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Shimano go soft for the future

Bicycle Retailer and industry news report that Shimano have officially confirmed a change in corporate and componentry direction at the all important Taipei Show in Taiwan.

Having built themselves into the dominant component superpower on the strength of their mountain bike groupsets and innovation, they’re now abandoning trips into the mountains in favour of trips to the local coffee bar.

To quote Shimano “We succeeded with mountain bikes because it served users’ needs. Young guys wanted to ride hard in the mountains. Today most of our consumers are over 50 and they don’t want to ride hard, they are looking for something soft and comfortable. What it is they want to ride–something electric or with automatic shifting–we are still working out.”

Although this statement confirms the change in direction, it doesn’t come as a big surprise. We attended a Shimano product lunch last year where the entire emphasis was on shopper bikes with Nexus automatic transmissions and softly, softly braking systems. Although the new revamped XTR has now been announced, development of mountain bike groupsets has certainly slowed down dramatically over the last few years. On the bright side this hopefully means componentry won’t become as outdated and hard to find spares for as quickly. However looking at the move back to splined mounts on new XTR disc hubs shows, you can’t be sure.

Meanwhile full suspension has also moved from mountain bikes to comfort bikes with many manufacturers catalogues – such as Scott and Cannondale – now showing slick shod versions of bikes like the G-Zero and Jekyll complete with full rack kits and smooth shifting Shimano urban groupsets. They’re not a common sight out on the bike paths yet, but you can bet they’ll start appearing from the boots of Merc and BMW 4×4’s near your local Sustrans route. That is as soon as the weather turns warm enough to slip on white leather trainers and wrap a pastel coloured cardigan round your shoulders

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