Friday Group Ride #377

Friday Group Ride #377

We set ourselves up for disappointment when we idolize sports figures, and if not disappointment, then certainly uncertainty, history bearing out so many tales of villainy, even when an athlete’s achievements are singular. For me, this extends also to products, symbols within sport of both times and the characters who animated them.

My first heartbreak was the Vision Gator skate deck, the original, in black-and white. The first time I saw it, the design tickled something deep in my teenaged brain. I needed it. Forget the fact that my mother refused to allow me to skate (“You’ll break your arm.”). Of course, the board’s pro inspiration, Gator Rogowski, turned out to be a rapist and murderer. This is not the deck you want hanging on your wall.

Fast forward a few years, and I find myself lucky enough to be in Mexico for the 1986 World Cup. For those of you not fully schooled in football history, this tournament represented more or less the coronation of Diego Armando Maradona as the best player in the world at the time, and in many minds the equal or better of Pele. The official ball of that tournament was the Adidas Azteca, a ball I held, bounced furtively on my knee, and then decided I couldn’t afford. Maradona, football genius though he may be, turned himself into a philandering, coke addict, squandering much of his talent and most of his better years in the game.

This all brings us to cycling (stifles guffaw). Few sports afford quite the moral hazard (pun intended) our beloved does, and the ’90s were a great time to fetishize bad guys. I was never a great fan of the Lance Treks. The Ulrich Pinarellos on the other hand (see above) were something to behold. I also really like Ulrich’s dumb, large earring, and his slow, churning pedal stroke. Of course, Jan hardly shows his face in Germany anymore and refuses to talk about the shortcuts he took to the podium, but, well, that’s alright. The bikes looked great.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what bikes and/or equipment did you pine for, but had second thoughts based on its sponsorship associations? Keep it to cycling. Or don’t. This should be fun.

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  1. Kayce

    I think the obvious best tainted beautiful product is the Yellow and Celeste Bianchi. The fact that those colors clash in such a perfectly majestic way leaves me breathless.

  2. Kimball

    A couple years back I was lusting for a Tarmac like my buddy’s, but then Specialized started throwing their weight around a bit too much for my tastes.
    Yeah, I know, a low hanging piñata!

  3. Quentin

    The innovative TT bikes from mid-1990s, particularly the Pinarellos ridden by Indurain and Riis (and thrown by Riis) were awesome. I don’t miss the doping that we now know about, but do miss the bikes.

  4. Hoshie99

    That’s a fun question. I bought an early Scott Addict and the infamous Ricardo Ricco rode one as well as David Millar (both convicted dopers) – frankly, I liked the bike and didn’t think about it twice.

    I wouldn’t use the Floyd’s of Leadville products for two reasons – one, I don’t use cannabis (although my dog almost needed a prescription for pot cookies to help his epilepsy – true story!) and well it’s Floyd.

    Outside cycling – Avion Tequilla – it was so heavily factored into the Entourage series, and it gave me a bit of a negative feeling due to such an overt product placement into the storyline.


  5. Shuji Sakai

    I watched Grewal win the `84 Olympic road race on TV and decided I wanted to do that. The riding bicycles far and fast thing, not necessarily the beating-the-other-guy thing.

    I didn’t know anything about bikes, but asked for a job at the family bike shop across town where my dad bought my basic black Ross 10 speed, and I got hired.

    One of my coworkers, Rob, had a Colnago Master Gilco. Mostly white with purple cross-hatched fade, yellow decals, Super Record and silk sewups. Rob brought an Italian supermodel to work. I brought a Lada. It started a fascination with beautiful machinery and the joy of riding them.

    I eventually got into racing in college. I wasn’t fast enough to be a Dave Stoller, but neither did I have the heartbreak of learning that everyone cheats, including and especially Team Cinzano. So for me: definitely the bikes, not some racer girl / guy.

  6. Fausto

    Had a entry level Windsor race bike in the 70’s because Eddy Merckx rode one to the hour record. Which is part true, but no one told me even he was embarrassed by the money grab. Hated the 7-11 team since they were so big and brash and unstoppable but when they showed up had an incredible energy in those early years. Slurpy powered seemed so odd.

