Our “ShimErgo” Story

As described in this weekend’s episode of Diane’s Outspoken Cyclist Radio podcast, in 1999 we were inspired to determine a way to manage a wide-range Shimano drive-train using Campagnolo ErgoPower shift controls. I wrote a web article in 2000 about how to do it without the use of adaptation devices (shortly before the release of Jtek) and then again in 2003 posted a revised edition. Since then SRAM has entered the scene with alternatives for wide-range road gearing, and Shimano has not only attempted to meet that challenge, but they’ve also dramatically improved their shift-control ergonomics, function, and reliability. Although one of my favorite personal bikes still has this original “ShimErgo” setup, and I don’t intend to change it, with the modern gearing options available and working so well I’ve lost my reasons for (and therefore interest in) exploring ways to control Japanese derailleurs using Italian shifters, at least on new builds, for now anyway.

For years after posting the original article I received countless questions about how to combine components of different makes. In nearly every case my answer was, “I don’t know… I haven’t tried it.” When a client presents a problem, I try to solve it, but I’m afraid that doesn’t make me an expert in how to combine every shift-control with every other [claimed] incompatible derailleur mechanism.

A few years ago we made major changes in direction with our retail shop Hubbub Bicycles, and my outdated articles were pulled without second thought. I still have them though, and recently discovered many folks continue to apply the simple re-routing technique sometimes. In conjunction with Diane’s interview of our pal Mike Varley, proprietor of Black Mountain Cycles, in which this is mentioned, we thought it might be a good kick-in-the-pants for me to post a fresh edition of the article, even if just for sentimentality. If you intend to torment yourself reading it, please do keep in mind the time period and then-available parts, for context.

To my surprise, the name Hubbub is still receiving credit out there on the inter-webs for what in hindsight seems an overly simple solution. I can’t be sure whether this is good or bad, or neither, but I do hope anyone still using the technique also still enjoys its benefits, which in my view were more significant at the time. In preparation for this I even found copies of an old e-mail exchange, over a public forum, arguing with someone claiming I was perpetrating a hoax. Seriously… This was important enough to a naysayer, as if I had something to gain, or the world might explode if you tried combining Campy and Shimano. The really funny part was that some prominent tandem shops and touring experts across the US, and in Europe, began delivering fancy new custom bikes this way for a while. But it was a hoax…

I think maybe I was smarter back then. In any case, here’s a modernized version of the original how-to, and at the end of this podcast I bumble through an explanation of how we came to discover it. I’d recommend enjoying the whole show though.

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One thought on “Our “ShimErgo” Story

  1. Pingback: OutspokenCyclist | Show #347 – May 13, 2017

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