Life from an outsider's perspective…

The things I hate about Shimano.

The things I hate about Shimano ultegra and 105 / 5600 road componentsFor the most part, shimano bicycle components work extremely well. Even so, after working on my fleet of road rental bikes for the past year or more I have come to despise certain maintenance tasks. What follows is a list of all the little niggly things which I dislike about shimano road componentry (5600/Ultegra level). Neither is this a simple comparison between shimano, campagnolo and sram:

  • The alloy brake levers corrode within a few months of inital sweat contact. Why can’t they anodise these like the rest of their parts? Instead, they are clear-coated. This coating crazes and then spalls off in next to no time.
  • Both the gear and the brake cables are much more difficult to install than they should be. Sometimes you can spend 5 whole minutes poking a brake cable blindly where you think it should go. This is the year 2008. It shouldn’t take more than 5 seconds.
  • The lockring washer is deadly. Sure it may SEEM unoffensive, but it’s sharper than a pair of laser-cut scissors. How do I know? Well just last week I was called out to change one of my client’s cassettes from a 12-25 to a 12-27 ratio. Part way through the job, the blasted thing gouged a deep cut right on my middle finger. Needless to say, it’s not a good image for your business when blood is running over your hand, the bike and the pavement as you’re attempting to do a simple cassette-swap operation.
  • The chain comes pre-coated in the most tacky protective grease imaginable which can’t be removed by any known chemical method. OK, I admit its composition has improved with that of a few years ago, but it’s still not nice to work with.
  • The shimano logo wears off the cranks too quickly. You’d think they’d have the word shimano laser etched on all their parts by now. Not so.
  • Shimano free hub body splines are so shallow that the cogs ruin them. It doesn’t help that shimano removed half of the splines on their cogs for no apparant reason, effectively halving the contact surface area, doubling the load (and the chances of ruining the free hub body).
  • Speaking of cranks, there aren’t many versions of a shimano compact crankset to choose from.
  • Shimano spare parts (genuine or otherwise) are practically nonexistent – hence shifters etc are not rebuildable.
  • The front deralilleur cannot be fine-tuned all that well while riding.
  • Simultaneous braking & up-shifting not possible at the same time. Whenever you slow down, it means you have to change up gears. Everyone knows that. But with the combined shimano brake and gear lever, it just isn’t possible.
  • Last but not least, the gear housing doesn’t go under the bar tape. Why not?

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