Retro Vs Modern Bikes: 80s / 90s Oakley Cycling Icons


– This La Vie Claire
kit from the mid-1980s is held up as a beacon of cycling cool. And for me, it represents the transition from retro cycling to the modern era. And in no small part, that’s
down to one of the riders that wore it, Greg
LeMond, one of cycling’s great innovators, and a man
that we should all thank for, if nothing else, introducing cyclists to Oakley glasses. (rock music) This is the headquarters of Oakley in Foothill Ranch, California. They’ve very kindly just
been giving us a tour, and we’ve left not just
with a video in the bag, but also some sunglasses,
including these absolute icons, and a modern pair of Flight Jackets. But we also have not
just those to compare, but some kit as well. (fingers snap) La Vie Claire, which you’ve seen, but also the brand new Jawbreaker
shorts jersey and ARO5 helmet from Oakley to compare retro with modern. But what I need now is a bike. (rock music) Yeah, all we need is a Greg
LeMond Look TVT from 1986. How hard could that be? Yeah, well, it turns out,
actually, that trying to find a mid-’80s ex-Tour
de France race bike, in rideable condition and
with an owner that’s willing to lend it to you, is quite hard. However, stroke of luck, an
email to website The Radavist, whose owner is based right here in L.A., has given us a lead which we
are following up right now. The Cub-House in Pasadena,
so home to Team Dream, might have just what we’re
looking for, a bike to compare to the one that I’ve got
in the trunk right now, my Canyon Aeroad, which admittedly has not seen the Tour de France, but
is basically a murdered-out replica of a Team Katusha
race bike, right down to the SRAM Red eTap
and the Zipp 454 wheels, an excellent point for
comparison to our retro bike. (slow electric guitar music) How cool is this place? (singer vocalizes) This is the man kind
enough to lend us one. This is Sean Talkington. Sean, tell us a little bit
about how you got the bike, actually, in the first place. – Sure, yeah. I’ve been looking for
one for quite some time, and I was looking for a replica,
and I’d actually given up after a couple years, and a
friend was at a bike swap meet at a local velodrome,
and they found an actual team bike that was ridden by Éric Boyer. And I called the guy right
away, I was out of town, and I was kind of on a
vacation and stopped what I was doing and drove
straight out and bought it. – [Simon] Nice! – Yeah, and so now it just
hangs in the air, and… – But is it rideable? – I think so. Yeah, I mean, we’ll find out. You’re gonna give it a go. – I’m gonna be so gentle
on it, don’t worry. You’ll be fine. (Sean laughs) (rock music) Greg LeMond fans and
cycling history buffs, you will no doubt be
screaming at your screens right now, and I hear you. This is quite clearly
a Greg LeMond from 1992 when La Vie Claire no
longer existed, and LeMond was instead racing for the
super team of the day, Z. But don’t worry, I have come prepared. Let’s go ride. (rock music) Here we go, then. Maiden pedal strokes on Éric Boyer’s ’92 Tour de France team bike. Now, you’ll notice that my
eyeshades have temporarily gone. But don’t worry, we’ll get back to them and La Vie Claire a little bit later on. They have been replaced, though, by the equally-beautiful
Oakley Razor Blades. I’m sure there will be
cycling historians once again up in arms, saying that
Greg LeMond was wearing Oakley Mumbos by 1992, and
yes, you would be right, but give me a break here, okay? These Razor Blades came out in 1985, and LeMond wore a pair just like these to victory in the Tour in 1989. The following year, he moved
over to these guys, Team Z. And it’s fair to say, I
think, that this kit probably hasn’t had all that many
admirers over the last couple of decades, most people
probably preferring the simpler aesthetic of wool
jerseys from the earlier era. This stuff, being made
out of lycra, having taken advantage of sublimation
printing, which allows for a more complicated
design, and let’s face it, more vibrant colors. But you know what? I think that now, it
looks pretty darn cool, as do these Razor Blades. Now, I remember from
adverts at the time saying these were the first customizable Oakleys, so you could change the frame
and the arms and the lenses, to name but just three components. And in total, it said
there were over 22 million color combinations to choose
from, which is probably enough even for the most ardent
of sunglasses perverts. And it’s gotta be said, when wearing them, they feel very modern indeed, which is more than can
be said for this bike. (funk music) I’ll be honest, though,
I learned my lesson, when riding Pedro Delgado’s
Vuelta-winning vintage Orbea, not to go too hard on these bikes, because that one, well, that one broke. So I’m going far more
gently on Sean’s bike here. But even so, you can still tell that this was a proper race bike. Yeah, it’s a little bit more
flexible in the bottom bracket, but the handling’s still razor-sharp. What I think is easy to see
on this is that Boyer’s bike is actually made out of
steel, and LeMond’s team had infamously ridden carbon fiber bikes made by US brand Calfee the previous year. So it seems slightly
inexplicable that Boyer would go back to steel in 1992. Maybe it was a comfort thing, because this is a very comfortable bike,
in spite of the tiny little Vittoria Corsa CX tires
pumped way over 100 psi. Maybe it’s the steel frame,
maybe it’s the aluminum wheels, or maybe it’s this really
rather comfortable retro saddle. Now, if we’re after something
a bit more quantifiable when feeling like the
handling’s good and feeling like it’s a bit flex-y,
you might be interested to know the weight. A quite-poorly 9.36 kilos, which is a good two kilos
more than my Canyon Aero. The weight, though, isn’t
actually the biggest difference between retro and modern, nor is the fact that this has only got 14
gears as opposed to the 22 on my Canyon, nor the fact
that the smallest gear here, this one, is still a really sizable 42/21. Although today, it’s probably a good thing that it’s not got any
easier ones, because, were I to have to change gear, I may well come unstuck with my downtube shifters compared to my wireless electronic eTap. But in spite of all those,
