Back in Black

I was at the grocery story once, loading up the kids and the car, when a beautiful Porsche pulled up next to me and an older gentleman stepped out. We got to talking about his ride, and I asked him what the top speed was.

“I have no idea,” he said, which left me a little dumbfounded. Then he elaborated.

“I didn’t buy it to go fast…but I like the idea that I could go fast if I really wanted to.”

I immediately thought about my bike. I probably don’t get as much out of my Dura-Ace Scattante CFR as a pro would, but I love the idea that I have a bike that could get me there if I wanted it to.

Shimano Dura-Ace is the crème de la crème of Shimano’s component line up, a favorite of pros and amateurs alike. For every bike manufacturer, the Shimano Dura-Ace equipped bike is the gold standard. It becomes the template for every bike that follows, injecting it with performance, trickle down technology, class and style. Our Scattante line of bikes is no exception. We spend enormous amounts of time on the frame layup and geometry, and working on all the small details like graphics. The goal is to create a machine that delivers race-worthy performance to cyclists of any level. Because while we all know that the Toyota is a great, dependable, practical car, at the end of the day it’s the Porsche that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

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2013 Scattante CFR Black

With the launch of our all-new, lust-worthy Scattante CFR Black — decked out with Dura-Ace 11-speed 9070 Di2 electronic shifting, the latest evolution of Shimano’s race proven technology — we decided to take a stroll down memory lane to see where we’ve been.

2006

In 2006, the Scattante CFR LE was at the top of the line with a full Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 drivetrain and carbon monocoque frame. The bike was decked out in that year’s best components.

2006 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike

2006 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike

The 7800 series shifters with external cable routing

Shimano Dura-Ace 7800 series shifters with external cable routing

2008

In 2008, Shimano went to Dura-Ace 7900. Cleaner internal cable routing and refined components added efficiency, ergonomics and saved weight.

2008 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike with carbon Control Tech components

2008 Scattante CFR LE Road Bike with carbon Control Tech components

The 7900 series shifters

Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 series shifters

2010

The 2010 Scattante CFR Team was quite an evolution. While the Shimano 7900 drivetrain remained unchanged, a full Italian Deda Elementi Ultra cockpit, Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels, and a brand new frame with a tapered head tube and BB30 bottom bracket took center stage.

2010 Scattante CFR Team Road Bike with as bevy of high-end components

2010 Scattante CFR Team Road Bike with a bevy of high-end components

2011

For 2011, Scattante went electronic. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 was truly a remarkable innovation, so the Scattante CFR Pro design had to match. The CFR Pro was one of our personal all-time favorite bikes with color-matching anodized TRP brakes, Prologo saddle and Schwalbe Durano tires.

Scattante CFR Pro Road Bike was a new milestone in component and graphic design

Scattante CFR Pro Road Bike was a new milestone in component and graphic design

A cleaner appearance thanks to Shimano Di2

A cleaner appearance thanks to Shimano Di2

2013

So what now? What does the Dura-Ace experience have to offer a rider of every caliber for 2013? How about another gear, brand new technology and components, and a black-out paint job. The Scattante CFR Black brings the “wow factor” to every Sunday group ride. Click here to learn more about the Scattante CFR Black, or Enter to Win one now.

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Scattante CFR Black fork with Shimano Dura-Ace brakes

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Scattante CFR Black headtube

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Scattante CFR Black downtube

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 – Cover Model Lance

Way back in 1992, before the big comeback with Team Radioshack, before the 7 Tour de France titles, before the comeback from cancer, even before turning pro and winning the World Road Championships in 1993, Lance Armstrong was a Performance Bicycle cover model for our Summer catalog!

This catalog cover dates to a time way before Lance was a global icon and standard fare on many a magazine cover, although he was already a highly successful amateur bike racer in his own right.  As you may have guessed from the Skittles USA team jersey, this catalog came out during the lead up to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, where Lance would go on to finish 14th in the Road Race (the top American).  Performance was the official bike supplier of the US Cycling Team for the Summer Games, so we took the opportunity to give a young up-and-comer some exposure on our catalog cover, oddly enough modeling our Synapse mountain bike!

But this wasn’t the only time we put Lance on the cover in 1992, as we also used this group shot of Lance and 3 other riders from Team USA (cropped from what was actually a promotional photo for Descente clothing).  Can you name the other 3 riders in the photo (the answer is below the photo)?

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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.

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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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Flashback Friday – Fall/Winter 1984-85

Fashion model by day & copywriter by night!  Chuck Lewis has been at Performance since nearly the beginning of our company, so we asked him to write up a few memories about the Fall/Winter 1984-85 catalog:

“Back in the early days Richard Snook and I shared copy writing responsibilities, frame prepping and wheel building skills, and even provided the occasional talent for catalog photos.” Read more of this post

Flashback Friday – Spring/Summer 1983

Moving right along with our Flashback Fridays we find ourselves at our second ever catalog – Spring/Summer 1983.  Here are some fun page details:

True made-in-Italy framesets (which came with a front derailleur, of course) and custom build kits.  Obviously we were a much smaller company then (though we’ve been considering heading in this direction again sometime in the future – comments?).  How about a frame with a full Campy Super Record group for $765.00?  It goes without saying that bicycle technology has come a long way and there’s also inflation to consider, but you can’t even get just a Record Crankset for $765 these days! Read more of this post

Stephen Roche’s 1987 Triple Crown

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and because we’ve been feeling a throwback vibe lately, we’re going to dedicate this post to retired Irish pro cyclist Stephen Roche and his magnificent 1987 season.  In this magical year, Roche won the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and finally the World Championships to become only the second ever cyclist to complete this remarkable trifecta (sorry, no points for guessing that Eddy Merckx was the only other Triple Crown winner)!

Roche’s run started with the Giro d’Italia, where he won 3 stages but had to out ride his own teammate, Roberto Visentini, to win back the maglia rosa and take the title:

Roche Giro 1987

Giro 1987: Stephen Roche. Photo: Offside/L’Equipe

Exhausted but elated to be the first Giro winner from outside mainland Europe, Roche was the narrow favorite to win the Tour de France.  Roche won the individual time trial (one of his specialties) on stage 10, but later in the race almost committed an epic blunder on a mountainous stage 20, which crossed the famous peaks of the Galibier and the Madeleine before finishing at La Plagne.  Roche attacked early and was in a breakaway for hours, but on the final climb he was caught and gapped by his biggest rival, Pedro Delgado.  At one point in the climb, Delgado established a 1 minute 30 second lead over Roche, but the tenacious Irishman clawed his way back to only lose 4 seconds on the day.  Roche then went on to win the final 35km time trial, making up a 30 second deficit to Delgado, to take the final maillot jaune by 40 seconds and become the first Irish Tour de France champion. Read more of this post

Flashback Fridays – From Our Archives

1982.  Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney released “Ebony and Ivory”, “Cheers” debuted on TV and the personal computer was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”.  But there was another momentous occasion that year as well (at least for us), as we published our very first catalog!

Performance Bicycle Shop first catalog

Consider this the launch of our new “Flashback Fridays” where (most) Fridays we’ll scan and post some pages from an old catalog.  This isn’t to make fun of the models (as much as we’d love to take a few jabs at those rainbow suspenders) but to illustrate the winding road that cycling has traversed over the last 30 years.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.  Feel free to leave us your opinions in the comments below (or give us some ideas of what you’d like to see)!

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