January 13, 2015

Goodbye, Shimano

Dear Shimano,

I love you. My first ever bike had STX-RC parts and I was convinced that because they had an “X” in them, they must be as nice as XTR. I loved that bike. I rode the living hell out of those parts, and they worked flawlessly until my ineptitude (both riding and wrenching) eventually destroyed them all. I’ve had a billion bits of Shimano wizardry on my bikes over the years. Today my XT brakes are the best I’ve ever used.

We’ve had our differences in the past, Shimano. Your answer to SRAM’s XX1/XO1/X1 11 speed is too little, too late. Electronic shifting? Neat. But most of my customers want stuff they can crash and replace without selling their cars. I’ve sold 95% SRAM stuff ever since XX1 came out.

But that’s water under the bridge. I’m sure you’ll come around and a mechanical XT 1×11 group is just around the corner.

Here’s the real problem, Shimano: I can’t sell your parts to customers anymore, because apparently you aren’t interested in letting me. The only OEM distributor (Security Bicycle) for your parts in the US just got dropped. What’s that, you say? I can get your parts through QBP? Hurray!

But Shimano, an XT brake costs $100 at QBP. It costs $80 online from overseas. I can’t sell my customers a part for *over retail* on their new bike. Heck, I don’t know how a bike shop can sell an XT brake for the supposed “retail” price when they’re being undercut like that. If what you want is to go entirely consumer direct, Shimano, just f***ing do it yourself. It’s embarrassing for me to quote people what I think is a really good price on the newest, nicest Shimano stuff (a price at which I’m hardly making money) and have them find the same thing for 20% cheaper online.

What’s that? I can buy direct from you? Great! Wait, your direct prices are the same as QBP’s unless I buy, say, a thousand brakes. Shimano, I only build 50 bikes a year. That’s why all the small builders used Security as their distributor. You know, the distributor that can’t sell your parts anymore.

It’s probably not even worth your time to worry about builders like me, Shimano, because you certainly aren’t making the big bucks off us. But would it really take that much to give us a break and let us put your parts on the bikes that the true bike nerds drool over?

I still love you, Shimano. I just don’t know if you love me.

Still your friend,