Shimano is a bike component manufacturer based in Osaka, Japan. The company is one of the industry’s most popular manufacturers and it makes up around three-quarters of the bicycle component market by value.
At the age of 26, Shozaburo Shimano established Shimano Iron Works in 1921 on the site of a demolished celluloid factory in Sakai City. The company only had one lathe to begin with when it started producing bicycle freewheels. By 1940, with the company 300-employees strong, it changed names to Shimano Iron Works Co., Ltd.
Shimano began production of the three-speed hub during the 1950s, and, by 1961, had launched to the US market. The company moved into its current Shimonoseki factory in 1970, launching Shimano Europa two years later in Dusseldorf, Germany.
In 1973, Shimano launched the Dura-Ace groupset. The Positron rear derailleur system was unveiled twelve months later. Around the same time, Shimano increased their involvement within pro cycling by sponsoring European teams and setting up their own domestic team, Shimano racing Team.
During the next two decades, Shimano’s production line expanded exponentially. It released the Deore XT, its first MTB groupset and the SH-R100 racing shoes, followed shortly after by the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics (SPD) and the Dura-Ace 7400 series with a dual control lever for shifting and braking hitting the market.
Seven-Eleven’s Andy Hampsten claimed overall victory at the Giro d’Italia in 1988 whilst using Shimano’s Dura-Ace groupset. By the end of the century, Shimano had launched its first road and mountain bike wheelsets.
In the early 2000s, Shimano rapidly expanded its production sites across the world. In 2009 it launched its first electronic shifting system as ‘Digital Integrated Intelligence’ or ‘Di2 ’ was introduced into the Dura-Ace range.
2016 saw the first Dura-Ace groupset equipped with a power meter released, whilst Shimano launched its first gravel bike components, the Shimano GRX range, in 2019. The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021 with Taizo Shimano becoming the company’s sixth president.
1973 - The first Dura-Ace groupset is launched
The Dura-Ace was Shimano’s first road groupset and still sits at the top of the pile within the company’s road groupset models, even fifty years after it was released to the public.
1990 - SPD pedals released
Shimano Pedalling Dynamics were launched initially for mountain biking, but the design has since shaped cycling technology as a whole. SPD and SPD-SL (super light) pedals and shoes are now the most popular choice for cyclists, regardless of the terrain they’re riding.
2009 - Electronic shifting hits the market
Shimano’s Dura-Ace 7970 Di2 groupset paved the way for electronic shifting systems to become commonplace in elite cycling.
"In line with Shimano’s mission, 'to promote health and happiness through the enjoyment of nature and the world around us', we will continue to propose captivating products that meet changing customer demands to help them lead healthy and enriched lives."
Components: Shimano’s main product area is its components and groupset systems which cover shifters, drivetrains, brake systems, wheelsets and more. Its road groupsets span from mechanical entry-level models to the 12-speed electronic Dura-Ace Di2 system. Shimano’s MTB offerings are equally as expansive with entry-level models such as the Tourney and performance-focused, electronic models like the XTR. A gravel range, the GRX, has also recently been launched.
Footwear: Shimano produces cycling shoes for a number of disciplines including road, MTB, gravel, adventure and indoor training. Its S-Phyre range are racing-orientated shoes, whether that be on tarmac or dirt.
Pedals: Shimano helped to pioneer the clipless pedal, with its SPD and SPD-SL pedals still as popular as ever. The company produces these models for road, off-road and every kind of rider in between.
Apparel: Shimano also produces a clothing range for road, gravel and MTB riders, alongside accessories such as gloves and eyewear.
Shimano is the 'neutral service' supplier for some of the world's biggest road races. This means it has mechanics in every race offering riders spare bikes, wheels, and mechanical assistance, in the event they are not serviced by their own teams.
© Velo Collection / Getty Images
Current sponsorships: Alpecin-Deceuninck, Astana Qazaqstan, Bahrain-Victorious, Bora-hansgrohe, Groupama-FDJ, Ineos Grenadiers, Soudal Quick-Step, Team Arkéa Samsic, Team Jayco AlUla, Team dsm-firmenech, UAE Team Emirates, FDJ-SUEZ.
Shimano have rolled out a ton of innovations in bike tech over the years, most of which are pretty obvious to see - electronic shifting is a world away form mechanical, as was indexed shifting when Shimano introduced it with their SIS system. But one invention that changed the game has gone largely under the radar: Shimano Hyperglide changed the way shifting worked forever across the bike industry, Ollie is here to explain why!
Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox