Throwback Thursday: Intriguing Taipei Cycle Show Products That Never Went Mainstream

Mar 18, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
Taiwan Excellence booth

The Taipei Cycle Show is usually one of the largest trade shows of the year, and it’s a hotbed of innovation as one of the major opportunities for companies to show off their new products.

This year, while the show does exist in an online format and we’ve toured the digital expo in search of any interesting finds (see here and here), it doesn’t quite have the same abundance and intrigue as a real-time in-person trade show, so we decided to look back at some highlights from Taipei Cycle Shows past.

Here are some Taipei Cycle Show finds that were very cool but that never made it big in the public eye.



Tag Metals' Speed Align System


This one never caught on, but I still think it's a cool idea with a relatively low cost and few downsides compared to most changes in bike industry standards. I think Tag Metals' Speed Align System idea would make at least a few lives easier.

I, for one, find the stem-straightening process to be agonizing. This offers to solve it with slots in the stem that could theoretically be lined up with laser-etched lines on the steerer tubes of any and all forks if suspension companies were willing to add that detail. (That's where the industry standard change would have to come in.) Plus, if people don’t want to use it, no harm done. It's what Levy calls a "functional refinement."

S-Ride's 13-Speed Drivetrain


S-Ride is a Chinese drivetrain company that makes 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and even 13-speed shifters, derailleurs, and cassettes. Pinkbike tried the 13-speed drivetrain in a stand at the Taipei Cycle Show in 2019 and was surprised to find that it worked, though the review wasn't glowing: "It had an action that could best be described as robust with the gears clunking into place after a bit of persuasion, but we were assured that on the trail it would work better than on the stand."

Yep, that's definitely 13. The cassette is made from a combination of steel and aluminum.

Still, the option to upgrade to a 1x13 setup with a massive 11-52t cassette is worth recognizing, especially considering the price. It seems to retail for $632 (though I found several MSRPs online and it seems to be discounted wherever it is sold, regularly selling for $300-odd USD). In comparison, the only other 13-speed mountain bike drivetrain on the market is from Rotor, and Rotor's 1x13 offerings start at $1,676 USD -- nearly three times S-Ride's price -- and increase from there.

A Kid-Specific Drivetrain

Taipei Cycle Show

We all wish we grew up with the bikes that kids have these days and the Taipei Cycle Show has something nice for the little ones almost every year. In 2018, there were enough small bikes that Levy wanted to be a kid again. But my favorite offering for the little ones has to be the SunRace 1x drivetrain from 2018, which gives a relatively inexpensive option to help improve the quality and weight of kids’ bikes.

Most of us ride bikes that weigh less than 30% of our bodyweight, but a scary number of kids are out there on bikes that weigh more than half the kids’ weight. Sure, maybe the next crop of 11-year-olds will all have Dangerholm’s thighs, but they might appreciate being able to, you know, pick their bikes up.

Graphene Brake Discs


Heat dissipation is an ongoing problem that has yet to be totally solved. Sure, there are all kinds of modern fixes on the market like brake pads with fins (that may or may not rattle), insulated brake pistons, big rotors, aluminum-steel combo layups, and more. Still, graphene may offer a strong, quickly-cooling option that weighs in at a fraction of what typical metal rotors weigh. Mortop's version at the 2017 Taipei Cycle Show looked promising.

But there’s a problem. Mortop’s website no longer exists and the company’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 2017, so it’s radio silence. Someone else may have to pick up the project where Mortop left off.

A Carbon Chainring That's Said to Solve the Carbon Chainring Problem

Taipei Cycle Show 2019

While we're on the topic of unconventional component materials, we have to mention this carbon chainring from Digirit, which is said to solve the lifespan problem that has plagued carbon chainring attempts in the past. Because the chain vs. carbon friction game tends to destroy the carbon quickly, Digirit coated its chainring teeth with protective metal powder, which Digidirt says makes a carbon chainring last as long as an aluminum one.

