Norway: 5 million people and more than 430000 new bikes imported last year, 26 Norwegian traders visited Taipei Cycle 2012.
Norway imported 431,000 bicycles in the first nine month of 2011, states The Official Bureau of Statistics. The high volume is interesting as Norway has 5 months of winter per year and only 5 million inhabitants. The average temperature is 4, 5'C. However, cycling has become a lifestyle trend in Norway so people require different bikes for different riding purposes. Research shows that inhabitants in Norway over the age of 12 years travel an average of 500 meters on public roads every day. According to Bike Europe Magazine, the percentage of people in Sweden and Denmark who use their bikes as transportation to work or school is much higher than in Norway.
17% of the Danes and 13% of Swedes - but only 6% of Norwegians cycle for their daily doings. The interest in cycling sports is increasing thanks to the Norwegian World Champions, Thor Hushovd (Road) and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (MTB). Every year thousands of new cyclists are recruited to cycling events such as the Trondheim Oslo, Nordsjorittet, Grenserittet and the most popular MTB marathon race, the Birkebeinerrittet. Its 20,000 entry tickets were sold out less than one minute after they were released.
Bike Europe has a website for professionals and writes about Norway:
This year marks the 120th anniversary since Norway began to import and to make its own bicycles. In 1892, Ogland Cyclelager at Sandnes in south-west Norway became an agent for German Hengstberg Bicycles. In the same year, Humber & Co, an English company, started its own production of cycles in Oslo and Lefstad cycle factory started up in Trondheim. A few others began making bicycles in Norway, but production did not last too many years. On the other hand, Ogland soon became agent for the American brand, The World, and put together parts for his own brands Fram and Viking. In 1906, he had his first factory produce bicycles. In 1932 Ogland's brand took the name DBS which stands for "The Best Cycle." Ogland started exporting bikes in 1949. In 1956, two Norwegian DBS-bikes were sent by cargo ship to Taiwan and later sold to the Lopsang family from Mongolien. In those days, ordinary bikes made in Taiwan were not safe, so most people doubled the front fork.
The Ogland Company was sold to Monark in 1989 and merged with Cycleurope in 1996. Cycleuroe today owns the brands DBS, Monark, Crescent, Kildemoes, Gitane and Bianchi. Most bikes sold in Norway nowadays are medium priced MTB and hybrids. The three brands Gresvig, Stians Sport AS and Cycleurope are the main cycle companies in Norway.
Today there are several bicycle factories in Taiwan. Most of them are in the Taichung area in middle Taiwan. As I have no statistics how many bikes are made all together, I have statistics showing that 5.07 million fully assembled bicycles were exported in 2010 from Taiwan. SGS of Switzerland is the world's leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. They help customers in Taiwan improve quality and productivity, reducing risk, verifying compliance and increasing speed to market. Products "Made in Taiwan" are products you can trust.
In 1988, Taiwan arranged its first international cycle show, called Taipei Cycle. The number of exhibitors and booths has been increasing year by year. This 25th Taipei Cycle in March has become Asia's largest bicycle fair and one of the world's three largest trade fairs specializing in bicycles and accessories. An American visitor this year said the show and the technology are spectacular and the best in the world. It shows the latest breakthroughs. A visitor from Singapore said. "Taiwan companies have ideas, something different. They innovate."
Many Norwegians have found out that to get the best deals, Taipei Cycle is the best fair. Cycles are not only sport, but also design and artistic expressions of engineering.
Taipei Cycle 2012 held both at Nangnag Exhibition Hall and at TWTC Hall hosted 1092 companies from 36 countries and used 3288 booths. The exhibitors are very professional, and they all speak English. The show attracted 6448 international visitors from 88 countries/areas, 26 of them even from distant Norway. Visitors from China, including Hong Kong, provide the greatest number of overseas visitors.
China's producers are the main suppliers of bikes to Norway and make use of the fifth floor for themselves at Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. Norwegians are often not granted visas to China, but do not need a visa to visit Taiwan. That makes Taiwan an important gateway to China and other Asian markets. China's international Bicycle & Motor Fair will be held in Shanghai, China, April 26 - 29, 2012, but Norway News is not invited.
Last year 50,000 Merida bikes from Taiwan were sold in Norway by Stian's Sport, one of Scandinavia's largest bike importers. In 1976, Einar Steen-olsen and his wife Margareth had a four-year-old son and started a sport shop together. They named it Stian's Sport after their son. Merida Industry Co., Ltd was then a small contract shop under a Japanese bicycle parts brand. However, on initiative of the Norwegian Steen-olsen couple in 1976, Merida started producing bicycles. Norway was first, and today it is the largest seller of Merida bicycles in the world.
Today Merida has grown to be Taiwan's second largest cycle brand, only Giant is bigger. Merida is now in 67 countries. At the opening ceremony of Taipei in 2012, President Ma of the Rep. of China said he is a proud owner of a Merida Wolf. Merida has expanded to the US and Europe and is now a global player in bicycle design and manufacturing. It was valued at $185 million US in 2007 making it Taiwan's 15th biggest company.
