It was the first time I had visited the exhibition in Taipei. Although I have had a long term interest in bikes and cycling in recent years I haven't really kept up with all the changes in technology. A lot of the stuff that appeared very new and innovative to me might be less so to someone who actively follows developments in the bicycle industry. Nonetheless, I have my own ideas about what good design is and some of my thoughts and observations follow.
The bike pictured above is a Ming folding bike. I have seen a few of these around the streets of Taipei in recent months. I think they are pretty cool. They employ a very simple three-tube frame design.
Dahon is a Taiwanese manufacturer that specialises in folding bikes. On some of their models you really have to look hard to see where the actual folding mechanism is. I think folding bikes are particularly appropriate for Taiwan where parking and storage of bikes is a problem. They can also easily be carried on trains or buses.
Street Surfer was designed in Australia and manufactured in Taiwan. Its unique front wheel(s) design incorporates polymer shock absorbers and four pivot points to give it a wide range of movement. You can see a video about the bikes at YouTube and this video shows more of the bikes in action. The Street Surfer can turn in quarter the turning circle of a normal bicycle, and it can do it at twice the speed.
The Giant Citystorm won the Innovative Product Award for the show. It combines a classical design with modern technology. Check out the light integrated into the frame. The City Storm is a high-end city bike that should appeal to commuters and recreational cyclists. It is exactly the sort of bike design that is needed if bikes are to be promoted as a regular, every day form of transport. Some background information on the thought that went into the design can be found here.
The essential design of the bicycle has remained the same for the past century. Although there are very innovative new designs like the Ming folding bike and Street Surfer it will be interesting to see if they ever displace the classical style of bike that still remains so popular.
One thing about the show is that it is not just about bikes. A whole range of parts and accessories that go into making bikes are on display. One very interesting new idea I saw was the Pedalite. It is a pedal that includes LED lights that are powered by a dynamo built into the pedal. The lights will remain flashing for five minutes after the rider stops pedalling. The energy is stored in a capacitator rather than a chemical battery. There are red, orange and white LEDs to make it clear to motorists which direction the bike is travelling.
A couple of other companies had similar products on display, but their lights only worked while the rider was pedalling. They only used orange LEDs in the back and front of the pedal and the quality of the materials was not as good.
It was interesting to see the bike show. I look forward to going back again next year when the event will be held in the new Nangang Exhibition Centre. I will be curious to see which of the new ideas survive in the marketplace. However, I am sure some things will never go out of style.