Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shimano's Design Philosophy

Make a pretty good product. Price it to undersell the really good products. Make it vastly easier to buy a new one than fix an old one.

Truing a Shimano wheel requires two tools at once. The spoke nipples are placed so that you cannot keep the affected area of the rim in the calipers of the truing stand as you make the adjustment. You have to find the error, rotate the wheel to allow wrench access (one for the nipple, the other the immobilize the straight-pull, bladed spoke), adjust the spoke, then rotate the rim back down to the calipers. Repeat as necessary while the acids of cynicism thicken in your circulatory system.

On at least a couple of their shifters you have to open the housing to replace a cable. Maybe they felt people missed the ridiculous process of changing a cable in classic Gripshift, so they tried to recapture a fraction of it.

If Shimano made inner tubes they would have invented their own valve and they would change it every year. So things could be worse.

Shimano isn't the only one designing stupid wheels. They just didn't go out of their way not to. Personally I can't wait for straight-pull spokes to go away. They were just one piece of bullshit to bubble up during the mountain bike boom along with threadless headsets

Oh well. Back to work.


Doohickie said...

This is why I like vintage stuff.... they weren't advancing the tech as quickly back then, so tools and techniques are valid over a wide range of equipment.

Steve A said...

Shimano side-pull caliper brakes seem pretty good to me, at least once you get rid of the OE pads. I'd sure take them over vintage rod brakes for those times I need to stop.

cafiend said...

Doohickie: AB-SO-LUTELY! Although Campy has always been ridiculously expensive, their stuff from the 1970s was completely rebuildable. They also carried forward a lot of small parts into newer models, which made maintenance and repair easier. Other Euro companies seemed to have the same pragmatic approach. Early Asian stuff borrowed that approach, but I saw Shimano's tendency to experiment wildly as early as the late '70s when I started paying attention to such things.

Steve: I have a set of old Record brakes hooked to aero Gran Compe levers that are amazing. I replaced Suntour Superbe brakes when a brainwashed friend chucked his Campy for first-generation STI. His loss to the Lords of Obsolescence has been my gain a few times.

I will say that Shimano is the only one making a friction-option barcon anymore. I owe them that. They also make the only affordable hubs for the mid-price wheel builder. Not that they're great...but they're there.