Shimano have upped their game by trickling down their 12 speed technologies from XTR all the way down to their Deore M6100 groupset.
Pete had a sit down with Henry Bosch, Shimano Europe MTB Product Coordinator, to see how a brand like Shimano takes existing top tier technologies and trickle them down to their new Deore 12-speed gourpset.
What made you decide to update the Deore groupset?
It all starts with giving consumers a better riding experience. With Deore’s siblings XTR, Deore XT and SLX adopting the benefits of Shimano’s 12-speed drivetrains in recent years, the Deore M6100 series was the next logical step. That gave us an opportunity to bring some of these technologies into the Deore 11-speed (M5100) and 10-speed line ups to cover many different riding styles, preferences and budgets with a brand name that has a ton of heritage.
Once you had made that decision, what happens next?
With the technology already perfected in the XTR, Deore XT and SLX lines, the goal was more about implementing those features at Deore level, making sure that our customers were excited about the features and the value they presented, and that we could have production ready for the launch time.
Who is involved in that process and what do they do?
Our head office and main production centres are in Japan. That’s where the design and engineering happens. Certain products are made at overseas locations so the first goal was to ensure our Japanese production standards were exactly replicated wherever in the world Deore products were being made.
Alongside that, we needed to make sure Deore had the features that consumers around the globe were looking for. Here in Europe that meant speaking to some of our biggest customers to make the right value proposition.
Finally, we needed the right launch moment and launch materials to make sure all our customers and consumers were aware of the right messaging.
So that’s a combination of Product teams, Sales teams and Marketing teams across the globe, a true Team Shimano effort.
How much of the development process is done in-house?
Apart from gathering feedback from critical product testers, all our product development is done in house.
What did you know you did and didn’t want to do with the new Deore groupset?
We knew that we wanted to develop a proposition directly in line with entry-level mountain bikers, both in terms of those consumers buying new bikes or upgrading their existing bikes.
We also knew that we didn’t want to blur the lines between SLX, which is designed for those discovering more advanced mountain biking, and Alivio, which is designed for more budget-friendly mountain, hybrid and urban bikes, so that meant carefully studying the types of riders we are aiming Deore at.
We also wanted to remain true to the Deore brand. Deore was launched in 198 so countless riders have grown up knowing how well Deore performs. We wanted to take that to a new level.
How do you decide what features to use from higher groupsets?
Again that comes from studying the type of features Deore riders are going to find beneficial. If the added value isn’t there for the type of riding that the rider is doing then the additional benefit
doesn’t make sense. An obvious example is the 30T and 32T chainrings available at Deor level. The larger 34T, 36T and 38T chainrings for stronger riders are kept at XTR, Deore XT and SLX (and non-series) levels where stronger riders can make more use of them.
Is it straightforward to adapt those technologies to the Deore groupset?
It depends on your definition of straightforward… Shimano’s 12-speed technologies, such as Microspline, Hyperglide+, I-SPEC EV and Dynamic Chain Engagement+ are inherent in every component at DEORE M6100 level, trickled down from more premium groupsets, so we need to make sure the manufacturing process and the materials can handle the technological features.
Sometimes it’s not straightforward though. At Deore M5100 11-speed and Deore M4100 10-speed level technologies like Microspline and Hyperglide+ are not used because those technologies are not compatible with 11-speed and 10-speed systems. But helpful features like I-SPEC EV mounting for brakes and shifters, Rapidfire Plus Mono levers, or Shimano Shadow RD+ rear derailleur positioning were possible to implement.
Was the addition of a four piston brake an easy decision?
From the perspective of listening to what our customers wanted, yes this was a relatively simple decision.
How many prototypes did you have before you settled on the production groupset?
That’s almost impossible to say. Each individual component goes through so much designing, testing and refining that we can’t say for sure. As well as individual product stress tests we also thoroughly test complete prototype groupsets in conditions around the world half a year before we release the final mass production components. This way we can be sure the products meet our exacting quality standards.
Beyond prototypes, what form did your testing take? Did you have any outside help for testing?
We have a team of independent test riders around the globe who give us feedback on the way our products are performing before they are released to the public. We also rely on media reviews to tell us and tell Wideopen readers the views on products. All this feedback contributes towards our product development cycles.
As soon as mass production is confirmed it puts two years of hard work in the can. That’s an evening to have a beer. Or a bike ride.
One person’s disaster is another’s learning opportunity.
Anyone to thank?
Every customer who’s ever bought Deore. Every customer we spoke to about new Deore. Every customer who is excited about the products Shimano brings out. Every bit of feedback we’ve received has either directly or indirectly contributed to this new development.