  7. RM2Ride

    Trek. After the way they rode the Lance gravy train, despite the fact that they had to have known something was afoul with it, AND the way they cravenly jettisoned LeMond for his supposedly controversial, but ultimately accurate statements about Lance, I cannot/would not ever purchase from them.

  8. Ron

    I came to cycling post-college and post collegiate (a life) of other sports. Can’t think of much I lusted after. Well, I guess a well-fitting road bike, as my new-to-me Cannondale road bike was far too large. When I bought it used I thought if I could stand over it, it fit me well. Rode that bike for YEARS and many thousands of KMs. Then got a LOOK, which I lusted over, I guess, as a kid because my LBS was owned by a former pro mechanic who wrenched for a team on looks. So, his shop walls were covered with 80s LOOK framesets. When the 566 came out, I could finally afford a LOOK. My first new/carbon bike.

    As for brands I hate – Skratch Labs. That liar Allen Lim is behind them. I hate that they’re suddenly trendy amongst a certain segment of cyclists. That guy won’t be seeing a penny of my money.

  9. Ron

    Oh, and this is why I can’t understand the religion of the NFL in America. MOST of the players are doping. To say nothing of the industrial meat needed to feed 300+ lb. men. To say nothing of the CTE. To say nothing of the garbage produced by every game, every weekend, for 20+ weekends a year. To say nothing of the pollution of flying teams all over. To say nothing of the drunk drives added to our roads every Sunday. AND, to say nothing of the fact that most players are black and most owners, coaches, QBs and officials are white.

  10. Aar

    Andy Hampsten Serptta. Oops, I mean Huffy. Well, yeah, I mean Serotta on the chai stay and Huffy on the down tube. Also, Davis Phinney Merckx. IMHO, enough said. The only way to improve upon either is to replace their Shimano with Campy

  11. jason

    Eddy Merckx of Roman Vainsteins, 2000 world champ and a Jewish guy in the pro peloton. the merckx was too expensive and got a deal on an OCLV frameset back then. I guzzled the Postal koolaid.

  12. Shawn

    With respect to Aar’s comment regarding Hampsten’s Huffy. Although he likely rode a Huffy Serotta as well, I believe Andy talked John Slawta with Land Shark into making him a couple of Huffys for his Giro win. I had the fortune of stumbling across one of those Landshark built Huffys and liked it a lot. I picked it up from a one of the Corniellet brothers in Boulder, CO and rode the bike into the ground until the frame started corroding from the inside out (I was living in the humid south at the time). I was on a trip up in the Pacific NW and stopped by to see John and coerce him into offering me a freebie warranty on the frame but he was wise to a cheapskate like me. He talked me into buying a plastic fantastic frame that he had (was given?) made in some Taiwanese garage that he had laying around in the shop. I think he gave me some story of it being a prototype of some kind. Being easily swooned by a pretty blue carbon frame, I allowed the swindle to occur. But after putting 57 thousand km’s on it and still riding it around, I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed it……

    With that all said, it’s easy to look back at those old bikes (frames) and remember the desire we had for them, but with respect to the comfort and ride quality, the newer bikes I suspect are much better.

    1. Padraig

      It is established history that while Serotta made bikes for Hampsten, his ’88-Giro-winning bike was made by John Slawta at Landshark. He’s got the bike and shows it on the rare occasions that he attends industry events.

  13. Geoffrey Knobl

    I loved my old Klein road bike due to the lovely paint scheme. When the first one fell foul of my garage roof, I got another with a nice fading scheme from green to purple, both rather metallic. I so anticipated getting that frame. But, alas, it went away too. It took until my Gunnar Sport before I started frame lust again. (Couldn’t afford a two-tone or fade paint scheme but did get metallic purple and it’s a real honey to look at.)

  14. Adam

    I loved Lemond, and how Trek treated him has stopped me from ever buying one.
    I ride a Felt now. I like that they TWICE came in to support a young team who were doing it all right. Both times they got scooped by larger brands when their investments were starting to pay off. In my mind they did the right thing and I wanted to support that.

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