The Bicycle Cluster search engine is the brainchild of Alfred Tsai, who set up his company, Critical Cluster, in 2020. The initial idea for the project was sparked by the frustration he encountered working as a journalist for cycling publications.
Albert Tsai, Critical Cluster
Before setting up the search engine, Alfred worked in the media industry for 10 years and as a journalist and photographer in the bicycle field, he frequently attended trade shows to get the latest news. He was frustrated by the difficulty of finding precisely the products he wished to report on. “Unless you know which companies manufacture the product you’re after, it’s a matter of going from booth to booth and asking around,” he said. The inherent inefficiency of that process was the catalyst for the creation of Bicycle Cluster.
Critical Cluster is based in a downtown Taichung office. The startup received a boost from the Microsoft for Startup Founders Hub assistance program in 2023. Alfred and a sales representative work out of the Taichung office, while a Taipei-based software engineer handles the development of the two search engine projects currently being developed, www.bicyclecluster.com and www.tbw.com.tw.
The Bicycle Cluster website is a dedicated web-based search engine which enables very fine tuned search of the several hundred Taiwan manufacturers and brands who have so far signed up on the platform. Searching for a product along with one or more specifications returns a results page with the product and brand. There is even an option to compare two or three products side by side. Select your products on the search results page, click the button and the brand, model name and other key specifications appear in a popup window. You can also set up a meeting without leaving the platform.
The project has been largely focused on making the trade show experience easier. Thus the booth number of a company participating in a trade show is also displayed on a product entry where a brand is indeed participating. An initial focus on Taipei Cycle has expanded into a vision for revolutionising the more low key Taichung Bike Week.
Alfred’s first foray into Taichung Bike Week was in the event’s 2022 return from its pandemic hiatus of two years. It was a small scale event and lacked even a show guide. Bicycle Cluster arranged a prominent display at the entrance to each venue. Visitors could immediately access the the website, search for their products as well as discover which hotel the brand had either its room or booth.
Alfred generally sees his mission as lending a helping hand to trade shows. “The Bicycle Cluster system is very useful for in-person exhibitions,” he explains. “It helps them as well as helping us to modernise the industry through the digitisation of component search.”