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Interviews

20 years/20 questions – Shimano

Component kings get quizzed

TO CELEBRATE THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF DIRT WE’RE SPEAKING TO THE BRANDS AND RIDERS THAT HAVE SUPPORTED US THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. WE’LL BE ASKING 20 QUESTIONS ON THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE OF MOUNTAIN BIKING TO THOSE WHO ARE TRULY IN THE KNOW. CHECK OUT OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY BOOK THAT’S AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER HERE.

Shimano have been pretty synonymous with mountain biking since its inception. It’s been a rocky relationship at times but right now their kit offers amazing performance across all price points and they are pushing the envelope with Di2 and wider ranges.


Ben Hillsdon, PR Officer for Shimano, took to the hotseat to answer our questions on mountain biking past, present and future.

 

20 Questions – Shimano

What achievement of the company are you most proud of?
“Personally speaking its anything that helps people get out on their bikes more often. That extends to things like disc brakes, Di2 shifting, smoother gear shifts and wider gear ranges”.

Photo credit: Irmo Keizer

What has been your company’s biggest product development?
“In recent years electronic shifting has been a game changer”.

Credit: Irmo Keizer

What was the brand working on 20 years ago?
“On the face of it, 8-speed cassettes, triple chainrings and V-brakes, although behind-the-scenes… “

Credit: Shimano

 

What is the direction of the company setting up for the next 20 years?
 “We really couldn’t say…”

What influence has Dirt had on your company?
“Dirt has been incredibly influential in contributing to the growth of the sport. It’s hard to imagine what the sport would be like now if they weren’t around.” 

 

What has been the biggest lesson the company has learnt in the industry? “Just to keep innovating and continually strive to improve the sport for bike riders across the world.”

What do you dislike about working in the bike industry?
“Relatives buying me anything with a bike on as a Christmas present. Bike paperclips anyone?”

Give us a story from your wildest moment in mountain biking?
“I arranged a test camp for Deore XT Di2 high up in the Swiss Alps. The snow came down by the bucket load in mid-July but we pushed on and rode anyway. I was acting as the back marker making sure everyone got down safely but it meant I was always playing catch up and pinning it through technical sections.

“I overcooked one rocky descent and propelled myself over the bars. I ended up in the snowy gorse bushes a few feet below with no riders behind me and those in front already at the end of the trail. It would have taken hours for anyone to get back to me. I looked up at the sky, took a moment to check everything moved, untangled the mess of branches and bike, smiled at my good fortune and the drops of crimson in the snow and carried on down the trail, enjoying the shaky-legged adrenaline rush”.

What has been your favourite moment of Dirt’s history?
“Really liked the photography competition they did a few years back – Run to the Hills – it had some awesome photos and was great to see just how many people are passionate about MTB”

Your favourite or most memorable Dirt Cover?
“Issue 19”

 

What would you like to see from Dirt over the next 20 years?
“As the sport of mountain biking diversifies and broadens ever more, I’d like to see Dirt doing the same”.

How were you first introduced to Dirt?
“Well-thumbed hand-me-down copies from other Swansea Uni MTB riders”

What has Dirt taught you over the years?
“Repeatedly I get the sense I’m not a good enough mountain biker!”

Credit: Irmo Keizer

Press releases or journalism?
“It depends who’s doing the job! Ultimately I read to be informed, second is to be entertained.”

Who have been your favourite riders of the past 20 years?
“I remember seeing one of Martyn Ashton’s first videos filmed in the Bristol and being amazed at the unrideable stuff he was riding”.

 

What Rider has most pushed the boundaries over the past 20 years?
“Collectively the Athertons have really raised the bar. Rachel in particular has raised the profile of DH women’s racing beyond all recognition”.

What has been your favourite or most memorable race?
“The atmosphere at the DH World Cup rounds is like no other. The WC races on the continent provide some spectacular scenery but in terms of actual racing the variability of the Fort William weather really tests riders’ skills”.

Credit: Irmo Keizer

What’s your opinion on E-Bikes?
“Anything that helps people get out on their bikes more often is a good thing. And they’re bloody good fun too!”

What life lessons has Mountain biking taught you?
“Don’t scrimp on quality. Less time in the workshop means more time riding”.

Who doesn’t get the credit they deserve in the industry?
“The industry is full of un-sung heroes. Race organisers and trail builders deserve some love”.

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