Like seeing a cow on a farm and being reminded of where our food comes from, and all the hard work that goes to put it on our table, visiting a bike factory feels the same for me. I wanted to see the scale, the engineering, the humans behind it all, and the hard work it takes to put a bike in my garage. I too wanted to feel a little less arrogant and grateful.
Lucky for me my dream came true on a grand scale as I recently got the chance to visit the Giant HQ Factory in Taichung, Taiwan.
Giant is arguably the largest bicycle manufacturer in the world and the HQ in Taichung is one of half a dozen locations that churn out over 6 million bikes a year. That’s a massive scale that can only be seen to be appreciated and as we walked amongst the people and machines I was struck most notably by the scale of human effort it takes to build our bikes. Yes, there are some fantastic machines and amazing modern engineering involved but building a bicycle still isn’t at the level of robotic craftsmanship like the auto industry – every piece of our bikes is touched by a very hard working and dedicated Giant employee.
What I took away from my visit wasn’t the amazing skill and workmanship, or scale of the operation, it was the very family nature that even such a large scale operator as Giant has. Despite what you may think of manufacturers at this scale, I personally found that they still do love bikes too. Even the CEO loves riding bikes and dedicates a far portion of his time and money to help others in Taiwan enjoy the same. Here are some photos of our tour. It’s pretty much near impossible to capture the whole process so here is a very abbreviated version. If only I was allowed to take photos of the research and development work spaces. So many cool toys.