Probably the strongest derailer ever made before the 21st century models such as Saint and Hone Front Freewheel System.
The freewheel was built into the bottom bracket, so that the chain would turn even when the rider was coasting.
This was rather a good idea biomechanically, but never caught on.
In practice, the pedal bearings turned out to be underengineered for the loadings they had to deal with. A MTB derailer, cassette and shifter combination introduced in the 2011 model year.
Shimano has many trademarks for different quality levels and technological features/gimmicks.****** Correspondences between older groups and current groups are only approximate. Shimano has gone through many revisions of their groups while maintaining the same name, so comparisions between older versions and newer versions are quite inexact.
Became 600EX when indexing was introduced, 600 Ultegra (Gray finish) when 7-speed added.
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When it became an 8-speed group, the 600 designation still existed, but it was usually referred to as just "Ultegra".
With the '98 model year, 9-speeds came in and the "600" designation was completely dropped from Ultegra.("ULTimate" "Int EGRity") is the second highest level "road" group.
See also the 1973 Shimano Dura-Ace Catalogue on this site.
In the early '80's, Shimano introduced a special crank/pedal set, which used much larger diameter threading where the pedal screwed into the crank.
The 8-speed hub is very similar to the Nexus 8-speed, except that Alfine hubs have a Center Lock fitting for a drum-brake rotor, rather than Rollerbrake splines or a coaster brake. The jewel in Shimano's crown, the flagship road racing group.