The carbon-fibre T-Bike from Proton, the state-run car manufacturer of Malaysia, has designs connections with the EP-X carbon-fibre bikes from the Malaysian EPX Group. EP-X had grand hopes for its monocoque, designed-in-Australia, made-in-Malaysia bikes but little has been seen or heard from EPX in the UK since sales and marketing staff were made redundant in November 2001. However, Proton Edar Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd, has told the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange it expects sales of the Proton T-Bike to boost its revenues by 10 percent to RM5m ($1.3m) for the financial year ending March 31st 2004. And Proton is now looking to expand international distribution for the T-Bike.

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EPX began to sell its city and road bike lines in Britain in 1999, with US operations opening in Atlanta, Georgia in 2001. By November 2001, the UK company was run by a skeleton staff and has now disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving creditors in the lurch.

The US website of EPX USA has not been updated since 2002.

Proton’s link with EPX is unclear.

The new T-Bike – a bike brand in existence since 2002 – was unveiled a few days ago at Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, by South East Asia road champion Shahrulneeza Razali, an adviser to Proton’s bike subsidiary.

There are four road bikes in the T-Bike range, retailing in Malaysia from RM9800 to RM20 000 ($2570 to $5200).

The frame of the T-Bike is said to be made of a mixture of titanium and copper, embedded with carbon fibre, "giving the machine extra strength and durability."

"We are targeting to sell 1300 units of the T-Bike by March 2005," T-Bike’s Michael Wong told reporters at the T-Bike launch. Wong is Proton Edar’s brand manager, strategic planning division, and head of T-Bike operations.

"We want to establish the Malaysian-made T-Bike as a global brand and have plans to enter new markets such as the United States, South Africa, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Macau and China," said Wong.

Since the late 1990s, Proton has been collaborating with EP Manufacturing, part of the EP Group of Malaysia, in the development of the EP-X brand of cabron-fibre framed bicycles.

Proton’s T-Sprint road bikes and T-Bolt mountain bikes benefitted from the EP-X design work and were launched by Proton Edar in 2002

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