Will we ever see Non- Shimano Micro Spline cassettes?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Will we ever see Non- Shimano Micro Spline cassettes?

    Just like the thread title reads? Will we ever see Non- Shimano (slx, xt, and xtr) Micro Spline Cassettes, and what are the chances?
    I've been keeping an eye out for a Sunrace or E-thirteen micro spline cassette, but to this point I haven't even seen a rumble.

    With XTR, XT, and SLX being out for a while now... I thought we would see something. At least at a trade show.

    Don't get me wrong, I can understand how a company would want to play it close to the chest and control things when a product first releases. However, the one benefit that Sram has going for them is that their XD driver is open source of not almost open source.

    It just seems that Shimano might be their own worst enemy with this new standard and not letting a third-party ecosystem grow up around it.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    It took a good while for aftermarket xD cassettes to hit the market. And it took Sunrace YEARS to make one. e13 would have to totally redesign its cassette to have one that works with Shimano 12spd. You also have to realize that one reason why those cassettes showed up on the market in the first place is because the SRAM xD cassettes were so expensive for so long. It took years for GX and better level affordability in the cassettes. Shimano released XT and SLX 12spd in less than a year, and those SLX 12spd cassettes are pretty affordable. Going to be hard for the aftermarket companies to show up competitively there.

    I wouldn't read too much into Shimano's rollout of this. You may not have liked it, but I'm pretty sure Shimano wanted to control adoption of its 12spd drivetrain while it ramped up production. The freehub body is fairly widely available now and they're gradually opening up its use. I don't know if the cassette side of the equation is handled similarly, but I wouldn't be surprised if it is. I also wouldn't be surprised if Shimano wants to give itself some time for exclusivity in the market for those cassettes. Especially because it's not just the interface with the freehub body that's at stake, but also the HG+ tech.

    Might we eventually see non-HG+ cassettes/chains for Shimano 12spd? I dunno....it's an interesting question.

  3. #3
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    Shimano and SRAM can't control who makes cassettes that fit their freehubs...and I'm pretty sure that if they did, they'd be slapped down for an anti-trust violation.

    It's just a question of when/if it becomes financially beneficial for someone else to make a cassette that fits their freehub.

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    And here I am living in the 90s with a 24 speed setup. :/
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Shimano and SRAM can't control who makes cassettes that fit their freehubs...and I'm pretty sure that if they did, they'd be slapped down for an anti-trust violation.

    It's just a question of when/if it becomes financially beneficial for someone else to make a cassette that fits their freehub.
    Agreed, I guess I'm asking it from the perspective that the articles I read Shimano was making it very difficult for brands to license their hub design unlike the HG hubs.

    This go around (again only from appearence) it looks like Shimano was doing everything possible not to embrace the 3rd party market.

    A quick Google search and one will find many articles that talk about hub manufacturers were practically begging Shimano to use their free hub body.

    I am making a bit of an assumption, but my guess is that cassette manufacturers may run into similar challenges

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Shimano and SRAM can't control who makes cassettes that fit their freehubs...and I'm pretty sure that if they did, they'd be slapped down for an anti-trust violation.

    It's just a question of when/if it becomes financially beneficial for someone else to make a cassette that fits their freehub.
    I can only guess you have never heard of patents? The freehub and cassette design are patented. E13 gets around it by making their cassettes mount on the freehub differently than SRAM.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith View Post
    I can only guess you have never heard of patents? The freehub and cassette design are patented. E13 gets around it by making their cassettes mount on the freehub differently than SRAM.
    So E13 maybe but explain the others?

    I've heard of patents, but companies can also apply for licensing to use designs. You see this in suspension designs as well from time to time.

    My comments apply to Shimano's unwillingness to allow companies a license. (Or at least the appearance of unwillingness).

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 20mmrain View Post
    Agreed, I guess I'm asking it from the perspective that the articles I read Shimano was making it very difficult for brands to license their hub design unlike the HG hubs.

    This go around (again only from appearence) it looks like Shimano was doing everything possible not to embrace the 3rd party market.

