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Trickle Down Technology

SHIMANO is a company that want to cater for the full spectrum of cyclists, from World Tour professionals to first-time bike buyers. We want give the very best components to the very best bike riders in the World, and we also want to give everyone in the World the very best components at their price point. This does not mean using different technologies or developing different functionality. Instead, we push the envelope of development at the high end, and then we push this technology down along our component ranges. The top-of-the range Dura-Ace of today benefits the 105 of tomorrow.

This is the ‘trickle down technology’ approach and it has been central to SHIMANO’s products from the beginning.

Push the envelope, and pass it on.

It is easy to take for granted a 105 11-speed groupset, or Tiagra’s gear cables being routed under the bar tape, or Di2 shifting for Ultegra. But not so long ago this was cutting edge development, launched to the World on the very latest Dura-Ace products. Wind the clock back even further and you see that three years after STI (SHIMANO Total Integration) - which combined shifting and braking in one lever - was introduced in the Dura-Ace groupset in 1990 it was also available as 105. The wonders of 9-speed shifting, launched on Dura-Ace in 1996, was rolled out to Ultegra, 105 and then Tiagra by 2001. Meanwhile, Dura-Ace was pushing-on at the forefront of component technology, ready to release 10-speed in 2004. The pattern continues...

What was revolutionary for Dura-Ace becomes standard across the ranges.

Take a trip down memory lane with Global Cycling Network to see more racing relics and trickle down tech through the ages:

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Revolutions and revelations

Whilst technologies may no longer be revolutionary once they reach the likes of 105 or Tiagra, they can still be a revelation for riders using them for the first time. Everyone can experience that crisper shifting, lighter wheel set, stiffer crankset, better braking; they just come to it at different times.

So, what is it that makes top-end technology accessible to mid-range or entry-level products? The simple answer is: material. Functionality is the same, but production methods are different. This allows the tech to trickle down to lower price points.

When engineers are developing new Dura-Ace components they are given carte blanche to create the very best product possible; no price limit, no stone unturned. Once these top tier products are on the market, it’s time to engineer the same technology but at given price points. This is when firstly Ultegra and then the other ranges are upgraded to the new standard. It is the materials used which allow this price drop. For example, carbon fibre elements of Dura-Ace will be replaced with aluminium or steel, allowing the cost of the product to decrease. As the material gets cheaper, it gets heavier, and this is where the performance difference is really felt. With Dura-Ace you are paying for the very latest technologies in the very lightest functional form. As the price point lowers, you are paying for older technology in heavier forms.

Sometimes the material and weight differences between the groupets are minimal, and that’s great! We are proud of offering almost identical functionality between the latest Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets. It is not about lowering the standard of Ultegra, it is about making Dura-Ace the absolute best - a pure racing product - and then making Ultegra as close to that as possible within a certain price bracket.  Nothing is ever downgraded. Every product strives to be Dura-Ace, and Dura-Ace strives to be reach new heights. The trajectory is always upward.

These fantastically informative videos from Global Cycling Network take a really close look at the latest Dura-Ace, Ultegra and 105 groupsets, detailing the differences and explaining some of the shared technologies.

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You share, you grow

As you see, trickle down technology is not confined to just road components; it’s applied across the company and across the disciplines.

SHIMANO Shadow RD technology is a perfect example of this. Developing a rear derailleur that increases chain tension and sits almost in-board of the cassette was an obvious advantage for mountain bikes where rough terrain bounces the chain around and components are exposed to bashes and crashes. But why restrict that technology to off-road equipment when, for example, the demands of the cobbled classics call for chains not to unship at critical junctures and crashes not to damage indexing when gear selection is crucial? And if this mountain bike technology can be successfully integrated into the race-focussed demands of Dura-Ace, then why not set about sharing those advantages across all group sets so everyone can enjoy the benefits?

Weight or wait?

So, is it worth the wait for the technology to trickle down, or is it worth the weight to invest in the top tier? Well, that’s up to you!

Dura-ace is designed and developed as a pure racing product. It is driven by innovation and performance at the highest level, and it is ridden by SHIMANO athletes at the very pinnacle of their sport. Grams equal gains

We are proud to bring this same product to general market and let you experience the peak of performance.

We are also proud that the technologies developed to make Dura-Ace do not remain exclusive to a privileged few, and that trickle down technology means that if you choose to wait you will be rewarded.