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Big ones don't make complete groups?(25 posts)

Big ones don't make complete groups?DougSloan
Jun 24, 2002 5:57 AM
Anyone have an idea why Shimano and Campy (and Mavic, SRAM), don't make complete groups, including stems, handlebars and maybe even saddles? Shimano doesn't even make a threadless headset, last time I checked. Do the other makers compete too vigorously in those parts? Seems like the big ones could put the others out of business.

Are things like stems and bars just too easy to make, compared to derailleurs and shifters?

re: Big ones don't make complete groups?Dave Hickey
Jun 24, 2002 6:34 AM
Shimano used to make a Dura Ace stem. It was a great looking stem. They dropped it in the late 80's. Maybe someone with insider experience can comment.

By the way, congrat's Dad!
Threadless headsetspmf1
Jun 24, 2002 6:42 AM
I heard this from a mechanic at my LBS and have no idea if ti is true. Supposedly, the patent holder of the threadless headset (King?) refuses to give Shimano the right to produce them.

Same deal as with the splined BB. I sure wish someone else could produce them.

Just another example of those damn lawyers screwing up our lives ; )

Has the kid arrived yet?
thanks; kidDougSloan
Jun 24, 2002 7:05 AM
Thanks. It seems a little weird that a dozen companies make threadless, but not Shimano. Oh, and remember that lawywers do what their clients want them to do.


Jun 24, 2002 8:02 AM
I see a trailer and a tandem in your future.

Dave Loving
Congrats... your new life now begins :-)bigdave
Jun 24, 2002 11:04 AM
Our little Jake is now 6 months and getting big fast. Good luck, and take time to enjoy every minute. They'll surprise you in some way every day (especially once they get past the breathing-eating-pooping-sleeping stage of the first month or so).

Riding is still fun, but definitely not as freewheeling as before... can't wait to get the bike trailer. :-)

Good luck.

Good lookin, boy. congrats.dzrider
Jun 24, 2002 12:28 PM
I was away for a week and I'm glad to get caught up. Hope mom's fine.
CONGRATS, beautiful child! n.m.koala
Jun 24, 2002 3:31 PM
Pmf1. . . Doug, aren't you a lawyer? nmMike P
Jun 25, 2002 7:44 AM
Me, a lawyer? No I'm not. (nm)pmf1
Jun 25, 2002 9:45 AM
Aheadset patents and licensingBipedZed
Jun 24, 2002 7:23 AM
Dia-Compe developed and holds the patent for the Aheadset threadless headset design. Companies pay a license fee to Dia-Compe (now Cane Creek) to produce a threadless headset.

Shimano doesn't want to pay the licensing fee since they are the largest OEM supplier to bike manufacturers. There must be a business reason somewhere for that decision.
Jun 24, 2002 7:37 AM
Shimano was willing to pay the licensing fee, but their business practice has always been to refuse to license their own technology (as they have with the splined bottom bracket, STI shifting, ramped cassettes and chainrings etc.), so Dia-Compe refuses to license the design to Shimano for any reasonable price. A little bit of what goes around comes around for Shimano.
Actually, actually....grzy
Jun 24, 2002 11:44 AM
Shimano has licensed others to use their splined BB design. Cannondale, FSA and others produce cranks to match the BB spline under license. Modolo makes a shifter that will work with Shimano and Campy, but it doesn't work well. Campy stuff is much more expensive than Shimano and their shifters are a much more simple design. SRAM makes MTB shifters that work with Shimano. Others make splined cranks (Capmy, ISIS design, etc.) but they don't have the marketing clout of Shimano. If you look at Shimano as just another high tech business you soon realize that they don't compete that differently than other Japanese owned businesses - that is to say ruthlessly and with the stated objective to own the market place.