The carbon weighs about 25% less than an aluminum counterpart and costs $150 -- roughly 50% more than SRAM's lightweight options -- which is about what you'd expect.

Square Root Carbon Wheels

Taipei Cycle Show

The Square Root carbon wheelsets debuted at 2017’s Taipei Cycle Show, and the company is still going strong and selling wheels worldwide, despite not being a household name. While other carbon wheelsets tend to have astronomical pricetags, Square Root sells directly to consumers at prices that aren’t much higher than the alloy offerings from other companies. Plus, I have to say, I’m pretty partial to the rim graphics.

3D Printed Pedals Made From Rice Husks

Taipei Cycle Show

Rice husks have a multitude of cool uses in Asian countries, and we can add making pedals to the list. This machine 3D printed pedals right in front of onlookers' eyes at the expo, and the idea seems like a neat solution for making environmentally-responsible commuter pedals. While they don't look like they could compete with a nice pair of Vaults or Bladerunners, they do look like the eco-conscious version of Brian Park's 3D printed dadmobile pedals.


94 Comments

  • 189 1
 One line on a steerer tube. Just that. Is that too much to ask?
  • 89 0
 It's all good until they etch it on crooked XD
  • 12 51
flag z-man (Mar 18, 2021 at 12:16) (Below Threshold)
 Seems pointless. Keep in mind an added cost of $2 at the time of manufactur leads to an exponential increase as the products flows through distribution channels.
  • 6 1
 @robokfc: this guy knows. LOL!
  • 35 22
 Steerer tubes currently don't have to be aligned before pressing into the crown, adding an etch means some operator is going to have to manually align the steerer tube before pressing, adding cost, complexity, and a high probability of human error. Which means you'll still probably have to eyeball the stem because the fancy laser etch is off by 0.75 degrees.
  • 14 0
 Im sure SRAM has the patent on it.
  • 114 1
 @kimosabe621: Engrave it after pressing.
  • 30 0
 @kimosabe621: In my mind, the etching is added post press. Put the uppers into a mold, run the etch. Move to next step in assembly line. not free, but not really a complicated ask in terms of alignment.
  • 25 1
 Just DIY with a silver sharpie after you align it correctly by eye the first time. (most stems have some sort of cutout... and the gap doesn't have to be at 180 degrees, just wherever you can draw a line on the steerer to see what "lined up straight" is)
  • 8 1
 @kimosabe621: maybe etching it after steerer and stanchions are together?
  • 9 11
 @N-60: Fixturing a crown/steerer assembly for a laser is much more expensive and difficult compare to the blank tube before pressing. If there was a locating notch on the steerer and a corresponding key on the crown you could cheaply etch the indicator line before pressing without much fear of misalignment. But again, $$$

