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March 26, 2021, 8:30 a.m. -  Mammal

I only started riding mountain bikes more seriously in '99, so I missed a lot of the early shimano appreciation (the plastic SIS shifters on my '92 Norco Mini Mountaineer don't count). Regardless, so many notable shimano bits stick out in my memory from various years. The first "wow" moment was probably when someone at the local shop kicked me down a well-used 8spd XTR deraileur. I had only run the cheapest of what I could get my hands on at that point, and it felt like I was mounting a gold watch on my hanger. I was so impressed with how precise, reliable, and durable it was. It was a window into a world of quality I wasn't yet familiar with. Next up is probably the same amazing Saint Cranks. I was well into DH bikes at that point, and just starting to race. The whole group stood out weaponry as opposed to mere components, and definitely more prepared for battle than anything else available. But the cranks... They were so stiff, so strong, and spun so smoothly for so long. Those were the absolute gold standard for me. Four consecutive years of getting a new DH bike every season, and those cranks came along for every one of them, while the RF Diabolous or Truvative Whatevers got sold as new take-offs. My best story wasn't actually mine, and is mentioned above, so I won't repeat it. Onto the present-ish times now, and the 11spd group I bought for the soon-to-be mine custom hard tail that my buddy was whipping up for me Nov'17. I didn't have a lot of cash to throw down on the N+1 bike at the time, and needed to be pretty calculated about it. This was right before Chain Reaction stopped selling Shimano stuff, and I reasoned myself into an 11spd SLX set of Cranks, BB, Derailleur, chain and 2-pot brakes. I don't recall what the price of that package was, but it was borderline criminal. And fast forward to after 3+ years of 4-season thrashings, and everything's still on there being awesome, aside from the chain. As the rest of my bikes got brake upgrades over the last year or so, I was even able to purchase individual Deore 4-pot calipers (Thanks Shimano!) to upgrade those 3yo brakes, and they just pack so much power now. That stuff will probably last the life of the bike, at least in my hands.

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