It’s hard to think of bikes without Shimano. The giant of the cycling industry has a huge history of innovation and the world of bicycles would not be the nearly same without the influence of Shimano. The first factory opened in the 1930s, producing single-speed freewheels, and Shimano soon after established itself as a market leader of drivetrain components.
They have been continually innovating the industry, creating new and exciting technologies that propel the quality of riding experience forward. Pro components are a branch of Shimano, making parts that Shimano does not currently offer, like handlebars and stems, seatposts and saddles.
Some of the most important contributions to the world of cycling have been made by Shimano.
And if Shimano weren’t the first to create something, they certainly have improved upon nearly every innovation to come into the world of cycling.
From indexed gearing, to a new clip-in method for shoes, reliable drivetrains and revolutionary braking systems, Shimano is at the forefront of cycling technology. No matter what level of parts you get, be it basic entry level shifters to electronic gearing for professional racers, reliability is always your friend.
Without a doubt, the biggest part of Shimano’s range and the heart of it all are the groupset components. The major focus is on mountain and road bike groupsets, but there has been a big push towards touring and commuting. Shimano’s top road bike groupset is Dura Ace and for mountain bikes, XTR is the king. Shimano has developed a number of different technologies and innovations, one of which being their electronic shifting system, Di2.
Shimano also produces a range of pedals to complement their groupsets. Their SPD pedals innovated the pedal world by using a small cleat on the shoe to click into the pedals and remain an industry leader.
SIS (Shimano Index System) – Shimano were the first to succeed in introducing indexed shifting to bicycles. This means that clicks were added into the shifter to indicate separate gears. So, instead of trying to find the gears by moving the shifter a certain amount with a friction-style shifter, you will notice an audible ‘click’ that indicates a gear change.
biking, it has allowed a greater number of people to take advantage of the new and revolutionary technologies.
Gear shifting and braking with one lever – Also referred to as dual control levers, Shimano STI is a combination of brake levers and shifter, allowing road riders to have all the controls at their fingertips. A sideways movement of the brake lever changes gears, with a smaller lever changing gears the other way, and the standard pulling movement actuates the brakes. It revolutionised road bike controls, simplifying the cockpit immensely.
Shadow RD+ – Shimano introduced the first clutch style rear derailleurs in the form of the Shadow RD+ XTR M985 rear derailleur. These drastically reduce chains dropping by increasing chain tension.
The clutch is adjustable too, tailoring for different riding styles, that further increases or decreases the tension in the chain, which also affects the shifting quality. This technology also reduced ‘chainslap’ in the system, making the bike quieter, while also protecting the frame from damage because by the chain.
I-Spec mounts – To keep the handlebars nice and clean, Shimano has the I-Spec mounting system. It bolts the shifters onto the break lever clamp, using only the brake lever clamp for both the shifter and brake lever.
Hollowtech II – Hollowtech II is a technology featured in the chainsets of Shimano’s higher end groupsets. They provide a lightweight platform that is stiff and strong enough for any usage, from cross country racing, to WorldTour road racing, to World Cup downhill competition. It utilises a special hollow forging technology to create a space inside the crank arms that helps reduce the overall weight of the chainset, yet keeping strength and stiffness high. The chainsets are a two-piece construction, with a steel axle connected to the driveside crank arm.
Electronic gear shifting
Di2 totally revolutionized groupset technology to this day, and was the first successful electronic drivetrain to hit the market, with competitors following closely behind with their own electronic options. Only a couple years into production, and Di2 equipped bikes were winning the Tour De France, a significant landmark for the technology.
Di2 was expanded to the Ultegra groupset in 2011 and shortly after, a newer version of the system introduced Syncro Shift technology, which uses only one shifter to control both derailleurs. This customisable and programmable setting simplifies the handlebar by removing the need for the left shifter, while allowing the greater range of a 2x drivetrain to be utilised. All these changes can be made wirelessly via any Bluetooth device.
The electronic technology was introduced into mountain biking in the XTR Di2 range in 2014 and expanded to XT in 2016. With Di2 available in the second tier groupsets in road and mountain
Servo Wave and Ice Tech – Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes take on heat management and power with two distinct technologies. Servo Wave focuses on the leverage of the lever, increasing power using an intelligent system.
Ice Tech – Brakes use friction to stop, and friction creates heat. Disc brakes were particularly prone to over heating and to deal with it, Shimano developed their Ice Technology. Special dual metal pads are made with aluminium alloy to conduct and dissipate heat, and steel to give it a stiff platform for a secure feel. The pads have extra alloy fins that further radiate heat away from the pads.
The Ice Tech rotors also have a dual metal construction, with two layers of steel on the outsides and a layer of aluminium alloy on the inside. The alloy transfers heats better than steel, radiating heat faster, which reduces the risk of the brakes overheating. The steel outside makes for a stronger rotor. The FREEZA rotor takes it to the next level, adding fins on the inside of the rotors too.
STePS electric motor system
Shimano’s STePS system is their foray in the world of ebikes. It consists of an integrated motor, battery, front gear set, cycle computer, and chain. Shimano first introduced the STePS E6000 for urban and touring bikes and more recently they released their E8000 series, which caters to the needs of electric mountain bikes, giving a more powerful motor and larger battery. The systems are weather resistant, giving peace of mind when it gets wet out.
