Think Shimano invented Synchro Shift? Think again

Fully mechanical Synchro Shift from France, in the 90s

Ask most people who are up on their bike tech and they’ll know about Shimano’s clever Synchro Shift technology. Many people think that this design, which allows a rider to cycle through a multi-chainring setup with a single shifter, originated with Shimano’s XTR Di2 electronic transmission, but they’d be wrong.


Related: Shimano XTR Di2 M9050 transmission – long-term review

Actually, way back in the early 90s Synchro Shift existed as an obscure, fully mechanical device, which used a gripshift and two cables to control both the front and rear derailleurs of a bike. The system was produced as a CNCed aluminum unit and in cheaper, plastic versions and was compatible with triple eight- or nine- speed setups.

The synchro shift x-pro from egs: the synchro shift x-pro from egs
Sorry about the quality – this is an image from the 90s after all…

Just like Shimano’s version today, the system followed a pre-programmed shift pattern that meant space was freed up at the handlebar and a good chain line was always maintained – and it simplified using the gears in the same way a modern 1x system does.

Despite not being massively well known, EGS supposedly had sold 200,000 Synchro Shift units and had 73 bicycle manufacturers using its parts across an international distributor network back in 1999. Unfortunately all was not well at EGS and the brand folded shortly afterwards, the patents were snapped up by Shimano and the rest as they say, is history – apart from the original EGS website that is, which eerily displays product as if it’s still available to buy.

Syncro shift lives on through shimano’s xtr di2 mountain bike group:

Thanks to EGS Synchro Shift, this will be the only shifter you’ll need for up to 33 gears