Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Goodbye, Shimano

Dear Shimano,

I love you. My first ever bike had STX-RC parts and I was convinced that because they had an "X" in them, they must be as nice as XTR. I loved that bike. I rode the living hell out of those parts, and they worked flawlessly until my ineptitude (both riding and wrenching) eventually destroyed them all. I've had a billion bits of Shimano wizardry on my bikes over the years. Today my XT brakes are the best I've ever used.

We've had our differences in the past, Shimano. Your answer to SRAM's XX1/XO1/X1 11 speed is too little, too late. Electronic shifting? Neat. But most of my customers want stuff they can crash and replace without selling their cars. I've sold 95% SRAM stuff ever since XX1 came out.

But that's water under the bridge. I'm sure you'll come around and a mechanical XT 1x11 group is just around the corner.

Here's the real problem, Shimano: I can't sell your parts to customers anymore, because apparently you aren't interested in letting me. The only OEM distributor (Security Bicycle) for your parts in the US just got dropped. What's that, you say? I can get your parts through QBP? Hurray!

But Shimano, an XT brake costs $100 at QBP. It costs $80 online from overseas. I can't sell my customers a part for *over retail* on their new bike. Heck, I don't know how a bike shop can sell an XT brake for the supposed "retail" price when they're being undercut like that. If what you want is to go entirely consumer direct, Shimano, just f***ing do it yourself. It's embarrassing for me to quote people what I think is a really good price on the newest, nicest Shimano stuff (a price at which I'm hardly making money) and have them find the same thing for 20% cheaper online.

What's that? I can buy direct from you? Great! Wait, your direct prices are the same as QBP's unless I buy, say, a thousand brakes. Shimano, I only build 50 bikes a year. That's why all the small builders used Security as their distributor. You know, the distributor that can't sell your parts anymore.

It's probably not even worth your time to worry about builders like me, Shimano, because you certainly aren't making the big bucks off us. But would it really take that much to give us a break and let us put your parts on the bikes that the true bike nerds drool over?

I still love you, Shimano. I just don't know if you love me.

Still your friend,



Anonymous said...

Amen brother.......Aaron in NC.

Anonymous said...

Ah well, a few less compatibility issues to worry over. You've got your own thing going on anyway. In a decade it may be SRAM that's betraying an industry that also tends to support underpaid incompetence--I mean IBDs. & what do distributors really offer, anyway? There's more info on Mtbr, which dentists do not want to sort through. Meanwhile, you can stock up on M615 brakes at Merlin Cycles--U.S. Customs permitting--$88 for the set! You have far more influence over your own labor conditions than most, and don't especially need Shimano, which has already effectively gone direct. It's a hash you're already working with, yes? SRAM doesn't love you either, because corporations can't love.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. I was curious why Shimano stuff went missing at SBA several months back. Are there any more details on what happened?

FWIW, I prefer Shimano over SRAM. I'm a fan of 2x drivetrains. And XTR Di2 looks amazing. But it seems that ebay is the best place to get Shimano these days.

David Stokes said...

Interesting post, Walt, this reinforces the view I've developed that Shimano is guilty of hubris and that SRAM is slowly taking over the world through attention to detail and superior innovation.

Through a volunteer program I'm with, I'm lucky enough to have access to the SRAM Ambassador program and the Shimano Pro Deal program. The SRAM program has vastly better pricing, selection, and customer support. This generates the kind of grassroot buzz that builds a loyal customer base.

Anonymous said...

They also aren't all that interested in getting stuff into the US so we can put it on bikes for our customers. . .just last week got a shipment of 685 road hydro-mechanical shifters and calipers that we ordered--and were told would ship--in August. We're a small company as well, so we are very closely hewn to the day-to-day issues of supply and demand. Now, after cutting assembly hours nearly in half, we are backlogged with no hope of catching up for the foreseeable future. Thanks, Shimano!

Miles said...

I've read that some small bike shops are starting to just order direct from the UK and charge a standard markup. As long as your open about it you could always just do that. You are still providing a service, ordering parts that (should) all work together correctly. Changing times...

Tom A said...

Even without the pricing issue, Shimano (my long-time brand) has been struggling to compete based on performance. If SRAM has actually figured out hydraulic brakes with Guide, its their loss.

steve garro said...


Walt said...

Steve, those are all still more expensive than what you can buy it for from the UK.

steve garro said...

I'll have to look into that for sure!

Anonymous said...

If all of your customers manned up and had you build a singlespeed, this would be a moot point.

So Waltworks Customers, man up!

Anonymous said...

I have Shimano brakes on my SS.

Cody said...

Looks like you are not the only one right in the middle of this discussion.