    A quick Google search and one will find many articles that talk about hub manufacturers were practically begging Shimano to use their free hub body.

    I am making a bit of an assumption, but my guess is that cassette manufacturers may run into similar challenges
    It would have been awesome for Shimano to open its freehub licensing to everyone when they had problems filling the orders given the few companies who DID have licensing agreements. It was a smart move on Shimano's part to offer a more measured adoption of their freehub body design onto the market, even though it pissed people off. They couldn't make the XTR stuff fast enough, and they couldn't offer complete groupsets for quite some time due to problems with production that resulted in them scrapping certain planned and advertised aspects of the 12spd XTR group.

    All of the pundit articles you're reading on this fact are failing to take that part of the scenario into account. Of course everybody wanted the licensing agreements to make micro spline freehub bodies for their hubs. But Shimano simply wouldn't be able to handle the orders from customers if they did that. Shimano has always played things close and conservatively. It's a corporate philosophy for them. It's why they have never made cranks or hubs for fatbikes.

    It's silly to use the limited information you're finding in Google searches to leap to unsupported conclusions.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 20mmrain View Post
    So E13 maybe but explain the others?

    I've heard of patents, but companies can also apply for licensing to use designs. You see this in suspension designs as well from time to time.

    My comments apply to Shimano's unwillingness to allow companies a license. (Or at least the appearance of unwillingness).
    A company can choose whether to allow licensing of a patented thing on a case by case basis if they want. If they've got a patent on something, they can refuse to license it to anybody if they want. A patent allows for exclusivity. Specialized owned the patent for certain aspects of the FSR suspension design and they were super stingy with licensing until the patent expired (and then they couldn't control it anymore).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    It would have been awesome for Shimano to open its freehub licensing to everyone when they had problems filling the orders given the few companies who DID have licensing agreements. It was a smart move on Shimano's part to offer a more measured adoption of their freehub body design onto the market, even though it pissed people off. They couldn't make the XTR stuff fast enough, and they couldn't offer complete groupsets for quite some time due to problems with production that resulted in them scrapping certain planned and advertised aspects of the 12spd XTR group.

    All of the pundit articles you're reading on this fact are failing to take that part of the scenario into account. Of course everybody wanted the licensing agreements to make micro spline freehub bodies for their hubs. But Shimano simply wouldn't be able to handle the orders from customers if they did that. Shimano has always played things close and conservatively. It's a corporate philosophy for them. It's why they have never made cranks or hubs for fatbikes.

    It's silly to use the limited information you're finding in Google searches to leap to unsupported conclusions.
    Well, I would agree with you that the ability to supply the product definitely plays a roll in it. But on such a high profile release, having supply chain issues seems to be a big oops on Shimano's part. Especially on components (that some would argue) were late to the game. They should have been better prepared. (But I admit their preparedness is a bit out of scope of this conversation.)

    But to my knowledge, there are no supply chain issues now? So again, I'm curious whats the hold up and why they are playing it so close to the chest now?

    Not to mention, the risky business practice of being the sole provider of a standard and inadvertently slowing down the market adoption rate.

    And the information wasn't that limited BTW... there were multiple articles on this topic. But yes, I am making a bit of an assumption that Shimano is standing on the air hose (with concerns to 3rd party cassettes.) But again that is based off of the information available thus far and a bit of a jump presumption.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    A company can choose whether to allow licensing of a patented thing on a case by case basis if they want. If they've got a patent on something, they can refuse to license it to anybody if they want. A patent allows for exclusivity. Specialized owned the patent for certain aspects of the FSR suspension design and they were super stingy with licensing until the patent expired (and then they couldn't control it anymore).
    Yes you are right, a company can choose to do what they want with their patents and licenses. However, making yourself the sole provider and inadvertently slowing down the market adoption rate is risky and it has failed many times before.

    (Some Examples: Beta Max Vs. VHS, 90's Apple vs PC, etc..).

    You want to make yourself the most plentiful option a business.

