In the 50s, Italy was the uncontested bicycles motherland. Both components and complete bicycles were produced in Italy which at that time was one of the biggest countries in the world for bicycles export. Italy has been motherland of known bike rider champions. Talents and high levels cyclers used to ride with light and exclusive bike components which came of course from Italy. Colnago, Bianchi, Panarello and De Rosa are only some examples of worldwide famous Italian bicycle brands that still represent the tradition of the Italian bike industry.
In the 80s, the rise of the great Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturing slowly started and marked the starting of the globalization.
Nowadays, the global scenario is changing, and the bicycle supply chain is dividing itself into two different channels. On one hand there are the big German and American bicycle brands (such as Trek, Focus, Specialized and Cannondale) which to certain extent are replacing the solid Italian manufacturing that we described here above leaving to those Italian company a more and more niche market to target and to operate it. On the other hand, we have plenty of Taiwanese firms (Giant, Merida, Fritz Jou …) which are more and more regarded as preferred supply chain partners and which can compete against those American and German bicycle giants.
With the evolving of the globalization, the traditional Italian manufacturing is still present in Italy but to a much more minor extent since company like Bianchi, Colnago and De Rosa started to outsource part of their supply chain overseas (especially in Asia).
Due to carbon preference as bike material, which needs lot of manpower, we can expect in the incoming years more or these Italian SME to outsource overseas their production. The bicycle industry will opt for lighter material while ensuring the best safety ever which to some brands (such as ITM) is the ultimate priority.
Will Asia or the US prevail as preferred supply chain partner? Will Italian manufacturing come to an end? Which will be the next material used for ensuring outstanding lightness?