Weird and wonderful tech and bike components at the Taipei Cycle Show

From outlandish folding bikes to intriguing fish-like wheels and 100-tooth chainrings, here’s the tech that caught our eye at the Taipei Cycle Show

Clock12:19, Thursday 7th March 2024
Weird and wonderful bike tech at the Taipei Cycle Show

© GCN

Weird and wonderful bike tech at the Taipei Cycle Show

If the last week in the cycling world has taught us anything, it’s that tech can take on many weird and wonderful forms. Sometimes, this weird tech makes it all the way to the pinnacle of the sport, making an appearance in the pro ranks, like Giro and Rudy Project’s aero helmets that recently caught the headlines.

Most tech, however, doesn’t make it to the glitzy world of pro cycling, so while at the Taipei Cycle Show, we decided to go on a hunt for some weird and wonderful goodies.

From 100-tooth chainrings to fish-like wheels, here’s what we found.

Forget 68t, Digirit goes all-out with 100-tooth chainring

Tech trends regularly veer in multiple directions and the industry never sits still. One of the biggest trends in the world of racing has been the emergence of larger chainrings. This climaxed at the UAE Tour where Ineos Grenadiers’ riders used the biggest chainrings we’ve seen yet, with Tobias Foss maxing the figure out with a 68-tooth option.

A little-known brand named Digirit made this possible and we caught a glimpse of the chainrings used by Ineos on the opening day of the show in Taipei.

That new range goes up to a 70-tooth offering, but that’s far from the largest chainring it had on show. Incredibly, the bike in front of Digirit’s display was home to a monster 100-tooth chainring. We should point out at this point that it isn’t commercially available, but even so, it was worthy of our attention.

A fishy take on aero wheels

Aerodynamics is responsible for a lot of the weird designs we encounter, as brands strive to find new ways to streamline their products. For Scope, this has taken on a fishy appearance in the shape of its Artech wheels.

Maybe it’s just us, but the rim profile resembles the scales on a fish.

Details about the wheels are thin on the ground right now although we can be certain that aero gains are once again the inspiration. We won’t have too much longer to wait to find out, as they’re set to be officially released on 15 March.

Depth-defying, undulating rims

AVIIAV is a Korean brand and its Aldo wheels didn’t draw us in because they were weird, but because they looked great. On further inspection, it turned out they have an intriguing design, too.

From afar, they appear to have an undulating rim profile similar to that used by Zipp for its NSW wheels. However, they don’t have undulating rim depths, but rather undulating widths at the bed of the rim. Interestingly, the rims are at their widest at this undulating section, maxing out at 32mm, before narrowing to 28mm at the traditional outer rim edge. This is the reverse of what we’d expect for most wheels.

According to the AVIIAV staff, this 'kammtail-chevron' design results in a 12% reduction in drag and gives the wheels the aero efficiency of a 60mm rim, defying the true 50mm depth. We can’t verify that but we can confirm that the wheels looked great.

BLKTEC C1D carbon wheels

BLKTEC’s C1D wheels are now Taipei Cycle Show royalty and could be found adorning the display at the entrance to the show, an area reserved for award-winning products.

Far from new, they’ve been around for over a year now, breaking cover prior to last year’s show, but the design still managed to lure us in a year later.

It’s easy to see why, thanks to the unique spoke pattern that shuns traditional radial spokes for something much weirder. There’s logic behind the madness, though, with additional stiffness providing inspiration for the 'no-flex' design.

It’s clearly been popular as we saw other wheels at the show following a similar vein, including this offering from titanium-specialists Ora.

Spruce up your bike with colourful chainrings

While we’re sure they’re respectable products, these Aerozine cranksets didn’t catch our attention because of their tech, but simply because of the bold colour options.

From what we could see, customers can choose between red, blue or, our personal favourite, a rather eye-catching lime green.

Bright chainrings won’t be to everyone’s liking but the fact that we found ourselves standing before them is testament to the fact that, hidden deep inside us somewhere, there is still a small child who can’t resist a bright colour.

Has Pan Taiwan made bicycle bells more practical?

Bells are a practical accessory that many cyclists forego. For road cyclists especially, a bell is a wind-catching nuisance that takes up too much real estate - step in Pan Taiwan’s 'cute tiny' bell.

We didn’t catch the actual name but these marketing words stood out to us and, while we won’t judge the cute part, we can confirm that the bells were indeed tiny. We’re not sure if that size comes at the cost of sound as we didn’t want to be that annoying person disturbing everyone.

Unlike most bells, the more compact design makes it easier to mount them on the inside of the hoods which, in theory at least, should be ergonomically comfortable for the thumb.

Folding bikes exploding out of the commuter niche

Once upon a time, folding bikes served a small niche of commuters needing a more convenient steed for their rides to work. That’s still largely the case, but some brands have been wandering off-piste to offer new takes – seriously off-piste in the case of this MATE full suspension, folding, electric, fat bike. That’s a lot of different disciplines to cram in to one name, which is testament to the outlandish nature of the bike.

If we’re being honest, we never knew there was a need for such a bike and we’re still not totally sold, but there’s no denying that it looks like it would be lots of fun to ride.

For their part, MATE says that the bike is designed for “the streets to the path less travelled”.

A performance folding road bike

Road bikes are geared towards performance and it’s generally accepted by everyone that practicality is a necessary sacrifice they have to make. Everyone except Tech One, that is.

The Japanese company has decided to add practicality by creating the Caracle-Coz folding road bike. Adding practicality obviously comes at the cost of performance but Tech One has taken steps to try and mitigate this, namely making the bike as light as possible. We were told that this can be as little as 6.8kg, although the figure goes up to 7.3kg for a Shimano Ultegra-specced bike. This is the older mechanical Ultegra but a 105 Di2 version is available, weighing a little more at 7.8kg.

Those figures are in the ballpark of WorldTour bikes, although we don’t expect to see Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar going head-to-head on them at the Tour de France anytime soon.

Forget two pistons, it’s all about six-piston brake callipers

Most disc brake callipers from the major groupset brands use two pistons, with one positioned either side of the rotor.

Not satisfied with the traditional set-up, Juin has created a six-piston calliper. They’re semi-hydraulic, meaning that the pistons are hydraulically activated but the levers are mechanically activated. Juin’s motivation for using six pistons is made clear by the accompanying message: “it’s about control not power”, although that confuses matters slightly. We're also presuming that these are geared more towards mountain biking, although we've seen images of them used on other bikes.

Either way, they’re a sure-fire way to spruce up the appearance of a bike, coming in a wide range of bright colours.

To learn more about the Taipei Cycle Show, check out its website, linked here. And for more tech news, features and pro bikes, check out the 'Tech' section on the GCN website.

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