30th Anniversary – Performance Team USA Jerseys

Looking through old catalogs as part of our 30th Anniversary celebration, we were reminded of the fact that Performance Bicycle was the official technical clothing supplier for USA Cycling for many years. In fact, our kits were worn at both the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Take a stroll through our archives to see the Performance designs worn by Team USA through the years.

This first image, from our 1997 Summer catalog, shows the first kit created by Performance for the U.S. National Team – as you can see, it’s being modeled by a young Christian Vande Velde!

By the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, the kit for the National Team had changed to the eye-catching design you see above in our Spring 2000 catalog. This jersey was worn in medal-winning performances by several American athletes.

marty_nothstein_2000_olympicsMarty Nothstein won a gold medal in the Men’s Sprint event on the track, and recently wrote a book about the experience called “The Price of Gold”.

Lance Armstrong earned a bronze medal in the Men’s Individual Time Trial (although you know how that worked out).

And Mari Holden rode to a silver medal in the Women’s Individual Time Trial.

By the time of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, our design for Team USA Cycling had changed to the classic design seen above in our Summer 2004 catalog (and as you can read, what we sold was not a replica, but the exact same jersey worn by the team). This jersey was also seen on Olympic podiums, as you can see below.

The Men’s Individual Time Trial originally featured 2 U.S. cyclists on the podium, as Tyler Hamilton won gold while Bobby Julich took the bronze medal. However, years later, Hamilton was stripped of his medal for doping violations and Julich’s ride was revised to a silver (although he has stated that he’s keeping the bronze regardless of what the record book officially says).

Dede Barry also won a silver medal in the Women’s Individual Time Trial (with no controversies after the competition, like the men).

Here at Performance Bicycle we’re proud of our time supporting the athletes of Team USA. If you’re looking for a way to show your American pride on the bike today, check out our USA Flag Jerseys online.

Flashback Friday: Guess the Year Quiz

For today’s Flashback Friday post we’ve decided to create a little historical quiz, in honor of our 30th Anniversary. We’ve combed through our catalog archives to find a series of pages from catalogs through our 30 years in business. Your task is deceptively simple – match the page below with the year it was published. Post your answers in the comments below, and good luck.

Years:

1982

1985

1989

1994

1997

2000

2002

Catalog pages:

A.

B.

C.

D.

E.

F.

G.

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Photo courtesy of Joel O'Malley (via Facebook)

Flashback Friday Revisited – Performance Campione

This Friday we’ve decided to revisit one of our past Flashback Friday posts, in response to a number of questions we’ve received here on our blog.  Ever since our Flashback Friday – Fall/Winter 1984-85 post, people have been writing to us with questions about the Performance Campione frame that was featured in that catalog (and post).  Apparently there are still quite a few of these beauties out there on the road (or recently discovered hiding in someone’s basement!), and if you take a look at the frame, you can see why:

With Columbus SL tubing and a classic red and chrome color scheme, the Performance Campione was built to last!  It turns out that we have perfect evidence of this durability right here at our headquarters; the personal Performance Campione of Garry Snook (the founder of Performance Bicycle) is parked in the hallway by our lobby! As you can see below, it still looks sharp:

But the questions that we received about the Campione mainly focused on who made the frame.  After a quick call to Garry Snook’s brother, Richard (who you can see here, wrenching on Campione frame), we discovered that the key clue to where it came from is stamped underneath the bottom bracket shell:

The “BMZ” stamp stands for Biemmezeta, an Italian bicycle manufacturer that used to be located near Milan, Italy.  So the Performance Campione is definitely an Italian-made bike!

As the first bike to carry the Performance name, we’re proud of the Campione and the heritage it represents.  If you have any pictures of your Campione, we’d love to see them; post your pictures on our Facebook wall!

Getting ready for a photo shoot

Here at Performance, we put a lot of thought, effort and creativity into creating our catalogs and emails.  Our creative team works hard to create graphics and imagery that resonate with and inspire you as a cyclist, like with the cover of our latest catalog:A big part of this process are our photo shoots, where we hit the road (and the trails) to show great new gear and bikes in action.  Back in our early days, the locations for our photo shoots were usually only as exotic as you could find in a radius of about 15 minutes from our headquarters, like this sweet raingear shot taken on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill!  Our models were usually employees (like Chuck Lewis there on the left) or whatever college coed could be convinced to wear a not-so-flattering rain poncho!

Nowadays we travel a little farther afield to get the great images that you’ll find throughout our catalogs and on our website, and our photo shoots can find us anywhere from the mountains of Colorado to the rugged coastline of California.  But in the end the process is the same as it’s always been; planning a photo shoot is first and foremost a story of logistics.  You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got all the right clothing, gear, bikes and people in place before the first frame is shot by the photographer (and we still do use our employees as models for some shoots, because it’s no good if our models don’t look like they know how to ride)!

This is just a sample of the gear that we packed up for our latest photo shoot, and this doesn’t even include the bikes!  As you can see, our creative team has quite the job ahead of them to keep everything and everyone organized over a very busy week of shooting.

