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Old 07-31-18, 06:48 AM
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The Ironman was a mass produced, late 1980s, mid-range model. The Japanese were arguably the best value for that category and era. Their quality programs were far more sophisticated than the high end European manufacturers, which in some cases were close to non-existent. The Japanese produced an amazingly consistent product that was to high standards for the price range.

Comparing them to high end European models is unfair due to the difference in prices but the mid-range Japanese models still compered remarkably well, despite having to make some cost concessions to hit target prices. Without these constraints, the high end European manufacturers should have been able to put out a superior product but the return on investment was often small, except for the added bling. European frame quality of the era could be variable, particularly the finishes. One manufacturer is notorious for flaking decals. Others were so bad that the USA importer ordered unfinished frames and set up frame prep and painting operations. The Japanese had raised the bar in terms of the American public's expectations and some European companies were still having problems meeting them.

In terms of ride characteristics the Japanese tubing companies, bicycle designers and manufacturers had progressed to the point of near parity with the high end European manufacturers. The average rider couldn't tell the difference and even many experienced riders would be hard pressed to tell the difference in a double blind test.

Then there was difference in components. It was dark days for Campagnolo. Shimano was far superior technically. The advances they made in shifting and braking performance eclipsed what Campagnolo could offer at the time. Lower mid-range groups like New 105 easily out-performed Campagnolo's top C-Record group in the critical parameters of shifting and braking, at a fraction of the cost. Avid cyclists were shifting to Shimano and this is reflected by the high end European manufacturers and pro teams starting to equip bicycles with Shimano.

If you had the money, you could buy high end European and get the rich history, prestige and bling but the mid-range Japanese bicycle offered far better value. If they closed their eyes, the vast majority of riders were hard pressed to tell the difference.

Last edited by T-Mar; 07-31-18 at 06:54 AM.
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