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Digital Subscriptions > Singletrack > 104 > WHAT MAKES SHIMANO TICK?

WHAT MAKES SHIMANO TICK?

A WHIRLWIND TOUR OF FAR EASTERN SHIMANO FACTORIES LEAVES CHIPPS NO CLOSER TO UNDERSTANDING THIS ENIGMATIC, SECRETIVE BRAND.

Cycling is a world of contrasts. Shiny components peddled by smooth-talking salesmen are then taken into the mountains to be ground down by rain and rocks. Today’s rough prototypes are ridden extensively in secret to help make tomorrow’s smooth-looking, mass-market gears and gadgets. Racers ride the latest carbon-reinforced minimalist shifters so that you and I can have something better to ride five years and three groupsets down the line. Companies go out of their way to keep next year’s products under wraps for fear of damaging this year’s sales, yet next year will go overboard in their efforts to make sure that everybody hears about the new stuff.

The new factory sure does look the business.

Nowhere is that contrast sharper than with Shimano. On one hand it is the largest manufacturer of bicycle components in the world, making mundane, workaday hubs for town bikes and cantilevers for kids’ bikes. On the other hand it has one of the most innovative design labs, pioneering the use of electronic shifting and complex forged hollow cranks. It is at the same time both very public and very secretive. Its components are both aspirational and cutting-edge and yet ubiquitous and dull in their quiet ability to get the job done.

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About Singletrack

Hans Rey – No Way? Yes Way! 30 years as a sponsored bike rider. Hans must be doing something right. We chat over burgers and beer. Bike Test: Hardcore Hardtails – We test three examples of that very British of bike categories: the long forked hardtail, with bikes from Ritchey, Onza and Chromag. Classic Calderdale – Sim ponders our need to name trails and places on a guided tour of Singletrack’s own home trails. Trail helmets – 12 (count them!) trail helmets ridden and rated. Early Rider – a profile of a company that’s making kids’ bikes cool again Nepal – Spectacular views and bikepacking courtesy of Miranda Murphy, Todd Weselake and Steve Shannon. Joe Barnes – A profile of enduro racer, former downhill racer and Dude of Hazzard Joe Barnes. Shimano: behind the blue veil – Chipps goes to Japan (and Singapore) to see what makes this very private company tick. Retro Bikes – Were the good old days better, or just different? Warning: may contain pictures of alarming outfits.
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