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Old 05-09-02, 09:14 AM   #1
VooDude
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New U.S.A. made Shifter!

I am looking at starting a shifter company and would like some feedback about what you would like to see in a "better" shifter. It will be made in the U.S.A. w/ very little plastic. Mostly aluminum. What features would be important to you? Would you be willing to pay a little more for a top end shifter if it was made in the U.S.A. and a top quality shifter?
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Old 05-09-02, 10:04 AM   #2
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Pretty please!! Even if there are some things that you really like about your current shifters. Come-On here, you only make a thousand million shifts everytime you go for a ride, now how does that make you feel. Anyone who contributes will be invited to a bash at my house this summer!!
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Old 05-09-02, 10:17 AM   #3
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What kind of shifters are you contemplating? Twist? Thumb? ERGO? Integrated? Campy compatible? Shimano Compatible?

You're contemplating getting into a market with serious price competition. You'd have to demonstrate that it is going to work better and last longer than anything now available if you are going to charge more.
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Old 05-09-02, 10:29 AM   #4
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Check out the ill fated Modolo levers. They had index levers which were adjustable to Campy or Shimano.

A set which pull enough brake cable for V brakes would go down well with tourists and cyclo cross riders, esp if they came in small, med and large size.
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Old 05-09-02, 10:29 AM   #5
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Light, Cheap, and durable. I could care less what country a part is made in. Think outside the box.
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Old 05-09-02, 10:30 AM   #6
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It is going to be a mountain bike only shifter. 9 speed compatible with Shimano and Grip Shift Rear derailers. It is going to be a thumb style shifter and that is about all I can tell you. It is going to be nothing like what is currently out there. It will be totally rebuildable and I am planning on selling all of the components seperatly so if you do break anything for any reason you can replace just the broken component. I have no idea what the sell price is going to be but I am aiming for the XTR price range. Maybe a little higher because I am building my shifters from aluminum instead of plastic.
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Old 05-09-02, 10:37 AM   #7
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Light, Cheap, and Durable? Light + Durable = Expensive! I am not looking to build a piece of plastic junk that will last 1 or 2 seasons. I want to build a high quality product that will outlast any product on the market, unfortuatly that doesn't = cheap! Sorry, that is just the way Manufacturing works. You pay for what you get.....
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Old 05-09-02, 10:40 AM   #8
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Hey, you asked me what I want. If you want to be competitive you should pick more than 2. Will you be having mechanical engineers working on this part or what?
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Old 05-09-02, 10:46 AM   #9
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I am a Design Engineer/ Mechanical Engineer, and I will be having F.E.A. done by an outside firm, and a severe test program. I refuse to sell anything that I am not 110% confident in. I think that the best testing will be conducted by friends who are on the racing circuit, as well as myself and a bunch of local shop riders I know.
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Old 05-09-02, 10:48 AM   #10
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Sounds a bit like the old friction shifters which had replaceable parts, but, of course, much more complicated because of the ratcheting mechanism. SunRace is currently making some 9 speed thumb shifters. Are you aware of those?
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Old 05-09-02, 10:52 AM   #11
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The only shifters that I found on their website were the 6 speed plastic shifter. Where are the 9 speeds? Haven't seen them. By the way, I'm not doing a top mount thumb shifter. This is a great forum. I have been looking for this one for a long time. Happy to hear from you all.
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Old 05-09-02, 11:47 AM   #12
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You know, the vast majority of MTB buyers don't spec their own bikes, so they'll use whatever shifters happen to come with the whole package and that's Shimano, most of the time. I have five-year-old XTR RF+ shifters on my MTB, and they work as well now as when I bought the bike. Admittedly, I don't get anywhere near as many miles on the MTB as I do on my road and cyclocross bikes, but the product is functional and durable. The only reasons why I would change my shifters would be if (a) I upgraded the drivetrain to 9-speed [not in the lifetime of this bike] (b) the shifters stopped working due to wear or damage.

So, you have to wonder how big your potential market is going to be. I own four bikes and spend a whole lot of money on bikes and bike stuff -- much more than the average person -- yet I would not be interested in your product except in very exceptional circumstances.

Let's face it, you're not going to get spec on new bikes, and your potential market is infinitesimally small, if you're talking about pricing a little above XTR. So your shifters not only have to be good, or better than the existing products out there, they have to be much, much, much better than the existing products. They have to be revolutionary in ways that index shifting was revolutionary.

The alternative is to sell a product that is comparable to or a little better than XTR at an LX price. But, as you point out, that's not possible given Shimano's economies of scale and the fact that you'll be using contract manufacturing -- American contract manufacturing at that. Like you said, "that is just the way Manufacturing works."

I'm sorry to seem so negative, but I don't see how you can square the circle. You're in a position similar to someone who has a great idea for an x86-based computer operating system. It may be better than what we have [it probably is, in fact], but you'll have to sell a whole lot of copies to survive.

