SRAM family mourns the passing of innovator and engineering leader John Cheever


SRAM senior engineer John Cheever (right) passed away Sunday after a three-year-battle with brain cancer. Photo courtesy of SRAM.

Though you probably never heard of SRAM’s John Cheever, if you shifted the gears on a bike in the past 25 years, you’ve likely benefitted from his work. The senior engineer at SRAM passed away last Sunday, succumbing to the brain cancer he battled for the past three years.

As one of its linchpin engineers John was instrumental in building both SRAM’s product line and the company itself, helping to lead it from humble beginnings to the industry powerhouse it is today.

Please join us in tipping your helmet today to a fine engineer and great human being. The below note is from SRAM management:

Cheever’s (foreground) engineering excellence and attention-to-detail led to many breakthroughs for SRAM. Photo courtesy of SRAM.

John Cheever

It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of John Cheever, 50, a SRAM leader and dear friend who served with SRAM for 25 years. John passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning after a three-year battle with brain cancer. His wife Janice was at his side at their home in Florida when he passed.

John Cheever made a number of significant contributions to the growth of SRAM over the course of his career. He joined the company as an engineer in 1989 shortly after the introduction of the first Grip Shift. He was 25 years old. He was a natural entrepreneur, a perfect fit, and quickly added value.

John was an inventive and disciplined design engineer, responsible for many of the technologies and refinements that drove the growth of Grip Shift throughout the 90’s. He co-developed the first ESP derailleurs featuring 1:1 cable pull technology. He is either directly responsible for or has contributed significantly to a long list of SRAM patents. On a broader scale, John’s efforts to improve SRAM’s ability to design for mass production, laid the foundation for many of the tools and processes used in product development today. He introduced computer-aided design to SRAM, and was responsible for launching the first seat of Pro-Engineering in 1993. Today there are 75 seats of Pro-E utilized by over 200 engineers in SRAM facilities around the world.

John ultimately became SRAM’s first Director of Engineering. He later became SRAM’s Director of Advanced Component Design, leading that group for 5 years before becoming Director of Patents and Technology in January of 2004. One of John’s most notable attributes as a Senior Manager at SRAM was his willingness to question the status quo.

In addition to his important contributions to our company, John was a great friend to many. He and his wife Janice are a true love story. High School sweethearts married in 1989, they are a notoriously fun couple. Always up for throwing a party, which they often did, they were warm and generous hosts to all of SRAM. They loved music and especially the music scene in Chicago. John was an accomplished musician and singer. With band mates he met in high school they played together for 25 years at parties and small clubs around Chicago.

“We will miss John. He leaves behind a great legacy at SRAM, but more importantly a world of admiring friends and family. We at SRAM are forever lucky to have met, worked and played with this nice man, John Cheever,” said SRAM’s Mike Mercuri.

Condolences and donation links are available at this listing on

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  • Chris Wickliffe - WickWerks says:

    John was always a gentleman and super nice to me. He always took the time to talk shifting technology from the first time I met him at Interbike 2001 and every Interbike show that followed when I was lucky enough to meet with him. It’s the one part of the show that I looked forward to more than anything. He certainly had a willingness to question the status quo which we had in common. I wish I had gotten to know him better, I had no idea he was a musician, another thing we had in common. He inspired me to keep pushing forward with my FD. I admired him and will miss him. My prayers are with his family and his friends at SRAM and throughout the cycling community.

  • Scotch Hennesy says:

    Godspeed John! I’ve enjoed your engineering attributes for many years!

  • jerome Tordo says:

    God Bless him ! Many thanks…
    An example of human being to remember… a great inovator that choke status-quo.

    Life is a bounty, too short, a gift… we must keep it mind.

    Do Good, be great, enjoy, love others, work hard, play hard … ride… ride… always enjoy.

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