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Shimano celebrates 25 years of SPD magic

Last year, Shimano celebrated the 25th anniversary of Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. Ever since, SPD has been the benchmark in the industry. Time to look back at 25 years of styles, trends and innovations. And who better to talk us some of the emblematic shoes than Keisuke Kuramoto, senior product manager at Shimano.

The M100 shoe is where it all started. The world was changing back then. The Soviet Union broke up after President Gorbachev's resignation and Boris Yeltsin became the first freely elected president of Russian Republic. South African Parliament repealed apartheid laws. Nirvana transformed pop music with the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit". And Shimano revolutionized the world of cycling with the SPD recessed cleat system. Suddenly cyclists were locked into their pedals, and though a scary thought at first, the benefits were immediately felt. Total power transfer and better grip took speed and control to new heights.

Casual, sporty

And the M100 was a handsome shoe. It’s not a shoe that says ‘I’m a cyclist.’ It’s a shoe that says ‘I’m a shoe.’ It’s sporty, sure, but casual too. You can imagine a hiker wearing it on a trail or someone walking through the park. Its mild grey is understated and reflects a decade that embraced minimalism in fashion, but there’s a definite nod to the neon 1980s in the three bright stripes on the strap. 

I’m a cyclist

‘The M200 was released in 1992,’ Kuramoto says of the M100’s successor. ‘It was made specifically for cross country. The shape of the shoe is much more sharply defined for racing.’ Race is right. Unlike the M100, this shoe does say ‘I’m a cyclist.’ And one that wants to go fast. Its bold orange lines point the way forward. It’s a sturdier and more streamlined shoe than the M100. And it’s more 1990s than the M100. (Wait till you see its muscular younger brother, more on that shortly.)

Infrared and in your face

Fast forward to 1996. The movie world was being rocked by Independence Day was the biggest box-office draw while Shimano’s top biller was the infrared D100. An aggressive, in-your-face high-top design with a bucketful of features to keep mud, water and other nasty elements out. ‘It looks like a high-top,’ Kuramoto explains, ‘but the higher side of the upper is actually made of soft neoprene. That gives you freedom to move your ankle.’ Shimano developed the game-changing pop-up pedal at the same time, the M636. ‘BMX riders had never clicked in before that, so you can definitely say that this innovation changed the BMX racing world.’

Feeling supersonic

Today we’ve entered the world of science fiction. Laptops, netbooks, tablets, big phones, small phones, earphones – everywhere you look. The M300 fits right into this picture. Sleek, silver and unabashedly proudly modern, this shoe is supersonic.

‘The M300 uses custom-fit technology. It’s the ideal solution for riders who feel their shoes are too hard on the upper. You heat the shoe and then vacuum pack it around the foot so it takes on the exact shape of the foot.’

Go ahead, put me on

In 2014, smart watches and remote-controlled drones are all the rage and Shimano re-launched this model, so it’s a great opportunity for us to see what has changed over this time. In a way, we’ve come full circle. It has none of the bling of the M300, and so it actually makes sense to have named it the M200, because it’s obviously related. It’s a robust shoe in khaki green with the original hints of orange, almost as if to say, mobile phones and tablets are fine and great, but don’t forget there’s a wonderful world of nature out there. Put me on, what are you waiting for? 

So what will the next 25 years bring? If Marty McFly is anything to go by, we’ll have bikes without wheels. You heard it here first.

For the latest line up of Shimano footwear visit the website:

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