September 25, 2013

An Open Letter to Shimano – Make Us Some 11 Speed!

So, a few facts:
-I’ve sold ONE Shimano drivetrain in the last year.
-I’ve sold probably 25-30 XX1 drivetrains in that time.
-I’ve heard stories from bike shop friends about people *refusing to buy* high end bikes that did not have XX1.
-Almost everyone I know things the XX1 is awesome, but also thinks it’s too expensive.

Shimano, you gotta step up. Nobody is going to buy XTR anymore. Heck, nobody is going to buy XT when for an extra few hundred bucks they could get XX1.

Here’s the thing – XX1 is a racer/top end product. It’s the nicest stuff you can buy. Every effort has been made to get rid of every last gram (witness, the $450 cassette) and for a lot of people, that’s not necessary. I’d guess that $300 of the cassette price is JUST getting rid of the last 50g or so of weight.

So, here’s what you do, Shimano: Make us a $500-800 retail price XT-level 1×11 group. Swallow your pride and use the SRAM driver standard for the cassette so that we don’t have to all go buy ANOTHER driver. Make a couple of different gearings (10-42, 10-39, 10-36?) and don’t spend a fortune to make the cassette weigh nothing – 350-400g is fine. If your grouppo is a pound heavier than XX1, that’s ok. Just make it reliable and durable and inexpensive.

I’d buy a set. Heck, I’d buy several. I’d sell a ton of it. Yes, the serious weightweenies and racers will still want to throw that extra five hundred clams at a few grams of weight savings. That’s fine, you can work on an XTR-level group next year. And yes, SRAM will make an X-9 level 11 speed soon, I’m sure. But you gotta have a product to compete.

I want to see you stay in the mountain bike market, Shimano – and I think you’re risking losing the entire high end as well as the middle of the road bikes if you don’t do something here. The opportunity is there, make it happen.

-Walt