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Shimano Europa
Firma Lange
Shimano Nexus 8

Shimano Nexus

Shimano XT Schaltwerk
xt Schaltwerk

A letter, written to the marketing people at Shimano Europe, after spending hours reading all about Shimano's Nexus components - hub gears, hub brakes, hub dynamo, in other words "everything inside".

In the beginning, when God created heaven and earth, he created two kinds of human beings, man and woman. In the woman he put "everything inside" and in the man, most decoratively, he left certain things outside. When Shimano at the end of the seventies set about re- creating the bicycle, unlike God, Shimano did not find an empty universe. There already existed two kinds of bicycles, a kind with derailleur gears and a kind with internal hub gears. Shimano first turned derailleur gearing into a functioning system, creating a world-wide market for this product and then directed its attention to a different market, that of internal gearing, the comfort market

So what have bike gears got to do with sex?
Well, apart from the obvious point that everything has got to do with sex, the resemblance, on the one hand, of derailleur gears to the male sexual organs and, on the other hand, of internal hub gears to the female sexual organs is fairly obvious. Familarity does not necessarily breed contempt but it certainly breeds a lack of imagination. It was only when reading through your FAQs with constant repetition of the slogan "everything inside" that the point really hit me. Do these two systems reflect the two principles, the male and female, which underlie most of what we do, say and dream of?

Two systems - two worlds - two archetypes ?
I would like to suggest that this lies unconsciously behind the Nexus slogan "everything inside" The male and female sexual organs are not really as different as they seem, at a first glance. The female organs are the mirror image of the male organs, while at the same time most of the male organs are in fact ?inside?. Of course, these days, we all know that everyone has both male and female characteristics. Is there really no difference? Not many would agree to that! The small differences are in fact all-decisive. A competition mountain bike has a great deal in common with a city bike, but when it comes to the nitty gritty, the difference is decisive. It all boils down to a question of gearing - everything inside or everything outside.
Derailleurs = the male principle
Internal gears and brakes = the female principle
The consequences:
Having convinced you that there is a point to be made, I would like to point out the consequences.
Psychologically, we associate the female principle with certain basic patterns of human behaviour. Women are weaker than men but more resilient and tenacious. We associate protection, security and passivity with the woman?s role. Women are considered to be more intuitive (Nexave!), more emotional than men. The female principle represents the value of interrelationships and communication. The male principle stands for autonomy and self-sufficiency. We associate the male principle with attributes such as aggressiveness, rational decision making, individuality and toughness.

The Shimano Nexus marketing campaign mobilises these associations.
Once bicycles are associated with such powerful suggestive values we ought to be aware of the possible effects upon the consumer. If a ?Nexus? bicycle is connected, albeit unconsciously, to such basic human motivations, advertising and the products will only work within certain contexts. I would like to suggest that this is the reason why SRAM?s 3x7 has such low acceptance. It is basically androgynous, an unfortunate mixture of the male and female principle causing an unconscious uneasiness with the product. Who should it appeal to and why? (I am using it on a recumbent at the moment and I thinks it works very nicely)

I would like emphasise that I am not suggesting you change your advertising but that these aspects should be instrumentalised as a conscious part of your campaigns. Unreflected decisions on the part of the consumer are often more decisive than rational choices. It is essential, as Shimano has long since recognised, that expansion in bicycle use takes place in the everyday use of the bicycle, urban cycling. There are many factors restricting the acceptance of the bicycle, the weather, politicians, the low prestige of the bicycle to name but a few.

I hope that Shimano can avoid wasting energy and money by working with and not against basic patterns of human behaviour and the most powerful force in human life ? SEX!