10 October, 2006

The Taiwan Bike Industry

I've started thinking about having some products made in Taiwan. The massive size of the Taiwanese bike industry is simply amazing. The Taiwan Bicycle Source is an online and print guide to the industry. It lists some 1,800 companies and 15,000 products, though there are many others. I spend hours browsing the site and going to various company websites looking for unique products. Though most of the industry is geared to low end bikes, there are some gems.

Since we like steel bikes a good site to visit is Maxway. They make frames for Jamis, DMR, Ritchey, Surly, QBP, Planet X, Dawes, Greenspeed, Rans, Da Bomb, Kogswell, VooDoo, Rivendell, Sachs and so on. If you look through their e-catalog you may find stock frames that have been re-labled by various companies. I suspect that most of their business is frames designed by the above companies. How about that Reynolds 653 Audax frame? The lugged racing frames looks nice too.

Of course there are also dozens of carbon fiber frames on offer. Amazing as it may seem, carbon frames are becoming commodity products. There are several companies that make nice racks, pumps, rims, fenders etc. Most of these products have to be ordered in very large quantities, but not all. So if you find any great items, let me know.

Another neat site is Bicycle Today which is full of industry news and has it's own industry guide.

The photo is from a good site about riding in Taiwan.

20 comments:

buck-50 said...

Good for you. And good for us all.

Inexpensive and beautiful don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Any idiot can make a beautiful $4000 bike- the fact that rivendell is still in business is testament to that- but if you can make a beautiful, well thought out, good riding bike for $1000, that's an accomplishment.

fixedgear said...

They make bikes for (Richard) Sachs? Are you sure about that? That's a newsflash for me. Maybe they are team issue cross bikes or something?

neil m berg said...

Richard Sachs? I doubt that.

david_nj said...

I think the Euro company Sachs, that sells derailleurs and such, also markets bikes. Good heavens, can you imagine if they made bikes for Richard Sachs? The apotheosis of human craftsmanship ... exposed!!!!

If this company made my Kogswell, I'd be inclined to steer clear. It's a nice enough design, but honestly it is a pure POS quality-wise.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Buck-50 and David,

I'm a little uncomfortable with beating on companies that might be considered our competitors on this blog, even in the comments.

Matthew of Kogswell is a friend and though I know we've discussed some problems with David's frame, I'm not sure those problems were common to all the frames. At least I didn't see them in my model P.

And though our philosophy of bikes may be different than Rivendell's, no one can deny that they make some very fine bikes.

Chris

C said...

David: I'm curious to know what issues you had with your Kogswell. The ones I've seen have all looked good though I haven't had the opportunity to actually work on one. I know my SOMA Smoothie ES had some quality issues though they don't bother me considering how little I paid for the frame.

FWIW, I think Kogswell is a great company doing well though out frames. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some quality issues but I wouldn't hold it against them for the simple reason that Maxway is pretty much the only place you can get an inexpensive lugged frame made these days. Not everyone can afford or justify something as expensive as a Rivendell.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the Riv Bashing. I come by it fair and square, having bought too many products from them that were over-sold and under-whelming.

For what it's worth, I encourage you to follow the path that Tournesol is riding- using modern materials and technology to create beautiful, functional bikes. There's no reason why the only beautiful bags are made of canvas, and there's no reason carbon can't be used in a sport touring/randoneuring/country/suburban bike.

Beautiful design can be applied to any material, and the person who can make inexpensive beautiful is a real innovator.

buck-50 said...

sorry, that last post was buck-50

Chris Kulczycki said...

Speaking of Rivendell, the Bleriot is made by Maxway and I've not heard of any quality problems with it.

C, I have heard from a reliable source that another established frame builder in Taiwan is trying to enter the lugged bike biz. Is this the start of a trend?

neil m berg said...

I think we have to keep in mind labor rates. If we feel it is worth the extra cost to keep Curt Goodrich and Joe Bell in business welding and painting Rivendells, we can't expect them to be as cheap as a bike being with Taiwan labor rates. Apples and oranges. Just as an aside, the golden age of European bicycle building was when they were still in a post war economy with low labor rates.

Lesli L said...

