Shimano Cycling Brand Introduction
Shimano is probably one of the most recognizable brands in cycling. Chances are if you are buying a new bicycle, any type of bicycle, it will come with a Shimano drivetrain—and for good reason. The brand has a reputation for innovation and reliability that would be the envy of almost any company. Shimano components are easily serviced almost anywhere in the world, and have proven themselves time and again in a variety of conditions. Shimano has equipped bikes for Grand Tour winners like Bradley Wiggins and Chris Horner, taken mountain bikers like Josh Tostado, Matt Hunter and Jill Kitner to the top of the podium, and helped countless cyclists just enjoy their ride down the road.
But where did all this start? According to Shimano, from much more humble beginnings. Shimano was founded in Osaka, Japan in 1921, but it wasn’t until much later that they entered the cycling market.
“In 1961, a 3-speed bicycle hub displayed at the New York Toy Show was the catalyst for what would eventually become Shimano American Corporation. The popularity of 20-inch wheeled bikes with hi-rise handle bars fueled a demand for multi-speed hubs and Shimano was producing an affordable and reliable version that caught the attention of the industry. So much so, that by 1965, Yoshizo Shimano, the youngest son of the company founder in Japan, opened an office in New York to get quicker product feedback and to provide technical and warranty assistance to retailers selling bikes equipped with Shimano parts.”
In the 70’s, as the oil crisis deepened and the bike boom took hold, Shimano found a way to do what the traditional European companies could not: produce a high volume of quality bike parts to fill the demand of American buyers.
40-some odd years later, and Shimano is the one of the most dominant players in the industry. Since introducing those first humble hubs, they’ve gone on to invent Shimano STI—the first integrated brake levers and shifters for road bikes, indexed shifting, electronic drivetrains and more. They’ve also expanded their product offerings to include some of the best road and mountain bike shoes on the market, an excellent line of wheels, and their PRO line of stems, handlebars, seatposts and saddles.
So, if you’d like to know more about Shimano’s product offerings, we breakdown what they offer below, to give you a better idea.
Shimano offers many levels of road, mountain bike, and path and pavement drivetrains, for every level of rider. When purchasing components, Shimano recommends you pair only 8-speed shifters with 8-speed derailleurs, 9-speed shifters with 9-speed derailleurs, etc… Shimano drivetrain components are not compatible with either SRAM or Campagnolo parts.
|Shifters: Shimano offers many levels of shifters, from carbon fiber electronic shifters for road bikes, to MTB trigger shifters, or path and pavement grip shift. For road bikes, these are integrated with the brake lever in a Shimano-pioneered technology called STI (Shimano Total Integration). Mountain bikes and path and pavement have a separate brake lever.
|Rear derailleurs: Shimano’s rear derailleur offerings are extensive, ranging from electronic derailleurs to carbon fiber mountain bike long cage derailleurs. Shimano currently offers 8-, 9-, 10- and 11-speed rear derailleurs, which must be paired with shifters offering the same number of speeds.
|Front derailleurs: Shimano offers a wide range of double and triple front derailleurs for both road and mountain. The big news from Shimano lately is the introduction of their 11-speed road groups, with a fundamentally redesigned front derailleur that has vastly improved performance.
|Cranksets: Shimano offers several types of cranksets, from traditional double and triple cranksets, ultralight MTB cranksets, and their new road crank with its revolutionary four-arm spider design.
|Cassettes: Shimano cassettes are considered to be industry-leading, thanks to a combination of lightweight, excellent shifting performance, and one of the widest selections of gearing options on the planet. They are available in 8-, 9-, 10-, and 11-speed varieties.
|Chains: Shimano chains are legendary for their ease of installation and long use life. They are available in 8-, 9-, 10-, and 11-speed varieties.
|Brake levers: Shimano brake levers are available for both linear pull v-brakes and disc brakes, in hydraulic and mechanical varieties.
|Brakes: Shimano brakes are often held up as the gold standard, on both the road and mountain. They offer hydraulic disc calipers, mechanical disc calipers, cantilevers, linear pull v-brakes (which they invented), and standard road calipers.
|Pedals: Shimano revolutionized the pedal game when they introduced their SPD mountain bike pedal system—the most popular in the world. Rock solid performance, easy entry, and readily available cleats make the system a winner. Their road SPD-SL system is also popular with road cyclists, such as Mark Cavendish and others.|
|Road wheels: Shimano’s road wheels were recently ridden to Tour de France victory by Chris Froome, but don’t worry, they’re not just for the high end super-cyclist. Shimano makes road wheels that are ideal for many types of riding, from path and pavement to urban riding to racing. If you’re wondering what type of wheels are right for you, check out introductory article about road wheels.
|Mountain wheels: Shimano makes mountain bike wheels in 26”, 27.5”, and 29” flavors. They come with rim brake tracks or Shimano CenterLock disc brake mounts. Whether you ride trail, XC or just like to go out and hit the trails on the weekends, there’s a Shimano MTB wheel that fits your needs.|
Shimano shoes have definitely helped fill a niche in cycling shoe offerings. While most European shoes have a narrow profile and tapered toe box, Shimano offers a slightly wider last and a fuller toe box for a more comfortable fit with minimum pinching and numbness.
|Road: Shimano’s road shoes run the gamut from high-end, heat moldable race shoes to shoes that are great for the weekend cyclist. No matter how you ride, there’s a Shimano shoe that fits your needs and budget.
|Mountain: Shimano’s mountain bike shoes are amongst the most popular in the world. Thanks to stiff soles, bomb proof construction, and sole lugs that provide excellent traction, Shimano MTB shoes are ideal for everything from racing to some weekend trial riding.|