Visiting Bicycle Factories in Taiwan – Part 1

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In response to the evolving trends of the bicycle industry, the TAIPEI CYCLE
Show will be taking on an all-new form and has been rescheduled to
take place from 31st October to 3rd November 2018.

This year, like any other years, Cycling Malaysia has once again been invited by TAITRA (Taiwan External Trade Development Council) to attend the Taipei Cycle Show 2018 Pre-show Media Tour joining up with other international media to visit some of the esteemed bicycle and component factories before the commencement of the Show.

With the outstanding innovations and tech-savvy inventions that we will be looking on in the upcoming Show in October, we will take you to a stroll down memory lane in Taiwan of these factories showcasing their groundbreaking products.

1. Axman Enterprise Co., LTD

The first factory we visited was AXMAN in Changhua County. With more than 30 years of experience under its belt, AXMAN produced road bikes, mountain bikes, carbon fiber framesets, and forks. The company utilizes technologically advanced manufacturing equipment and conducts rigorous testing procedures on its products that strictly follow and exceed the EN standards. AXMAN’s products are also being used in international races such as the Olympics, World Cup, Asian Championships, and UCI Asia Tours.

Upon stumbling into the magnificent building of AXMAN, we were welcomed to a conference room where the General Manager, Jacky Huang gave us a brief introduction on AXMAN’s establishment.

AXMAN emphasizes “Made In Taiwan” and is a bicycle assembly specialist that shows different assembly quality from China. From manufacturing road bikes, mountain bikes, carbon fiber framesets to forks, AXMAN has recently produced electric bicycles. On the other hand, AXMAN is building its own bicycle brand bicycles in Asia.

The total production of AXMAN is 18,000 to 19,000 bicycles per year, and they will focus on mainly high-end production, including exclusive production line in electric bicycles.

A variety of bikes were on display, including the Asian Champion’s track bike, the IF design award-winning bike, the introductory aluminum road bike Hemera, the female bike Azure, and the Axman representative model Falcon.

 

ALEX GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY INC.

Next, we traveled for about an hour from Changhua to Tainan to visit Alex Rims. Alex founded his machinery factory back in 1987, and bicycle rim factory in 1992. As a small rim facilities maker, Alex Global Technology has developed into a world leader in the wheel and rim technology, design, material, and manufacturing.

Alex Global Technology produces aluminum as well as makes carbon rims reinforced with spoke holes in metal due to the damage of spoke holes in some carbon rims. They also produce various kinds of products such as automobile wheelsets and machinery parts.

Alex Rims is an engineering company that loves cycling. All of their engaged staffs are highly involved in the development of their products. Alex Rims ride their products themselves and test them on World Class races with top professional athletes in all facets of cycling. From Pro Road Racing teams to Extreme FR & DH riders, MTB Pro racers, Slopestyle Professionals to BMX, freestyle, jumping and racing pros.

Two of the stand-out Alex Rims’ branded products that utilie this capability are the ALX845D and Recon 3.0 wheelsets.

Alex Rims’ latest investments in technology have been in the area of composites manufacturing. They have always been a highly vertically integrated technology manufacturer and, to maintain control over quality and production efficiency as well as stay current with customer demands, they elected to bring composite production in house.

Alex introduced the most expensive room where there was no expensive furniture or artwork. But the picture frame with paperwork was filling the wall. They had various patents related to technology ranging from domestic to international certifications.

In 2018, Alex Rims will be executing the implementation of automated manufacturing and carrying out the preliminary groundwork for Vietnam Factory.

 

KMC CHAIN INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD

The second stop in Tainan was the KMC Chain. In the new product presentation, the Manager of KMC, Adrian Bleiler showed us a chain of electric bicycles, a new type of 12-speed chain, a chain link separation tool and a tire lever.

A bicycle chain is surprisingly simple. It is a combination of four elements. The four elements are the outer plate, inner plate, roller, and pin.

Before we moved on to the explanation given by Adrian, we were brought around the gallery of KMC where it showcased its machinery as well as previous innovations.

