Interbike: Shimano launches wheels and shoes

BikeRadar's International editor casts an eye over the latest Japanese innovations

Shimano revamps mountain bike wheels


Shimano had a deluge of new mountain bike products this year, but still saved a few for Interbike, mostly in the form of new wheels including an XTR grade front wheel for Cannondale Lefty forks.

The biggest change for many of Shimano’s wheel line is that the spoke nipples have moved from the hub to the rim, which will elicit a sigh of relief from anyone who has ever battled with the quarter-turn-at-a-time truing technique the old wheels demanded.

Call me a jaded old cynic, but it’s looked like Shimano has progressively abandoned wheel-design gimmicks over the last few years, dropping first paired spokes from their road wheels and now hub-end nipples. I look forward to the day when you can get ready-made Shimano wheels with standard hub flanges: I’m predicting model year 2010.

As well as the Lefty front, the flagship the XTR WH-M 975 wheels get a full revamp. Their aluminium/scandium alloy rims have reinforcements at the 24 spoke holes, and Shimano says the tubeless disc-specific rims weigh 400g each. Claimed weight for the pair is 1525g, and a new four-pawl freehub gives quicker engagement than previous designs. Most of the XTR wheels’ features trickle down to the new Deore XT WH-M775 wheels; they’re just a bit heavier at 1677g/pair.

Shimano rolls out road wheels

Shimano also had plenty of new road wheels at Interbike, from theinexpensive, entry-level variety for the price-sensitive end of the sport, to high-zoot carbon-rimmed uber-hoops.

The most interesting new wheels from Shimano are the WH-7850-C24-CL carbon-alloy composite racing clinchers.

These use an extremely thin-walled rim with a carbon reinforcement for added strength and weigh just 1380g/pair. Like all Shimano’s new wheels, they have nipples at the rim and a titanium freehub body. The hub flanges are wider and the rim is offset to reduce dish.

Those changes carry through to the Scandium Road Tubeless WH-7850-SL wheels too. Adoption of tubeless technology on the road hasn’t been as enthusiastic as it was in mountain biking and Shimano American’s PR man Devin Walton was at pains to point out that the WH-7850-SL wheels work fine with regular tyres and tubes too.

Further up the line, last year’s standard and deep-section carbon tubulars return, but on the new hubs with titanium freehub body and nipples at the rim.

Here’s Shimano’s Dura-Ace wheel line in full:

WH-7850-SL Scandium Road Tubeless: 1492g/pair; US$1,000; available November 2007 WH-7850-C24-SL carbon-alloy composite clinchers: 1380g/pair; US$1,300; available first quarter 2008 WH-7850-C24-TU Carbon tubular: 1231g/pair; US$2,000; available first quarter 2008 WH-7850-C50-CL Carbon high-profile clincher: 1580g/pair; US$2,000; available first quarter 2008; WH-7850-C50-TU Carbon hi-profile tubular: 1485g/pair; US$2,300; available first quarter 2008. Weights are as relayed by Walton, and are lower than Shimano’s catalogue stated weights for these wheels.

Shimano’s new customizable shoes

Shimano introduced shoes at Interbike that could be partially customized, but without the expense of their top-line, fully heat-mouldable shoes. The new SH-R220 shoes use the mouldable insert and heel cup of the pro grade SH-R300 but lack the latter’s mouldable top strap.

The SH-R220 has a buckle-and-Velcro closure and carbon fibre sole. It’s joined by a women’s version, the SH-W80, as far as we know the first heat-mouldable women’s-specific shoe. It has a lower and narrower heel cup than the men’s shoe and a shallower forefoot and, inevitably, it has pastel trim.

At least it’s not pink, but we can’t help wondering if anyone in the bike industry has noticed that women also wear shoes and clothes that are black and primary colours too…

Both the SH-R220 and SH-W80 will retails for US$250.


© BikeRadar 2007