Taiwan's Gravel Scene: Catching Up or Stuck in Low Gear? - Show Daily

Updates from the Show Daily team

Close this search box.

Taiwan’s Gravel Scene: Catching Up or Stuck in Low Gear?

North America and Europe are experiencing a gravel boom, but the trend seems to be slow-rolling in Taiwan. We delve into the reasons behind this and explore how Taiwanese bike players view the gravel phenomenon.

Full Speed Ahead has launched several gravel-specific components over the recent years.

The Facebook group “Gravel Riding in Taiwan,” founded by Marsh Huang nearly four years ago, serves as a testament to the island’s budding interest in gravel. Initially focused on finding new gravel routes, the group has become a vibrant online community of over 5,500 enthusiasts, sharing experiences, seeking gear advice, and planning off-road adventures.

“It started small, with many members from the industry,” Huang shares. “But as people shared stories, the group gained momentum.” He acknowledges the cultural factor: “While outdoor lifestyles gain traction, off-road cycling isn’t as widespread as in Europe or North America. Most Taiwanese cyclists prefer paved roads.”

Market Discrepancy

Huang’s observations resonate with the industry. While gravel bikes dominate major European and North American trade shows, they hold a smaller presence at Taiwanese events like the Taipei Cycle Show or Taichung Bike Week. This is surprising, considering gravel bikes are already seriously rivalling road bikes in unit sales in many of Taiwan’s export markets.

“The reason for this discrepancy likely stems from cultural and lifestyle differences,” explains Poppy Hsu, Sales Specialist at frame builder Ora Engineering. “The pandemic has fueled the European desire for gravel’s flexibility, blending road cycling, mountain biking, and travel. Taiwan’s cycling habits differ, shaped by culture and infrastructure,” she says, acknowledging the global trend’s influence. “We’re seeing local creators and brands develop unique solutions. Gravel could become an interesting option here in the coming years,” Hsu believes.

Woho is one of the few Taiwanese manufacturers that put a strong focus on bikepacking and gravel.

Industry Adapts

This year’s Taipei Cycle Show reflects this adaptation. Ora Engineering showcases a new titanium gravel frame, while Giant caused a stir last year with their top-of-the-line Revolt-X gravel model. Merida presents the Silex, ridden by current Gravel World Champion Matej Mohorič.

Woho Bike has been dedicated to the segment, offering gravel frames, complete bikes, and even bikepacking gear. “We started exploring gravel in 2015,” says General Manager Samuel Chang. “Our main markets are North America and Europe, as Taiwan lacks flat gravel roads. Most are paved or mountain trails, hindering the trend’s momentum here.”

Shifting Gears

Kind Shock, another Taiwanese company, is increasingly focusing on gravel. At the last Taipei Cycle Show, they showcased gravel-specific components like forks, seat posts, stems, and handlebars. “We also introduced gravel-specific remotes,” explains Marketing Manager Michael Hsu. “Taiwan’s adaptation to gravel isn’t delayed, but as an OEM hub, we receive new bike model information from Western markets, making our response seem slower. However, our research indicates rising gravel acceptance in Taiwan,” he emphasizes.

Giant caused a sensation at the last Taipei Cycle Show with its top gravel bike model, Revolt-X.

Global Market Outlook

Kenda Rubber, a tyre manufacturer, acknowledges the situation. “Gravel tyres have been in our line-up since 2015, with product numbers steadily growing,” says Vice President Eric Yang. “We’ve just launched the Alluvium Pro, a gravel racing tyre, and are enhancing our sponsorships in the gravel sector.” Yang acknowledges Taiwan’s infrastructure may not be ideal for gravel, but entering the segment is crucial for companies aiming at international markets, particularly Europe, North America, and Australia. “However, there’s also considerable growth potential in Asian markets,” he notes.

Riding the Wave

This sentiment is echoed by Ken Chen, Sales and Marketing Manager at Tien Hsin Industries, the Taichung-based production partner of Full Speed Ahead. “We’re seeing growing interest in Malaysia and the Philippines. Even in Taiwan, the numbers are increasing,” he shares. His colleague, Mark Vandermolen, Managing Director at Full Speed Ahead USA, agrees: “Gravel bikes are the new choice for new cyclists, offering greater comfort and accessibility compared to traditional road bikes. Riding off-road is also seen as safer. Gravel biking is here to stay.”

Hyena equipped some bikes at last year’s Gravel Fundo, one of the few gravel events in Taiwan.

E-Gravel: The Next Frontier? 

Taiwan’s gravel ambitions are expected to be further fueled by the growth of the e-bike market. This year’s Taipei Cycle Show features numerous e-gravel bikes, including Giant’s Revolt E+ and Merida’s eSilex. “The gravel scene in Taiwan is still young, but interest is growing,” confirms Shawn Lin, Marketing Manager at Hyena Ebike Systems, a Taiwanese drive specialist heavily invested in gravel. “Developing drive systems for smart, lightweight e-bikes, with gravel bikes as a key focus, has always been one of Hyena’s main goals.”

Like this post? Please share!

Scroll to Top