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Being There: Shimano North America

November 10, 2012
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Road Bike Action was invited to an official product launch at Shimano‘s North American headquarters. And while most of the products seen had already been revealed to the public over the previous months and at both the Eurobike and Interbike trade shows, attendees were treated to personal saddle and shoe fittings, along with a ride along the beautiful California coastline. One of the highlights of the event was the unveiling of the most innocuous of products: an all-new cleat. Shimano has long had the red version in its lineup (with a fixed position that offers zero float), as well as a yellow version (with a center float point). Now, the all-new blue cleat is a middle-of-the-ground option with a more forward-positioned float point designed for “performance riders who don’t want to be locked into place.”
Shimano North America headquarters is located in Irvine, California. In fact, in a moment of serendipity, the company was breaking ground on an all-new addition to its complex: a 30,000-square foot building which will serve as a distribution hub for cycling and fishing (the Japanese brand’s other claim to fame) products. There was an official ceremony with all employees present, complete with golden shovels, photo sessions and a speech by the mayor of Irvine.
When you first walk into Shimano you’ll be greeted by a friendly receptionist (who was a bit camera shy during our visit). The first two displays you’ll see represent the two pillars of Shimano: cycling and fishing.
Other displays inside the lobby area include a variety of bikes, including one decked out with all of the latest Dura-Ace 9000 componentry.
For 2013, Shimano is offering a relatively unchanged version of its carbon Dura-Ace pedal. But a second option will also be available, one with an additional 4mm of length along the axle. This pedal is to provide retailers with an additional pedal option during the bike fitting process.
Seven new or updated shoe models are on tap for 2013, including a redesigned version of the flagship R320. This new version features Shimano’s updated Dynalast technology, an outsole and last combination that’s been two years in the making. Claimed weight for a pair is 470 grams (size 40).
Another bike fitting feature that Shimano has employed in its 2013 footwear line is an additional 11mm of range in the cleat adjustment process. The carbon outsole also features an internal heel cup, a minimal heel tread design and a ventilation port at the toe.
For the past two years, Shimano has sold its collection of eyewear across the globe. For 2013, Shimano shades are coming stateside with 12 models, ranging in price from $59 to $189. The three models above are (from left to right) the S60R, the Equinox and the more casual S21X. All three come with a set of interchangable lenses andare available in several colors.
Shimano’s PRO component brand has revamped its road saddle collection for 2013. This includes an all-new fitting process to make it easy for retailers to pick the best saddle for customers. First, the customer determines what kind of rider he or she is: a Flyer (someone who moves around a lot during a ride), a Spinner (someone who generally stays in one sitting position during a ride) or a Neutral (someone who moves a bit or stays locked into place depending on the conditions. The Griffon saddle (right) is designed for the Flyer, the Falcon saddle (left) for the Spinner and the Turnix (center) for the Neutral.
After a saddle model is selected, customers sit down on the affectionately named “butt box,” which is quite literally a box with a layer of viscoelastic gel. The customers sit bones form an imprint in the gel, which is then measured to determine the appropriate saddle width. PRO saddles come in two: 132mm and 142mm. That’s Road Bike Action‘s Neil Shirley getting his sit bones measured. He wouldn’t reveal how wide his sit bones are, citing “personal reasons.”
Once the appropriate saddle width is determined, customers then have three more choices to make. The first is whether or not they want an anatomical cutout in their saddle (each of the three is available with or without one). Next, they choose their rail option: titanium or carbon. Finally, each saddle comes in several different colors. RBA‘s Neil Shirley picked out his saddle and has mounted it on a top secret test bike outfitted with the latest Dura-Ace 9000 gruppo. Look for more coverage on that and other Shimano products soon!


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