Taiwan is known for her bicycle brands in the international market. On top of familiar favorites such as Giant and Merida, whose products target customers of all ages and both professional and recreational users, certain emerging brands have also carved out a significant portion of the market by attracting niche groups with their unique characteristics. In particular, DARE, a brand that focuses on R&D and design and targets mid to high-end professional bicycle market and makes frames exclusively from carbon fibers, has become an increasingly popular Taiwanese brand among bicycle enthusiasts.
Founded on a vision, DARE makes its way into a red sea.
Having undertaken OEM and design projects for top-notch European bicycle brands for 5 to 6 years in the past, Jerry, DARE’s President decided it was time for them to set up their own brand. Marketing Director William Wang, who was there throughout DARE’s development, described, “At that time, we had the strengths in manufacturing carbon fiber frames. But as bike lovers ourselves, we realized our holy grail bike was absent from the market.” Founded in 2012 in a saturated market, timing was not on DARE’s side.
“The boom for bicycles had blown over and we faced intense competition. It was not easy to build a new brand.” Founded on passion, the brand name “DARE” did not only reflect on the team’s determination to build a brand, but also the aspiration for their products.
Known for its unique carbon fiber materials, frames, and paint, each one of DARE’s bikes is meticulously crafted. The DARE team carefully perfected the products and humbly moved forward. A big break came in the form of Norway’s Uno-X Pro Cycling team in 2017. Striving toward tier-one rankings, the team had commissioned DARE to customize the TSRf time trail (TT) bikes. After countless innovations and adjustments, the team won national TT championship and successfully achieved tier-one ranking by setting historical records. After the Norwegians became a top 20 cycling team across the world, DARE also achieved international fame.
“There are indeed many bottlenecks when you’re trying to increase your brand values, but we know it just takes time. Like-minded people will come if you keep doing the right thing and enhance your visibility. This is why we have so many more partners now.”
An award-winning Bike Design Formula
In 8 short years’ time since its inception, DARE has won numerous accolades, including iF Design Award, Golden Pin Design Award, Red Dot Design Award, and DFA Design for Asia Award. But in fact, designing a bike is never an easy feat! On top of solid knowledge in weight, strength, rigidity, geometry, and aerodynamics, design skills in a bike’s curves, paint, and ergonomic factors are also essential. DARE’s success comes from its ability to strike the perfect balance between beauty and functionality.
Using the TSRf bike, a recent recipient to the 2019 Golden Pin Design Award, as an example, Marketing Director William guided us through the three winning design formula behind DARE’s market success – the stacking of materials, modeling, and painting:
- Carbon fiber and layered design
All DARE bikes are made from advanced carbon fibers, a regulatory strategic material that could only be acquired through international assurance and technical know-how. DARE has manufacturing permit and in-house carbon fabric R&D skills; in addition, it has also formed long-term partnerships with key international manufacturers including TORAY and Mitsubishi in Japan and Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan.
“A carbon fiber frame takes more than a specific, highly rigid material to make. To create a strong yet lightweight bicycle frame, pieces of carbon yarn in diverse shapes, angles, and having different characteristics, need to be created through precise computerized calculations, and then stacked together based on the conditions required for different parts of the frame,” described William.
DARE partnered with Japan’s TORAY to co-invent the “multi-layered hot-melt carbon fiber resin prepreg” (“MS-HMC”), whose thickness and weight are half of that from traditional carbon fibers. At the same frame weight, the carbon yarn stacking design will have twice the space to achieve multi-angled layering, creating multi-directional rigidity. The enhancement in bike durability and safety have been proven by professional ISO 4210 certification, which includes fatigue, pressure, and impact tests. During the impact test, a bike would be subjected to three impacts from a force of 360kg to test for the product’s reliability and safety.
- Form and detailed design
A bike frame is the heart of any bike and determines its rigidity and strength. It also impacts a rider’s comfort and safety. At the beginning of the design process, a design concept is drawn based on product know-how and aesthetics, while also factoring in aerodynamics, where tangents are strategically placed to reduce wind resistance. However, this process involves more than a keen eye for design, as precise calculations and tests are also crucial.
After achieving an initial design, the tubes need to be calculated to propose the optimal tube sizes ideal for the road. Thereafter, a protocol is built, and aerodynamic tests are carried out based on different frame forms. Part of the test includes submitting the frame to wind tunnels in Germany for rigorous data tests and acquiring feedbacks from actual riders. Finally, a bullet-shaped bike frame with a Kamm tail and a forked, fighter jet tail design is created, which allows for drafting and for balancing air turbulent flow, so that a rider may maintain high speed and stabilize the frame even when faced with wind resistance.
In response to the time constraint in time trails and to stabilize wind resistance, where the tiniest design flaw could affect tournament results, the TSRf has adopted a Total Synchro-Integrated Cable (TSIC) system that conceals the derailleur cable and brake within the frame. On top of achieving a perfectly simple silhouette, it also solves the turbulent flow and interference from cables, thereby minimizing air resistance.
Finally, practicality also needs to be considered. When a bike allows for greater adjustments, it could better conform to bikers of varying sizes and habits. To achieve synergies between riders and their bikes, the TSRf is equipped with multi-modular handlebars. A user could easily read the modules’ data, while professional fitters could also easily adjust the bike to fit its rider.
- Color, materials and finish of the paint design
A pride of joy for DARE, paint is the company’s secret weapon to winning over riders. Amelia Chen, in charge of paint design, explains, “A bike’s characteristics are like people’s personalities, while the model of the bike represents the kind of event they wish to attend. Alternatively, a bike’s form is like a person’s build. It takes a good designer to figure out what clothes to fit that person with for the type of specific event.”
Therefore, when Amelia receives the blueprints for a bike model, she would first predict preferences of the target audience based on the characteristics of the bike. She would give them an appropriate image and story; for instance, the standard color for TSRf is Neptune, the god of the sea known for holding a trident in his hand and in charge of horse races and other competitions. Then, she studies the bike’s silhouette to understand every small angular change in the bike frame and strives to emphasize these changes through color blocking or lines.
Marketing Director knows all the DARE paints by heart. He confidently walked us through the famous DARE customizable color system, “Currently, we offer 12 solid colors and 4 gradations. The concept of all colors come from experiences and scenes perceived while riding. We drew inspirations for the solid colors from natural scenes such as the ocean, the lake, or the northern lights, while the gradations represent seasonal changes to reflect the gradual changes in the surroundings, body temperature, or even how you feel while riding.” Professional riders often have unique artistic or customized needs, and DARE offers multiple selections that include logo sizes to satisfy their needs for individuality while retaining the brand’s style and consistency.
A warm and caring brand image
While pursuing for mass production and steady output, many brands tend to overlook certain small details. Perhaps these mishaps will not be noticed until the bikes are actually ridden by users; nevertheless, DARE is committed to making “the ideal bike for every rider”. To this means, starting from initial frame and structural design, material use, factory production, painting, to finally assembling the bike, DARE maintains rigorous control over the entire production process. William commented, “For large companies that adopt streamlined production, certain details are not adjusted until they reach the customers. However, we want every DARE bike to be complete, so we see craftsmanship even in the assembly of a bike. All stores that display our bikes are equipped with relevant know-how.”
Affordable compared to European bicycles, DARE persists in manufacturing high-end bikes of impeccable quality and design. By foregoing quantity and insisting on adjusting all details by hand, DARE has come to represent a warm and caring brand to the consumers, which has also led DARE to break out of this fiercely competitive red ocean market.
AddMaker is an online community for product developers to discuss design, manufacturing methods, and discover excellent manufacturers from Taiwan.