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Jim Merz, Shimano listened, Campy didn't

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Jim Merz, Shimano listened, Campy didn't

Old 12-28-17, 01:24 AM
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Jim Merz, Shimano listened, Campy didn't

Very enlightening article in winter BQ NO. 62
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Old 12-28-17, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Very enlightening article in winter BQ NO. 62
Care to share it?
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Old 12-28-17, 11:23 AM
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Old 12-28-17, 11:37 AM
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@JaccoW

I knew I would get called out on this. No link at present. There are other interviews that talk about this and I will try to find a link to one of those. The crux is that Merz, Sinyard and Specialized were trying to get Campy to help them by makeing more, up to date modern forward thinking components, but even as Campy's biggest buyer they were mostly ignored. So when Shimano asked, Merz showed them a Campy 50th group, told them what they needed improved upon and within a year they delivered, made a quantum leap and Campy spent many years catching up. Obviously Merz was key to this, he could explain to them technically what was needed and they listened very carefully knowing what was at stake. Campy, not so much. Merz made many trips to and spent a lot of time in Japan as did DiNucci.
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Old 12-28-17, 01:43 PM
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I'm thinking that by that time it likely was already apparent to the Campagnolo brass that their own staff capacity for churning out designs and testing was quite far behind what Shimano's staff was capable of.
As such, they would recognize how their budget could go out the window trying just one too many forward-thinking designs, especially if their timetables for such efforts had been somewhat planned out already.
But likely they missed out on sharing efforts with Specialized. Perhaps they didn't trust them enough? After all, Specialized was having their own components design produced which competed with both of their gruppo suppliers and with other component suppliers.


I'm wondering though, just what point in time that Jim Merz might have been referring to?


Post-1983, fuhgettaboutit, Shimano would henceforth be copied as much as would be allowed.


On a related note, I have wondered how so many of Shimano's presumed patented designs have seemingly been used by Campagnolo so few years following their release. And to what extent that Shimano regards Campagnolo as much of a competitor any more, and what "licensing" agreements that they might share. I would think that any such agreements might be kept completely confidential.

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Old 12-28-17, 02:06 PM
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He is talking about 82-83 when Tullio passed, Sinyard was invited to the wake but sent Merz. One might think Shimano chose to strike and ramp up while Campy was preoccupied.


Originally Posted by dddd View Post
I'm thinking that by that time it likely was already apparent to the Campagnolo brass that their own staff capacity for churning out designs and testing was quite far behind what Shimano's staff was capable of.
As such, they would recognize how their budget could go out the window trying just one too many forward-thinking designs, especially if their timetables for such efforts had been somewhat planned out already.
But likely they missed out on sharing efforts with Specialized. Perhaps they didn't trust them enough? After all, Specialized was having their own components design produced which competed with both of their gruppo suppliers and with other component suppliers.


I'm wondering though, just what point in time that Jim Merz might have been referring to?


Post-1983, fuhgettaboutit, Shimano would henceforth be copied as much as would be allowed.


On a related note, I have wondered how so many of Shimano's presumed patented designs have seemingly been used by Campagnolo so few years following their release. And to what extent that Shimano regards Campagnolo as much of a competitor any more, and what "licensing" agreements that they might share. I would think that any such agreements might be kept completely confidential.
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Old 12-28-17, 02:43 PM
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It sure did not help that most pro teams still insisted on using Campy SR drivetrains on their bikes, all the way into the mid 80's, knowing very well that there were other brands offering components that were already a generation or two ahead, design and performance-wise , from what Campagnolo was selling.
I always thought that the 50th anniversary Gruppo was pure folly in Campy's part, an ecclectic look back, instead of a more appropriate look ahead of what they can offer. The prices they sell for these days makes the Gruppo even more ridiculous in my eyes....
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Old 12-28-17, 02:49 PM
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Well all I know is that while I have all sorts of groupset, I prefer Campagnolo's new stuff today. It's what I like for how it works for me. So I guess in my book they did Ok....
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Old 12-28-17, 02:59 PM
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You may not be wrong, much of it was certainly a slippery slope although Specialized by no means cornered the market on this sort of thing, they did however elevate it to an artform. The article notes that while suntour caved on STI shifters, Campy dug up drawings from the 50's of TA prototypes to invalidate Shimano's patent, which I would say was very fortunate for them.


Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Just knowing the other business practices Specialized engaged in I wonder if this story has been embellished a bit to make it appear less reverse engineering and more Shimano trying to work with requests from a big-time purchaser. I mean we all know how the Stumpjumper came to be...
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Old 12-28-17, 03:04 PM
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This is another point Merz makes, Campy was smart and easy to work on, 8 and 10mm wrench fit almost everything. Pro mechanics dictated it had to be easy to work on, Shimano originally didn't get this, but they listened and got on board very quickly.


Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
It sure did not help that most pro teams still insisted on using Campy SR drivetrains on their bikes, all the way into the mid 80's, knowing very well that there were other brands offering components that were already a generation or two ahead, design and performance-wise , from what Campagnolo was selling.
I always thought that the 50th anniversary Gruppo was pure folly in Campy's part, an ecclectic look back, instead of a more appropriate look ahead of what they can offer. The prices they sell for these days makes the Gruppo even more ridiculous in my eyes....
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Old 12-28-17, 03:08 PM
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You are also correct, they only stumbled for less than a decade, but I am sure there was a lot of fallout when they realized the hole they were in, not something they were used to.


Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
Well all I know is that while I have all sorts of groupset, I prefer Campagnolo's new stuff today. It's what I like for how it works for me. So I guess in my book they did Ok....
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Old 12-28-17, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
You are also correct, they only stumbled for less than a decade, but I am sure there was a lot of fallout when they realized the hole they were in, not something they were used to.
Remember where they strumbled from. Campy was high end only and owned the market. High end was and still is a very, very small fraction of the market. I don't know what percentage of that small market they lost but it was high, very high. Down for 10 and then another bunch to build back up.
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Old 12-28-17, 04:03 PM
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Exactly.


Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
Remember where they strumbled from. Campy was high end only and owned the market. High end was and still is a very, very small fraction of the market. I don't know what percentage of that small market they lost but it was high, very high. Down for 10 and then another bunch to build back up.
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Old 12-28-17, 04:59 PM
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I only know what I've ridden, and what I've read. Not sure Mr. Sinyard would be invited for a beer, but you never know. I've ridden both and like Suntour for friction, Shimano for DT indexed, neither much during the early STI/Ergo years, and both now that they're really good at what they do.
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Old 12-28-17, 05:10 PM
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There was one piece of this I found amusing as it unfolded. A few years later, Shimano came out with their first brifter using external (and in my book ugly) shift cables; protected by patent. It took Campy a few years and a vast amount of market share to make a brifter with hidden cables. A few more years to make them good. But they did and for a few years, Shimano was still running those ugly (and very non-aero) cable while Campy had nice clean set-ups like everybody uses now.

Shimano also invented and patented the brake lever-shifter. Even after they hid the cables, they stayed with a system I will never use simply because it would cause me at least one crash. I've been riding dropped handlebars and brakes for 50 years. Been steadying the handlebars with a finger solidly on the side of the brake lever when I remove the other hand to read a waterbottle or signal a turn. With Shimano, that would be a gear shift! With Campy, that shift s safely behind the lever.

I haven't gone index/brifter yet but when I set up my custom as a 9-speed, I went Campy for those two reasons; so I had wheels compatible with a brifter I could live with. That said, I have very little Campy. A Mirage derailleur (on that bike and I absolutely love it!), a few hubs, one crankset I am using and a double that was an experiment of one year, a seat-pin or two, a Chorus seatpost (the best non-two bolt seatpost I have ever used, quietly doing its thing on my winter/rain/city fix gear) and a few older 5-6-7 speed and front hubs for future builds. And a pair of cones in my old racing days Sanshin front hub. (The cones are a touch smaller than the Sanshin so there was a real gab between the cone and the seal. I wrapped the cones tightly with waxed boat twine in the very early '80s and used thoat wheel as my horrendous weather and off road wheel. Last summer I overhauled the hub, fearing the worst knowing it had never been looked at for decades. Getting the externals cleaned up was work. Inside? The Phil Wood grease was absolutely perfect. Clean and green. After removing a touch of play, the axle spun smoothly. Race perfect. (I'm going to pull the Weinmann Concave rim off, put on a really nice, light rim, re-wrap the cones and have a real race wheel - someday. And to the thread topic - a wheel with no Shimano and a touch of Campy.)

Shimano has been creeping onto my bikes. Lots of BBs that are slowly being thinned out. I am going to Phil Woods because I can make big inroads in narrowing the Q-facter to numbers my knees like by bringing the left crank much closer to the chainstay. I've got one or two Ultegra front hubs. Just as good as the comparable Campy and finding complete wheels cheap often happens. I have a couple of Shimano cranksets that I am trying not to use (Q-factor). I use a bunch of Shimano quick-releases as they are very good and easily available. And Shimano pedals, lots. I love the semi-platform toeclip pedals that they made a lot of. With a couple of easy modifications, they make the best in-traffic fix gear pedals I have ever used. They go on all my fix gears. I have also started using the MTB SPD pedal for off road and winter use.

