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Folding Tales is a collection of stories, reviews and experiences about exploring places near and far with travel-friendly folding bikes.

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Taipei Cycle Show 2019

Taipei Cycle Show 2019

My visit to the Taipei Cycle Show this year was an express run of sorts, visiting some of our personal favorite brands such as Ritchey Logic, Change Bike and Pacific Cycles to see what they’ve been up to. It was a much bigger exhibition in terms of space, but didn’t feel as festive as previous years due to the last minute change of venue timing.

Taipei Cycle is still the biggest bicycle expo in Asia, even though there are similar events held in other parts of the continent, like China Cycle in Shanghai and Cycle Mode International in Chiba, Japan. By nature a B2B event (business to business), Taipei Cycle is more for manufacturers to meet, talk agreements and sign contracts, rather than for exhibition new products. However, there are still many new items and bike tech that gets unveiled in Taipei.

I met Cycling Plus and Bikeradar Senior Technical Editor Warren Rossiter in Taipei (he kindly indulged my request for a selfie, as did the legendary Alberto Contador - a surprise guest there), and even Warren admitted that there is value in covering the event, considering there is still a lot of stuff that doesn’t quite make it to Europe.

After reporting on Taipei Cycle Show 2017, we opted not to go independently the following year after Cycling Plus Malaysia chose not to send me to cover the expo. 2018 saw the organisers move the dates to autumn from the traditional spring timeline, which also clashed with our chosen dates for our Japan touring trip through Shikoku and Shimanami. For 2019, Taipei Cycle had been moved back to their original dates, and I plotted with my colleague Treas to get the necessary approvals and funding to make the trip happen (and in doing so, gave us reason to extend the trip with a tour of Taiwan’s east coast - #priorities).

With Taitra kindly sponsoring our one week media trip to report on Taipei Cycle 2019, off Treas and myself went to Taipei for a week of wandering around the halls perusing bike tech, and interviewing our magazine’s clients. It is arguably one of my personal favourite events of the year, even if the 2019 edition of the show was somewhat subdued due to the last minute change of dates. This meant it was only 5 months since the previous show was held - which many manufacturers did not attend either.

This is the Folding Tales report of the show, from a folding bike perspective, of course. Just like the general market for bikes and the accompanying bike components, there were a number of big names that chose to sit out this show this time around. The ones that we have covered here were the ones we managed to catch during our limited time there, while it is also important to note that closed door meetings aren’t generally open to media either. Yet again Taipei Cycle truly was a massive event to cover, but we do see some clear signs of where the foldie market is heading.

Change Bike goes 27.5” for their MTB full-size foldies

It’s not secret that this 700C folding bike manufacturer is one of our clear favourites, with Eka and myself owning one each of their folding road bikes. We knew something big was introduced in 2018, and we finally got to see it in the flesh (or metal, in this case). Introducing the 27.5” variant of their highly popular folding MTB, the company has 3 new models - 2 hardtail MTBs and 1 hybrid - all with differing specs. Of course, it is the only folding frame to have passed the MTB frame safety test ISO 4210, another feather in Change Bike’s cap.

At the top end of the range is the dark green DF-812G, which utilises a Shimano Deore 20 speed groupset, the FOX Performance FIT4 three adjustable front suspension fork, and Mavic Crossride 27.5 wheels paired with Kenda 27.5x2.1 tyres. The other option is their striking turquoise 27-speed DF-809B, which uses a mix of SRAM Avid, Shimano Acera and Deore components, a Suntour XCR Taiwan-made fork, and stock 27.5 wheels paired with slimmer Kenda 27.5x1.5 tyres. There is also the hybrid DF-811K, which utilises a similar mix of components, a Carbon-Monocoque fork, and Mavic Crossride 27.5 wheels paired with Kenda 27.5x2.1 tyres.

If you’re not keen on the component choices, there is always the frame-only option - though as with most bike companies it is ultimately cheaper to get the fully built bike, particularly if you get taxed for components as opposed to a full bike. All these frames come in 3 sizes, namely 17”, 19” and 21”. All frames are the company’s Taiwan-made Aerospace-Grade Aluminum 7005 Double Butted for extra strength to ensure they can take a beating.

Introducing these 27.5” variants was evidently a smart move for the Change Bike, because according to Alice Chi, it was something their existing customers had been asking about for quite a while. I’d always assumed that the company’s folding road frames were the more popular option due to the convenience for commuting, but Alice confirmed that their folding MTBs actually make up the bulk of their sales.

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On another note, the company also had an e-bike frame displayed prominently on the wall, rather than a fully built bike. When asked, Alice confirmed that the company is working on an e-assisted bike due to the new demands of the market. “You must have at least one e-bike. If not, they just don’t want to talk to you,” she says, though she goes on to admit that they are more likely to offer an e-assist compatible frame to allow the customer the choose their own choice of system, of which there are many.