As I household with both a Velo-Orange and custom Riv on order (and as an original Riv/Bridgestone customer) I dont see how the two companies/product lines are so different (in aesthetics, design philosophy, etc). I came to VO by way of Riv and the bob discussion list. Why the current animosity/backlash towards Riv?

neil m berg said...

I certainly didn't intend to bash Rivendell.

C said...

I wonder if that second lugged Taiwan builder will be doing the new Soma lugged frames.

Matthew / Kogswell said...

David:

First off, Chris did not discuss your frame with me. If he had, I'd have contacted you.

If you have an issue with a Kogswell product, pls bring it to my attention. Please email me at info@kogswell.com

We go to great lengths to keep the quality of our products high.

There's no such thing as an unhappy Kogswell customer. I've seen to that personally.

Early Maxway-built Kogswells had some issues. We've dealt with them. Maxway denied any problems and I found out later that internally they did know about them. Such is the nature of business, I guess.

I brought that to Grant's attention as soon as I heard about the Bleriot.

I think that the practice Maxway got brazing the early K frames has lead them to do better work now. So if your Bleriot looks good, you're welcome.

The Sachs that Maxway builds frames for is the Sachs in Germany. But it's still fun to email RS and ask him about it from time to time.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Hi Matthew,

I meant to write that I discussed David's bike with David, not with you. But in re-reading my comment, I see that it was not clear. My apologies.

As I wrote in a previous blog entry, I think the model P is one of the best new frame deals on the planet. And I have heard of nothing but fantastic service from Kogswell. I certainly had no problems with my frame and I very much appreciated that you sent the it by Fed-Ex air at no additional charge when I needed it for an event.

david_nj said...

I did bring it to your attention. There was no particular solution proferred. Then again, I didn't ask for one. No worries, you strike me as a tremendously decent and pleasant person.

It's also unrealistic of me or anyone else to think that the build quality on one of these will be remote equivalent to a fine handcrafted unit. You get what you pay for in the world and that is perfectly alright.

e-RICHIE said...

matthhew-issimo penned:
"The Sachs that Maxway builds frames for is the Sachs in Germany. But it's still fun to email RS and ask him about it from time to time."

i perseverate every time the issue comes up.

cDude said...

I had to balk at the fact that my Kogswell P might have been built by this company, but I then remembered that It was built in Taiwan -- I still love the darn thing. I keep telling people it's from Minnesota, tho. Hope that's okay! I've had some expensive hand-made bikes in the past, and they were all SO nice that I had to get rid of them. honestly, I don't know how people ride and "abuse" their $4000 Rivs and such -- makes me nervous as all get-out. The Kogswell is a bike I could be proud of *AND* live with and ride. It has a paint chip - I was miffed, but not distraught or crushed, like I might have been with a Joe Bell paint chip, if that makes sense. Go Taiwan! If it's THIS good, AND a good deal, I don't think it's a bad thing at all. I do think I need to contact Matthew about some replacement decals for when I repaint her, tho. ;)

Karl said...

I am really pleased with my two year old Kogswell P and I now have a Mariposa to boot, so have a top-flight custom frame to compare it to.

Pacenti lugs, light tubing, rides like a dream. What's not to love? Matthew deserves a huge amount of credit for bringing in some great frames at affordable prices.

I think I would describe my Mariposa as the best that can be had at any price but my Kogswell as the best from a value perspective.

Personally, I'd pay a little more for a tighter paint-job and some day I'd like a response on how on to get replacement decals so that I can re-paint the P to replicate my long-lost teenager's orange frame. Those couple of quibbles aside,I can't say enough good things about Kogswell.

Anonymous said...

Okay, first of all, even AFTER the prices on Rivendells went up dramatically last year, a complete American or Japanese-made bike is not $4000. More like $3000-3500. And that's a hand-brazed lugged steel bike of the highest quality. On the Taiwan note, they are producing two new Maxway-made models for $1000 frame/fork/headset/bb/seatpost or about $2000 for the complete bike.

Second of all:
"I'm a little uncomfortable with beating on companies that might be considered our competitors on this blog, even in the comments."

Then why let the comments stay up here for all to see? A bit underhanded. Getting rid of flaming is not exactly a violation of freedom of speech. Especially if it is YOUR blog and you are "a little uncomfortable."