By Stefan Abram
Shimano closed its component factory in Malaysia on Thursday June 10 due to an official COVID-19 mandate, with the measures now extended until June 28.
The factory had previously been operating at only 60 percent capacity, after Malaysia’s Prime Minister announced a 14-day lockdown on May 29.
Shimano told CW: "The Malaysian government announced a total lockdown from June 01 to June 14 considering the situation of COVID-19. However it was extended until June 28. Consequently, we also have to extend our Malaysian factory shut down until June 28."
Components have been increasingly difficult to get hold of in recent months, in no small part due to the ongoing strains on global supply chains. These pressures are only being compounded by the unprecedented demand for bikes that we’ve been seeing throughout the pandemic.
Add in this latest factory closure, and we’re coming to something of a perfect storm of unavailability for bike parts – all during the year it is widely suspected Shimano will be updating its flagship Dura-Ace groupset.
The Japanese brand’s most exclusive products are, as you might expect, manufactured at its Japanese facilities. So, the closure of the Malaysian factory is unlikely to have a huge impact on top tier components.
It’s the entry level and mid-range parts which we expect to be most significantly affected by the closure of the Malaysian factory. As these are the components specced on more affordable bikes, which are the most popular, issues here stand to effect the greatest range of people.
Although this closure is unlikely to affect Dura-Ace, it can't be a helpful change in circumstances – and continues Shimano’s run of bad luck when it comes to significant releases, with its Sakai manufacturing facility catching fire in 2018 around the time the top-end mountain bike groupset, XTR, was being released.
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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