|SRAM has Rock Shox, Shimano...?|
What am I talking about? Shimano, of course, and I think we're all about to see the component "giant", ( and I mean that literally and figuratively), jump in with a flurry of technology and componentry the likes of which has not been seen since the mid 1990's.
It was back then that the "CNC machine craze" took mountain biking by storm. New components were being cranked out with an almost weekly regularity in the early part of that decade and Shimano's grip on the mountain biking component world was slipping. In fact, some cheeky riders were going so far as to say that an "all American", or at least a "non-Shimano" build was the way to go on your mountain bike. Shimano was "The Man", and that didn't cotton to well with the industry, and with the riders.
Well, with one fell swoop, Shimano dramatically deep-sixed all of that with the introduction of the XTR component group. It was so well designed that even today the group is revered by mountain bikers old enough to remember it. But Shimano didn't stop there. They introduced "linear pull", or "V" brakes, revolutionizing braking for mountain bikes, and then introduced another newer XTR that set the bar so high that they nearly extinguished all competition for mountain bike parts by the year 2000.
However, this little company that wouldn't go away started to amass companies into its fold and became a force to be reckoned with. The name was SRAM, and even Rock Shox, the venerable fork manufacturer, fell into the fold. Now SRAM nearly had a complete build kit avaialable to manufacturers of frames. Everything but wheels, but as you all know, even that they have now.
|SRAM Rise wheels|
According to the latest "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News", Shimano has filed several suspension patents of late for forks and hydraulically adjustable seat posts. Not only that, but they are chasing an electronic component to all of this as well. The patents apparently show plans for an electronically controlled damper for suspension, and a electronically controlled height adjustable seat post. (Can you say "no cables"?)
Then yesterday news broke of a slew of components, including a Di2 Alfine 8 and 11 speed internally geared hub, lighter weight mechanical road brake calipers, and new "29"er specific parts" including a double XT and XTR level 38/24T crank set, and a new XT level UST wheel set.
So Shimano is obviously up to some dramatic things. If they do a suspension fork, it would be an earth shaking move that "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" says could drive some independent fork and suspension manufacturers out of business by squeezing them out of their lucrative OEM business.
Whatever happens, Shimano is sure to shake things up in a big way real soon. Look out! The giant stirs.......