Does a Non-Shimano Build Have Merit Anymore?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Does a Non-Shimano Build Have Merit Anymore?

    Back when mountain bike frames seemed nothing more than device to mount the latest Shimano gruppo, Singlespeeders were the first to resist. There was an active movement to build a bike without any Shimano parts. But recently I haven't seen any interest. This came to mind when I looked at my SASS build and realized, with the exception of the brake levers, it was Shimano free. I had planned on upgrading the levers once I was comfortable with the bike, so I did so this weekend. So what do your think? Is it worth the trouble?
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  2. #2
    Schipperkes are cool.
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    My single ratio bike uses Suntour/Gipeme/Miche/White Industries
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Better suited to non-aggressive 125# gals named Russell.
    I ride so slow, your Garmin will shut off.

  3. #3
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    My singlespeed is shimano free, but not by design, just worked out that way. The big S makes some pretty decent stuff. That being said the Sram empire makes it pretty easy to build a shimano free bike. I guess I never really put any thought into it.

  4. #4
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    My SS 29'er is Shimano free...almost. Darn Shimano chains are pretty good.

    I don't exactly get the gist of your post so i hope you could enlighten me. You want a "Shimano free" bike? Are you anti-Shimano?

  5. #5
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    Honestly that was my goal! I have come from racing/riding Campy Record for over 12 years. Even though my old mtb had full xtr on it, I always disliked that fact. In building the current SS, that was a goal of mine. The downside is that I got a good deal on ebay for an XTR cank and said WTH. I will however be sending it in over the winter to be coated/modified by Crazy8.

  6. #6
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    The thought process of trying to be Shimano free never crossed my mind until I read your post but I am 100% liberated.
    I guess I am sub-consciously an anit-Shimonite.

  7. #7
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    "I guess I am sub-consciously an anit-Shimonite."

    Best quote of the day!

  8. #8
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    Not sure it ever had merit, Brad, but it's pretty easy to do I guess. I had to go look at my bike to see... yeah, there's not a Shimano component to be found. Huh, not sure I'd noticed before.

    --Sparty
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  9. #9
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    Shimano free here by intent. In the past (1980's), I had a couple of road bikes and mountain bikes with Shimano gear. Not one of them shifted or broke well - even after a visit to the mechanic. Forget about a shift actually happening going up a hill. ALL SCRAM HERE.

    Disclaimer: most of the Shimano parts were "Suntour" lower grade stuff. But it still should have delivered a clean shift most of the time.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by abp689
    Shimano free here by intent. In the past (1980's), I had a couple of road bikes and mountain bikes with Shimano gear. Not one of them shifted or broke well - even after a visit to the mechanic. Forget about a shift actually happening going up a hill. ALL SCRAM HERE.

    Disclaimer: most of the Shimano parts were "Suntour" lower grade stuff. But it still should have delivered a clean shift most of the time.
    Maybe I'm confused here, but Suntour was and is a completely separate competitor of Shimano

  11. #11
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    Let me think here...
    My Land Shark... the only Shimano thing is... pedals.
    Don Walker - Shimano cable housing stop thingie. Brake levers. Pedals.
    My other Land Shark (ss monstercross)... pedals

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomn
    Maybe I'm confused here, but Suntour was and is a completely separate competitor of Shimano
    ... plus Suntour wasn't "lower grade" back in the day.

    --Sparty
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    We get old because we quit riding.

  13. #13
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    well, since the only things we'd really still use that sport the Shimano trademark are brakes, hubs, chains, cranks, and pedals. They do make really good cranks IMHO, so i run a set of m960's. I also like SPD's, and they seem to have those down better than anyone else, so there's another shimano component. Hubs? Ehh. DT please. Chain? Na.. Brakes? Most of them have integrated shifters, and if not, they're still not at the top of the list. I learned my lesson the hard way with hydro brakes, so mechanicals only for me, and everyone knows the BB7 is the cat's meow when it comes to those.

  14. #14
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    Only Shimano part I have is the M960 crankset but I cut and polished that.

    Does it still count?

  15. #15
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    I had a shimano-free bike once..

    Then I had to change the cables on my X0 twisties, and the rubber covers ripped off
    And the X9 dérailleur upper pivot got so loose the cage would hit the spokes when the bike bounced..
    And the Juicy brakes lever bushings wore out so they flopped around and rattled down the trail.
    And the ISIS bottom bracket siezed up after a couple hundred miles..