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Old 12-28-17, 08:58 PM
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In 2006? I bought a CD of all of Campagnolo's US patent applications.
Very interesting reviewing. It has been a while since I reviewed it, but at the time two things struck me.
Campagnolo was working hard all along, I cannot compare thier effort to what Shimano was doing, but they were not just sitting. The problem I saw was that the Suntour patent was going to sunset in a reasonably sort time, even in the early 80's. Campagnolo was designing all around the slant parallelogram, I saw two patents that saw the light of day, the Croce D' Une (sp) actuation rod and the later a/b position operating link angle options.
I have always felt Shimano was playing with the slant parallelogram internally, knowing that the patent would expire at a date certain, then they jumped to market with 7400 SIS very soon thereafter, the tooling was done, the prototyping was done. Just unleash the distribution.
Campagnolo played with electronic shifting really early, maybe the Mavic Zap caught their attention, I have read that they were ready to go then decided they needed an extra cog, setting back the project quite a bit.
Campy was Loking at complete wheels way before they saw release. Some wild stuff.

The 50th group was no real startling engineering effort, some incremental changes, the backside of the cranks get CNC machined to fix the crack prone region, the bulk of the design was in the injection molding tooling for the case...

The Corsa Record... Elegant, it should have become the anniversary group. The Bugatti trim level group.
Maybe it was to be, and was late so they did the 50th version instead?
They learned by the 80th box.
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Old 12-28-17, 09:29 PM
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So I believe they were working, just not with the urgency and mission Shimano was. Merz states that after Tullio's wake they toured the new factory and noted that they only had 2 engineers working on the production side of things while Shimano had 20 to 30 working on the design side looking at everything possible, metallurgy, design, strength and every other aspect. The Japanese had investigated everything from cars to cameras and everything in between including bicycles and components that they detailed with extreme accuracy in reports that they coupled with examples shipped back to Japan for total scrutiny firsthand. Japan was underestimated to be sure and I am not so sure they didn't plan it that way. Either way it worked out very well for them.



Originally Posted by repechage View Post
In 2006? I bought a CD of all of Campagnolo's US patent applications.
Very interesting reviewing. It has been a while since I reviewed it, but at the time two things struck me.
Campagnolo was working hard all along, I cannot compare thier effort to what Shimano was doing, but they were not just sitting. The problem I saw was that the Suntour patent was going to sunset in a reasonably sort time, even in the early 80's. Campagnolo was designing all around the slant parallelogram, I saw two patents that saw the light of day, the Croce D' Une (sp) actuation rod and the later a/b position operating link angle options.
I have always felt Shimano was playing with the slant parallelogram internally, knowing that the patent would expire at a date certain, then they jumped to market with 7400 SIS very soon thereafter, the tooling was done, the prototyping was done. Just unleash the distribution.
Campagnolo played with electronic shifting really early, maybe the Mavic Zap caught their attention, I have read that they were ready to go then decided they needed an extra cog, setting back the project quite a bit.
Campy was Loking at complete wheels way before they saw release. Some wild stuff.

The 50th group was no real startling engineering effort, some incremental changes, the backside of the cranks get CNC machined to fix the crack prone region, the bulk of the design was in the injection molding tooling for the case...

The Corsa Record... Elegant, it should have become the anniversary group. The Bugatti trim level group.
Maybe it was to be, and was late so they did the 50th version instead?
They learned by the 80th box.
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Old 12-28-17, 09:49 PM
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Campagnolo -
Distracted. Smaller. Barking up the wrong tree if you will. Proud, "we do the lead inventing", it is in our official corporate name even... "Don't you understand?"
Shimano-
Students of Demming, not confident, bigger, more diversified, fishing reels, all levels of bicycle components, probably better management systems.
But Suntour still put the skewer to oath of them here and there for a long while. They were much smaller, more creative possibly.
The French -
lost the plot before the bike boom, if there was no bike boom, they would have floundered that much faster.
A small resurgence with Spidel and Mavic, but too late.

There is a possible problem for Shimano, Japanese corporations when on top get arrogant.
Then things can go sideways.

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Old 01-02-18, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
. . .
Shimano-
Students of Demming, not confident, bigger, more diversified, fishing reels, all levels of bicycle components, probably better management systems.

. . .
I have often wondered about this.

Shimano: fishing reels, index shifting. Fishing reels, index shifting?

Hmmm. Think about it.

Fishing reels release and retrieve fishing line around a spool.
Shifters release and retrieve cable around a spool.

I wonder if a Shimano design engineer got demoted from fishing reels to bicycle parts. "I think I'll invent index shifting."

I hope she got a share of the patent rights.
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Old 01-02-18, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Hummer View Post
I have often wondered about this.

Shimano: fishing reels, index shifting. Fishing reels, index shifting?

Hmmm. Think about it.

Fishing reels release and retrieve fishing line around a spool.
Shifters release and retrieve cable around a spool.

I wonder if a Shimano design engineer got demoted from fishing reels to bicycle parts. "I think I'll invent index shifting."

