Mon, Mar 25, 2013 - Page 14 News List

E-bikes and folding bikes trendsetters at trade show

‘NEW ERA FOR BICYCLES’:Darfon Innovation’s concept electric bicycle integrates its motors and batteries in the frame of the bike, while folding bicycles are in demand

Staff writer, with CNA

Electric bikes, folding bikes and mobile devices for bicycles are among the products that are leading the trend at this year’s Taipei International Cycle Show.

“We hope to create a new era for bicycles,” Andy Su (蘇開建), chairman of Taiwan’s Darfon Innovation Corp (達瑞創新), whose e-bike won a design award at the show, told reporters on Friday.

Su said his company, a subsidiary of Darfon Electronic Corp (達方電子) — the world’s leading notebook keyboard maker — had formed an e-bike research team three years ago, because it saw its advantage as an electronics company in the growing e-bike market.

About 1 million e-bikes are sold in Europe each year, Su said.

Many of the riders are women and the elderly, who might not want to pedal for long distances, he said, adding that he expects e-bikes to gradually gain popularity outside Europe, and among young people.

So far, about 5,000 orders from Europe have been placed for three e-bike models launched by the company this year, Su said, adding that he expects his company’s e-bike revenue to reach NT$100 million (US$3.3 million) this year.

However, what excites Su more is the concept e-bike — Lion X1 — newly developed by his company that won the Taipei Cycle design award in the new e-bike category this year.

The Lion X1, unlike traditional e-bikes, does not attach electric motors or batteries onto the bike, but integrates them into the frame, Su said.

He said the bike should hit the market during the second half of the year, and will sell for about 3,000 euros (US$3,870) each.

When fully charged, the e-bike can run for between 60km and 100km, Su said.

Meanwhile, Jacky Chu (朱偉誌), research and development manager at Ming Cycle Industrial Co (永祺車業), whose folding bike Strida Evo KS3 also won a Taipei Cycle design award, said sales of folding bikes at his company have been increasing annually by about 15 percent over the past six or seven years.

While many of the customers are collectors and leisure cyclists, more people are purchasing folding bikes to commute to work or school because they are easy to carry around and park in cities, Chu said.

The biggest breakthrough for the Strida Evo KS3 is that it has a cable-free gear-shifting system that allows riders to shift between three gears by pedaling backward, Chu said. The bike was launched in January.

Smartphone devices and other e-products for bicycles are also on display at the Taipei show, including a clip-on smartphone case and a wireless device that can provide real-time traffic information, route planning and path selection.

Other innovative products featured at the show include a low-winding resistant road bike for children, a whale-shaped bicycle saddle bag that uses light-emitting diode technology to ensure safer riding at night, and an airbag backpack that can be instantly filled with air to protect the rider if they fall.

The Taipei International Cycle Show closed on Saturday with the number of international buyers hitting an all-time-high of 7,131, event organizers said. The volume also marked a 10.6 percent growth compared with last year, partly as a result of an improved economy, Taiwan External Trade Development Council official Kang Yih-jyh (康益智) said.

Among the buyers from 107 countries, East Asians, mainly from China, Japan and South Korea, topped the list of visitors to the Taipei International Cycle Show, accounting for more than 50 percent of the total, he said.

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