The photo at Merida's booth at Taipei Cycle 2012 shows from left: Product Manager Per Harald Wenger, Tony Jensen, Managing Director Stian Steen-olsen, Chairman Einar Steen-olsen and Product Manager Eystein Stokstad, all from Stian's Sport, Oslo. Last to the right: Calle Faglum, Country manager Merida Sweden, a branch of Stian's Sport.
They tell Norway News that Merida has designed and developed products for Norwegian conditions and requirements to provide exceptional quality in with close cooperation with the sport, athletes and Norwegian retailers. They all have a passion for bicycling and offer the products necessary to lay the indoor foundation for the Birkebeiner race or to make the trip to and from work comfortably even in stiff gales with freezing temperatures outside.
CTI Television Inc, in the China Times Group, has a 3-hour weekly program in Taiwan. Last month their camera team went to Norway and made a 15 minutes program about Norway, including Stian's Sport. The program is ready and will be sent next month.
Merida is a sponsor of the Multivan Merida Biking Team, with athletes such as Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja (born 10 February 1973), a Norwegian cross-country and marathon mountain biker. She won the women's cross-country gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games and is a multiple World Champion. She has won six World Championships and six European Championships. Dahle has also won four UCI World Cup XC's in a row. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja's winning bike from the Olympics in Athens 2004 has been on display at the Merida factory in Taiwan. Merida is looking forward to a 2012 cycling season with the London Olympics as one of the highlights. Mole Valley, a community of 80,000 near London is hosting the Olympic Cycling Road Race on July 28-29.
XXL is the fastest growing retail chain in Norwegian sports industry and has more than 15 large stores in the largest cities in Norway as well as some stores in Sweden. I met XXL's Purchasing Director Marius Jensen (photo) when he had a meeting with the American Pro Gold. They tried to encourage him to order OKO Puncture Free, a concentrated anti-puncture sealant. With OKO in your tires, you may keep riding even after a puncture. Comparative testing shows OKO seals multiple punctures quicker and more effectively, but for XXL it was too expensive, as XXL's goal is to be the cheapest chain in Norway.
Ole Bruu, Managing Director of Deler, Drabak, Norway, received a good deal with the Israeli company Joe's No-Flats. Outside their booth, the company had a wheel with concentrated anti-puncture sealant. It received a lot of attention because of all the nails pierced into it. It reminds me of winter tires with spikes.
To enjoy biking, you need good clothing to keep you warm and dry. At a booth showing shirts and jackets made for Helly Hansen of Moss, Norway, the staff showed me how the fabric works. They placed a shirt over a cup of hot water and put a glass up side down on top of it. The glass was soon filled with steam. Then the staff member put the shirt in my hands to let me feel inside - the shirt was dry.
Emil Unaas from Unaas Cycling has studied Chinese in China and ordered cycle uniforms for Norwegian clubs. When I came by, the staff woman wondered if all Norwegians could speak Chinese. Blond Scandinavians are often models for full size dolls in Asia. If you are a nice looking Scandinavian standing still in a shop in Asia, people might take you for a doll.
Ili How, doing sales and marketing for IRONMAN 70.3 Taiwan, has two Taiwanese friends who have been exchange students in Norway. She recognized me from their Facebook sites and told me four Norwegians will participate on the Ironman Triathlon in Taiwan this year. It is set in the glorious region of Kenting, on the southern tip of Taiwan, on November 3. More than 1,500 athletes will be racing amongst the flora and fauna of Kenting's first National Park in hot, humid and windy conditions. The Ironman 70.3 series has become the fastest growing triathlon series in the world. The first ever IRONMAN 70.3 Norway will be held on July 8, 2012 at Haugesund, Northwest Norway. Athletes will swim in Skeisvatnet, a small lake in the rural part of Haugesund, compete on the bike along the coastline of the North Sea and run through the town center before they finish at the inner harbor of Haugesund. Events around the world qualify athletes for the Ironman World Championship 70.3. Ironman 70.3 races consist of a 1.9 km (1.2 mile) swim, a 90 km (56-mile) bike and a 21.1 m (13.1 mile) run. That makes 70.3 miles or 113 km.
Tour de Taiwan race ran from March 10 through March 16, lasting 7 days, in tandem with the Taipei Cycle. This year it has been upgraded to Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) as a premium-level racing event. The tour offered a real tour of Taiwan by stringing together Taiwan's famous scenic sites, The different stages covers 940 km.
Taipei Cycle 2013 sets the future of Bicycle from March 20 to 23 next year. It will be held in conjunction with Taipei int'l Sport Textile & Accessory Expo Show. Taipei Int'l Sporting Goods Show and Taiwan Int'l Diving and Water Sports Show will both be held from March 19 to 22. This winning four-show line up in the TWTC and Nangang Exhibition Hall will platform the best prospects for sporting days. The show is not only about sport, but also about design and engineering. Taipei Cycle is open for traders or by invitation. It is only open to the public by admission ticket on the last day.
In the spirit of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS), Taiwan's government has compiled a collection of regional bike routes from all over the country, including some of the outlying islands. They can be a great place to start falling in love with cycling. Norwegian traders should not only come to Taiwan for business, but also take time to enjoy biking and exploring this island. Bikes can be rented. The price starts at only 20 NT$ a day, less them 5 Norwegian Kroner.
Mr.Geir Yeh Fotland - Taiwan National Correspondent NORWAY NEWS.com
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