    Shimano's 12 speed is a great product, why wouldn't you want to be more open with the licenses? Giving other companies (along with yourself) the ability to flood the market, while collecting fees, and making it so the market has no other choice but to choose your product.
    Open source, or loosely licensed products have shown that this model works!

    Based on this conversation though, it doesn't sound very likely that we will see 3rd party micro spline cassettes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsmith View Post
    I can only guess you have never heard of patents? The freehub and cassette design are patented. E13 gets around it by making their cassettes mount on the freehub differently than SRAM.
    So you're not disputing anything I said about restricting people from making cassettes that fit their freehub design?

    The time necessary for hub manufacturers to make micro-spline hubs is most likely because of Shimano's standards, not some counterproductive resistance to people making the micro-spline hub. You don't make money by unnecessarily restricting how your products can be used.

    It's probably pretty easy to significantly undercut SRAM cassette prices, but try to go after a $100 SLX cassette and it's going to be tough to get enough people save a few bucks to end up with what is most likely sub-par performance.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 20mmrain View Post
    And the information wasn't that limited BTW... there were multiple articles on this topic.
    All basically repeating each other based on the same limited viewpoint of "me me me" and failing to see the big picture of the larger market, and aspects of Shimano's business that nobody outside of it really knows.

    Quote Originally Posted by 20mmrain View Post
    You want to make yourself the most plentiful option a business.

    Shimano's 12 speed is a great product, why wouldn't you want to be more open with the licenses? Giving other companies (along with yourself) the ability to flood the market, while collecting fees, and making it so the market has no other choice but to choose your product.
    Open source, or loosely licensed products have shown that this model works!

    Based on this conversation though, it doesn't sound very likely that we will see 3rd party micro spline cassettes.
    That has never been Shimano's "way" as it were. Agree with it or not, it's how they operate. Sure, SRAM's strategy has been to flood the market with something first. 1x drivetrains. 12spd mtb. road hydraulic disc brakes. There's more than one example. Sure, if you're first to market, a solid strategy to steal away market share from your competitors would be to flood the market. But that has come at a cost for SRAM. They've released some stuff with issues. The massive recall on their road hydro disc brakes. Not everyone is happy with the quality of Eagle stuff. It has some issues that, while they're not generally catastrophic, they're annoying AF if you have to deal with them. Shimano is taking the strategy of taking their time and doing it better. Sure, it hasn't been without problems with the process, but the product itself is extremely well reviewed and people are adopting it. Maybe slower than SRAM's stuff was adopted, but nevertheless, the needle is moving. Now, how is SRAM going to deal with a mechanical drivetrain that's actually better than theirs? Release 13spd? We're already seeing SX Eagle as some pretty cheap 12spd stuff. Will SRAM continue to try to flood the market with cheap 12spd? SRAM was first to market with wireless shifting. Okay. But Shimano had electronic first. You know Shimano has something cooking to update its electronic drivetrain. Again, they're taking their time. I have no doubt it'll be quality.

    All your whining about aftermarket cassettes is forgetting the fact that the Shimano SLX 12spd cassette is already quite affordable. $100 at JensonUSA. It'll be hard for aftermarket companies to compete on price there. Sunrace already is in the market, though. Guess what they're doing? Offering an HG+ compatible cassette that fits on old style Shimano HG freehub bodies. Boom. That's Sunrace's bread and butter. Does it shift as well? Dunno, but it doesn't have to considering the target of their market. They're targeting people who can't change freehub bodies to microspline (especially people on cheap OEM wheelsets that don't generally allow you to change freehub body interface type) or who don't want to spend that money.

    What will other companies do? Good question. Truly, your question is probably too early. Whether Shimano is controlling licensing on micro spline cassettes or not (which we don't actually know, so it's pointless to get worked up over), or whether the aftermarket companies are in the process of working out something. For smaller aftermarket companies like e13, it's probably a better idea to just keep using one freehub body style and just offer an HG+ compatible version. I bet we see one of those aftermarket companies selling an HG+ compatible cassette for an xD freehub body before we see them offering a cassette on micro spline, since there's a bunch already working with xD.

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