Correspondent Joshua Samuel Brown was in Taipei, Taiwan, last week to bring us the highlights from the Taipei Cycle Show. Since so much of the cycling industry is based in Asia these days, Taipei is often the first look the world gets at new and emerging technologies and products. Here’s what we saw:
Weighing in at 350 grams, RemoteStar Technology’s Two-in-One Bicycle alarm looks like an ordinary water bottle, but only the top two-thirds functions as such. The bottom third, which locks into the attached cage, is a motion sensitive alarm that shrieks like a banshee when the bike is touched. Slated to hit the US market later this year, the device will retail for around $36.
Kali Protectives displayed its super-light line of helmets ranging from motocross and downhill to standard touring models. Weighing in at 780g and featuring a full carbon shell and composite fusion technology, the Avatar Two offers full face protection for the hardcore rider and retails for $320. The more casual Chakra is a full PC shell molded helmet with bug-net padding; it retails for $49.
Samui Corp’s Airsound is a low-tech high concept device that emits a boat-horn style blast, useful on the road for stunning drivers and on the trail for scaring off dogs and bears (and being found when lost). Airsound weighs 300g and fits on the handlebar and requires no batteries or chemicals. The horn is pumped up to 80psi (good for 50 blasts) with any standard Schrader pump. Airsound retails for around $35.
Foss EFT tubes
Ride-stopping punctures may be a thing of the past with Foss EFT (Environmentally Friendly Tubes). The inner tubes are made of recycled Thermoplastic Elastomer Compounds (TPE), which close around most punctures long enough to get you home. A standard mountain bike tube (26” x 1.95) weighs in at 165g and retails for around $15.
Taiwanese brand ART (Advanced & Reliable Technology) introduced a series of nearly horizontal aluminum mountain bike stems with ART’s distinctive anteater logo. The MS-79 90mm comes in two angles (73 and 84) and weighs 121g . The 80mm version is slightly more heavy duty, weighing in at 128g.
Good Hand gloves
Good Hand displayed a series of colorful 100 percent made-in-Taiwan riding gloves (including the Darth Vader-esqe padded black-on-black off-road glove pictured here). However, most impressive was the Back Eye, a gel-palm mesh glove with a nifty adjustable 3-inch circular mirror attached to the back via Velcro. What cyclist hasn’t wanted eyes on the back of their hands? Good Hand is hoping to bring their products to the American market this year, and expect the Back Eye to retail for under $25.
I was intrigued when I saw a sign reading “Anti Falling Device” on a mountain bike and needed to learn more. The sign should have read “Never Endo Again”, since it’s a genius little device connects to any cantilever brake system, automatically activating the rear brake a microsecond before the front for quicker stopping power and a reduced chance of collarbone-breaking end-over-end falls. The company is looking to market in America, and say the price will be a mere $10.
Looking for a high-end mountain bike? Look no further. The carbon fiber Corratec X-Bow incorporates a split top tube “biometric bow system” and comes fully loaded with Shimano XTR parts, carbon fork and carbon 29er wheels. The total weight is 8.5kg, and it’ll lighten your wallet by around 8,500…Euros. In Dollars it’s definitely more.
Born in Taiwan and still proudly producing on the island, the Satori company had a prominent booth close to the entrance, from which it displayed new and recently developed aluminum alloy products for 2012, including addition to their Deviant series mountain bike bars and their tool-less adjustable stems. Among the more eye-catching Satori products were:
The Easy-up ET (for easy turn, not extra terrestrial), a height adjustable stem adapter that allows for an adjustable height of between 110mm and 210mm. The unit weighs in at 370g.
Those preferring to swing in the other direction might like the EZ-3, an adjustable tool-less stem that lets riders adjust between a zero to ninety degree handlebar position with a handy quick release. At 475g, the EZ-3 will add a bit of weight.
In addition to the Deviant series, Satori has introduced the 275g Noirette Plus MTB bar; similar to its predecessor the Noirette, the plus has a slightly flattened shape, presumably making it more aerodynamic.
Taiwanese industry heavyweight Giant flew the flag for it’s Liv / Giant series, whose smaller frames and geometry are made to fit what a lovely Giant Rep called “the female cycling lifestyle”.
