The founder of Giant Bicycles
discovered riding at 73.
Taichung is an easy, one-hour express train trip from Taipei, the
capital of Taiwan. The island also appears on the map of the world
as Republic of China (China ROC), different than the People’s
Republic of China (PRC), which is mainland China. The two
countries have recently restored cordial relations. The Taiwanese
definitely seem content as they plan to celebrate the hundred-year
anniversary of their republic in 2011, the first democracy launched
in Asia in 1911. In the early 1970s, the Taiwanese government
gave new life to the agricultural island in the form of light industry.
In 1972, a typhoon devastated the fish farm Liu Jin Biao ran in
Taichung, so at the age of 38 and after changing jobs every two
or three years, the former delivery man who started working as a
supplier of wood for furniture makers, decided to build bicycles.
Text > Jean-François Quénet
Images > Greg Chang
Baseball is a very popular sport in Taiwan,
so Liu Jin Biao picked the name of his
new company after the famous baseball
team, Giant. “Three Chinese characters
are needed to write Giant and they mean:
easy, safety, unique,” explained the old man
whose age has doubled since he founded
his company. For a foreign visitor who has
passion for the world of two wheels, to meet
him at his headquarters of Tachia in the
county of Taichung brings the same kind
of feeling as to encounter the Dalai Lama.
He is calm and humble. “But in 1972, I
didn’t imagine to become a giant in the
bicycle industry,” he said. He doesn’t want
to appear conceited although, he chose
to call himself “King Liu” as a nickname.
He explains that his middle name “Jin,” or
“Jing,” sounds like King, especially in the
His company was an original equipment
manufacturer (OEM) until the late 1980’s
when he opted to develop Giant as a
brand. In 2007, Giant produced more than
5 million bikes in 2007. That same year,
King Liu realized something that came
to his mind as a sort of revelation: “I had
produced bicycles for 35 years but I forgot
to ride them, with the exception of just
trying them out to make sure they were
made well,” he said.
At the age of 73, King Liu decided to ride.
In every Giant shop in Taiwan, where
bikes are for rent to whoever cannot afford
to buy them, the only books for sale recall
the adventure of King Liu cycling for 927
kilometers around the island of Taiwan.
It was a personal challenge and this has
become an inspiration for anyone to take
“Look at these pictures, look at the tummy
I had three years ago,” King Liu joked as
he proudly introduced his book. “Now I’m
slim and the pains I had in my lower back
have disappeared. I needed a back protector