In his youth, Shozaburo Shimano apprenticed as a knife maker, a traditional industry in his home city of Sakai, Japan. After years of instruction in machining and hard work in the service of others, Shozaburo forged a personal path forward with a single lathe and the formation of Shimano Iron Works in 1921. His fledgling company first focused on the repair of machines and Shozaburo quickly gained recognition for his technical skills and sincerity in business.
Trek Project One Ultimate: Shimano’s 100 Years of Excellence
Never shying away from a challenge, Shozaburo’s first product was the seemingly humble single speed freewheel. While easily taken for granted today, in 1921 freewheel production in Japan was especially difficult. Together with his employees, Shozaburo worked tirelessly to develop new processes that would ensure a quality product. The keys to the success of Shimano’s freewheel was heat treatment and the sourcing of higher quality bearings from overseas. This began a Shimano tradition of never compromising in the pursuit of product improvement, a tradition that continues today.
To celebrate both the Japanese company’s 100th anniversary and their long relationship, Trek’s Project One team collaborated with Shimano on a unique bicycle. In a vein similar to Sakai’s forging history, inspiration for this special finish came from the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, a form of artistic pottery repair that uses lacquer mixed with precious metals to not only mend but also highlight imperfections in handmade items.
In its own way, this Project one bike brings the seemingly contradictory forces of perfection and imperfection into harmony. It’s a marvel of precision engineering, but it’s not meant just to be marveled at. This bike, like all bikes, is meant to be ridden – to collect scratches and scars that tell of past adventures, which then become part of a greater story.
There is beauty in imperfection. And although no piece of art or engineering is ever truly flawless, pursuit of better performance is always a worthy endeavor. Shimano’s 100-year history is a testament to this fact.