Where do bike components really come from? Velo and Wellgo factory tours
Ollie Bridgewood headed to the factories of two popular OEMs to learn more about the manufacturing process for carbon components
Online Production Editor
Head back deep into cycling history and you’ll find a time when nearly all bikes were hand manufactured in workshops. Most household names can trace their roots back to these humble days when they started out as family-run businesses. As the demand for bikes increased, this method became antiquated and brands were forced to move to mass production.
In the 21st century, much of this production has made the move to Asia and to countries such as Taiwan and China, where it’s handled by original equipment manufacturers (OEM).
While this move was originally inspired by cheaper labour costs, many of the OEMs have developed unrivalled manufacturing expertise, making this region of the world a powerhouse in the industry.
OEMs are companies that manufacture products that are then sold by other companies under their brand name. Many of the frames used by the biggest cycling brands in the world are created by OEMs, something that is a well-known fact, but many of the components are too.
From saddles to pedals, there’s a good chance that the components on your bike are created over in Asia, but how are they manufactured? To learn more, GCN’s Ollie Bridgewood recently took a detour from the Taiwan KOM Challenge to tour two of the biggest OEM factories in the country, belonging to Velo and Wellgo.
Founded in 1979 by Stella Yu - one of the most influential figures in cycling manufacturing - Velo is one of the largest saddle manufacturers in the world. Its products are used by millions of cyclists worldwide, which is a slight understatement considering that all of its facilities combined produce 15 million saddles per year.
Wellgo is home to a similarly large manufacturing operation but its focus is on pedals instead of saddles - and it creates a lot! Every year, over 40 million pedals roll off the production lines of its Taiwanese factory, and that number is mirrored in its Chinese factory too.
They’re incomprehensible numbers, but to break them down and understand more about the manufacturing processes and how the relationship between OEMs and brands works, watch the full video at the top of this page.
Check out more cycling tech news, features and pro bikes on the GCN website, linked here.
Online Production Editor
Tom is our Online Production Editor who creates tech content for the GCN website