Component giant Shimano earned the ire of some in the bike industry by restricting licenses to produce the Micro Spline freehub used on its new 12-speed groupsets to just five external manufacturers, but it's now announced plans to allow more brands to make compatible hubs.
The move comes after some aftermarket manufacturers had expressed dismay over how Shimano had handled applications to license the design which is needed to make hubs compatible with the new 12-speed M9100 XTR, M8100 XT and M7100 SLX groupsets.
In particular, the UK's Hope Technology publically criticised the manufacturer over a licensing process that they felt to be inconsistent.
In a statement, Shimano said: "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."
We're not sure exactly what the expanded license criteria are, but it would seem a smart move to improve takeup of the brand's 12-speed drivetrains, the release of which lagged behind systems produced by drivetrain rival SRAM.
SRAM's 11 and 12-speed systems also require a specific freehub, but its XD freehub design is an open standard, meaning anyone can make it without express permission. Shimano chose to keep its new design under closer control, with any aftermarket manufacturer being required to get a license to produce it, something this announcement has not changed.
We got in touch with Hope Technology which welcomed the move, saying that they were in discussions with Shimano and "are very hopeful" that they can begin to support the standard.
If you're wondering who makes a Micro Spline compatible hub or wheelset, then check out our guide here.
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