I think that it has more do do with sticking to their core competancies: produce high tollerance complex parts and dominate the market. There isn't a lot Shimano can do to own the headset market other than produce them cheaply. However, if you look at things like brakes, shifters, and drive trains most of the world has a very hard time producing something acceptable and at a reasonable cost and when you lock up the desing with patents you have a legal monopoly. The fist day in micro economics they tell you that a monopoly is the BEST way to make money, but the rest of the course is spent dealing with not being able to do that. Hats off to Campy and SRAM as they try to compete with the 400 lbs. guerilla. If Shimano, Campy, SRAM thought it was worth while to produce this stuff they would, but they seem feel it's better left to the bit players. There is also a bunch of variation so it's hard to crank up the production lines. You can easily take one of their threaded headsets and bore it out on a lathe so that it can become threadless, but you're limited to 1". Shimano's real forte is drivetrains and their related parts including brakes and pedals. Seatposts and headsets are non-critical.
correct me if i'm wrong but...colker
Jun 24, 2002 12:15 PM
campy makes ahead sets. it may be a design variation. you can buy it everywhere.
all campy parts are not "much more expensive". cassettes are more expensive. cranks and shifters are not.
shimano may have most of the mountain bike market but they share a lot of the road market with campy.
sram doesn't sell a complete group. they do produce mtb stems and both shimano and campy don't.
Fair enough,TJeanloz
Jun 24, 2002 12:25 PM
I knew I was going to get called on including the splined BB; but they did refuse to license it for years, and only began to under pressure from the ISIS concept (when it was just a concept). The dispute with Dia-Compe was specifically over STI shifting, and I think Shimano did the right business thing to refuse to license it and lose the headset revenue. It just looks a little silly now, when they are still unable to produce a threadless headset. The argument will be proven the year that Dia-Compe's patent expires, which will coincide with when Shimano introduces a threadless headset.
"Japanese owned businesses"czardonic
Jun 24, 2002 1:07 PM
I was with you right up until you equated Japanese owned businesses with ruthlessness and monopolistic ambition. It seems especially odd considering you were (rightly) comparing Shimano to other high tech businesses, the most rapacious of which (cough-Microsoft-cough) are not Japanese.

In fact, the Japanese business world is decidedly more humane than that of the US. One of the reasons that Japan's economy is in such dire straits now is because of the redundancies and inefficiencies that have been tolerated so long in Japan in order to preserve cottage industries.
"Japanese owned businesses"grzy
Jun 24, 2002 5:37 PM
There I go generalizing again. Just b/c a company isn't Japanese doesn't mean it doesn't engage in anti competitive behavior. However, if a company is Japanese it's much more likely that it will and has engaged in anti competitive behavior - predatory pricing, dumping, tie in sales etc. In fact SRAM was recently awarded $9M by Shimano for their forcing bike manufactureres to buy their Rapid Fire shifters if they wanted to buy their cranks and deraileurs. I suggest you check out the book "Doing Business in Japan" by Morgan (CEO of Applied Materials) if you want some insight on closed markets, keritsus, and a machine designed for world dominance.

I wasn't trying to defend Microsoft or anyone else - just make the point that by their very nature Japanese business structure and culture is very different from what we in the west consider fair play. I have no idea why you say that Japanese business is more humane. They are in trouble b/c of their banking policies, coruption, bad loans and arrogance and the fact that they treat their own population as a captive and closed market. If the US Trade Dept. didn't finally smarten up and work at taking apart their game we'd all be in big trouble. Lacking any real natural resources they need to bring raw materials in and sell finished goods to the rest of the world. the monster needs to be fed. How can you call them humane when they approach business in almost the same fashion as war, disent is stifled, and their population is a bunch of droids looking for the vanishing promise of lifetime employment?

All you need to do is look at the auto industry, shipbuilding or electronics for numerous examples. things are a bit more subtle in the bike biz.
"Japanese owned businesses"czardonic
Jun 25, 2002 10:37 AM
Historically speaking, Japanese companys have treated their employees much better than American companies. I am not sure who this Morgan character is, but he sounds like another Western business man who is convinced that every aspect of Japanese culture is rooted in either Samurai deuling or WWII imperialism.

I call Japanese business more humane because workers are not treated as disposable. "Droids looking for the vanishing promise of lifetime employment?" Well that is the usual straw-man description, most often spoken from the Gap Khaki wearing, Starbucks swilling American "individualist." You know, the people who are being laid of by the hundreds of thousands by straight-shooting, free-trading, fair-competing American corporations.

Do you seriously think that American business is any less susceptible to "[bad] banking policies, coruption, bad loans and arrogance"? I suggest you open a newspaper my friend. On second thought, don't. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.
"Japanese owned businesses"grzy
Jun 25, 2002 3:16 PM
Well, then I guess that makes you one blissed out cat.