It's all possible, don't get me wrong. I just think it'll be more expensive than people realize. Not sure the market is willing to bear the cost for such a small feature/benefit
  • 2 1
 @z-man: Exponential? I doubt that. But certainly more than $2.
  • 15 0
 What? And then not need a $250 tool for it?
Pfft..hard pass.
  • 6 1
 I want a notch or a key system like for most large rotating equipment that uses shafts. You don't need tight tolerances either. it would cost nothing. Just a machined channel down the forks steer tube and either a channel on the stem with a key or a ridge that slide into place.
  • 4 0
 @kimosabe621: not very difficult. You can key the crown and the steer tube. Hell it could all be one channel that everything aligns to. Even easier. Good point
  • 8 0
 Step 1. Lay fork on flat surface, dropouts down. Step 2. Mark absolute high point of steer tube. Ought to be your alignment mark. Step 3. Line stem up with said mark. Step 4. Fine tune after first ride, because you know damn well it's gonna be off a little bit. Step 5. Adjust matching marks on stem and steerer to reflect reality. Or, just start with step 5.
  • 4 1
 That line would probably force Sram to list it's steerers' diameter to 1-1/8.99 to accomodate the thickness of the paint, rendering previous stems, headsets and frames useless. You know the drill...
  • 5 0
 @freebikeur: LOL. DUB steerers "better engineered" to frustrate you
  • 4 1
 @makripper: And then you would have to write both off in the event of a hard rotational impact to the bars.
  • 2 0
 @kimosabe621: etch it after its installed.
  • 2 0
 Build yourself a little jig that'll slot into the dropout... like a hub with central bar thingy with a sharpie on the end... sorted!
  • 5 0
 I'd bet most people's bars are still a little crooked because of their dominant eye.
  • 4 1
 I’ve always wanted a keyed or splined steerer and stem (with fine splines like on old Profile cranks), with pinch bolts to ensure and extra snug fit with an aluminum stem & steerer — essentially similar to Shimano M980 XTR cranks.
  • 6 1
 @kimosabe621: the Fox oval steerer in the 38 disagrees with you.
  • 3 0
 I guess PB has shares in TAG otherwise I don’t get it. 99.999% of the stem have 1 split at the rear center. Make 1 line on the steerer tube at the same place and boom! It’s aligned. Simply because if it’s aligned with one marker, it would be aligned with the second. Is it really so hard to understand PB? Imagine! It would be virtually backward compatible with ALL stems (or almost)
  • 2 0
 @bicyclelifestyle: And they couldn't even get those right! Re the vorsprung tear down.
  • 5 0
 Hell yes. This. They have the technology.
Drop the assembled crown/stanchion/steerer into a jig and press "GO" on the laser engraver/dot peen engraver/Continuous inkjet printer...whatever. Add to the assembly line right after the steerer is pressed in.

I am really surprised SRAM or FOX don't do this now. It could be a product differentiator too, market the hell out of the alignment line. They could make up some dumb name like Tru-Align® and make a little logo for it.

I spend way too much worrying about stem alignment. I have a problem
  • 1 1
 @EnduroManiac: Thats tghe comment of the century!
  • 1 0
 @kimosabe621: They could just do it after fitting. Mount a finished fork into a jig by it's thru axle, then hit it with your lazah beams. By doing it as a final step and calibrating it to the thru axle you would always get the line in the right place for the stem to match the wheel.
  • 2 0
 @kimosabe621: actually all the Fox38 forks do have to be aligned because steerer tubes are now internally elliptical in construction to increase torsional stiffness. It’s also not an entirely hard thing to do. Make a jig and then every piece presses in like a normal steerer tube from then on.
  • 1 0
 @z-man: That's what they call MSRP Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Sharpie, problem solved
  • 5 0
 Lets just all go back to riding 2005 888s with direct mount stems/crowns. Plus we can anodize them all sorts of colors again!
  • 2 0
 @kimosabe621:

Yea... idk where you are getting your logic from. But it seems like no one in this string has a clue what a rotary laser cutter. And out side of the upfront cost of modifying some soft jaws, this shit is free to laser etch a scribe mark.

I had to use it plenty of times on way more intricate design for a DoD program I worked on.

Just saying. Its possible, and possible to do the scribe at zero mark up.
  • 8 0
 Am I the only one that doesn't have trouble aligning my stem? And I once rode a whole week at Whistler with crooked bars because it felt fine and I couldn't be arsed to do anything about it.
  • 1 0
 @chrismac: Yeah, but Fox are planning a 5 year legal battle to contest it.
  • 1 0
 @babathehutt: If you straightened most people's bars, they might think they are crooked from being so used to them being slightly crooked. I guarantee my bars are slightly crooked and would look crooked to someone who rides it.
  • 1 0
 I've never bothered straightening my bars. I just let one arm grow longer than the other to compensate. Sure, I have one long ape arm after 20 years, but at least I don't have to rely on Fox or Rockshox to etch a line in the right place.
  • 1 0
 @N-60: but most steerers get cut down. There would have to be an aligned notch down the whole length of the steerer or a line etched/drawn or whatever. Sounds like a complicated ask of fork manufacturers.
  • 6 0
 @kroozctrl: Sure, the laser etching is practically free. I regularly design parts for our in house tube laser by the way.

