Shimano announced a significant revamp of its mid-range groupset hierarchy earlier this week that will see a number of its product lines discontinued and amalgamated into a series of 9-, 10- and 11-speed groupsets called Shimano CUES. While this will make for a better, more reliable riding experience according to Shimano, it's also been suggested that the versatility and ability to mix and match components across the range could even help to reduce future supply chain issues in the bike industry.
> Shimano unveils new cross-compatible CUES groupsets for city, touring and mountain bikes
The headline info that appeared in most of the CUES coverage this week focussed on the culling of old groupsets, the lack of triple chainsets and rim brakes on the new products and how the cross-compatibility and more durable Linkglide technology will benefit the rider; however, the bike industry news publication Bike Europe suggests that the unified groupset line-up "should assist with cutting out supply chain delays experienced in the last couple of years."
Shimano CUES might not be your typical sparkly bike industry launch – indeed, it was announced the day before SRAM’s overhauled 12-speed, electronic Force AXS groupset and Cannondale’s revamped Supersix race bike – but it’s one that has implications for a much broader section of the bike-riding population. In the not-too-distant future, any new bike that was previously specced with Shimano Tiagra, Sora, Claris, Altus, Acera, Alivio or Deore components will instead be dressed with CUES. That’s a huge percentage of bikes sold to the general public… a public that rushed to buy bikes and have their old ones fixed up when lockdown hit in 2020, only to find that a lot of bike shops were booked up for weeks with repair jobs, and supply of mid to low-end components was extremely low.
While it was Bike Europe that explicitely suggested that CUES could ease future supply chain problems, Shimano itself puts it like this: “Shimano CUES reduces inventory needs and simplifies the servicing process for mid-tier bikes."
Gradually parts for the older groupsets that CUES is replacing – that are not compatible with the new products – will be phased out over a period of roughly seven years, and going forward CUES parts will be highly interchangeable. To give an example, it would be possible to fit an 11-speed CUES shifter on a bike with a 9-speed set-up and vice versa if emergency replacement parts were required.
In theory, then, if any significant world events occur in the future that disrupt the supply chain, it could be much easier to service and build up bikes with any mix-and-match Shimano CUES-compatible parts that retailers and distributors can get their hands on if sourcing new, full groupsets becomes difficult or impossible.
When asked if Shimano CUES could have eased the bike industry's supply chain woes during the Covid-19 pandemic, mechanic and road.cc reviewer Mike Stead, who penned a glowing opinion piece on the launch earlier this week, said: "Yes, CUES will dramatically ease the burden for shops of stocking many SKUs.
"Prior to CUES, if a Tiagra or 105 bike needed a chain or cassette, it was a rather specific ask, with almost zero chance of going outside the groupset if a shifter or mech broke. Over lockdown I had customers' bikes waiting months for basic parts like chains/cassettes. I sometimes cannibalised my own bikes or parts bins for workarounds. CUES will forestall anything like that for a long time, in the event of another pandemic.
"It also opens the door to manufacturers like Microshift et al to create ranges of components that only need to support one shift ratio, to be addressing a much larger market. Which further de-risks things and opens options for consumers."
Colin Williams, director at FLi distribution, is much less optimistic, saying: "I can't see how it could have helped really.
"If Shimano can make x components, the fact x is all the same, or made up of different models, it doesn't mean supply is better. It might have been a bit easier to manage, but if the overall quantity was the same, I can't see how it would have solved any problems in any significant way."
It appears there is more to Shimano's thinking behind CUES than simply "creating unique experiences", then; although, we can probably all agree it would be preferable if the supply chain issues of the past three years weren't repeated again in a hurry...
↪ in reply to DaveTx...
I'd be in favour of CAZs etc being a layer on Google Maps. I'd be in favour of drivers being able to receive a text message if they were due to...
I'm surprised to hear that you only get 3 hours of battery life. I reckon I get at least 10 from mine, although I always use the flashing light...
If any one was thinking of going on Sunday - do. It's bloody brilliant!
Gets my seal of approval
Maybe go through the Royal Parks too...
The media certainly contribute as do our actions. I agree it would be much better if we were portrayed more accurately.
Merci, monsieur Kappler
Why not sell the Wiltshire cottage of ten bedrooms and move back to London, we don't need idiots here.
Or better yet, stop polluting so much that masks aren't needed