By Simon Smythe
After months of speculation, Shimano didn’t celebrate its 100th anniversary on March 21 with the launch of the highly anticipated new Dura-Ace groupset – instead, the Japanese company unveiled a limited-edition commemorative photo book.
Only 2,000 of the photo books are to be made available via pre-registration and lottery selection through Shimano’s centenary website
According to Shimano, the contents of the book, which is titled Shimano 100 Works, “provide the historical background to some of Shimano’s most ground-breaking products.”
The book is made up of 264 pages sized 333mm×265mm and tells the story of Shimano’s 100 years in 100 products.
The cost is 10,000 yen (£66.50 ) and applications can be accepted up until May 27, with the winners announced from June 7.
However, even without a new Dura-Ace groupset and even if you’re not one of the book winners, Shimano’s centenary website makes for a very enjoyable browse and is also a great historical record. For fans of Shimano down the years there’s a ‘100 Products History’ section (screenshot and link above), which echoes the 100 in the book although, according to Shimano, the book will focus on individual iconic products rather than the entire product lines featured in the web version.
Naturally Dura-Ace is one of those 100 featured on the website, with the story from its launch in 1973 up to the present (being careful not to give anything away about the rumoured 12-speed R9200 series).
The website – and the book – features fishing as well as cycling equipment: Shimano has clearly not separated its two sectors in its anniversary.
However, two stories that Shimano has separated are those of its own and Lance Armstrong, whose ‘win’ in 1999 on Dura-Ace 7700 gave Shimano its first Tour de France victory. Armstrong has been comprehensively cancelled, with Shimano instead including a picture of his Discovery team-mate Paolo Savoldelli winning the Giro d'Italia in 2005 on Dura-Ace 7800.
For the 100th anniversary Shimano has also brought back the famous tricolor featured in the Ultegra 600 design of 1988, which is now to be its new corporate brand logo. According to the brand, the tricolor line of light green, blue, and deep blue "respectively symbolise the land, the sky, and the sea," explained as symbolising Shimano's world view by president Yozo Shimano.
Elsewhere on the centenary website there's plenty more nostalgia, illustrated with archive photography and catalogue scans. Shimano's first product was a single freewheel, which it says marks its origin after founder Shozaburo Shimano started repairing machines having lost his job in Japan's recession following World War I.
The current president, Yozo Shimano, is the grandson of Shozaburo and the fifth president. He said in Shimano's press release: “On this occasion, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to you for the exceptional support that you have extended to Shimano for so many years.
“Over the past century, Shimano has experienced radical changes in its business and social environments. Despite these changes, we have been constantly pursuing technological innovation to manufacture high-quality, dependable products for our customers while upholding the corporate mission: 'to promote health and happiness through the enjoyment of nature and the world around us.
“Today, we see increasing numbers of people becoming more and more environment and health-conscious. Moreover, because of the pervading sense of stagnation, many people have begun to pay keener attention than ever to cycling and fishing, regarding them as means to relieve themselves from stress and refresh their body and mind. In this environment, Shimano is fully aware of the vital importance of fulfilling its role to promote healthy and enriched lifestyles by supplying its products and to help create a sustainable society.
“On the centennial anniversary, which we regard as the starting line for the next century, Shimano adopted a new corporate brand logo, featuring a tricolor line of light green, blue, and deep blue, which respectively symbolise the land, the sky, and the sea. These colours also represent Shimano’s worldview that it pursues to realise.
“Finally, we are determined to pass on to future generations the manufacturing spirit and technology that we have inherited from the founder and to evolve Shimano further as a development-oriented digital manufacturing company, dedicated to value creation, particularly the creation of new and enriched cycling and fishing cultures. In these endeavours, I would appreciate your continued support.”
Shimano's press release ends with a promise of "further exciting moments later in the year," and we can only assume this time we're talking about the new Dura-Ace.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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