overall though it’s a trade show and from what I saw the trade was good. Oh and no photography is allowed without permission. I didn’t notice this on the back of my pass until late into the second day. I don’t think a lot of people noticed it either but, it did raise some concerned looks. The last day of the show was open to the public but I and many of the OeM’s were long gone by then. I guess I will be back next year…