Posts in the category Taipei Show

Factory Tour: SRAM’s Taiwanese Manufacturing Part 1 – RockShox Suspension, SRAM Drive Train, More

SRAM Taiwan Factory Tours Suspension Shifters Derialleurs Carbon production043

It may be hard to believe, but SRAM hasn’t always been the industry juggernaut they are today. Like many bicycle companies before them, SRAM started with an idea. It was an idea for a product that at the time seemed so crazy that it took an outsider to the industry to think it up. After working his way up through the fledgling personal computer industry, the gears had started turning for Stan Day Jr.

In 1986 Stan had an idea for a new type of shifter after being frustrated by the need to reach to the downtube on his bike while training for a triathlon. After leaving his job to work with his father for another job that didn’t end up panning out, Stan met engineer and designer Sam Harwell Patterson on a ski trip in 1987. The two discussed his idea for a shifter, and Sam thought he could make it work. Just a few months later Sam had developed a functional prototype that was a rotating barrel that mounted to a special handlebar – the first GripShift.

Near the end of 1987 the “original six” decided to launch their new shifter at the next big trade show in 1988. Sam would be the head of engineering, Scott King the director of finance and administration, Jeff Shupe would be the head of manufacturing, Michael D. Mercuri the head of OE sales, Stan’s brother Frederick King Day or F.K. joined Stan in managing operations. The team headed to the trade show with a product, but without a company name. After a number of rejected possibilities, SRAM was chosen based on the S from Scott King, R from Stan’s middle name Ray, and AM from Sam Patterson.

While the original GripShift opened the door for the company to try and take even a little market share from the gigantic Shimano, the original design left customers wanting more. So Sam went back to work which led to the adoption of a shovel cam instead of the original helical cam. The design allowed for a much smaller shifter that functioned better and was able to be dialed in for shifting index feel. Called the SRT-100, the shifter would lead to their big break as it was finally picked up as original equipment.

Originally planning to manufacture the shifters in Chicago, a visit to Taiwan where the bikes were to be produced resulted in a change of plans. As we experienced for ourselves, Taiwan is very close knit in their manufacturing and it results in very short lead times. So, on the very same trip Stan set off on establishing a factory in Taiwan. Eventually, they were able to lease a tiny building for SRAM to build their shifters. Little more than a guard hut, the space served its purpose as SRAM was simultaneously building shifters back in Chicago for bikes that were made in the U.S. and the aftermarket.

Having established themselves in Taiwan, the rest of the story is probably more widely known. In 1994, SRAM took a stab at their first product other than a shifter, the ESP 900 plastic derailleur. After a rocky start, SRAM went on to find derailleur success with their X0 product line after acquiring Sachs’ bicycle division in 1997. The first of many acquisitions, SRAM continued with the purchase of Rockshox in 2002, Avid and then Truvativ in 2004, Zipp in 2007, and finally Quarq in 2011.

That may be a long back story, but it’s important to paint a picture of SRAM’s manufacturing today. Truly a global company, SRAM currently has around 3,000 employees in 18-20 locations around the world with the Headquarters still in Chicago and most of the manufacturing (except chains which are made in Portugal) carried out in Taiwan and China. Focusing mostly on SRAM and RockShox’ high end product, their largest Taiwanese facility is the 42,000 m² factory in the Shen Kang district, just outside Taichung. As the first full sized SRAM factory, the facility was built in 1989 and began life as a giant warehouse. Now a sprawling development of different buildings, the Shen Kang factory even has a new clean room for assembling high precision parts like the RockShox Reverb seat post.

As birthplace to many of our favorite SRAM and RockShox products like XX1 and the Pike, there is a lot to see after the break…

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Factory Tour: Inside the SR Suntour Headquarters in Taiwan

SR Suntour Factory Tour Taiwan Fork and Ebike Procution Facility Chang Hua583

Admittedly, most cyclists’ thoughts probably turn to inexpensive forks when you mention SR Suntour, and that’s a shame. It’s not that SR Suntour doesn’t produce these forks. They do. And in large quantities. The truth of the matter lies in the fact that the company has a long history of technical innovations in the bike industry that just happen to allow them to produce that suspension fork you’ll find on a bike under $500 and make it affordable while still working exceptionally well for the price. That, and a vertically integrated company that allows them an economy of scale. As the continuation of SunTour which started as Maeda Iron Works in 1912, SunTour is responsible for bringing us technologies we still use today, like the slant parallelogram rear derailleur.

