Posted by Editoress on 01/23/13
Canadian Cyclist was the only Canadian publication invited to attend a factory tour last fall in Taiwan, hosted by TAITRA, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council. TAITRA administers the Taipei Cycle show, the third largest bike industry show in the world (after Eurobike and Interbike), and the largest for manufacturers (Eurobike and Interbike are mainly for retailers). Here is one of our factory visits - to read the overview to our visit and access all the articles, go to the main page Here
We concluded our 2012 tour of the Taiwanese bike industry at VP Components. I can guarantee that at some point in your cycling life (and quite possibly currently), you have had VP products on your bike. We were told that as much of 70% of all the pedals in Europe come from VP - that is a seriously impressive figure...
VP had bike park users paint murals around the park
While primarily known for pedals, VP also makes headsets and bottom brackets. The company truly manufactures from scratch, starting with solid ingots of aluminum and steel, then forging, casting and CNCing into bike parts. They also do plastic moud injection for pedal bodies, and have been working with both carbon and other long fibre materials for injection moulding.
The company's own brands are VP (pedals, headsets and bottom brackets) and Modus (hubs and wheelsets), but the largest part of their business is OEM, for practically everyone in the bike industry - Giant, Merida, KHS, KTM, Trek, Specialized, Mavic ... the list goes on and on.
The main Taiwanese factory is true heavy industry (they also have factories in China and Vietnam). Overall, VP has a staggering 600-plus CNC machines that run pretty much constantly, turning out parts for the bike industry. They also do forging and casting for such things as bottom bracket and pedal axles.
The company recently invested in a $250,000 5-axis CNC machine to do prototyping. The only one in Taiwan, it allows VP to produce actual working prototypes for design and testing. The company used the machine to produce one-off, custom engraved pedals for all of the visiting media - mine are on a shelf rather than a bike!
Personalized, custom CNC'd pedals
However, beyond all of the impressive manufacturing capabilities, it is important to note that VP was at least as interested in showing us the Bike Park they have created (in conjunction with industry partners) next to the factories. With BMX jumps and trails, VP showed us videos of staff riding days, where they are encouraging employees to ride bikes as well as produce them. This is a marked difference for Taiwan, and company President Victor Lin spoke strongly about the social responsibility Taiwanese companies are becoming increasingly aware of.
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