The e-bike chain is built to overcome any obstacle. KMC’s new enhanced e-bike chain – Turbo Power comes with patented new riveting technology to achieve utmost pin power, and possesses unparalleled rigidity and strength.

After the explanation, we moved to the production line where the chains are produced. The closer we got to the area, the louder the noise was. This was because there was a stamping machine near the factory entrance.

The making of bicycle chains is surprisingly uncomplicated. It is a combination of four elements, numbering, and length. The four elements are the outer plate, inner plate, roller, and pin. However, unlike a chain that handles motors, engines, and hydraulic devices, bicycle chains have a durable and lightweight design.

An iron plate will be flattened to an appropriate thickness and entered the stamping machine. The manufacturing process starts with a punch press. It cuts and presses steel into the shape of a chain’s inner link, which looks a lot like a figure eight.

After passing through the first stamping machine, the plate changes its shape several times. Each of the links has been made to interconnect, their contours formed to travel easily across the bike’s gear sprockets.
The links are then baked in an oven at more than 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The blazing heat followed by a quick cool down hardens the steel. They now shovel these interlinks into a donut-shaped machine. They add ceramic and silica powders and pour in a small amount of water.
Plates and pins that have been subjected to deformation and heat treatment are automatically classified. Both plates and pins will automatically be eliminated into defective items. These aligned plates, pins links are automatically assembled and packed to fit the pre-specified length.
They are now ready to assemble the chains one section at a time. Tubes feed the parts one by one into an assembly machine. Gripper arms adjust their position to assemble the links to other chain components such as retainer rings and spacers. The machinery presses pins into the link’s holes to secure the assembly. Then grippers move the completed section of chain down the line.

It takes a whole lot of little pieces to build one short section of bicycle chain. The sections are linked together in one long chain, which winds by an inspection station to be examined for flaws.

The finished chain is delivered to the bulk packaging or individually packaged and sold for the aftermarket. KMC has gradually increased the level of technology in other factories, and they have started to produce 11-speed chains in small increments.
photo credits: nieuwsfiets.nu

KIND SHOCK HI-TECH CO., LTD

We moved on to the last factory on the second day of the media tour. At KINDSHOCK, it views innovation as the DNA of the brand. KS constantly endeavors to be at the forefront of development and to pioneer new products to improve the riding experience. The i-series line of adjustable height seat post series is a prime example of this innovation and has fast become the benchmark seat post series in the bicycle industry.

During the last visit in Tainan, KINDSHOCK was kind to treat every one of us a cooling and refreshing Taiwanese tea while attending to their briefing of the factory. Marketing Representative, Money Chien gave us a thorough background of KINDSHOCK and showed us the world’s first variable seatpost prototype.

Now that the world’s first variable seatpost prototype has been produced and steadily developed in 1998, it is an expression of confidence that we cannot just follow what we have seen. The adjustable seat post prototype that KINDSHOCK made in 1998, is controlled by pressing the lever under the saddle. Unlike the current product, the inside part has an octagonal cross section.

After that, we took a tour around the production line where dropper posts are being produced. KINDSHOCK makes great effort to achieve the highest attainable level of technology and art in the manufacturing of bicycle products. By bringing constant innovation to the bicycle industry, KINDSHOCK aims to meet and exceed social and environmental responsibilities in the manufacturing and marketing of its products.

Cartridge fabrication in confined spaces, precision and small parts, sufficient lubricant, and adjustable seat post assembled with appropriate torque are each packaged in individual vinyls. Depending on the source of the product, the packaging is divided into the aftermarket. The products produced on the day of the visit were packed in plastic boxes after being packed in order to supply to the distributors.

The final visit ended with KINDSHOCK. The media were then divided into two according to the schedule the next day (third day of the media tour). Those who chose factory tour went back to Taichung, and those who chose to ride headed for H resort in Kenting (Kenting).
Cycling Malaysia chose to proceed with factory tour on the third day, for the purpose of expanding and gaining wider insights into the bicycle industry in Taiwan. Stay tuned for another day of factory visit which will be published as a Part 2!

Taipei International Cycle Show 2018 will take place from 31st October to 3rd November 2018 at Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Hall 1 and TWTC Hall 3.

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