Taiwan bike makers get boost

BMX bike at Nangang during Taipei Cycle 2008

While high oil prices might be hurting many businesses, Taiwan's bike industry is profiting. Shares in Taiwanese company, Giant Manufacturing, the world's leading bicycle manufacturer, hit a record high yesterday. The Taipei Times reports

"As oil prices rise, bike makers continue to benefit," said Lily Huang, who counts Merida among the NT$900 million in equities she helps to manage at National Investment Trust Co in Taipei.

"There's been a direct correlation between the two prices," she said.

Sales at Taichung-based Giant doubled in April to NT$1.1 billion, taking revenue growth for the first four months of the year to 47 percent, compared with a 23 percent increase for all of last year.

Merida, based in Changhua, has posted a 2.5 percent gain in sales this year.

The bad news is that prices for bikes have increased in the last few months due to a combination of increased demand, increased cost of components and shortages of some materials. The Taipei Times reported in May this year that the price of motorbike and bicycles was going up

The growth in the bike industry is part of a worldwide trend of increasing demand for and use of bicycles. The Earth Policy Institute uses bicycles as one of its twelve eco-economy indicators. According to the May 2008 report 130 million bicycles were manufactured in 2007, more than twice the 52 million cars produced. This is part of a strong trend since 1970. 

Europe leads the way in promoting bicycle use, but other countries like Korea, Mexico, India and Australia are also implementing bike friendly policies. The only negative spot is China were bicycle ownership has declined while car ownership has increased. 

I don't have any figures for Taiwan, but the popularity of cycling has exploded in the last few years, a trend that I observed in an earlier post about cycling going from marginal to mainstream.