Posted by Editoress on 01/23/13
Canadian Cyclist was the only Canadian publication invited to attend a factory tour last fall in Taiwan, hosted by TAITRA, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. TAITRA administers the Taipei Cycle show, the third largest bike industry show in the world (after Eurobike and Interbike), and the largest for manufacturers (Eurobike and Interbike are mainly for retailers). 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
No visit to the Taiwanese bike industry would be complete without a stop at Pacific Cycles. Although dwarfed in volume by comparison to companies such as Giant and Merida, the 30-plus year old Pacific Cycles has a niche position as a boutique design and production facility for many brands, including Banshee, Niner, Airnimal, Diamondback, Evil, Orbea, Louis Garneau and Kurt Kinetic - 15 in all at last count.
"We love bicycles," says Founder and Chairman George Lin. The company has turned over much of its original production facility to a museum of bicycle design, featuring models designed by both Pacific and others. Historical models, folding, recumbent, tricycles and handcycles, electric bikes and almost else anything you can think of are on display, showing the iterations the bicycle has gone through over the years.
In the Taiwanese bike industry, Pacific Cycles can boast a number of Taiwanese firsts:
- First to use AutoCAD in bike design (1985)
- First to buld bikes in aluminum (1988)
- First CNC machine shop (1998)
Pacific has actually become a destination for aspiring bike designers, with a visiting designer program that has numerous European and North American designers joining the company for varying periods to work on design - both their own and that of Pacific clients. Peter Denk, a top designer with both Scott and Cannondale, started at Pacific.
The assembly line has a somewhat relaxed feel to it at Pacific Cycles, with only 120 employees and producing (by Taiwanese standards) a miniscule 40,000 bikes per year (compared to Giant at five million-plus). Currently, Pacific produces 40% of their own brand models and 60% OEM, with Lin wanting to reverse the proportion but not increase total production significantly. The company is in the position of being able to pick the brands it wants to work with, choosing its customers by their innovative flair - no 'me too' production here.
The company has a strong environmental policy, eschewing carbon for aluminum because carbon is not as environmental (no recycling option).
"Be Small, Be Thyself," says founder George Lin.
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