I'm referring to the additional labor required to load/unload a special fixture, or align a pre-etched part before pressing. It sounds trivial, but my experience working in manufacturing has taught me that seemingly small changes to the work flow can have pretty large effects on cost. Not to mention additional discrepancy costs when parts are inevitably etched/pressed incorrectly.

My point is that the bean counters usually shoot down initiatives like this before they ever get past the prototype stage due to the cost. Right or wrong, that's how things work for large manufacturers.
  • 1 0
 @tfree @bicyclelifestyle

I'd forgotten about the Fox 38's ovalized steerer tube profile. In that specific case, an alignment etch of some sort would be a no brainer.
  • 6 0
 Square steerer tubes in Superboost or else I'm not interested.
  • 1 0
 @z-man: Everyone downvoting you doesn't understand manufacturing costs and processes.

tl;dr. WHY ARE YOU BOOING HIM HE'S RIGHT
  • 1 0
 @NorCalNomad: they are booing the first thing he said, not the last.
  • 1 0
 @kimosabe621: making a line is hardly complex and the Chinese laborer doing gets paid pennies.
  • 3 0
 all these comments for a solution to a problem that doesn't exist
  • 2 0
 #superboost #micdrop
  • 1 0
 @bicyclelifestyle: I’ve heard anecdotal reports that the alignment of those elliptical steerers is horrible. Apparently one was like thirty degrees off or something?
  • 1 0
 @kimosabe621: press in the tube then etch the line, but yeah, I wouldn't want to pay for that out of pocket!
  • 6 0
 Just mark it yourself once you have the fork straight the first time.
  • 1 0
 @rideordie35: mind blown
  • 3 0
 @bicyclelifestyle: funny you mention this cause those have shown up misaligned on review forks...I can see it happening in a factory far, far away... someone pointing an screaming "you had ONE job!!!...
  • 1 1
 @oregonryder: can’t be harder than the sag marks RS is already putting on the stanchions and they already use that “easy setup” as a primary selling point.. this would be a simple expansion of that concept.
  • 2 0
 @kimosabe621: You can make laser mark after installing in crown. It would be even better than aligning steerer in crown. Just install tube, lay the fork on the table so it would be perfectly aligned due two axis laying on flat surface than make a laser mark on steerer. 1min more in production time. I can pay that 0.5$ more for that.
  • 1 0
 @Kptzbik: probably more than 1 minute of R&D and assembly line investment and more than $.50 a piece
  • 1 0
 @kimosabe621: unless they etch it after the steerer tube is installed
  • 22 0
 So the best way to solve the carbon chainring problem is to coat the carbon in metal. Huh.
  • 17 0
 We fixed the carbon chainring problem by making a metal one!
  • 1 0
 @toad321: for the price of 1 carbon chainring, you can buy 15 alloy ones. Which option lasts longer?
  • 11 0
 The Sunrace M9 drivetrain is actually in the market. As the Brazilian distributors, we are buying a good quantity of complete 1x9 groups with 11-50 cassetes and square tapered cranksets... the only difference is the crank lenght that we orderer... 175mm... but we could have ordered shorter ones id we wanted. We bet it will be a success, a great affordable alternative to Shimano and SRAM products... specially in Brazil, where everything is too expensive.
  • 3 0
 Glad to hear that. So often as a parent of smaller kids, your options are to spend stupid amounts of money on a bike your kid will grow out of in a couple years, or saddle them with a bike that's so heavy, they'll hate mountain biking. Anything that helps make lighter kids bikes more affordable is a win.
  • 3 0
 @atourgates: I think they're buying them for adult bikes, not kids bikes... Note the 175mm cranks
  • 2 0
 @justinfoil: Exactly.... it makes a lot of sense. BOX and Michoshift offer their versions of this... 1x9 11-50t is all you need if you´re not looking for real high performance and an easy to use MTB drivetrain.
  • 1 0
 Are you happy with the RDM900 derailleur?
  • 10 0
 SRAM are developing a very impressive brake rotor, where the brake track is actually sprayed onto an aluminum core, to address excessive rotor heat. It's actually pretty incredible.

