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When Was the Switch from Wool Shorts to Lycra?

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When Was the Switch from Wool Shorts to Lycra?

Old 03-21-18, 12:00 PM
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When Was the Switch from Wool Shorts to Lycra?

What do people recollect?

Unlike the 5/6/7 speed transition, I remember this as being very distinct and abrupt.

In 1979 most everyone was riding wool shorts. A couple jokers had the new skin shorts and they looked weird. In 1980 everyone was riding lycra shorts.

Anyone remember it differently?
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Old 03-21-18, 12:16 PM
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Wait, who is not wearing wool shorts anymore? Did I miss something? Was it in the newspaper? Why didn't someone type me a letter to let me know?
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Old 03-21-18, 12:17 PM
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I admire people that can remember things from 1980. I was just finishing the BS round of college, and things were kind of hazy.
Too many brain cells have passed since those days.
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Old 03-21-18, 12:18 PM
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Not yet.
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Old 03-21-18, 12:20 PM
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Well, I bought my first pair of wool shorts (Woolistic--still have 'em!) around 1979, so they were still making and selling 'em then.
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Old 03-21-18, 12:46 PM
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I had wool in 1979/1980 and by 1982 I had both wool and Lycra with Lycra being more available. All had real chamois and not foam.
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Old 03-21-18, 06:44 PM
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When I bought my first "real" bike in 1975, I think wool is all I could find. 76-77 timeframe I had a pair of burgundy shorts that were synthetic. Lycra? Not sure.
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Old 03-21-18, 07:15 PM
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In 1980 I was still racing in Sergal wool shorts. Top racers with the latest stuff were in lycra. After 1980 wool shorts were just about gone.

I recently bought a vintage long sleeve wool jersey. Its excellent for fluctuating spring weather. I dont care for the new materials used in current jerseys.
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Old 03-21-18, 07:21 PM
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I bought my first pair of cycling specific shorts in 1982 and they were spandex material. The material was invented in 1962, by Dupont. So, that narrows it to a 20 year window...
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Old 03-21-18, 08:02 PM
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By 1980 or 81 I knew enough people who wore wool shorts that I decided I'd get some. The bike shop didn't carry them any more, but they still had long wool tights (to be worn over the lycra shorts).
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Old 03-21-18, 09:39 PM
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The summer of 1979 when foam bike helmets came with Spandex covers...
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Old 03-21-18, 11:22 PM
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You guys have this transition nailed down pretty specifically. Wool --> lycra.

OK, then. What was the window for acrylic fake-wool shorts (like the ones I bought from Boulder Bicycle last year.) December 1979 - March 1980?

They are of course the only cycling-specific shorts I own.
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Old 03-21-18, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
You guys have this transition nailed down pretty specifically. Wool --> lycra.

OK, then. What was the window for acrylic fake-wool shorts (like the ones I bought from Boulder Bicycle last year.) December 1979 - March 1980?

They are of course the only cycling-specific shorts I own.
I was just getting into cycling in 1982 and as a Christmas gift, my mom got both my brother and I each a pair of cycling shorts. His were lycra and mine were an acrylic-wool blend. Both pair were made by Nectar. So, there were wool/acrylic blend shorts on the racks in late '82.
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Old 03-22-18, 07:24 AM
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Ask the guys who were there:
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Old 03-22-18, 07:31 AM
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There was a Canadian company in Saskatchewan(?) that was offering spandex shorts in the mid-1970s. You could get them in colours like blue and green and the commissaires would disqualify cyclists whom used them in sanctioned races.

The wider adoption of spandex did occur circa 1980. My recollection is that it was prompted by pro use. Some of them were having success with spandex skinsuits in 1979 for time trial events. When Bernard Hinault won his 3rd in row Grand Prix des Nations in 1979, he was wearing a skinsuit.
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Old 03-22-18, 03:23 PM
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I dunno, I still can't make myself wear bicycle-specific shorts alone. Lycra feels alright, and breathes well, but it just feels too much like riding nekkid. 😲😋 But I like them fine, with other shorts over them.
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Old 03-23-18, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
You guys have this transition nailed down pretty specifically. Wool --> lycra.

OK, then. What was the window for acrylic fake-wool shorts (like the ones I bought from Boulder Bicycle last year.) December 1979 - March 1980?

They are of course the only cycling-specific shorts I own.
Hard to say when acrylic or other synthetic knit shorts came about. I would be willing to bet that it was about the same time as sweaters and other knitwear was made from something other than wool. Why? Price would be one big reason. For me, first bike shorts I bought in the eatly 70's were acrylic. It all the local bike shop had. When they did get in some wool shorts, the price was too high. Carolo shorts by mail, or Coolgear, or Moda?, and some brand from Mexico whose name I forget were all I could afford on my lawn mowing budget.
But it was all not about price. Kuchairk had madison shorts with the reinfoced back for seat slings that were only made in helenica, a flat knit synthetic. They did not stretch like wool shorts when doing exhanges.

And while we are on the topic of wool, while the old wool jersey is the icon of things past, plently of us used acrylic, rayon, or even cotton jerseys. I have a cotton road jersey with front and rear pockets that is from the 1950s from what was a big club at the time. Why didn't we use wool? Again cost was one reason, but there were many who thought wool was too hot.
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Old 03-23-18, 05:00 PM
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Yeah I had a couple acrylic jerseys BITD. They didn't really look different than wool jerseys.

I see that Helanca Kucharik shorts were in the Palo Alto catalog in 1978. I think this fabric was more akin to what we would consider a polyester knit than the shiny lycra used in early skin shorts. (not sure)

FWIW I bought my first shorts in 1979. They were Kucharik wool, and IIRC that was the only variety sold at my LBS. I had been hearing a bit about these skin short and skin suit things from a couple of my cycling enthusiast friends, but didn't see one in real life until later in that year at the Santa Cruz Century. Some kid had them (probably about my age then). They were strikingly weird. The other 99.9% were wearing wool if they were 'serious' cyclists, or else just basketball shorts or whatever.
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