Ritchey Logic showcases latest Break-Away frame and more

A brand that the Folding Tales crew also favours as our long distance steel touring bikes, Ritchey deserves a shoutout for helping replace one of my frame bolts, which mysteriously disappeared during late night packing. We could not find it anywhere (it later magically dropped out of my backpack while unpacking upon our return to KL - true story!), but Simon Beatson and his team managed to locate a piece to give to me the following day. Great customer service.

Showcased prominently at the front of their booth was a new black and tan Break-Away Road frame colour scheme, while some other new colours have also been added to their website since then. The completely modernised look also appears on a yellow and grey frame on display; Simon confirmed these will be the future direction for Ritchey.

The current vintage look will be phased out, so if you were planning on getting one of these frames you really should grab them before they run out.

Besides that Ritchey also displayed some new MTB and dropbars, a new Chicane aero stem and Logic-E headset for Di2 and STePS integration so that the cables can be tucked in quite nicely. There’s also a new Comp Zeta Wheels that are now tubeless ready, another growing trend for the bike industry besides electronic system integration. At the time Ritchey had not unveiled their new 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Swiss Cross, but it’s since been announced at Sea Otter Classic 2019.

Pacific Cycles introduces Birdy e-bikes and more

Of course, one cannot talk about foldies without dropping by to see Michael Lin and his gang to see what’s new there. Arguably one of the more interesting finds among many of the foldies on display at Taipei Cycle, we had a good chat with the Pacific Cycles CEO about what their R&D team have been developing. The most obvious difference from their previous crop of foldies is without a doubt the addition of e-assist systems to several models, and the introduction of a cargo e-bike (single frame) which will eventually be available in foldie form.

The e-cargo Moove bike allows the rider to carry a lot more things due to its attached bags, while the e-assist system will come in handy for moving all that extra weight.

Michael also introduced us to their new e-Birdy, which has an electronic hub small enough to be within the airline limit for lithium batteries.

Say what? He’s already flown with the e-Birdy to Hong Kong and several other places without any issues, and it is clearly a great idea for city exploration while traveling.

There are some changes and new colour options for the Birdy and Reach bikes, but we also noticed something extremely curious on the Reach Racing. Attached to one was the XShifter system, which Michael admits they have been testing for quite a while. It’s pretty legit according to him, and despite manufacturing problems the company that makes the Xshifter has started fulfilling their early Kickstarter pledges and have even made it to Malaysian shores via Infinitely Active. Will it be utilised for any Pacific Cycles bikes? We’re not entirely sure yet.

On another note, while the sleek titanium Birdy on display didn’t look much different than its predecessor, upon closer look you will notice a totally redesigned rear chain stay. Michael told us that this change in design was necessary to eliminate the problem of water collecting in the previous design of hollow chain stay. Future models of the Birdy bike will also shift to this design for the rear fold instead.

Dahon expands their e-foldie range and teases a gravel bike concept

One of the more prominent folding bike booths at Taipei Cycle for most years, once again Dahon’s booth did not disappoint. The company has expanded its e-foldie range, introducing the new Dove E-Uno, with 14” wheels. The NuWave bike that features crazy narrow folding technology will be available in electric versions for the three different wheel sizes. Adding to the ultra compact range is the K3, weighing in at just 8.1kg. There’s also an added new colour for the Dahon Curl, a smaller version called i4 (similar to the i8) that we first talked about from the 2017 edition of the show, a special shade of blue.

But perhaps the most interesting thing to pique my interest at the Dahon booth was definitely their folding gravel bike concept GB-1 650B, which first appeared in 2018.

It’s gotten a slight re-design from last year’s show but is still utilising the discreet Lock Jaw hinge folding mechanism seen on the folding minivelo called Dash. Will this folding gravel bike be introduced to the Malaysian market anytime soon? According to the company’s reps they are now focused on making it more cost effective, so there’s no final word on their targeted launch date. Either way, Dahon’s R&D team have been very busy indeed.

In A Nutshell

From 2017 to 2019, the obvious growth in the e-folding bikes segment was spectacular. Many brands had added e-assist systems to their existing models or expanded/developed further their existing e-foldie models. This is arguably the most logical direction for the folding bike market, since most are built for commutes and city rides, therefore adding e-assist would make them more accessible to a wider demographic than previously possible. It also makes it possible to triple or even quadruple your commuting distance, meaning more people can opt to do so by bike without arriving at their destination exhausted from the long ride or having to climb hills.

We’ve singled out the foldies that we are more familiar with and that are easily available in Malaysia, but obviously there is much, much more to choose from if you’re looking at the larger foldie market as a whole. Some new brands that I’d not seen before have also popped up, as the movement to encourage more people to cycle commute gathers pace. Scroll through to see more pics of other foldies that we also came across at Taipei Cycle 2019.

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