Shimano Expands MicroSpline Licensing

by 12

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.


Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (12)

    Screw them.
    I went xd driver and Eagle.

    Ditto. Slx mech and shifter on a GX eagle cassette feels nice and should last for ages.

    boom! too late – xd driver and eagle cassette as well. However when it wears our (not going to be long!) I do wish to return to XTR 12spd.

    Sack the Shimano chief strategerist! Oh, STW going all Guardian on us I see…

    Rumors going around Eurobike was that it’s effectively going to be open license from Jan 2020. Poor launch strategy for the new 12sp stuff that must’ve been intended to help bolster Shimano OEM hub spec.

    “must’ve been intended to help bolster Shimano OEM hub spec.”
    But the issue there is that Shimano currently only makes XTR hubs(!) so that’s going to limit your OEM spec…

    they make XT hubs as well Chipps, but I think the comment from Alb was not far off the truth..? Fulcrum also have a licence for microspline, fwiw.

    Before the launch of the XT and SLX options which were offered at the same time as the rest of the new 8100 and 7100 groups, Shimano also offered non-series hubs with microspline freehubs at sub-XTR prices.

    Microspline Shimano hub options go right down to non-series Deore grade (which, inadvertently gives you a big hint as to what’s coming down line)…

    Absolute idiots. They need to make buying their product as easy as possible for us, who and why came up with the idea of only allowing a select few to use their design.
    Its almost like they forgot that shimano have competition in the marketplace!

Leave a Reply