    You can hate if you want, but Shimano makes durable, quality stuff.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by abp689
    Disclaimer: most of the Shimano parts were "Suntour" lower grade stuff. But it still should have delivered a clean shift most of the time.
    As Sparty said, Suntour was on the top of the game back in the 70's. Suntour invented the slant parallelogram rear derailleur in the late 60's which was a revolution. Unfortunately, Suntour didn't understand marketing. They produced and marketed their products based on performance and low price. Even though Campy was producing inferior products at the time, the European and American consumer believe you get what you pay for and wouldn't buy the Suntour for their high end bikes, even though they were superior in many ways. Suntour didn create some very high end components labeled Superbe, which were based on the Japanese NJS standards and are highly praised even today. What eventually killed Suntour was index shifting and time. In the late 80's Suntour patent on slant parallelogram ran out exactly the same time indexing was popularized by Shimano (not a coincidence) . Since indexing is proprietary and even though the Suntour product was equal to Shimano, they were never able to catch up. Campy indexing on the other hand was far inferior, but since Campy was always considered high end, the market was willing to wait until they caught up. Suntour made many of the first mountain bike components, but it was a full Shimano gruppo and indexing that eventually took the market.
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  17. #17
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    really with SRAM parts available the way they are I don't see why anyone does Shimano anymore on geared bikes- SS is great because you can mix and match with smaller brand name parts.

  18. #18
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    Both mtbs, one a SS and one geared, only have Shimano bottom brackets, otherwise they're free of the big S (by design). I'm heavily invested in old 9sp Shimano road parts, multiple bikes, multiple wheels, from 105 through to Dura Ace. The cross compatibility is great but after wearing out brifter after brifter, I'm mad as hell at being stuck (by cost and convenience) with Shimano. Good bottom brackets though (both square tapered and octalink).

  19. #19
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    I don't understand the anti-Shimano message of this thread. I don't consider myself as a Shimano fanboy but i've only had good experiences with their products. Am i just lucky? Maybe...but more than 2 decades of using their stuff, i don't think it's just luck. On & off road parts, entry to high end parts...

    I have 2 FS bikes that are Shimano spec'ed & both function flawlessly. I don't use hydros though, may it be Shimano or others.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    So what do your think? Is it worth the trouble?
    Nope, not worth it. There are bigger and badder things to worry about.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by nordstern1
    I don't understand the anti-Shimano message of this thread. I don't consider myself as a Shimano fanboy but i've only had good experiences with their products. Am i just lucky? Maybe...but more than 2 decades of using their stuff, i don't think it's just luck. On & off road parts, entry to high end parts...

    I have 2 FS bikes that are Shimano spec'ed & both function flawlessly. I don't use hydros though, may it be Shimano or others.
    There is no anti-Shimano message. The issue was that Shimano had such a large market share, that bike manufactures were penalized by Shimano for spec non-Shimano parts. Then in 2003 Shimano released their XTR gruppo with no option other than dual control and rapid rise. This along with with the previous octalink and center lock disc brakes, Shimano parts were becoming so proprietary that if you wanted Shimano disc brakes, you needed Shimano dual control shifters, hubs, and derialleurs. The anti-Shimano movement was not one of poor performance or quality, Shimano is hard to beat and as you said their SIS works flawlessly in most operations. But Capitalism likes choices, so after 2003, you saw non-Shimano the OEM and aftermarket explode, tripling SRAM's market share. The issue with Singlespeed and anti-Shimano was there were more non-Shimano SS parts, so one could protest Shimano's attempt to force market share through proprietary parts. Now that Shimano has lost market share, they seem to want to play better with others, but 7-10 years ago, Shimano was leaving a bad taste in many mouths.
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    There is no anti-Shimano message. The issue was that Shimano had such a large market share, that bike manufactures were penalized by Shimano for spec non-Shimano parts. Then in 2003 Shimano released their XTR gruppo with no option other than dual control and rapid rise. This along with with the previous octalink and center lock disc brakes, Shimano parts were becoming so proprietary that if you wanted Shimano disc brakes, you needed Shimano dual control shifters, hubs, and derialleurs. The anti-Shimano movement was not one of poor performance or quality, Shimano is hard to beat and as you said their SIS works flawlessly in most operations. But Capitalism likes choices, so after 2003, you saw non-Shimano the OEM and aftermarket explode, tripling SRAM's market share. The issue with Singlespeed and anti-Shimano was there were more non-Shimano SS parts, so one could protest Shimano's attempt to force market share through proprietary parts. Now that Shimano has lost market share, they seem to want to play better with others, but 7-10 years ago, Shimano was leaving a bad taste in many mouths.
    I personally don't know anyone who started riding SS just to get away from Shimano products.... Maybe to get away from excessive drivetrain cost and maintenance, but that's not a specific Shimano issue.

    Capitalism likes cheap stuff that works, with a slight premium on stuff that is shiny and works for a long time.

    What you say about proprietary drivetrain is part of it....
    A couple other things that happened right then...
    Shimano forced all their online vendors to sell at MSRP
    SRAM came out with Trigger Shifters, and undercut Shimano on the price.

    I think that was the main cause of this "revolution". Price. XTR went from expensive to outrageous overnight. X0 came in at just expensive, and waited a few years to build market share before going to Outrageous.

