Bicycling 1977 - Shimano advert

Bicycling 1977 - Shimano advert main image

At about the time that this advert was running in Bicycling Magazine, I remember reading a letter to a British magazine (possibly Cycling?) accusing Shimano of ... sharp intake of breath... techno-fascism. This was no small thing, given the relative recency of the Blitz, the wholesale slaughter on the Eastern Front and, most of all, the Holocaust.

According to the letter writer, Shimano’s unforgivable crime was to design components that should only be used together. This threatened to destroy a much cherished convention, developed over the previous several decades, that component manufacturers should work to certain agreed standards for compatibility so that all components should work with those of other manufacturers. One of the freedoms that our boys had heroically given their lives for was, apparently, the freedom to clothe your hand built Reynolds 531 frame in a disparate pick’n’mix of components that suited your personal whims and inclinations - irrespective of brand or groupset. This approach was particularly favoured by the (surprisingly sizable) British touring community, as their special interests were not well provided for by complete groupsets from, say, Campagnolo. A number of independant bicycle retailers in Britain decided to publicly boycott Shimano as a protest against their totalitarian tendencies.

And, in this advert, we have Shimano rubbing people’s noses in it. Shimano are making a clear statement, that would inform the rest of the company’s long history, that they see their components as an integrated system, optimised to work together, and not to be mixed and matched with those of their competitors. Despite his (I am sure it was a he) hysterical tone and overweening hyperbole, the letter writer did have one thing right - Shimano clearly sought world domination and clearly saw integrated systems of components as the way to achieve it. Unlike the ludicrously incompetent, disastrously unsuccessful and utterly repulsive fascists, Shimano implemented their plan with subtle intelligence and iron determination - and it worked a treat.

Bicycling 1977 - Shimano advert main image

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