We visited the Giant Bicycles assembly facility in Suzhou. They have other assembly facilities in China.
The name Giant Bicycles is fitting because they are one of the largest bicycle companies in the world. They manufacturer complete bikes for their brand as well as other brands.
Giant currently has around 10,000 employees worldwide and they make a wide variety of traditional bicycles that are sold in markets all over the world.
Giant makes about 300,000 electric bikes a year. 150,000 of the e-bikes are for the Chinese market and they are mostly this scooter style e-bike. But that may be changing…..
150,000 electric bikes are exported to other e-bike markets around the world. The German market is their biggest export market.
According to the general manager of the Giant Bicycle facility in Suzhou, the bicycle style pedal assist electric bike (pedelec) will be the future of Chinese market.
We toured their assembly facility where they build their aluminum frames and assemble their bikes. Unfortunately they wouldn’t allow pictures or video of their assembly facilities.
I can say that it is amazing how they quickly shape the aluminum tubes and weld the frames together!
Their bicycle assembly line is also very impressive with the amount of people on the line doing their part to move the bicycle along its way in the assembly process. Giant has a number of Holland Mechanics wheel building machines that create a wheel in a few minutes.
Giant has been selling electric bikes in the U.S. for a while and I believe that we will see more of their bikes here as the market grows.
Golden Wheel Bicycle Group
Golden Wheel Bicycle Group is in Tianjin, which is near Beijing.
Golden Wheel is an impressive bicycle company. They have 26 branch factories, 46 production lines, and over 4500 employees. They makes steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber frames in addition to suspension forks, handlebars, seats, cranks and chainwheels.
And they don’t just buy aluminum frame tubes…….they melt aluminum blocks in this huge furnace and create their own tubes.
Here are more racks of aluminum frames ready for assembly.
Golden Wheel also makes carbon fiber frames by hand. It looks like a process that takes a significant amount of time, hence the higher price of carbon fiber bikes.
Here is a rack of carbon frames ready for painting.
Golden Wheel also makes steel frames and forks. In fact, they make over 4.5 million steel frames & forks a year! This is a line of frames that comes down from the ceiling conveyor system and feeds them into the bike assembly line.
Not only do they build bicycles but a large number of the employees ride bikes and electric bikes to work. There is a nice covered bike parking area at the facility.
Considering how the factories were impressive, the showroom was equally impressive with it’s large assortment of different bikes and e-bikes.
e-Totem is their electric bike brand. Golden Wheel makes 120,000 electric bikes a year. This commuter/touring style e-Totem uses the new Shimano STEPS mid drive system.
A cross style e-Totem electric bike.
To keep up with the fat e-bike trend e-Totem had a number of fat e-bikes on display.
I had a chance to test ride one of the e-Totem commuter style e-bikes during the visit.
It used the Shimano STEPS mid drive that was pretty smooth and relatively quiet. It wasn’t a long test ride so I can’t really give it a full review. Stay tuned for a complete review on a Shimano STEPS bike soon though!
We had a good discussion with the owner and management of Golden Wheel about the future of the Chinese electric bike market. They believe that the pedelec style electric bike with lithium batteries will become more popular in the market as a more Chinese people have more money to spend on bicycles. In addition, using bicycles for fun and recreation instead of pure transportation is on the rise in China.
Yadea is one of the larger electric bike companies located in the 4 parts of China: JiangSu, Zhejiang, Tianjin, and Guangdong. They make 3.2 million bikes a year (with a capacity to make 5 million a year) with distribution in China, Europe, U.S., and many other countries. They claim to have 10-15% of the Chinese LEV (light electric vehicle) market share. There are 5,300 employees that work for Yadea.
The ExtraEnergy tour group at the Yadea headquarters near Shanghai.
The Yadea showroom had a wide variety of the scooter style electric bikes on display.
Here’s a quick video of the scooter style e-bike being built on the assembly line.
They make electric bikes in many different styles along with the accessories to go with them.
An example of Yadea scooter style e-bikes. Most of them didn’t have pedals, but…..
They are working on further promoting the bicycle style e-bike with lithium batteries that will appeal to the younger generations living in large cities.
Here is a good example of a sporty commuter style e-bike that is focused on appealing to young urban commuters.
During our discussion with the Yadea management we learned that they are selling 300,000 electric bicycles with lithium batteies. They are planning on selling 500,000 with lithium batteries in the near future. Right now, these pedelec style electric bicycles are popular in North China near Tianjin. Yadea sees these types of electric bicycles appealing to the younger people who live in cities. Cycling in China is becoming more popular as a recreational sport. For some people with additional income, a nice bike is a status symbol.
During our meeting with the Yadea management, Rüdiger Nierescher from EnergyTube gave a brief presentation of their universal battery product.
EnergyTube is a 100 watt hour universal lithium battery pack that can be scaled to work with a variety of LEV’s (use as many as you need) in addition to many house hold products. A company called Ettrak has plans to develop the EnergyTube to work as a rental program so that you can have them shipped to you or you can pick them up at a local charging vending machine. Renting batteries would be a great way to get over the initial higher price of electric bikes. I will post more about EnergyTube and Ettrak in the future. Stay tuned!
During our time in China we were able to attend the grand opening of a new Yadea facility. It was an impressive event with many dealers and Yadea staff in attendance.