On the other hand, should you pull it off... I'd want trigger shifting a-la RF+, with a reversed downshift on the left shifter, all shifting modulated so upshifting and downshifting require the same amount of force, the ability to up- or downshift multiple cogs in a single throw [like Campy ErgoPower], cheaply rebuildable, easily maintained, better cable tension adjusters than on XTR, gear indicfators [yes, I use them], 2/3 the weight of XTR.
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Old 05-09-02, 01:09 PM   #13
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Originally posted by velocipedio
I'm sorry to seem so negative, but I don't see how you can square the circle. You're in a position similar to someone who has a great idea for an x86-based computer operating system. It may be better than what we have [it probably is, in fact], but you'll have to sell a whole lot of copies to survive.
actually this did happen, back about 3-4 years ago, a linux based OS came out called BE. it was highly superior to (win 98 at the time) but the problem was that microsoft had such a hold on the market that they could not figure out a way to sell enough of their product. the company who produced BE sold out to Palm Inc. for 5-10 million (USD) and latter on tried to sue microsoft.

anyways the point is, the product may be better, but the competition is going to be tough to beat, best of luck and hopefully we'll all see your product on mtb's soon
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Old 05-09-02, 03:50 PM   #14
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Voodude, about SunRace: the 9 spd is brand new. It's part of their new JuJu line. Also, in that line they've come up with a plastic (? non alloy) RD that is as light as a feather with jockey wheels that are the size of cassette gears. Huge! This company's engineering has come along way since they first broke into the No. American market.
. . .but this is your competition also, because their prices are going to be very low. (That derailleur will retail for around $20. usd) and unless you have a huge bankroll for product developement and its explotation, the odds seemed stacked against you. But I'm sure you are probably aware of the pitfalls. So all I can add is Good Luck! You're up against some giants, and if you really do come up with a unique product, I'll take two.

(You might consider having it made in Canada where your dollars will go much further due to the exchange rate.)
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Old 05-10-02, 07:42 AM   #15
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I've used ESP 9.0 grip shifters and XT and XTR shifters. Been happy with all, it's a matter of whatever you get used to. Regardless, it's one of those components that as long as it's working, you forget it's there! The quicker you can forget it's there, the better it is. (In my wierd thought rationale)

So, simplicity is what I'm after. I'm also interested in the rebuildability and availability of spare parts. K.I.S.S. is one thing Shimano has obviously forgotten! Ever try to take apart a Shimano shifter? Forget about it! If you can't get it working by dousing it with PB Blaster, it's trash! So from a mechanic's standpoint, I'm very interested.

I'm not an engineer, (although I did last 3 semesters in undergradute Engineering studies before I switched majors), I don't know how you can make a shifter that's lighter, more precise and close in costs to an XTR. If you can and you do, I'll buy it for sure! I would especially buy one because it NOT from a large company!

What about the rear derailleur, I've had a couple ideas on how to improve that component! This being after I tore my third one off my bike and had to walk back to the truck because I left my chain tool in the truck!

BTW, if you're in need of some test riders, let me know!

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Old 05-10-02, 07:53 AM   #16
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I don't think that I want to even look at getting into the rear derailer market. A few companies have tried and haven't been able to make a dent. White Industries developed that push/pull type of derailer, which is a great idea and a quality product, but it costs like $500 dollers or some rediculous price. I have been riding on an XT derailer for years and I don't have any problems with it so I don't see a reason to fix it. The reason that I am looking at the shifter market is this. The indexing in my top mount thumb shifters has long worn out and I can't stand the thought of buying Grip-Shift, or Rapid-Fire shifters. There just isn't a product out there that fit's the needs of my riding style. I like the simplicity of the Top mount thumb shifter and I like "Some" of it's features. I like the concept of the Rapid Fire shifters but I really dislike alot of its features. I want to create the best of both worlds from a Maintenance standpoint, a mountain bikers standpoint, and a manufacturing/ design/ engineering standpoint. Like I said, I won't think of going to market until I am 110% sure. That is why your comments and thoughts are so important to me because I don't want to build a shifter that I like, I want to build a shifter that solves alot of the complaints that people have with the current shifters and gives a person a choice when its time to purchase a new shifter.
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Old 05-10-02, 07:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
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actually this did happen, back about 3-4 years ago, a linux based OS came out called BE. it was highly superior to (win 98 at the time) but the problem was that microsoft had such a hold on the market...
My point exactly.

However, I wasn't aware that BeOS was Linux or UNIX based. It didn't look that way when I demo'ed it -- seemed like a single-user OS, though they may just have cunningly hidden the UNIXy features behind the interface.
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Old 05-10-02, 01:40 PM   #18
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My point exactly.

However, I wasn't aware that BeOS was Linux or UNIX based. It didn't look that way when I demo'ed it -- seemed like a single-user OS, though they may just have cunningly hidden the UNIXy features behind the interface.
yes indeed, as you may know linux is like dos, the windows manager (gui) is totaly seperate from the actual core OS, the gui will simply execute commands for you while saving you from typing into a command line. BeOS I think is linux based (Although may be unix) but again it just hides the core os from the user, although since you had to pay for it, you got a lot more user friendly functions. but anyways I think this has gotten a little off topic.
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Old 05-10-02, 03:13 PM   #19
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Ummm guys, ....HELLO?.....Bike stuff remeber!

Back on task please!

L8R
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Old 05-11-02, 11:43 AM   #20
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I'm happy with SRAM shifters, so I'm unlikely to be a buyer, but what might sell is a thumb shifter that could work with either SRAM ESP derailleurs (1:1 actuation) or Shimano, but whether this would be technically feasible...

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