The very fetching Wander features a black alloy frame, purple tires and a purple Shimano drive train. Weighing in at 10.5 kg and retailing for about $699 in Asia, plans are underway to begin test marketing the series in America at comparable prices.
The OBO (One Bike One) ARX features a Shimano Acera drivetrain and a light aluminum frame with long seat stay, integrated handlebar and stem and invisible seat clamp. Weighing in at 10.3kg, plans are underway to market the OBO in America later in 2012.
Featured prominently at the front of the Giant tent was its flagship downhill model, the Glory O; which has a dual suspension aluminum frame (Rockshox front and back) and an Sram XO drivetrain. This heavy-duty bike weighs 17.4kg and will set you back a mere $5,700.
Perhaps it’s their name that drove American bicycle company Surly to set their tent up outside. Or maybe it was just the overall aggressiveness of their products. Either way, Surly may well be my favorite company of Taipei 2012, and for two reasons:
First, Surly’s outdoor setup allowed me to actually take all four of their demo models, from the Long Haul Trucker, an old-school cromoly steel tig-welded touring bike designed for serious bicycle tourists—of which I am one—and the way-longer Big Dummy, an extended-frame cruiser with exceptional handling belied the fact that the Big Dummy is designed to haul up to 400 pounds of combined stuff and rider. In the seriously fun but perhaps not meant for everyday use department were two of Surly’s obese-tired omni-terra bikes, the Pugsley (whose double-wide rims hold front and rear tires a whopping 3.8” and 3.7” wide, respectively), and the Moonlander, whose triple-wide rims and tires make the Pugsley look downright svelte by comparison.
But the second reason I’m so enamored with Surly is purely personal; I got so wrapped up in test riding their bikes that I left the booth in haze, forgetting my camera bag at their booth, and was blissfully unaware of its absence until Surly rep Jack Chen called me my mobile to ask if I missed it yet.
So, go Surly! For full product details, blog updates and more, check out their very excellent website at surlybikes.com
Though it isn’t yet available in America, Taiwanese company Giatex’s new line of “stretching” bike seem likely to be a worthy import. Company engineers have taken a new approach to the concept of making bicycles portable, producing a series of frames equipped to take standard mountain bike parts and wheels from 14 to 26 inches. Typical ends here, however; the line’s method of compression is radically different, stretching and compressing using a dual interior/exterior tubes rather than folding. Portability is just part of the equation: the bicycle’s wheelbase can expand and contract based on riders needs and desires, and in my all-too-brief test ride I found the bikes to be comfortable fully extended and reasonably so (and certainly rideable) fully compressed.
Currently available in Taiwan and Canada, The alloy version (including parts and carbon fork) goes for about $1,700. The steel version is a mere $275.
New for 2012, the 26-inch wheel Pacific iF urban (Integrated Folding) incorporates a swivel-head technology (designed by Mark Sanders) and an adjustable tension bar that largely eliminates the flex so often associated with folding bikes. The iF Urban comes with standard components including an SRAM 18-speed drive train, weighs in at 12kg and retails for $1,800.
Offering 700c wheels, their full-sized folder the iF Urban 700 incorporates the same flex-eliminating designs, has an eight-speed Sturmey Archer hub, weighs 12.5kg and retails for about the same price.
Both bicycles are engineered to allow rolling while folded, eliminating the cumbersome “carrying” that greatly reduces the convenience of a folding bicycle in the first place.
Tern Bicycle brought out a host of new folding bicycles. Being interested in more traditionally sized wheels, I was especially interested in their new Joe series (launched August 2011). The entry level Joe C21 (MSRP $499) is made of 6061 aluminum alloy and features a Shimano Altus drive train and weighs 30.6 pounds. The Joe P24 weighs slightly less but delivers much more, incorporating a SRAM X7 drivetrain, an NVO adjustable Axis stem that allows for a massive amount of riding positions and easy storage, and even has a hidden built-in T-tool nestled into the handlebar. It retails for $899.
Unable to find food specifically made to suit the needs of hikers and cyclists in Taiwan, American transplant Tyler Rosso started his own company. “I figured out a few good recipes by combining nuts and dried fruits, came up with a good business plan, and there you have it,” says Rosso. The bars–which are deliciously moist, lacking the horse food dryness of many energy bars–are preservative free. Plans are underway to begin marketing Charge Up bars in America by the end of 2012.