I hope she got a share of the patent rights.
No, but way back (1975) was the FFS with Positron index shift drivetrain. Klunky, but they had a concept of redoing index shifting, ( there were attempts longer ago too). I think the slant parallelogram did a good job of exploiting the concept as it provided a relatively easy way to maintain a near uniform distance from the upper jockey wheel to the freewheel. Obviously, when the Suntour patent expired Shimano was ready to drop SIS on the market. This time top tier down. Smart, cunning. At the wrong time for Campagnolo, the Corsa Record had a false start with the brakes and front derailleur, the release publicity collateral shows a unit that never saw production. Campagnolo was adjusting to the passing of the founder too... Valentino was at the helm, yes the kid who got his name saddled with an Edsel of a rear derailleur a few decades earlier...

The second of that one two punch was the Look pedal system, it dominated quickly, Shimano paid the royalty as soon as a deal could be struck, Campagnolo presented the SGR pedal, some cool featured, heavy as sin, finicky.
A non product almost. Pride runs deep and can run a company to ruin. Think Kodak... The original patent holder for the digital camera. Actually, I am impressed happily that Campagnolo survives. Valentino is not young now though... Is there a third generation?
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Old 09-29-20, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Just knowing the other business practices Specialized engaged in I wonder if this story has been embellished a bit to make it appear less reverse engineering and more Shimano trying to work with requests from a big-time purchaser. I mean we all know how the Stumpjumper came to be...
Well, unless you want to call Jim Merz a liar, several of us at the 2019 Eroica California heard the story from the horse's mouth. Jim said that Campy had something like 1 or 2 engineers, Shimano had a couple dozen. Campy didn't listen, Shimano did.

Compare a Campy gruppo against Shimano Dura Ace from that exact time, I'm not sure what they reverse engineered.
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Old 09-29-20, 11:50 PM
  #22  
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I don't care much about the Dura-Ace Campy fight and which groupset comes in second place as the preferred groupo of real men, because we all know that Sturmey Archer is the #1 choice of the hardest of men to ever throw a leg over a bicycle (Tommy Godwin), but I would like to point out that Tadej Pogačar rode a campy equipped bike to victory in the TdF this year :-P

I actually do have a soft spot in my heart for Campy anything, and I do own a few bits and pieces of campy stuff, and all of it is quite nice, at some point I'd like to own a bike with a full campy groupo, but I'm sort of full up on bikes as of now, so it will be a bit before that happens.

Yes I see this is an old thread gugie bumped.

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Old 09-30-20, 01:11 AM
  #23  
merziac
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
I don't care much about the Dura-Ace Campy fight and which groupset comes in second place as the preferred groupo of real men, because we all know that Sturmey Archer is the #1 choice of the hardest of men to ever throw a leg over a bicycle (Tommy Godwin), but I would like to point out that #1 11111]Tadej Pogačar rode a campy equipped bike to victory in the TdF this year :-P

I actually do have a soft spot in my heart for Campy anything, and I do own a few bits and pieces of campy stuff, and all of it is quite nice, at some point I'd like to own a bike with a full campy groupo, but I'm sort of full up on bikes as of now, so it will be a bit before that happens.

Yes I see this is an old thread gugie bumped.
No worries man and of course you're right but back then it was an arms race and Campy was stubbornly holding their line to their detriment at the time.
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Old 09-30-20, 06:43 AM
  #24  
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The same thing happened with the ATB groups. When Shimano was developing Deore XT, they went to ATB pioneers like Gary Fisher.

One of the forgotten names in Shimano product development is Wayne Stetina, one of dominant cyclists in USA road cycling during the late 1970s. He was hired by Shimano USA, though I forget the exact year and his job title. Regardless, he did a lot personal testing, arranged testing with top USA cyclists and was liaison with the Japanese engineers. I know he had lots of input on the development of New Dura-Ace (i.e. 74xx series). I believe he eventually worked his way up to Vice-President.

It will be interesting to see what surprises Shimano has in store for their Centennial, next year.
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Old 09-30-20, 07:19 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
I don't care much about the Dura-Ace Campy fight and which groupset comes in second place as the preferred groupo of real men, because we all know that Sturmey Archer is the #1 choice of the hardest of men to ever throw a leg over a bicycle (Tommy Godwin), but I would like to point out that Tadej Pogačar rode a campy equipped bike to victory in the TdF this year :-P

I actually do have a soft spot in my heart for Campy anything, and I do own a few bits and pieces of campy stuff, and all of it is quite nice, at some point I'd like to own a bike with a full campy groupo, but I'm sort of full up on bikes as of now, so it will be a bit before that happens.

Yes I see this is an old thread gugie bumped.
With indexed shifting, to boot!

The history is interesting. Neat thread.
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