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By Lennard Zinn
There are lots of bicycles and components made in Taiwan that are usedin the Tour de France. But most have European or American brands on them.However, there are three Taiwanese companies that do put their names ontheir equipment in the Tour (read: they have paid for the right to havetheir names on the bikes).
Giant was the first and is the longest-running Taiwanese sponsorin the Tour. This year, its all-carbon 6.8-kilogram (15-pound) road bikesfor ONCE are very cool. Not only is the black-and-gold styling classy andunique, the rest of the components on the bike match. Campagnolo providedblack-anodized Record 10-speed groups (no, you can’t buy these) with Hyperonwheels with carbon hubs and rims (as well as carbon ErgoPower levers andrear derailleur body).
Cinelli provided black stems and bars in aluminum, but Joseba Belokialso is riding the all-carbon monocoque RAM stem/bar combination. The cablehousings are gold-anodized German-made aluminum Nokon housings assembledfrom individual 1cm-long cylindrical segments separated by spherical segmentsfor incredible flexibility. The Selle Italia saddles (often the superlight135-gram SLR model) are gold, and the Hutchinson tires are all black. Justthe tape is cheap and neither gold nor black – it is “Barrato” plasticunpadded white tape with a dimpled surface for grip.
Giant also has its own black “Racing C” components, some of which theteam uses. Its carbon seatposts are on the ONCE bikes, but not its oversizedcarbon handlebars and carbon stems.
FSA is another Taiwanese brand in wide use in the Tour. Its headsetscan be found on the bikes of many teams, and its carbon cranks are on thebikes of two of them. All of Bonjour’s Time bikes have FSA bottom bracketsand carbon FSA cranks on them, many decorated in the red and blue of Bonjour.
All of the Tacconi Sport time trial bikes, as well as the road bikesof Dario Frigo, have carbon FSA cranks with FSA ISIS splined bottom brackets.Both of these teams, as well as Euskaltel-Euskadi, use FSA headsets officially, although these headsets can also be found here and there on the bikes of other teams.
Finally, the newest Taiwanese player in the Grand Boucle is the AdvancedGroup, a company based in the large industrial city of Khiausiung atthe southern tip of Taiwan. Advanced produces a myriad of products outof carbon fiber, including its own pre-preg fabric (see VeloNews TechReport, Feb. 4, 2002). In the Tour, the Advanced forks on the Eddy Merckxroad bikes of Domo-Farm Frites have the Advanced Group logo on them.