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Equipment/Product Review (1987) The Browning Transmission

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Equipment/Product Review (1987) The Browning Transmission

Old 03-10-21, 09:36 AM
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Equipment/Product Review (1987) The Browning Transmission


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Old 03-20-21, 05:22 PM
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so, why didn't it catch on?
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Old 03-20-21, 06:46 PM
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Browning would end up licensing it to SunTour circa 1990, who would rechristen it the Browning Electronic AccuShift Transmission (BEAST). With continually dwingling market share, they were getting desperate to regain some ground on Shimano and thew BEAST didn't help matters. In fact, it arguably hurt their reputation even more.

Issues? Designers didn't see the need to add an extra ~300g of weight and more cost to their bicycles. Avid cyclists didn't like to be told they didn't know how to shift properly. While, as the test states, it worked fine in the desert, I recall not so glowing reports coming out from wet and muddy tests. Lastly, Shimano was "in" and SunTour was "out".
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Old 03-20-21, 07:56 PM
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And now we have "Index" shifting....go figure.
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Old 03-21-21, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by old's'cool View Post
so, why didn't it catch on?
"Solution" to a non-existent problem.
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Old 03-21-21, 02:11 PM
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Isn’t this just an early version of today’s electronic shifting?
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Old 03-22-21, 08:49 PM
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If you look for it, there is usually an early version of today's electronic anything... e.g. automatic transmission, telephone dialling, aircraft autopilot, military bombsight/gunnery computer, engine fuel injection control, ad infinitum.
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Old 03-30-21, 11:39 PM
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Sorry, a little late to reply here. The BEAST was indeed, very much like WTB GreaseGuard and the Pedersen SE canti brakes, an attempt to one-up Shimano with cool new technology while also recapturing some cachet/coolness for Suntour products. There was as I recall a fair amount of initially very positive buzz around the BEAST, and we had a strong number of preorders from both OEM, for their high-end models, and from custom builders.

But BEAST, also like WTB GG, was significantly more complicated to manufacture at a production scale than Suntour imagined. And just like WTB GG, Suntour committed to pricing, purchase order quantities and licensing fees before they had any idea how many they could actually make, how quickly they could make them, and how much production would actually cost per unit. Not a strong recipe for success.

The BEAST mfr sticking point, IIRC, was the hinged shifting gates requiring a mfr/fit precision the Taiwanese subcontracting factory was unable to reliably attain. There was very little +/- tolerance wiggle room between acceptable and non-functional. There were also issues with functional test units not performing as intended in the field, maybe sand at Moab wasn't an issue but mud at Mammoth Lake was? But that kinda didn't matter so much because very few production units were actually produced, shipped and built into bicycles. Almost all the OEM/builders cancelled their orders because of production delays, not because of market feedback. Which was somewhat of a blessing for Suntour, since costs has increased so much the BEAST initial price was significantly below actual cost. Fulfilling just the initial orders would have entailed a significant loss.

It was yet another fine mess.

There was very cool potential there, though. The Brownings were looking at combining the front BEAST with a similar rear cluster, and incorporating an electronic shifter control, allowing dual/mulitple/simultaneous front/rear shifting to run through the gear progression. And that wasn't enough for them, so they were also thinking about the possibility of developing a small programmable electronic device that could autoshift front/rear mechs.

Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Browning would end up licensing it to SunTour circa 1990, who would rechristen it the Browning Electronic AccuShift Transmission (BEAST). With continually dwingling market share, they were getting desperate to regain some ground on Shimano and thew BEAST didn't help matters. In fact, it arguably hurt their reputation even more.

Issues? Designers didn't see the need to add an extra ~300g of weight and more cost to their bicycles. Avid cyclists didn't like to be told they didn't know how to shift properly. While, as the test states, it worked fine in the desert, I recall not so glowing reports coming out from wet and muddy tests. Lastly, Shimano was "in" and SunTour was "out".
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Last edited by pcb; 03-31-21 at 12:56 PM. Reason: Misspell
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