TAICHUNG, Taiwan - Taichung Bike Week (TBW) wrapped up yesterday, December 8 after a successful run on which organizers Steve Fenton (right) and Katrina Rejchrtova (left) can look back to with satisfaction. Especially as 126 suppliers participated.
Originating as an informal but business-oriented get-together for product managers to meet their OE parts suppliers in one location, the various mini-events have come together under the banner of Taichung Bike Week. The event has grown from 60 parts makers in 2008, and interest from Taiwan makers in particular has been sharply increasing. The participating companies were unanimous in their praise of the event.
About 1,500 hotel rooms were booked for the duration of Bike Week this year. Visitor numbers were estimated at 400-600. This year’s main event was held December 5-8 in the Evergreen, Tempus and Splendor hotels, all within walking distance of each other. The Ride-On event took place December 1-6 at the Freshfields Resort, and the different timing and location from the rest of Bike Week was a source of irritation to some.
Overall, the week was an outstanding success in providing a cost-efficient venue for getting OE spec’ing done. “We have created a very informal way for the industry to do business,” said Steve Fenton, one of the (unpaid) volunteer organizers, “you can have seven or eight productive meetings every day here.”
The other half of the volunteer team is Katerina Rejchrtova of WTB Europe, who praised Chrissie Huang of First Bicycle Components for her help in translating the website into Chinese and encouraging Taiwanese companies to take part in TBW. This has led to a demand for more space, and next year, another floor of the Evergreen hotel will be opened to make space for an additional 50 exhibitors.
The event is strongly supported by Taichung Mayor Jason Hu’s administration, which laid on free shuttle buses to the outlying mini-event of Ride-On, about 30 minutes away from the main hotels used for TBW. The mayor was narrowly re-elected in November, with the added responsibility for Taichung county as well as the city. At the dinner, TBEA chairman Ying-Ming Yang said he hoped the mayor could achieve his aim of completing a planned convention center within his four-year term. In the meantime, TBW remains a volunteer-led effort that coincidentally fills city hotels in the off-season. The dinner was sponsored by the organizers of Bike Expo in the hope of enticing Taiwanese companies to Munich next year, and Messe Munich’s Markus Hefter was on hand to make the case for an alternative to Eurobike.
With pricing uncertain for the coming model year, suppliers focused on new openings in the market such as the UCI’s decision to allow disk brakes on cyclocross bikes. “It’s more cheerful to talk about new opportunities instead of pricing,” suggested Stefan Anton of Alex Rims. 3T was first out of the gate with a carbon cyclocross fork ready for disks and including a cable channel. 29er products were another focus, with high expectations for growth in the European market – although actual take-up by dealers remains to be seen.
If TBW does evolve into a trade show, it would lose the advantages that make it attractive in the first place: efficiency, cost, privacy and informality. Moreover there is still no venue suitable for a ‘Taichung show’. The main focus of TBW is OE spec, although this year’s event attracted some unlikely ‘exhibitors’ such as an e-bike company and there were more than a few purely aftermarket products on show. There were also many US visitors this year, even though the US industry has finalized spec by Thanksgiving in November. The Americans were mainly checking up on their suppliers and making sure everything was on track.
Exhibitors at the Splendor, which hosted 15 companies, were not thrilled with the amount of visits at the hotel. Spanish company Rotor moved to the Evergreen with an improvised stand because of disappointment with the number of visits they received at the Splendor – just two people dropped in on the first day. The Splendor was the main base for TBW last year, but the organizers moved to the Evergreen this year citing a number of issues including cost.
However, the Splendor was apparently happy to take bookings from companies who were too late to secure a room at the Evergreen, and the hotel was added to the list of venues at the last minute. The Evergreen, meanwhile received rave reviews from participating companies. Excellent service, quality food and a cosy lobby bar made life comfortable for ‘exhibitors’ and visitors alike. Despite rumours to the contrary, Steve Fenton assured anxious companies that space was still available at the Evergreen for next year’s event, due to the increased floor space.
According to Rejchrtova, the industry has been requesting that next year’s event take place just after Thanksgiving to better suit US visitors, and some were even suggesting an early November timing. The organizers will discuss the date question with Ride-On and SRAM, as well as gathering the opinions of TBW participants before making a final decision.