Nothing revolutionary for serious riders from Japanese component meisters, Shimano, but a whole bunch of running tweaks and a few new bits for cross country riders, downhillers, idle roadies, but a whole lot of laughs for town bike tootlers.
Long arm of the new braking law
Shimano's cable disc has only just hit the shops but they've already tweaked it by fitting a longer cam arm to the caliper. This apparently gives 30% more power, and did indeed feel impressively strong, locking either wheel easily even when wet. The whole unit is Shimno's usual smooth and round style but it's still on the bulky side. The caliper uses a post mount with International standard adapter, which adds weight but allows much easier set up without shimming shenanigans.
Bigger disc for stronger stopping
Downhillers will be pleased to know that Shimano have brought out an 8" (203mm) rotor for their XT four pots to match the big DH power of Hayes and Hope discs.
Lower end groupsets also get further tweaks with Alivio going to 9 speed, a few cosmetic changes here and there and the base CT groupset changing from 15 to 18 speed.
High performance, low gearing.
Shimano's superlight road transmission, Dura Ace, has recieved the upgrade that all the people who want pro level looks without having to pedal as hard as the pro's. Yup, Dura Ace now gets a triple option, using a 30 tooth ring mounted on the 39 tooth middle ring for an easier grind on the hills.
Big wheel shifting for Dura Ace
It's an excellent choice for the ultimate fast touring / Audax bike but upgrading doesn't come cheap as you'll not only need the new chainset, but new longer bottom bracket, deeper drop front mech, left hand STI shifter and new rear mech. Rather than using a long cage set up this gets round the extra chain length problem by using bigger jockey wheels which also run quieter and smoother as they run slightly slower. Have to say they look a bit noddy though.
Shimano are also introducing a whole new range of 9 speed chains with anew rivet design to improve strength. They're also introducing cheaper versions to compete with Sachs / Sedis.
Shimano's C901 comfort cycling concept - the nearest you'll get to Inspector Gadget.
Where Shimano have really been putting in time and effort is in their city cruiser bikes. Using the dubious slogan "closer to people" we were half expecting much smaller bikes or handlebars that came up really close, but instead they're going for maximum automation.
The C-901 is their mega bucks concept bike (40% more expensive than Dura Ace) and we had a quick spin round the car park with the milky bar coloured prototype componentry. The system uses a central handlebar computer to control 18 speed automatic gear shift based on bike speed. The system can be set in crawler, normal or sport mode, and the shifts are organised at front and rear to give you the correct sequential range for maximum smoothness.
It's full auto integration from the Milky Bar computer.
The computer also controls the setting of the suspension damping, stiffening when you're accelerating hard and relaxing it when you're cruising or it starts detecting big hits. The results are very, very impressive for blatting round town, with really quiet smooth shifts and a manual override if you reckon you know better. The automatic change system will also be used on more basic 9 speed and 3 speed set ups too, and battery life is reckoned to be a year or so.
The system also uses a cunning cam powered front mech actuation that allows you to provide the shift power rather than the a motor which saves battery power. Shimano are also talking (quietly) about making much lighter versions for competition level road and mtb groupo's.
The new dialtastic CI-Deck plug and play kids computer set up.
Finally, Shimano are also trying to get kids back into cycling with a whole array of colour coded instrumentation that can be added on to the bike part by part to build up a bewildering motorbike style cockpit display. Suggestions that they could encourage cycling further using Tamagochi style 'feeding' features are probably not going to be taken up immediately though.