In 1988 when the Japanese founded company moved to Chang Hua City in Taiwan, Suntour brought with them a new casting technology based on the melt-forging process. They called it Accurad forging (AC4C) and it involved injecting molten metal at high pressures into molds. Sharing a lot of similarities with casting, Accurad forging meant that the finished product was free of air bubbles or inclusions which can plague standard gravity casting. Combining the benefits of forging and casting, the process allowed for complex parts to be produced much more cheaply, giving rise to affordable components. Low end components aren’t as sexy as many of the forks you see splashed across our pages, but when you’re talking about producing something in the millions of units rather than the thousands, it takes some serious manufacturing skills to ensure repeatability at that scale.

However, SR Suntour isn’t about inexpensive parts, rather value and performance at any point in their line. The company’s Taiwan headquarters and factory is actually geared towards production of their higher end products – basically Taiwan produces forks with magnesium lowers and China makes forks with aluminum lowers. While the Chang Hua factory is capable of producing up to 5,000 complete suspension forks in a single day, their factory in Shenzen, China handles their higher quantity goods and is capable of making up to a whopping 20,000 forks in a single day. As you can imagine it takes a lot of people to keep a facility that size moving so you’ll find around 500 employees in Taiwan and around 900 at Shenzen. On top of that SR Suntour has a third facility in Kunshan, China that employs another 400-500 people. All together SR Suntour produces around 10,000,000 suspension forks per year with their Taiwanese facility running 8 hours a day, and usually two shifts in China. Together that makes them the biggest fork producer in the IBD market.

Earlier this year we found ourselves in the Fu Hsing Industrial Zone where SR Suntour Taiwan calls home. Take a look around the factory next…

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Factory Tour: From Raw Metal to Finished Pedal, VP does it All

VP Components Modus Taiwan Factory Pedal Production Tour409

There are a number of things that come to mind when thinking about Taiwanese manufacturing in the bicycle industry. On the small island you’ll find every level of producer making complete bikes right down to the individual bolt. Much of the production is similar to what you would find in the US with companies getting a number of different parts from their suppliers and then assembling the final product on their own factory floor.

Then there are companies like VP Components. Where raw materials are swallowed up by the gargantuan facility only to be spit out as finished goods. VP may be a relatively new name to the US market on the consumer side, but if you’ve ridden bikes for any amount of time you have probably used their products without even knowing it. Situated as one of the largest suppliers of OEM headsets in the world, VP is also one of the last producers of high quality, inexpensive square taper bottom brackets. Oh, they played a big roll in the development of reliable methods to mass produce the ISIS BB standard in Taiwan as well.

All of the buildings on VP’s campus work together in harmony to fulfill VP’s specialty of one stop production. Their customers receive completely finished and packaged products that are ready for the store shelves, or to be assembled into bikes. Capable of producing up to a half million items in a single month, bottom brackets, headsets, and pedals all roll out of the facility on a regular basis. And yes, they have their own BMX track….

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Factory Tour: Inside Lezyne’s Impressive Taiwan Facility

Lezyne Taiwan Factory Tour Cedric Gracia Pumps New Product647

Since their beginnings in 2007, Lezyne has always been about design. Even the name Lezyne is supposed to bring the word design to mind (which is why they rhyme, it’s not pronounced le-zeen). Lezyne is the brain child of Micki Kozuschek, a former professional triathlete, who started on the business side of the bike industry with Maxcycles. From there, Micki moved to the US and founded a company you have have heard of, called Truvativ which as we know, was later sold to SRAM in 2004. Three years later, Micki was back with a new project, Lezyne – Engineered Design.

