Pioneer powers down and transfers IP to Shimano

Electronics company transfers its Cycle Sports assets to the Japanese component giant

Pioneer and Shimano

Pioneer has announced it is exiting the cycling power meter market and transferring assets from its Cycle Sports division to Shimano, as of 31 March 2020.

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The assets being transferred to Shimano includes Pioneer’s power meters, cycle computers, its Cyclo-Sphere service (a cloud-based cycling data analysis platform) and “other related products”.

Pioneer says that it will continue to deal with customer enquiries and provide service and repairs on any Pioneer Cycle Sports products sold before the asset transfer, provided it falls within the terms of the original warranty.

Why has Shimano acquired Pioneer Cycle Sports assets?

It seems most likely that Shimano is intending to use technology developed by Pioneer to improve its existing power meter offering, which so far encompasses only the Dura-Ace FC-R9100-P.  

Though it appears on many 2020 WorldTour bikes, Shimano’s first foray into power meters has been dogged by accuracy issues since its release in 2018.

Mitchelton-Scott is one of several WorldTour teams to use the Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P power meter this season.
Mitchelton-Scott is one of several WorldTour teams to use the Shimano Dura-Ace R9100-P power meter this season.
Josh Evans/Immediate Media

Pioneer’s power meter technology, on the other hand, has gained a generally strong reputation for accuracy and features since its second-generation model was released in 2014.

It has always built its power meters on to Shimano cranks too (with some Shimano sponsored WorldTour teams actually using it before Shimano released its own power meter), making its technology a particularly relevant acquisition for the Japanese component giant.

Notably, Pioneer’s catalogue of power meters includes options for Ultegra cranks as well as cheaper, left side only options, so it’s also possible Shimano is planning to release its own variants of these as well.

The press release also notes that Pioneer will continue to support the Cycle-Sphere web service “until Shimano’s services are introduced”, clearly indicating that Shimano has plans to launch a cloud-based cycling data analysis platform of its own. 

It remains to be seen if that will simply be a rebadged version of Pioneer’s service, but it certainly suggests Shimano isn’t resting on its laurels on the power meter front.

Pioneer SGX-CA500
Pioneer’s cycle computer IP is also being transferred to Shimano. Could this mean it intends to develop a GPS head unit?
David Rome / Immediate Media

This also raises the question of other products that Shimano has in mind: is it planning to develop and release a head unit or GPS cycle computer to complement its existing and future power meters, plus the upcoming web service?

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At the time of writing, Shimano is yet to comment on its latest acquisition, but we’ll continue to keep our ears to the ground for more information on its plans.