Words and photos by Nicole Formosa
The Taipei Cycle tradeshow is typically two parts business, one part product. The mid-March timing puts the Taiwan show too early to see next year's stash of new gizmos and gadgets, while this season's loot has long been photographed and scrutinized. But if you keep your eyes open (and manage to sweet talk the right marketing guy who may have let his guard down in a jetlagged haze), you may just turn up a gem while perusing the packed aisles at Nangang Exhibition Center near downtown Taipei.
Here are a few things we picked up on the show floor this week:
Upstairs in the Kind Shock booth, the company's Rick Taylor pulled out a prototype of the next generation of dropper seatposts, the carbon fiber XC LEV. The 325-350 gram post will have 65 millimeters of travel with carbon fiber used on the shaft, clamps and head. It will come in 30.9 and 31.6 options. KS will have the prototype at Sea Otter next month, and production is planned to begin by the end of the year. It's also planning to release a post for cyclocross, a model currently being tested by Brian Lopes, and owner Martin Hsu's road bike outfitted with a dropper post got a lot of second looks at Taipei. Not bad for a brand that was laughed at when it showed its first dropper post five years ago.
New suspension company DVO debuted its first two products in Taipei: the Emerald DH suspension fork and the Jade rear coil shock. The response to the product was overwhelming, said JP Pelino, who along with five other colleagues left Marzocchi USA last year to start DVO. The bomber, dual crown fork is compatible with 26-inch or 27.5 inch wheel downhill bikes with a crown swap. Product will be available later this summer, and Pelino said DVO plans to follow-up this introduction with suspension for the enduro race category later this year at Eurobike. Speaking of Europe, DVO just signed French DH pro Cédric Gracia to represent the brand. See DVO's product for yourself at Sea Otter.
We wandered upstairs at Novatec and finagled a sneak peek at the Factor carbon fiber tubeless mountain bike wheels, which are currently being tested by Brian Lopes and Kyle Strait. Once the pros race the wheels at Sea Otter, assuming there are no problems, Novatec will begin production on the 23 by 32 millimeter profile wheels. Novatec is also launching a redesigned Factor hub to complete the set.
This is all we can show you from Lezyne, where we were sworn to secrecy by a marketing manager wielding a pen and a very thick non-disclosure agreement. We can't spill the beans just yet, but stay tuned for details on Lezyne's new bevy of commuter lights, an updated performance LED light and snazzy new floor pumps, all of which will be available for your viewing pleasure at Sea Otter.
Finally, we stopped by to talk with Joel Smith of X-Fusion, the Taiwanese suspension company that is starting to compete with big U.S. players RockShox and Fox in the middle and high end of the category. No doubt, the new RV1 dual crown, 200 –millimeter travel, 36-millimeter stanchion fork will legitimize the brand even further. X-Fusion has been testing the RV1 for some time and showed the big hit fork for the first time this week in Taipei. "To be seen as a serious suspension company, you need a DH fork," Smith said, as he chatted in between meetings with international distributors. "It was kind of the missing category for us."
X-Fusion rounds out its 2014 offering with the long travel Metric, 34-millimeter stanchion, 180-millimeter fork that is compatible with 26-inch or 27.5-inch wheel sizes and the 27.5-specific, 34-millimeter stanchion Sweep fork.