The Japanese are the ones in the recession that's approaching ten years, but I find it ludicrous that you think it's b/c of their more humane business practices. Have you ever been to Japan to do business? Ever commuted on the train with them to work, ever spent time in Tokyo, ever seriosuly studied business at the graduate level. Do you know what most women do in Japanese businesses? Serve tea.

Good thing weren't stereotyping too much here. The proof is in the pudding - for all practical purposes Shimano has eliminated any serious competition in the bicycle biz one way or another and has been convicted of anti-competitive practices. I'm talking volume here - not gucci Campy only bikes at $5K a copy. Walk into any family oriented bike shop or department store and characterize the components you see on these bikes. How did this happen? What aboout Suntour, Simplex, etc., etc.
"Japanese owned businesses"czardonic
Jun 25, 2002 4:07 PM
Ah, the good old "I know you are, but what am I". Touché. I take it you "seriously" studied rhetoric at a graduate level too.

So the Japanese have been in a recession for ten years. So what? Look at the progress it made in the 50 years prior. Look at the standard of living in Japan compared to America. Look at the standard of Education. Look at Crime. Gee, I am glad I am not one of those poor bastards! I'm glad I live in America, where the economy is peachy keen and women get equal pay for equal work. Oh, wait, adjusted for inflation, American salaries haven't increased since the 70's.

I didn't say that Shimano isn't monopolistic. I simply said that Shimano does not necessarily represent Japanese Business Culture, and certainly doesn't represent Japanese culture in general. No more so than Enron or Microsoft represent American culture.
Good points but different wavelengths.Leisure
Jun 25, 2002 11:14 PM
Japanese businesses may be "supportive" and "humane" amongst the businesses they affiliate with, and to some extent their employees, but they are relentless to their competition, both in their own country and in particular against foreign competition. It's like members of fraternities uniting to fair better in pissing contests with other fraternities. Corporations that need to work together coordinate more closely to more effectively pick on the competition. It may seem cooperative on the surface but it's in the interests of aggressive competition.
I agree. I just don't think it is because they are Japanese.czardonic
Jun 26, 2002 9:45 AM
Japanese businesses can be ruthelessly competitive. So can American businesses, or any other businesses for that matter. What sets Japanese business apart (at least in my mind) is that it has tried for so long to provide a sense of economic security to its employees. American companies are every bit as avaricious as Japanese companies, and they make no bones about the disposability of their workforce. If anything, it seems that any influence that Japanese culture has had on buisiness culture has been positive from the worker standpoint at the expense of competitiveness.
Jun 27, 2002 9:44 AM
If they're so humane to their work force and suffer in the competitive arena b/c of it why did/do they kick ass in many many markets? And now that they've become influenced by American business, become less humane, why are they doing worse? It seems that your arguement hinges on having things both ways. Japanese business are more humane to their work force and they've "suffered" b/c of it, but now that things are less that way they're doing worse. Can you explain this paradox you created without creating another one?
Superior products, plain and simple.czardonic
Jul 1, 2002 2:03 PM
Where is the paradox? Japanese business has suffered due to a reluctance to cut wages and staff. As you so gleefully pointed out, they have been in a recession for the past decade. Maybe an American style pink slip blizzard would have dried up the red ink years ago. Of course it would have left them with a demoralized work force that lethargically produced products meeting the barest minimums of performance, quality and safety, but meet the price requirements of their stagnant wages. Which, incidentally answers the other side of your "paradox", most people accept that Japanese firms make superior products when compared to American cars or Korean electronics (for example). What you are missing is that consumers do not look at a companies balance sheet when they choose a product. Thus, as long as they are in operation, a company can lose money hand over fist and still dominate a market.
re: Big ones don't make complete groups?DaveG
Jun 24, 2002 5:17 PM
I'm not sure that Shimano (or Campy) could dominate these markets that easily. Lots of competition in those markets with several established players. Shimano knocked the competion off the map initially because they did core components better (and hit innovation at the right price points) than the rest at that time. When they tried to dominate other components they weren't so successful (road pedals, a good example). There were always rumours that Shimano was ready to break into and dominate the MTB suspension fork business but that never happened. In more recent times SRAM has found a component niche that Shimano couldn't completely control and Campy has partially rebounded on the road. Shimano has not been able to dominate its fishing equipment market so it can't be that easy. Personally I'm glad that we have choices here.