Giant Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (commonly known as Giant) is a Taiwanese bicycle manufacturer, recognized as the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer. Giant has manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, the Netherlands, China, and Hungary.
Giant was established in 1972 in Dajia, Taichung County in Taiwan (now part of Taichung City), by King Liu and several friends.[who?] A major breakthrough came in 1977 when Giant’s chief executive, Tony Lo, negotiated a deal with Schwinn to begin manufacturing bikes as an OEM, manufacturing bicycles to be sold exclusively under other brand names as a private label. As bike sales increased in the U.S., and after workers at the Schwinn plant in Chicago went on strike in 1980, Giant became a key supplier, making more than two-thirds of Schwinn bikes by the mid-1980s, representing 75% of Giant’s sales. When Schwinn decided to find a new source and in 1987 signed a contract with the China Bicycle Company to produce bikes in Shenzhen, Giant, under new president Bill Austin (formerly vice-president marketing at Schwinn), established its own brand of bicycles to compete in the rapidly expanding $200-and-above price range. In 1984, Giant also set up a joint venture, “Giant Europe”, with Andries Gaastra of Dutch bicycle manufacturer Koga-Miyata. In 1992, Gaastra sold his shares back, and Giant became a full shareholder of Giant Europe.
By 2018, Giant had sales in over 50 countries, in more than 12,000 retail stores. Its total annual sales in 2017 reached 6.6 million bicycles with revenue of US$1.9 billion.
Most of its merchandise is destined for the European Union, the United States, Japan and Taiwan.
In 1996, Giant established their Mosh BMX division with the help of Redline Bicycles founder Linn Kastan and racer Jason Richardson. Mosh manufactured BMX bikes and parts, as well as managed a professional BMX racing team. In 2008, Mosh was disbanded.
In 2008 Giant launched the Liv/Giant sub-brand with products focused exclusively on the female cycling market. In 2014, the Liv/Giant sub-brand was re-branded to Liv. The re-branding was meant to further differentiate the Liv brand products with existing Giant product, communicating the concept of “designed by women for women”. All Liv products are designed from the ground up including frame geometry, carbon layup and utilizes separate molds and designs that separate it from Giant branded products. As part of the rebranding, dedicated Liv stores and Liv zones within most Giant retailers were introduced. In 2015, Giant announced the global launch of its Momentum brand lifestyle bikes. The first two models, the iNeed Street and iWant Park, had an ARP of US$425 and were aimed at a younger, more urban demographic than Giant’s more expensive performance road and mountain bikes.
In July 2019, Giant launched Cadex, previously the name of their mass-produced carbon fiber bicycle launched in 1987, as their line of bicycle components, wheels, tires and finishing kits. Before the brand was officially launched, UCI WorldTeam teams sponsored by Giant (Team Sunweb on 2018, and CCC Pro Team on 2019) were seen with components branded as #Overachieve, which Giant says were race-tested prototypes of the Cadex components.
In 1995, Giant designed the first road bicycle with a sloping top tube featuring a smaller rear triangle. The tighter chainstay-seatstay configuration is said to be inherently stiffer than a more conventional frame design, and because less material is used, the Compact Road design is also said to be lighter. With more responsive cornering and improved acceleration, as well as improved aerodynamics, the Giant design became largely imitated.
By 1998, with Mike Burrows, Giant refined the design for racing by the professional ONCE team. This was only after initial resistance by the Union Cycliste Internationale and subsequent amendment to its regulations to allow for bicycles with a sloping top tube.
Giant road frames were originally made of 6061 (ALUXX) aluminium alloy and were also characterised by bladed forks and seatposts to reduce air resistance. Frames came in three sizes (small, medium, and large), with riders fitted through the use of stems and seatposts of different lengths. By 2018, Giant road frames were available in up to six sizes (X-Small, Small, Medium, Medium/Large, Large and X-Large).
In 2003, the Total Compact Road (TCR) frame was offered in carbon fibre construction and marketed as the TCR Composite range. In 2006, Giant added a higher-grade carbon fibre frame marketed as the TCR Advanced frame, which was characterised by an integrated seatpost (ISP). These frames were most notably raced at the Tour de France by T-Mobile’s professional team. Using this design, the seatpost on the new frame must be cut precisely to fit the owner by a trained Giant dealer. The TCR Advanced SL frames with ISP continued to be raced internationally, most notably by the Rabobank team (2009-2013), Team Giant-Shimano (2014), Giant-Alpecin (2015–2016) and Team Sunweb (2017-2018).
In terms of other innovations, Giant also introduced its Maestro suspension in 2006. Maestro Suspension, according to Giant, is designed to deliver an efficient rear suspension power transfer. Maestro utilizes a setup of four pivot points and two linkages to create a floating pivot point that is designed to reduce pedal bob and enables the rear wheel to travel vertically.