Posted by Editoress on 01/16/12
Canadian Cyclist was invited to visit a number of Taiwanese bike companies in the fall of 2011. Here is one of our factory visits - to read the overview to our visit and access all the articles, go to the main page Here
Giant Bicycles is the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world, producing everything from Tour-level road bikes, to World Cup DH bikes (world champion Danny Hart rides Giant), to commuter models and electric bikes. The company is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012, and has grown from 4000 bikes in 1972 to a projected 5.5-6 million in 2012.
Giant is the largest bike manufacturer in the world
Giant says that approximately 70% of the bicycles they produce are sold under the Giant name, with the rest for a diverse group of customers, including Yeti, Canyon, Scott, Trek and Colnago. Giant has a presence in 80 countries with 11,000 dealers worldwide. Giant Canada is based in Vancouver. Europe counts for 30% of sales, followed by North America and China at 24% each. Giant is the top brand in Taiwan and China, top-3 in both Europe and the United States, and the top imported brand in Canada, according to a company spokesperson.
The company has also moved into electric bikes, bike gear (such as clothing) and, just recently, cycling touring in the Taiwanese market - a fully supported nine day tour of Taiwan costs $800 US. They have introduced a new women's product line - Liv/giant ( www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/livgiant ) - as well as Right Ride, a system to help riders determine to proper bike and fit. For the Giant brand, approximately 20% of the bikes are Road, 30%-35% Mountain, Hybrid 10% and 30% City/Youth. The remaining 5%-10% is made up of electric bikes and Giant gear.
Carbon silk is used to weave the 'cloth'
While carbon garners a lot of attention, it only accounts for approximately 60,000 of the three million bikes produced each year under the Giant name. It is a very labour intensive process, as we saw during the factory. Roughly 400 carbon frames can be produced per day, out of a total 5,000 frames per day. From start to finish (receiving raw materials to construct frames and assembly) an aluminum bike takes 15 days to produce versus 21 for carbon. One thing that most people aren't of aware of is the amount of hand-finishing that goes into each carbon frame before it is ready for painting. Basically, a lot of bondo is used to fill in the uneven spots...
Aluminum frames wait for finishing
The carbon building process itself is fascinating, beginning with the carbon 'cloth' segments (head tube assembly, etc.) that are fitted over forms by workers in clean rooms wearing white gloves, and then impregnated with resin. The various segments are then put together in a jig form (one for each size and model) that is sealed and uses air pressure pumped into internal bladders to force the frame into the correct shape before it is cured. Road bikes make up 90% of the carbon market.
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