History of Shimano - Bike Magic

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History of Shimano


Company President Yozo Shimano on the left and Chairman Yoshi Shimano on the right



1930: Shimano produce 30,000 single-speed freewheels. To establish reputation for quality they gave two free replacements if a product failed.
1936: Employed 130 employees working 30 machines in a 13,000 square metre factory.
1937: Shimano reduces freewheel production when government forces them to manufacture artillery shell fuses for the Japanese navy.
1947: Shimano Bicycle Co builds complete bicycles, ceasing in 1951. Keirin racing begins in Japan.
1957: Shimano introduces a partially successful three speed internal hub. Production of three speed derailleur / freewheel begins, it does not sell well.

1958: Shozaburo Shimano dies. Shimano company taken over by 30 year old Shozo, the eldest of three of the founder’s sons.
1960: First Shimano Service Centres are opened in five cities in Japan: Fukuoka; Hiroshima; Okayama; Osaka; and Sapporo on the back of hub gear success.

1964: The five-speed ‘Archery’ derailleur was introduced.
1965: Five speeds, and first Shimano-branded, derailleur introduced. Also Bi-matic, two speed hub gear with coaster brake. Automatic Five, a five-speed derailleur that auto-shifted using centrifugal wheel forces, introduced.
1966: Shimano begins cold forging products. This production methodology is still at the heart of their manufacturing process today.
1969: Hydraulic disc brake with linked front and rear callipers introduced.

1971: Crane derailleur introduced. Crane was the forerunner to Dura Ace.
1972: Dura Ace racing groupset introduced. The first important race won on Dura Ace was by Walter Godefoot, now director of Team Telekom, riding for Team Shimano-Flandria.

Shimano begin manufacturing freewheels and derailleurs in Singapore.

Positron Indexing rear derailleur, forerunner to today’s systems, introduced. Chainset freewheeled so that you could change gear while coasting.
1982: Deore XT, the world’s first mountain bike specific groupset introduced. Gary Fisher was the first company to spec it.
1984: Dura Ace 7400 Shimano Indexing System (SIS) gears introduced.

1995: Yoshi Shimano, the youngest son, assumes control of the company following the death of his elder brother.
2001: Di2 the “Premium Bicycle”, featuring electronic shifting and suspension, is launched to journalists.


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