And this time we’re going to give you a little behind-the-scenes access to what goes on at one of our photo shoots.  We’ll be there on the shoot, taking pictures and video that we’ll post right from our sunny locale in southern California.  Look for updates next week on our Twitter and Facebook pages, along with right here on the blog!

Flashback Friday – Mountain Bikes from 1993

It’s about time for another Flashback Friday, and since our local Triangle Fat Tire Festival is coming up (Saturday, October 16th), we thought we’d look back at a little Performance mountain bike history.  Our subject for today is the Spring 1993 catalog, which sported a cover with classic Onza barends, an XTR crank, and a Manitou 2 suspension fork artfully placed in the middle of a stream (no word on what happened to the rest of the bike… or the rider):

First up in the catalog (and also straddling a stream) was the high-end M003 model mountain bike, which forgoes a suspension fork (although the goemetry is suspension-ready) but was fully kitted out with a Shimano XTR drivetrain.  Weight for this True Temper AVR chromoly-tubed beauty: a respectable 22.5 pounds (ditching a suspension fork was the only way to keep the weight down in this era).

Next up were our more budget-friendly offerings.  The M103 model also had a tig-welded chromoly frame, but featured a Rock Shox Quadra suspension fork and a Shimano Deore XT grouppo.  The M203 mountain bike was our “downhill mountain bike racing” model, with a 7000 series aluminum frame, although we’re guessing that the elastomer rear suspension was not exactly ready for the Red Bull Rampage.  Our last model was the M303, our budget Shimano Deore LX-equipped bike, but still light enough for easy stair-portaging.

But that brings us to the sweet lineup of suspension forks that we offered in 1993.  As you can see, we had it all: a full range from RST (whose forks featured a choice between steel springs, elastomers, or air/oil damping), the heavy-duty looking Tange Shockblades, the somewhat-terrifying (yet 2-time world cup champion) Allsop Frankenstem, the Rock Shox Quadra and Mag 21, along with the always reliable Manitou 2.  The 2 standouts on the page have to be the Manitou 2 and the Rock Shox Mag 21; if you were looking to upgrade your fork in 1993, it was bound to be one of these 2 forks that you lusted after (suspension travel for these beauties: 2″-2.5″).

It wasn’t just suspension forks that were being upgraded, as Shimano’s SPD pedals were “quickly becoming the standard among off-road enthusiasts”.  But those neon toe-straps are ripe for a comeback!

And who could forget the Scott AT series handlebars.  You could get integrated barends with the AT-2 & AT-3 models, but why stop there when you could go all out with the AT-4 model, with a full-on, wrap-around aero-esque extension.  These bars were really used in serious competition, too, as you can see in this story about the 1990 World Championships in Durango, CO (just check out the 3rd photo).

Finally, this last catalog selection has absolutely nothing to do with mountain bike history, but we just couldn’t resist sharing.  Behold the glory that is the Performance Durango Trail Shield.  Yes, that is a headband with a snap-on sunglass lens, and yes, we did actually use the tagline: “Have you ever wanted eye protection that didn’t hit the dirt just because you did?”

We hope you enjoyed our brief look back at mountain biking in 1993, but remember that if you want to see the future of mountain biking (and you are in the Chapel Hill, NC area), be sure to stop by the Triangle Fat Tire Festival on Saturday, October 16th.

Performance will be there in force with a great selection of 2011 mountain bikes to test ride and check out.  We’ll bring along our Access mountain bikes (including samples of our new line of carbon 29ers, which look fantastic), and our friends from Fuji, Breezer and GT will be there too with mountain bikes from their 2011 lineups.  There will also be a 6 hour endurance mountain bike race plus a whole host of other events to keep the entire family entertained/distracted (while you check out the bikes)! We hope to see you there.

Flashback Friday – Hairnets to EPS: Cycling Helmets from the ’80s

Ah, the ’80s, an era that gave us hairstyles as varied as teased bangs, the rocker mullet, the side ponytail, and the always classic Flock of Seagulls.  But all this reminiscing about hair brings us around to our subject of helmets, and, as you can read in this Bicycling magazine article,the bicycle helmet saw its fair share of changes in the decade of the ’80s as well.  Looking back through the pages of our catalog archives, you can trace that evolution as it progressed from the humble leather “hairnet” to the high-tech (for it’s day) original Giro Prolight.  Sadly no mullets made an appearance on our models.

Featuring the iconic Bell Biker

Here in one of our earliest catalogs, from 1983, you can see the full assortment of hard shell bike helmets available.  The Bell Biker, top left, was the very first bicycle helmet made of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam bonded to a hard plastic shell.  One major drawback with the Bell Biker, other than the size and weight, was that the overhang from the shell was so big that you could barely see when you were down in the drops.  Our personal favorite from this era was the Brancale Sport helmet, top right, but only because it looks like the one worn by Belov in American Flyers!

