Shimano has denied seeking to prevent UK consumers from buying its products cheaply from European retailers after a Spanish website indicated that it was unable to ship components to this country, leading to internet speculation that this represents the shape of things to come for UK consumers looking to buy cycling products from Europe.
The Spanish website bikeinn is currently displaying this message next to Shimano products if you have shipping set for the UK: "Due to the Shimano new regulations relating to distribution, we are not allowed to ship some products of this brand to United Kingdom."
Do a search of the site for available Shimano bike products and you'll see no results with shipping set for the UK. Switch to shipping to France and you'll get hundreds.
Competition law allows EU consumers to access goods and services from anywhere else in the union without regulatory obstacles. The UK has now left the EU, of course, but all of these rules still apply during the transition period which continues until the end of the year, so UK consumers should be able to buy Shimano products from bikeinn without any difficulty.
It's apparently not a question of Shimano jumping the gun, though, just a simple coding error.
"We understand that this was due to a technical mis-coding on behalf of retailer and they are looking into a solution," says Shimano. "For clarity, all Shimano retailers in the EU are able to sell to UK customers and any deviation to this is a decision of the individual retailer.”
Could this be the shape of things to come, though? The UK is withdrawing from the single market and the terms of the future relationship are still being negotiated. In theory, your ability to buy from EU retailers could be restricted from the start of 2021, although the government says that the majority of goods imported into the UK would not be subject to additional tariffs.
The prices of Shimano components have increased hugely in the UK over recent months (we're talking about prices you can expect to pay aretailers as opposed to RRPs). For example, Shimano 105 pedals (which have a retail price of £114.99) have increased from £69.49 to £89.99 on Chain Reaction Cycles. However, it's a similar story elsewhere in Europe.
A medium cage 105 rear derailleur is currently £39 on CRC and €43.49 (£38.99) on bikeinn, for example, while an Ultegra R8000 11-speed cassette is £64.99 from CRC and a little cheaper at €64.99 (£58.27) from bikeinn.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.