    Shimano definitely did shoot themselves in the foot by not having an M960 trigger option right when SRAM handily came out with X0 triggers with the fancy carbon stickers.

    This thread is pretty pointless anyways - I mean... what does Shimano even make for SS? A BMX Freewheel?

  23. #23
    openwound
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    I am curious how many folks who're regular contributors on the ss forum are also mechanics -- either currently or worked as one in a past life?

    The reason I ask is that I think there may be slight disconnect between those folks who've worked in shops and those who haven't. (I'm assuming that Brad either does or has worked in a shop). I can see how the thread might be taken as a swipe at Shimano if that's the case.

    I was a mechanic back in the late '80's through the early '90's. I remember the slow, puzzling passing of Suntour. Man, they made some good stuff -- Superbe Pro and XC-Pro, even their Cyclone road stuff was nice. I just couldn't understand why they couldn't get their act together. I think that the thing that Matt speaks to, at least that I remember, was how as mechanics and sales people, looking at and dealing with bikes on a daily basis we talked about things like this. How it seemed as if one manufacturer was sorta taking over the world.

    I remember how bikes around that time were largely spec'd with full shimano component groups, and indeed, many bike lines still are. I'm trying to recall those manufacturers who actually bucked the full shimano group thing -- the only one I can recall is Jamis. Maybe Bridgestone did it, too.

    It's not that Shimano makes bad stuff, quite to the contrary, I love some of their stuff. But when components are made so proprietary that they can only be used with bits from the same manufacturer, it kinda rubs me the wrong way. And again, that's what I took from Brad's initial post. Part of the joy of building a bike for oneself is getting to pick the stuff that's going on it.

  24. #24
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    i guess im on my own with this, but i would call myself a total shimano fanboy. i am a mechanic and i pride myself in removing sram at any instance i can. all my bikes get a full shimano kit, except hubs, bb's, and hs. those are left to king. but as far as shift quality and overall working, its shimano all the way. i would rather not use brakes then ever have to use juicys or elixers ever again. i had a truvativ gxp crank once, for 1 cross race. the bb is toast(and yes it was installed to exact spec). i even ride shimano shoes and they freakin rock.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefuzzbl
    ... i even ride shimano shoes and they freakin rock.
    I'm with ya on the Shimano shoe situation. They can get a little heavy, but they wear like iron (and weigh about the same).

    I'm a fan of Shimano square taper BBs, too. Just sayin'.

    --Sparty
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  26. #26
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    M970 XTR crank and rotors

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefuzzbl
    i guess im on my own with this, but i would call myself a total shimano fanboy. i am a mechanic and i pride myself in removing sram at any instance i can. all my bikes get a full shimano kit, except hubs, bb's, and hs. those are left to king. but as far as shift quality and overall working, its shimano all the way. i would rather not use brakes then ever have to use juicys or elixers ever again. i had a truvativ gxp crank once, for 1 cross race. the bb is toast(and yes it was installed to exact spec). i even ride shimano shoes and they freakin rock.
    They ain't no King, but I've been happy with my Sram X-9 hubs after ~600 miles so far. Show me a person that hates Avid brakes and I'll show you a person that doesn't know how to bleed them properly.

    EDIT: I'll caveat my hub opinion with the fact that historically I've been a believer that shimano hubs can not be beat, switching over to sram on that was a pretty big step for me

  28. #28
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    I'm a poor man commenting- but I have shimano chains, hubs and BB. All work pretty well, though the hubs seem to run rough a little earlier than my other hubs, but are fairly cheap to repair.

    My friend has been using SRAM x4/5 for his mountain bike, and it has performed at great, especially considering the pricepoint. I look for best component that I can find for cheap.

  29. #29
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    i have a shimano BB for the square taper on my ENOs, but other than that, my 3 bikes use nothing Shimano. i'm not anti-Shimano, but i do feel there are better options, whether a case of price, performance or a little of both.

  30. #30
    Birdman aka JMJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanD
    My singlespeed is shimano free, but not by design, just worked out that way.
    +1

    My rigid Ti SS only has a Shimano XT front hub and UN-72 BB, and then only because I had those parts already for the spare-parts/closeout/NOS build.

    Didn't try to avoid Shimano, just wanted a lot of Canadian content (Race Face & Syncros), and liked the ENO rear hub & freewheel and Avid brakes.

    I've never had a compatibility or durability issue with Shimano components, but then again, it's been a few years since I've built up a new bike.

    JMJ

  31. #31
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    I think a lot of folks also go away from Shimano parts because they want quality stuff that's made somewhere other than the far east in giant factories. I built my bike with no Shimano parts (till I just swapped pedals last month), but that wasn't on purpose, I didn't even even occur to me till just now. But if you look at all the other parts out there, many are still coming from giant faceless factories in Taiwan, Japan, etc.

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