wheelbased.com/2021/01/05/bicycle-disc-brake-rotors-by-sram
  • 8 0
 Yeah this is similar to what Porsche is doing. They spray tungsten carbide on the brake track. Its an ultra thin layer but apparently it works very well from what I have heard.

www.google.com/amp/s/www.caranddriver.com/news/amp15339768/in-depth-with-the-2019-porsche-cayennes-tungsten-carbide-coated-brakes
  • 3 0
 @chillrider199: Correct, very similar. Wild to see automotive tech making it's way to bikes.
  • 1 0
 Stuff like this is what racers will use long before others can. Some of these innovations may not even be practical beyond one time use races honestly. If rapid prototyping & manufacturing methods get even faster then we'll see some cool limited usage parts I think. Thinks like that carbon chain ring may be other examples of limited use parts for SPEEEEEEED.
  • 7 0
 I would get way more value from a line on my steerer tube than from 2mm extra diameter
  • 5 0
 Tag Metals stem sounds interesting
  • 2 0
 I guess the Italians and now the Chinese have surpassed the Americans in their wild-wild-west cassette platter game! C'mon SRAM, let's see how low you're gonna go with those gear ratios!
  • 5 0
 Yes , I’iiilll take the shrimp and rice pedals please Smile
  • 1 0
 Yeah, are they microwavable?
  • 4 0
 The person knew to coil the excess gear cable but didn't know to cut it
  • 2 0
 Probably wanted to reuse it on other bikes
  • 4 0
 microSHIFT Acolyte, a cheap kid-specific drivetrain!
  • 2 0
 Has anyone tried square root wheels? They look great and priced great but I'd like to know how they ride before pulling the trigger.
  • 1 1
 I've never heard of them before but after seeing their website, I'm not impressed. Weights are given only sporadically, and if they are correct, even their 29er XC wheelset is heavy as hell at nearly 1900g. No real options to customize your build, and most stuff is out of stock.
I'd suggest heading over to www.lightbicycle.com for a good and cheap set of carbon wheels, or try Nextie. Both have a good track record of quality and many happy customers.
  • 1 1
 Tag system obviously didn't take off because they want crazy licensing fees.

Sounds like the wheels did take off, just not "here". Also carbon wheels are not really intriguing, just the price, and that's more intriguing as to why they decided not to mark them up as much as everyone else. Either they're willing to make much less per wheel, or they're just made much much cheaper, which brings into question testing, durability, etc.
  • 2 0
 we do not need new style derailleurs and more cassette cogs. mtb's need gearboxes that shift under load and are light weight.
  • 2 0
 Do people really have that much issue getting their stem straight enough that we need these special tools, stems, steerers, etc?
  • 1 0
 Stem straightening is simple. Stand in front of the bike over the wheel. Close one eye. Rotate until bar overlaps top arch of fork. Switch open eyes while remaining still. Ensure still lined up. Done.
  • 3 0
 Line on steerer? Just ride dual crowns and a direct mount stem Wink
  • 3 1
 I don't want my disc brake rotor to be made of bamboo, thanks though.
  • 5 0
 I don’t want raccoon in my stew, thanks though.
  • 1 0
 Why couldn’t they sell the stem with a marker pen, just sharpie the line black.
  • 1 0
 How do I make sure the direct mount stem is aligned on my dual crown fork? I always put it on backwards.
  • 2 1
 But we totally need that Super Boost standard!
  • 1 0
 nice, ill probably buy those wheels given the price
  • 1 0
 Has not taken off... yet!
  • 1 0
 Misspelling Digirit more than once? Depressingly impressive!
  • 1 0
 Interesting stuff, nice article.

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