Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Taiwan- the center of the cycling universe; I'm leaving on a jet plane...

Friday morning, bright and early, I begin the long series of flights from San Diego to Taiwan. Yep, my first trip to the defacto center of the cycling universe.

The overwhelming majority of cycling products are now produced in Taiwan, especially bicycles/ frames. This isn't a bad thing either. The product quality is as good as anywhere else in the world (I promise you) and they have tons of experience in manufacturing and R&D of cycling products. No, it isn't Italy or even the USofA, but the products work, are reliable and cost much less.

Taiwan and their manufacturing costs, even more than China, are to be thanked for the growth of the cycling market in this country and many others. Why? Consumers demand more and more for their money these days- regardless of the strength of the economy. Taiwan has helped to fuel that growth more than any other single factor. Think I'm wrong? Prove me wrong. Seriously- what other single factor has helped to spur growth so much, more than less expensive products? Lance? Nope. Lance helped sales, but price is always king.

So this trip will be educational for me in many ways and I am very excited about it. I can't wait to see some of those wacky products that will never see the light of day and then those gems that I hope will make their way onto my bikes because they are simply too good to pass up. I know I will be grinning from ear to ear on many occasions.

If you have something specific you want to see or know about, let me know. I will be trying to post from Taiwan, as time allows. I am sure there will be plenty to see and talk about.

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 10:37 PM


  1. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 7:11 AM  
    Bein Taiwan, for a while. Wow! Have fun. Now, I hate to be contrary with such a bright guy, but...

    Price is not king (or queen), value is.

    That's okay, man. You're entitled to be wrong once.
  2. Blogger Jeff Kerkove posted at 6:00 PM  
    I sat down and chatted with some bike industry folk who have be through the in's and out's with the Taiwan Mafia. It opened my eyes, and I'll agree with you 100% about the quality being top notch.
  3. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 2:59 PM  
    Culiello Aero!
    My factory in Mex is knocking those off as we speak!
  4. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 6:09 PM  
    I am not sure that my opinion carries much weight, but I am glad to have the opportunity to post my thoughts here... so thanks Tim and everyone.

    I had a long conversation with a fellow from a medium size bike company while at a UCI World Cup race a summer ago. We discussed this very same issue, value, price and as well the "made in usa" factor.

    He said a few years ago the company he was with had good intentions of pushing that their frames were made in usa.

    One frame in particular was being made in TW (Taiwan) and that some were being made in the US. The frames in the US cost more to make (of course) - so the msrp would be more as well.

    In the end, he said price won out over everything... As a sales rep he saw the numbers come in over time and it clearly showed that the consensus from the consumer was that price was more important than where the bike was made. They even made it a point to clearly badge the bikes that were made in the USA as such. It didn't matter. Bikes made in TW sold more than the US made.

    Being "made in the USA" carries a certain cachet that implies its of value or quality. We would all like to think that our customers prefer quality (we WANT our customers to prefer quality) and that they will pay more for it, but that is not the case. I think its a very small percentage that have that view.

    The reality is price will almost always win. We all want more for our money and if you are like me, when you go shopping for a new microwave, a TV or pair of shoes, you want to spend as few dollars as possible for the items you need and maybe a bit more for the items you want.
  5. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 7:17 PM  
    MASI? Didn't they used to make good bikes? ;)

    Below a certain point, price is king. I can cite too many examples to the contrary, but, yeah, they exist on the fringes.

    But here's the weird thing: The fringe, it bears noting, is comprising an ever larger piece of the rug--fewer avid cyclists bat an eye at bikes over $4k. And, using another Taiwan/USA example: For every Dahon that beats the marketplace on price, there's a Bike Friday that the Dahon buyer WISHES s/he had bought.

    Lewis Green is right: It's value.

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