The Brains Behind the Gripfast Brand (Part 2): Extraordinary Microscience Delivers Bicycle Shock Absorber

October 31, 2014 Updated: November 2, 2014


Luo Shi-Dian and Kuo Min-Huang used to share a senior-junior relationship in the domain of mechanical design; the former is skilled in R&D while the latter has the knack for sales. Despite their differences, the duo had a common goal – to distribute outstanding products of innovation from Taiwan to the international market. The name “Extraordinary Microscience” may pique one’s curiosity at first glance, leading one to wonder, “Just what makes this company ‘extraordinary’?” According to Kuo, who stated half-jokingly, “The name of the company is meant to be interpreted as ‘extra’ ordinary (i.e. more ordinary than usual), and we wanted to convey the message that the company endeavors to earn customers’ trust through down-to-earth services and reliable maintenance.”

Going beyond photovoltaic equipment to reach out to the consumer market

Extraordinary Microscience has been primarily involved in the distribution of equipment for semi-conductor and photovoltaic machinery, serving big name technology companies including Texas Instruments, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc., Siliconware Precision Industries Co., Ltd., King Yuan Electronics Co., Ltd., Epistar Corporation and so forth. But if you were to run a search on “Extraordinary Microscience” on the Internet today, you will see that the company is closely involved in the manufacturing of the Gripfast stem shock absorber. How did the company end up as a distributor of bicycle parts when it was originally a vendor of photovoltaic equipment? The story must begin with Luo Shi-Dian, former deputy engineer at the Mechanical and Systems Research Laboratories of ITRI.

Extraordinary Microscience President Kuo Min-Huang. (Lin Shijie)
Extraordinary Microscience President Kuo Min-Huang. (Lin Shijie)

Luo was Kuo’s senior back in their high school days at Hsinchu Senior Industrial Vocational High School. The two met and became acquainted when they collaborated on cutter maintenance techniques. Years later, Luo suffered from a mini stroke due to prolonged exposure to tremendous stress from work. He wanted to do his rehabilitation through cycling but the issue of bumpiness due to the road surface gave him second thoughts about the idea.

MORE: The Brains Behind the Gripfast Brand (Part 1): From Weapons Development to Healthcare

Having been involved in the development of advanced weaponry such as ballistic missiles and radars, Luo used the precision equipment available at his workshop for the modification of his very first stem shock absorber, which offered so much of an improvement in terms of ride comfort, speed and safety that he couldn’t help but be amazed by his invention. The Gripfast is the world’s first shock absorber that features an exceptional damper (dampening as much as 63% of shock from the road surface) and is designed for installation on the stem of a bicycle.

Golden Rule of Sales – Give and Give

After a year of development, Luo’s sophisticated suspension system passed the 100,000 vibration cycle test as required by the relevant EU regulations. Nonetheless, the process of commercialization and mass distribution for this innovative design came to a bottleneck and consequently, the product did not catch the eye of the major Taiwanese bicycle manufacturers. Knowing the amount of effort and dedication that his senior had poured into the project, Kuo decided to lend a helping hand to Luo. “I have a soft spot for those who give their all to R&D but have yet to receive their just rewards.”

When Kuo initially took over the distribution of Gripfast, he also felt the cold market response that Luo had faced. But Kuo was not deterred; he even encouraged his subordinates by saying, “It wouldn’t have come to us if it was an easy product to sell, and we did not become the distributor of Gripfast simply by chance!”

The Gripfast stem shock absorber designed for threadless stems with diameter of 1.18
The Gripfast stem shock absorber designed for threadless stems with diameter of 1.18″ (28.6mm) (Extraordinary Microscience)

The Gripfast stem shock absorber only requires as little as 14mm of travel for operation but dramatically alleviates the issues of muscle numbness and soreness. Not only that, users will be able to install it themselves and maintain it by simple lubrication without having to dissemble it, unlike traditional fork stem absorbers. The product also helps to prevent cyclists from falling over when the brake is applied. To Kuo, the potential of the product and the benefits it offers are more than apparent.

“I am a great fan of unique products that are beneficial to consumers!” For such products, Kuo would gladly endure hardships while committing time and money just to educating the consumers and promoting the products. “While you may not always be rewarded for your efforts, you will never stand to gain anything without giving!”

MIT – Sharing With the World and Achieving the Cycle of Good

Fortunately, Kuo’s insistence gradually paid off after almost a year of perseverance; Gripfast gained significant attention with numerous inquiries at this year’s Taipei International Cycle Show, with clients from the Asia-Pacific region (including Malaysia and Thailand) placing their orders online and agents from China and Korea voicing their interest in becoming local distributors. Amongst the prospective distributors, a German company had been most active in its communication and according to the representative the company was hoping to collaborate with local rehabilitation specialists to help out senior cyclists in Germany.

With devotion and commitment, Kuo managed to overcome the challenges in the marketing of Gripfast and the education of consumers. On the topic of EOM’s vision, Kuo noted, “Through the platform of the international media, we hope to deliver the finest products that Taiwan has to offer to the rest of the world while bringing in outstanding products from other countries to Taiwan, thus creating a ‘cycle of good’!”

Gripfast stem shock absorber is compliant with the relevant EU requirements. (Extraordinary Microscience)
Gripfast stem shock absorber is compliant with the relevant EU requirements. (Extraordinary Microscience)


Extraordinary Microscience (EOM)
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Read the original report in Chinese here.