If you followed the Cycling Plus Malaysia team’s journey in Taiwan while we were at Taipei Cycle 2019 (and our east coast tour), you’d have seen from our Facebook and Instagram feed that a lot of new tech was unveiled there despite the majority of manufacturers choosing to do so at Eurobike. Sure, Taipei Cycle is more of a business-to-business expo where closed-door meetings happen, but there’s still a lot to see regardless.
Leave us in the halls of the Nangang Exhibition Centre and we’ll happily spend hours wandering around, often forgetting to eat at proper times. Like a child in a candy store would be an accurate description. Having skipped the 2018 edition due to some unforeseen circumstances, this year’s show came only five months after the last one. We were told by many people to be doubly disappointed because 2018 was already a letdown for them. Even so, once again we felt that four days were simply not enough to cover everything.
There was however a huge difference that we noticed since the last time we visited Taipei Cycle. It was significantly more quiet than it was in 2017 when we last came by, and the crowd visibly thinner. The organisers say it will be back to full capacity in 2020 since the dates have moved back to their original springtime months, and we’re hoping that will be the case too. For now, here are some basic trends that we spotted, which we reckon should carry through to next year and beyond.
Electric bicycles and related products were seen in full force at Taipei Cycle 2019, particularly with a dedicated pavilion to showcase electrical-systems in Hall 1. Featured products included e-bikes, lithium batteries, charging devices and e-control systems from 50 manufacturers. E-assist systems previously only seem on e-MTBs have spread further to dropbar bikes, both of the road and adventure cycling variety.
There are also more components made to be compatible with e-bikes or similar upgrades. Even tyre makers are making e-bike specific choices to suit the new riding style. On the other side of things is the technological advances for electronic systems - one such example is the Xshifter, which turns any mechanical groupset electronic. There are also more components now made to be compatible with electronic shifting like Shimano’s Di2 system.
While we’re on the subject of electronics, e-cargo bikes on show had also multiplied exponentially at Taipei Cycle 2019, another clear direction for cycling. E-cargo bikes are becoming bigger and longer, to either ferry more children around or haul more luggage. There is also a newer generation of e-foldies, now increasingly favoured by the bike commuters.
A clear sign that the daily commuter is a growing market is the commuter oriented products like CatEye’s new Sync line, designed to give multi-angle visibility for cyclists day and night. As the name suggests, one touch enables the whole system of headlight and two rear lights. The accompanying Sync Kinetic rear light tracks deceleration to warn other road users of the cyclist. CatEye’s sleek new Quick cyclocomputer is also designed for the fitness inclined commuter, with a simple no nonsense design and easy-to-use quick release to avoid theft.
Growing the Gravel market
The adventure cycling segment took centre stage as well in Taipei, with many new ideas on show. Gravel specific tyres were already starting to appear in the last few years, but now tubeless and tubeless-ready tyres are becoming more popular too. To support this new direction, many companies have developed products for their use.
Topeak showcased the Tubibooster and Tubibooster X mini compressor, which can be attached to a normal pump to utilise the pressure gauge. In addition, there is also the relatively tiny Airbooster G2 with a built-in gauge, compatible with CO2 cartridges for on-the-go use. Topeak has also expanded the company’s adventure series to include the Versacage for fork mounted bags, while the saddlebag gets a redesign to be compatible with dropper posts. They're not the only ones to push bikepacking accessories, other companies were seen showcasing similar products, including giants Shimano.
In general, adventure cycling is picking up in a big way, and we definitely don’t expect interest in this segment to wane anytime soon.
*This is a bare bones version of our general report of Taipei Cycle 2019, which you can find in Volume 21 of Cycling Plus Malaysia, currently available at major newsstands and bookstores near you.