Shimano Expands MicroSpline Licensing

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Shimano today has announced that it is expanding its list of companies able to license its MicroSpline hub standard. And about time too!

First announced early last year when XTR was launched back in May 2018 and it came with a new hub standard. While Shimano had steadfastly refused to change its freehub body design for the whole of this century (helping compatibility everywhere…) it was finally forced to look again at its freehub design so that a new version could be made, allowing for a 10 tooth sprocket to fit – the only way to get today’s wider gear ranges to work. And so, with the launch of XTR came the launch of MicroSpline

 Shimano MicroSpline

Shimano obviously came out with its own MicroSpline hubs at the launch of XTR, but it was expected that other hub and wheel manufacturers who’ve been making Shimano-compatible freehubs for years (companies like Hope, Stan’s, even SRAM…) would soon be coming out with more affordable (and more expensive) alternatives for aftermarket and for OEM bike companies. But no such announcement came and the list of licensees remained surprisingly small. Just DT Swiss, Newmen, Reynolds, Fulcrum and Industry Nine, along with Shimano, of course – but (still) only at XTR level.

 Shimano MicroSpline
Bike company Identiti has launched its own OEM wheels to be allowed to run MicroSpline.

Not a problem if you’re only making XTR as XTR hubs are pretty great and companies like DT Swiss make similarly well-respected hubs, but a lot of the aftermarket was waiting for Stan’s and Hope in particular (and Bontrager and Roval and Santa Cruz and Ibis…) to join the MicroSpline party. This started to become more urgent once Shimano made the rare move of announcing new Shimano XT and Shimano SLX at once this summer and puzzled everyone who was waiting for aftermarket MicroSpline.

Suddenly a world of bike fans (and bike companies) wanted these new 12 speed groupsets, but without XT and SLX hubs being announced by Shimano, the choice was very small. Probably a major reason why we’ve seen so many SRAM-equipped (with Shimano brakes) bikes at all price levels in recent 2020 bike launches. Not to mention Chinese companies taking things into their own hands

And so, finally, today, Shimano has announced that it is widening the list of companies it will allow to use this new standard. We know that many companies have had ready-to-go designs in the wings for over a year, so let’s hope that this announcement isn’t too little, too late, for the adoption of Shimano MicroSpline.

Here’s the release:

In 2018 Shimano unveiled its MICRO SPLINE FREEHUB technology to accommodate its ground-breaking XTR M9100 12-speed mountain bike cassette. 

With the advent of DEORE XT M8100 and SLX M7100 groupsets this year, demand for MICRO SPLINE licences continues to increase. 

We are now pleased to expand our licence criteria to offer more wheel/hub brands the option to use MICRO SPLINE technology. 

Bicycle hub and wheel brands wishing to use MICRO SPLINE technology should contact their Shimano account manager either at Shimano Europe or via their local Shimano distributor/sales office.

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