Motor – Both the E6000 and E8000 systems have 250W motor units which are built into the bottom of the frame, where the bottom bracket would normally sit. This keeps the weight of the motor positioned low and centrally to enhance the handling of the bike.
The chainset is connected to the motor so power flows directly through the chain. A compact design means that the chainstays can be kept as short as possible, further aiding handling. The E6000 motor is made for more urban riding and has a maximum of 50Nm torque. For more challenging tasks, the MTB E8000 motor gets 70Nm of maximum torque.
Battery – Two different batteries are offered in the Shimano STePS: 418Wh and 504Wh. The E6000 system has the option of either, but the E8000 is only offered with the more powerful battery. They are both Lithium-ion batteries and have a life of about 1,000 cycles. Both the E6000 and E8000 systems offer two different mounting options. The E6000 batteries can be mounted either on the downtube or on a rear rack, while the E8000 batteries can also be mounted on the downtube or integrated into the downtube, depending on the design of the bike.
Modes and Integration – The motor is fully integrated into the frame, and the batteries can be too, depending on the bike design. There are a number of different modes which offer different power outputs. These will use a varying amount of battery power, so will change the range of system. The E6000 system is controlled by a combination of a Cycling Computer and Switch which has Eco, Normal, High and Walk Assist modes. The modes provide a range of about 70-150km, depending on riding style and terrain. For the E8000 system, the e-MTBControl Switch and Display is smaller and uses a shifter to operate the system. The Eco, Trail and Boost modes can be customised to alter the power delivery, allowing you to do so via Bluetooth on your smartphone or tablet via the E-Tube app. Shimano STePS can be used in collaboration with their electronic Di2 groupset, with the Nexus and Alfine options for the E6000 and XT and XTR Di2 for the E8000.
With the introduction of SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) cleats in 1990, Shimano revolutionized the clip-in pedal by making a smaller and more comfortable system than was currently available. Shortly after, they separated their pedals to SPD’s for mountain bikes and SPD SL for road bikes, seeing that there was an advantage to have differing systems.
Shimano began making shoes specifically for both systems, and now offer a wide range of shoes for every budget and rider. Not only catering to though who prefer clipping in, Shimano also has a number of shoes for riding on flat or platform pedals, which offer high grip and comfort.
Their road shoes focus on power transfer to make as efficient use of energy possible through the carbon soles and Shimano’s Dynalast technology, optimising the toe-spring section and foot positioning for the highest performance advantage.
The superlight S-PHYRE RC9 shoes are the range-topper of Shimano’s road racing range and has a one-piece upper and dual micro-adjust lacing, among a host of other features. Their Road Performance range focuses on comfort and making long pedalling days easier, and the RP9 is the flagship here.
Catering for the interdisciplinary aspect of triathlon, the Quick Dry Mesh helps with comfort after the swim, and the Ti-Quick Strap makes for easy fitting and removal of the shoes during racing. For all these ranges, there are also Women’s version, making sure a custom fit is available.
Shimano offer off-road shoes for both SPD and platform pedals. The range is split into XC, Trail Enduro, Gravity, and Sever Conditions. The range-topping XC shoe is the S-PHYRE XC9, which is near identical to the road variant, yet with Michelin rubber covered soles and SPD cleats.
The Trail Enduro series of shoe offers greater coverage and protection, for the more challenging trails and descents. They feature TORBAL (Torsional Balance) soles, that offer extra control through a calculated flexibility and lateral movement. This allows for greater pedalling efficiency and control over the bike at speed. A proprietary Michelin designed rubber adds traction to the sole. The range-topper of the Trail Enduro range is the SH-ME7.
For downhillers, the option of a platform pedal-specific shoe is available, the AM7. They have a Vibram® sole for great grip on the pedals. The AM7 and range-topping AM9 SPD shoes feature Armoured Lace shields for protection against debris and also help with water resistance. All the Gravity series shoes have an Asymmetrically raised padded ankle collar, protecting ankles, while keeping weight down.
Shimano’s Severe Condition shoes are made for the worst weather riding. The MW7 is protected from the elements with a waterproof GORE-TEX® liner. The MW5 has a DRYSHIELD® membrane, keeping the water and mud out and feet warm. Fleece lined insole maintains warmth on both models.
Shimano knows that bicycle touring can take on many different forms, so their touring shoes account for all these disciplines. From the Road Touring to the Mountain Touring, these shoes take technologies and designs from the more focussed ranges, and add comfort for longer distances, and expanded capability for a greater variety of terrain. There are Road, Mountain, Cross Mountain and Women Touring shoes.
Maintenance & Accessories
Shimano know that people need to take care of their bikes, so they offer the means to do so. From generic tools and maintenance items, like workshop grease and spanners, to more specialised tools like bottom bracket wrenches, cassette removers, and nipple wrenches for wheels. With Shimano’s tools and lubrications, you’re covered for all your workshop needs.
Shimano offers accessories to make riding better, and simpler. Their backpacks range in capacity from 6 litres to 20 litres, allowing for a range of storage solutions. The Rokko backpacks are made for any kind of riding, from commuting and road riding, to mountain adventures on rocky trails. There are plenty of spares offered too. To cater completely to those converted to the Di2 electronic drivetrain, extra batteries and cases, and all kinds of mounting solutions are available, making sure that customers are never wanting for options.