there is a much more significant difference between the
retro and the modern eras. (echoing drums) (electronic music) Aerodynamics. It’s the story that’s dominated
tech for the last few years, and it’s changed bikes and
racing forever, far more perhaps than any other innovation
from the last 50 years. I mean, this frame, these
wheels, even the handlebar and stem, all allow me to go
faster for the same effort. And if you’re comfortable
working in watts, at the same racing speed,
I’ve been putting out about 30 watts less, and
it’s all done, of course, by careful shaping of the tubes, which, they don’t really look like tubes anymore, but they’re all carefully
shaped to allow the air to flow more smoothly over the bike. And yet, despite the huge
increase in surface area of the frame and the wheels, it is still significantly lighter,
2.4 kilos in the end. And that, of course, is
down to the different materials used, carbon
fiber instead of steel. That will also underestimate
just how far carbon fiber manufacturing has come in
the last 25 years as well, the types of carbon
fiber and, particularly, the construction methods as well. A bike, though, is only
part of the aero story. Clothing can also make a
significant difference, and an aero jersey like this
one, which is tight-fitting and thoughtfully designed,
can make potentially another 20-watt saving over that
retro kit from the past. Add in an aero helmet,
which can save another handful of watts, and
you’re potentially looking at about a 50-watt saving
over that retro kit. And if you think about it, that’s possibly upwards of 30% of your total output. But with helmets and
clothing, there’s also another hidden saving, cooling. (singer vocalizing) ♪ Oh, sweat away ♪ ♪ Sweat away ♪ Now, despite the fact
that an aero road helmet has a wind-cheating
design, it will actually end up sucking more air over your head than that retro lid from the ’80s. I mean, sweating doesn’t even come close to describing that one. And when you think, that
mushroom monstrosity was sourced from eBay, and so it
probably has another 30 years of someone else’s sweat in
it, well, it just sounds really bad thinking about, doesn’t it? (slow rock music) Now, admittedly, helmets were a rare sight in the peloton of the
’80s and the early ’90s. But jerseys themselves were
also ridiculously warm, and one interesting thing
that I took from looking into all of this, was that
apparently Greg LeMond was the first person to
put a full-length zip into a cycling jersey. Now, the Prendas-produced
replicas that I’m wearing today have them, but prior to
LeMond, a jersey zip was there just to be able to get
the thing over your head. And now, I think it’s fair
to say that a full-length zip is just the tip of the iceberg,
if you’ll pardon the pun, because the fabrics themselves
are getting ever lighter, ever more ventilated,
as well as aerodynamic. (slow percussion music) Has all of this new tech
changed racing, though? Well, certainly if you
drop a modern-day rider into a Tour de France peloton from 1992, they would have a considerable advantage. In the modern day, all riders
have the option of aero kits, and almost all of them take
it, meaning that the bunch is on the level, and that level is faster. Now, I’m rapidly getting
out of my depth here, but if wind resistance
increases to a cube of velocity, that means that the faster
you go, the more power you have to put out for
less of a difference, i.e. it takes more extra watts to go from 50 to 52 kilometers
per hour than it would do to go from 45 to 47 kilometers per hour. Therefore, it’s actually
harder to make a difference in the modern peloton. You have to have aero kit
in order to play the game, but maybe the game has changed
because of the aero kit. (funk music) But yeah, maybe racing has changed. But there is one component
of it that definitely hasn’t, as important today as it
was for LeMond and Hinault and Merckx, and Anquetil
before them, style. So as promised, that brings us right back to where we started with the
Oakley Factory Pilot eyeshades. They were launched in 1984, before clipless pedals, remember? Before polystyrene helmets, even. And in my opinion, they’re
no longer showing their age, which is more than can
be said for the product of another very similar year, me. Now, I think there is a very
definite link to the modern-day Flight Jackets to these
original eyeshades, and I think these look
as good with modern kit as they do with the retro, quite frankly. You can probably tell, they
were modeled originally on the motocross goggles,
except they had arms instead of an elastic strap. And there was a little bit
of a gap between the glasses and your face to get a
bit of airflow going on. But there perhaps wasn’t all
that much, and so for sweatier individuals like myself, it
was useful that they came with a sweat pad that
went along your brow. And that’s interesting, actually, because there is a very significant difference between these Factory Pilot eyeshades and the modern-day Flight Jackets, and that is that I
haven’t had any problems with sweating, even for
me on this really hot day, partly because of increased
ventilation behind the lenses, and also because of that cool
little advancing nosepiece that actually lifts the
shades away from your face when you’re going at slower speeds. (electronic music)
(whistling) I’ve gotta say, you
know, as much as I love a retro wool jersey, I’m
super pleased that the style of the late ’80s and the early ’90s is now having a profound influence
on what we’re wearing today, because in my book, it’s super cool. And, as well, say what
you like about the effects of aerodynamics on modern-day racing. When you wear aerodynamic kit to just go for normal bike rides, and
you ride an aerodynamic bike, I can’t see that there’s a bad thing about going faster for less effort. It certainly feels pretty good to me. Now, do make sure you give
this video a big thumbs up. Stay tuned to GCN, as
well, if you want to see that behind-the-scenes look
at Oakley’s Foothill Ranch. Some super interesting
stuff there on the show. Do make sure you give
this video a big thumbs up if you’ve enjoyed it, and if
you wanna watch another video, check out that on-screen now.