Based in the US with a headquarters in San Luis Obispo, CA, Lezyne doesn’t really see themselves as a US company necessarily, but an international company with a quickly growing facility in Taichung, Taiwan. On our recent trip to Taiwan for the Taipei show, we had a chance to ride the amazing High Speed Rail down to the manufacturing heart of the bicycle industry and to check out Lezyne’s facility first hand.

If you time your visit right, you may find yourself with a cappuccino made by the one and only, Cedric Gracia…

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Taipei Show Randoms Pt. 2 – Huge Gallery of the Interesting, Crazy, and Peculiar

Bikerumor Taipei Show Random parts weird oddities (6)

In addition to all of the products you know and love, there was another side of the Taipei show to catch your attention. This jersey is a pretty good example. Most likely a tongue-in-cheek jab (we hope!) at the state of professional cycling, at the least, it was certainly eye catching. Sometimes you would find genuinely innovative products, other times you would leave shaking your head. This is a collection of some of the best, the most humorous, and just plain weird. Enjoy.

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Taipei Show Randoms Pt. 1 – Cool Stuff from Gates, X-Fusion, Jones, and Much More

Bikerumor Random Parts Taipei Show 14 (27)

Everywhere you looked in Taipei, there was something cool to see. The Taipei Show is quite a bit different from your average trade show, as it is geared almost exclusively to OEMs and distributors which makes it a cross between showing what’s new, and showing what is possible. In the case of Gates Belt Drive, for them it was a perfect opportunity to showcase what is possible with the Pinion Gear Box. Between the sealed gear box and a Gates belt, it may be the closest thing to a maintenance free drivetrain that we’ve ever seen.

While gates didn’t have a lot of new product, they did have a display showing just how many options you have when it comes to a belt drive. Check out the options plus a whole lot more, next…

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Taipei Show Round Up: Fat Bikes are Big

Fat Bike Round Up Taipei Show bikes tires fatbike 29+ (29)

There were two overriding themes as you walked through the aisles at the Taipei show, one was e-bikes – specifically frames designed for the apparent invasion of Bosch Drive motors. If you didn’t have a frame or a complete bike with the Bosch system, then chances were pretty high that there was a fat bike somewhere in the booth. This was in spite of the fact that many locals stared puzzlingly at the behemoths, indicating that fat bikes are still an oddity in many parts of the world. But it was also an indication that fat biking is just now hitting the industry in a big way, and everyone seems to be taking notice. In addition to the big products we’ve already seen from Vee Tire, Sarma, Kenda, Maxxis, Panaracer, and others, there was plenty more where that came from in Taiwan.

Check out new bikes from Fuji, Ford, and plenty more, with some speculation on new standards, next…

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Award Winning Design in Taiwan with the Taipei Cycle D&I awards

Taipei Show D&I Award Winner product (1)

There were quite a few new products with clever designs in Taipei, but a few stood out more than others. Not just to us, but to the judges of the third annual Taipei Cycle d&i awards, co-organized by TAITRA (the Taiwan External Trade Development Council) and TBEA (the Taiwan Bicycle Exporters’ Association), and executed independently by iF Design Asia. The design competition included 185 entries from 16 different countries including Germany, Japan, China, USA, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Italy, UK, Austria and Israel, with first time entries from Switzerland, Korea, and Slovakia. With 49 winners selected, products ranged from bikes, to racks, to wheels, and anything in between. This year’s winners had some truly incredible ideas, and a few that may leave you scratching your head…

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Taipei: Corsair Toro DJ, Imperium DH Get Official, Plus New Hubs, Pedals, Rims, and more from Atomlab

Corsair Atomlab 650b DH dirt jump rims hubs pedals (2)

In a sea of products from multiple nations, this red, white, and blue Corsair Toro certainly stood out. Initially spotted as a prototype under Jim “Hacksaw” Severt, the Toro dirt jump frame is officially being added to the line up of Corsair bikes. Billed as a 4x/DJ frame, the Toro is built to be as versatile as it is tough so you can race on the weekend and dirt jump in between. In addition to the Toro, Corsair had a few other new frames on display, including what could be a new 650b all mountain bike?

Check it out, plus some awesome new hubs and parts from Atomlab next…

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