“Breakaway Bob” in action

But for the racing enthusiast of the day, hard shell helmets were still too heavy and poorly ventilated.  The leather “hairnet” style helmet still ruled the peloton, as ably demonstrated in this vintage photo of “Breakaway” Bob, one of the distributors in our bike division.  Basically thin strips of foam wrapped in leather, these lightweight helmets provided relatively little impact protection.

From leather hairnets to hardshells, all on one page

Here in a 1985 catalog you can see our assortment of padded leather helmets, including the Kucharik Super Leather Racing helmet that it looks like Bob may have been sporting in his vintage photo!  But alongside these models, in the top right corner, is the innovative Bell V-1 Pro helmet, the first plastic helmet designed specifically for bicycle racing (although it still weighed in at nearly 400g, or the better part of a pound).  Also on this page we make a reference to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), as they had just introduced the ANSI Z80.4 standard, the first widely adopted bike helmet standard in the United States.  Finally there was real testing and standardization in helmet design; all of the hard-shell helmets we sold back then met these standards, and of course every helmet we sell today does too (although the standards have been updated over the years)!

Early aero models

Moving on the helmet spread from 1987, we see a  few big steps forward in helmet design.  Not only did we start to see aerodynamic design with the Bell Stratos, at the top of the page (which is undeniably cool in a Star Wars/Tron sort of way), but there was also innovation from an unlikely source, the humble Lil Bell Shell (in the middle of the page).  This children’s helmet featured an innovative no-shell design; the entirety of the helmet was lightweight EPS foam, eschewing the heavy plastic shell of earlier helmet designs.

The original Giro Prolight

Which leads directly into the next big step in helmet evolution, the Giro Prolight.  First designed in 1986, this very first Giro helmet mated up the lightweight EPS shell of the Lil Bell Shell with a vented design, all covered in breatheable lycra fabric (to help protect the helmet, and hold all the parts together if you crashed).  Immediately popular, even with the racing set, the Prolight ushered in a new era of lighter weight, more comfortable helmet designs.

Interchangeable covers to suit your style on our Aero helmets

In this 2 page spread from 1988, we featured our very own lightweight EPS helmet with interchangeable covers, the Performance Aero helmet (at our trademark value-pricing, of course).  This helmet had large directional air vents and a weight of only 215g (comparable to modern helmets), but the big drawback with this style of helmet was that the EPS foam was still vulnerable to dings and cracks from less than catastrophic impacts.

The Bell Ovation was the first microshell style helmet (top right)

We also featured the innovative Bell Ovation helmet (top right), the first helmet to feature the “Microshell” design that we see in modern helmets, wherein a thin composite shell was bonded to the foam liner. This shell provided a balance between light weight, durability and comfort, and has been the basis of modern helmet design ever since.  Also much like modern helmets, the Ovation featured an aerodynamic design and an adjustable retention system (just not nearly as refined as what we’ve come to expect today).  But if you look closely at this page, you’ll see that we noted that the venerable Bell V-1 helmet was still the most popular cycling helmet around.  As the ’80s were drawing to a close, old designs were still going strong, but the tide was turning towards helmet features and design that we would recognize today.

scattante_razzo

A modern lightweight racing helmet – our Scattante Razzo

Looking back to the ’80s, it’s clear that modern helmets have come a long way since then.  But there’s only one way to take advantage of all of these advances. . . by wearing one!  It certainly seems obvious, but there’s no more important piece of safety equipment that you can wear, every time you go for a ride, than your helmet.  There are plenty of styles and prices available, so there’s no excuse not to wear one every single time you go for a ride.  Take it from someone who recently smashed his helmet in a bad crash but came out relatively unscathed – you never choose when you crash, so never neglect this most basic safety precaution!  Trust us, your head (and your hair) will thank you.

Flashback Friday 1987 – Pedals 2.0

In 1987, the world of technology and innovation was marching on. Nike released their first Air Max sneakers to change the way we looked at shoe cushioning, the very earliest version of Photoshop was developed by a PhD student at the University of Michigan, and Windows 2.0 was rolled out by Microsoft (much to the dismay of Apple). Of course the world of cycling was no different, and some of the greatest advances of this time period were made in the realm of what is now the most ubiquitous of cycling parts, the clipless pedal.

As you can see on the catalog cover above, here at Performance we were not afraid to embrace new technology.  At the top of the page you can see a La Vie Claire model LOOK shoe, Aerolite pedals (more on this later), and a “Darth Vader” style Bell Stratos helmet.

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Flashback Friday – 1985 Recycled

1985… Madonna becomes the second female artist to have the top single (“Like A Virgin”, if you had to ask) and top album at the same time, and she goes on to be the top-selling act of the year.  So in honor of the “Material Girl”, we present the latest edition of our Flashback Friday series, this time all about the materials (clothing material, that is) from our Spring 1985 catalog:

As you can see from the cover, bright and bold colors were the norm (as well as perfectly coordinated color-matching with your bike, apparently!)

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