I’ve had the good fortune to visit the original Shimano Museum in Osaka, the spiritual home of Shimano you might say. But, in 1973 Shimano set up its first overseas factory in Singapore, since then it has grown into a full-blown manufacturing plant with R&D, product design and engineering, cold forging, stamping, heat treatment, electro-plating and tooling fabrication capabilities. Shimano also set up a sales office in Singapore in 1996 to take care of the South East Asian market. As a mark of it’s success Shimano opened it’s Singapore Shimano Cycling World. This has allowed Shimano to engage the community a bit more. The bicycle culture in Singapore has grown massively and it’s nice to see Shimano reacting to that, rather than just using the place as a manufacturing base.
The space is nice big and airy, we walked in to an empty room, which was nice for us and the space is big enough to cope with large crowds. It is hard to imagine massive footfall through the place but for me that adds to the appeal. A more intimate Shimano experience? It shares it’s interior design cues with the museum in Osaka but the layout is such that it’s all on one floor and sectioned into two main spaces. The first space as you enter has a massive touch sensitive video wall and moving sculpture overhead (as wheels and chain sets of course). The rest of this first space in dedicated to cycling literature and seating, ranging from tables to an auditorium at the back. The auditorium is used to give lectures and workshops on cycling, that is something to envy if you don’t live in Singapore! The library wall is impressive and the selection of books and trinkets is a marvel, a bike geek dream, mine at least. To finish it off is an interactive map of the Singapore cycle network that can also be viewed via touch screen tablets located on the desks.
It’s the second area that really brings the experiential experience to life. It’s appearance is so different from the first half of the space, with it’s bare white, almost industrial interior, juxtaposed against the studious wood veneer of the first space. Here we find displays to play with and learn, the true nature of experiential after all. The most magnificent display being the bikes. The way you can pull them out, like a artefact from a distant civilisation in a grand museum. It’s great to be so hands on with some rather special bikes, from 3Rensho’s to Moser’s. Just awesome.
Other displays show a mountain bike as a three dimensional exploding diagram that reminded me of a Damien Hirst. A time-line wall of bicycles spanning the room. A rather cool tv screen that slides along the other side of the time-line wall with dates surrounding Shimano products. There is some hands on displays showing where Shimano is with their engineering technology today too. It’s a really intriguing space and place, not only does it signify the importance of bicycle culture generally but the importance Shimano has played in the region, both culturally within cycling but, as a company supplying work and revenue. Of course it’s a Shimano centric view and were not going to see much in the way of SRAM or Campagnolo but it does go a long way to spread some knowledge of cycling and bicycles (and their component parts). I’m all up for that.
If you live in Singapore you should visit and if you happen to be visiting, same. It’s worth it just to browse the books. The staff are attentive and friendly but, leave you alone to enjoy things. As far as general attractions go, this place ain’t gonna excite the kids like Blobby World did but, if you fall into the slightly nerdy cyclist category then it’s heaven. For more info visit the official Shimano Cycling World website.