Taiwanese Pioneers in Mid and High-End Mountain Bikes Flourish as Demand Rises


    Based on the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, Taiwanese Pioneers in Mid and High-End Mountain Bikes Flourish as Demand Rises

    Merida’s premium version of an electric mountain bike, the eONE-SIXTY, won the Taiwan Excellence Silver Award in 2020. The price, for just one, comes to nearly 10,000 Euros

    With the increasing global environmental awareness, bikes continue to grow in popularity around the world; therefore, demand is steadily increasing. As a major exporter of bikes, Taiwanese manufacturers provide nearly 70% of all the bikes for mid-range and high-end consumers around the globe. Each year, Taiwan exports about 2 million traditional bikes and mountain bikes now account for 60% of that total.

    As yet, there has been no statistical analysis on the business opportunities for a single type of bike. The estimated amount of exported Taiwanese bikes and components in 2019 was about 2.73 billion U.S. dollars (around 80 billion NT dollars) with the value of mountain bikes being thought to account for 50 billion NT dollars. Information from the Bicycle Association indicates that the North American market is currently the major target market for Taiwan’s exports. Last year, sales reached 529 million U.S. dollars with Taiwanese mountain bikes making up nearly 40% of that figure.

    Based on the data collected by Eco-Counter, a global statistics and analysis organization for people flow data, the 2019 Worldwide Cycling Index showed an increase in recreational cycling of 3% between 2017 and 2018. It is generally believed that with the growing popularity of eco-friendly recreational activities around the globe, leisure cycling activities will lead to an ever increasing demand for bicycles. In particular, mountain biking and cyclocross biking, which give cyclists a great sense of achievement by helping them to conquer challenging mountain terrain at high speed, are coming to be regarded as mainstream recreational biking activities.

    The long-standing bicycle titans (i.e. Giant and Merida) along with other major manufacturers of components, have made the bicycle manufacturing industry in Taiwan renowned for producing top-quality mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes.

    Mountain and cyclocross bikes are mainly for unpaved, bumpy roads and rugged terrain. Therefore the process to build them is rather complicated and all parts need to be of the best quality. Giant and Merida have always been highly regarded in producing mountain and cyclocross bicycles with Giant’s Stance, XTC and Reign, as well as Merida’s BIG NINE5000 and ONE TWENTY7000 mountain bikes being very popular among cyclists across the world. As the high-end market in the bicycle industry continues to expand, Taiwan’s top producers have a great opportunity to capitalize and remain prosperous.

    Other examples include: O-TA Precision Industry Co., Ltd and Darfon Innovation Corporation who have both built good reputations in the industry with their bike brands named VOLANDO and BESV, respectively. Each company has been recognized with international awards for their outstanding products. Among them all, the TRS2 smart mountain bike launched by BESV won the 2020 Taiwan Excellence Award for advanced manufacturing techniques such as its hydroformed lightweight frame, CNC machining, and gravity casting, which significantly increase the strength and performance of the bike.

    It’s not just complete bikes that comprise the Taiwanese bike industry. Some bicycle components offered by domestic manufacturers such as Joytech’s NOVATEC wheel rims, and the professional tires produced by KENDA and Maxxis are also internationally renowned in mountain biking circles.

    Mountain bikes emphasize shock absorption

    Mountain bikes (MTBs) were created in the 1970s and the major characteristics of such bikes include rough tires and shock-absorbing front forks; these enable MTBs to conquer any and all terrain.

    Over the past few decades, the mountain bike has greatly evolved and can now be divided into two categories: suspension bikes and full-suspension mountain bikes. The full-suspension mountain bikes are also referred to as double-suspension mountain bikes. In addition to the front fork, the bike frame also helps to absorb vibrations, which means cyclists can deal with relatively bumpy trails and even large drops in height with minimal discomfort.

    Based on the length of the shock-absorbing travel, the full-suspension mountain bikes can be further divided into cross-country bikes, all-mountain bikes, freeride bikes, and downhill bikes. Currently, cross-country bikes account for the largest sales on the market.

    Mountain bikes have long been viewed as the most popular bicycle category and have dominated the bicycle market since the 1980s and 1990s. Mountain bikes continue to retain their popularity in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to this day. There may have been an increasing demand for road bikes in Asian countries, especially in Taiwan, over the past few years yet mountain bikes are still the kings of the hill in the U.S., Taiwan’s main export market.