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Tell Us about your 80's "sleeper" and it's place in the peloton

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Tell Us about your 80's "sleeper" and it's place in the peloton

Old 03-15-19, 12:00 PM
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uncle uncle
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Tell Us about your 80's "sleeper" and it's place in the peloton

As a suggestion from a fellow C&V lurker and info-providing-extraordinaire mate, T-Mar, I thought I would throw out this discussion thread to stimulate conversation and hopefully, knock off some cobwebbed stories just sitting in the back of the minds of some of our fellow C&V brothers and sisters.

This was the thread that provided the seed for this thread:
Nashbar Race SIS

I'd like to hear your thoughts and stories about 80's "sleeper" bicycles (a sleeper being a bicycle that for one reason or another, never widely caught on with the riding population around you). And along with your sleeper nominations, I would especially like to hear your insights into which brands/models were really popular with your riding companions at the time (be they touring, racing, time trialing, recreational riding, commuting, etc.) and those sleepers that weren't so popular. Did you proudly justify your sleeper, or did you disguise it (maybe even peel away the badging) to blend in, hassle free, with your buddies?

I wrote a story for my college Psychology class, about how I was pacing with another bicycle rider, out in the middle of nowhere, and was doing pretty good, holding my own, until I noticed the other rider was riding a well-known, prestigious brand, and let it seep into my head. From that point, I mentally lost to him, and he started to pull away from me. Anyways, the story was received with praise from the professor (he might have been a bicycle rider himself). I get the reasoning for riding something with name clout. You take whatever advantageous are given to you, whether they are physical or purse strings.

Just for arguments sake, here are some of brands that I think carried clout, and were welcome in the peloton, in the 80's: anything italian (Masi, Pinerallo, etc), most well known french brands of the time (Peugeot, Gitane, Motobecane, etc.), Cannondales, Trek, Centurion, and top feeder Schwinns (Paramount, Super Sport, etc.). But, in the eighties, I didn't make the race scene; I did a few triathlons during that time, otherwise, I mostly rode alone.

I believe I've owned a sleeper or two, of course, as C&V fodder (by which I mean to say, bicycles way past their showroom date). I came across a '81 KHS Turbo, which if memory serves, was Tange 2 tubing, with Suntour Cyclone (mostly) groupset. It was a Craigslist pick, which had set for at least a week or two, with no love coming it's way. I believe it was a sleeper because the KHS brand was not very popular in this area, and the KHS Taiwan built bikes carried an "inferior" bias with some. I believe this KHS model was made in Japan though, something I hadn't realized (KHS Japan made models) until I came across this particular bicycle.

Another was a mid 80's Terranaut Swift. This apparently was a house brand bicycle from a shop up in Missouri. Thus, down here in south Kansas, it had/has no name recognition. It's a Tange 1 tubing frame, again with Suntour Cyclone (mostly) groupset. Again, Japan made. I believe the brand carried no 'mystique' with any group of riders around here. This one is still in the cue.

I personally enjoy the uniqueness, and the story that goes along with that, of "sleepers". Then again, I think every bike has a story.

Last edited by uncle uncle; 03-15-19 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 03-15-19, 12:21 PM
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People on this forum recognize them, but the average bicyclist hasnít. So I consider my 1987 Schwinn Prologue a sleeper. It didnít even show up in the Schwinn catalog until 1988. Was sold as a frameset and was made by Panasonic.

IMHO it was Panasonicís best effort for Schwinn.


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Old 03-15-19, 01:56 PM
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I never tire of singing the praises of my Ross Signature 294s. Most see Ross and think low end, but their good ones were very good.
Btw I would submit the psych could go the other direction, with the modern rider thinking you must be an absolute beast to keep up on that old thing.
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Old 03-15-19, 02:16 PM
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For the longest time during the 80's and early 90's, Cannondale road bikes were true sleeper bikes. I could really fly on mine, and I knew a few people who raced on them and got good results. But it was just galling to me that none of the European professionals rode them. It sounds silly now, but I desperately needed the validation of seeing someone win a Giro or TDF on one (or at least a stage) before I could consider mine a to be legitimate race bike.

It was really nothing beyond the fact that Cannondale didn't sponsor a team at that time, and if a pro was not paid to ride one, it wasn't ever gonna happen.

Eventually Cannondale did sponsor a team, and Mario Cipplolini won many stages on his Cannondales. But for the longest time, I had a difficulty convincing myself that mine was even possible to win a Tour stage on a Cannondale, even if someone like Lemond or Indurain rode one. I was naive enough to think that pros decided themselves which brand of bike they would ride, which to me these days is pretty laughable.
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Old 03-15-19, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
People on this forum recognize them, but the average bicyclist hasnít. So I consider my 1987 Schwinn Prologue a sleeper. ...
I find merit in assigning "sleeper" status to the Prologue, as you said, it wasn't a very known model in the Schwinn lineup. Many around the mid 80's me frowned at anything Schwinn, except for Paramount, and possibly certain Super Sports. Most Schwinn's could be argued to suffer from being uncool, but not necessarily sleepers.

I had another long debated post on Schwinn's, their lasting place in bicycling lore (at least in the USA). See the discussion here:​​​​​
So why did Schwinn become so uncool in the eighties??
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Old 03-15-19, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
I never tire of singing the praises of my Ross Signature 294s.
I'm not proud to admit that I was among the "Ross Naysayer" crowd. I just never came across anything but the very entry level Ross lineup, in real life. I never knew much about them til reading about the whole lineup on this forum.
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Old 03-15-19, 02:40 PM
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I don't know how Klein was considered in the 80s as I was still more into BMX. But it's a sleeper on my rides. Most everyone is on Carbon with 10-11 speeds and I have no problem except with the very top percentages. I would imagine many aluminum are sleepers that just got a bad rap from heresay, as the window between steel and carbon was short.
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Old 03-15-19, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
For the longest time during the 80's and early 90's, Cannondale road bikes were true sleeper bikes. ...
My history is different, and I imagine what was deemed "cool" varies from region to region. The best "financed" rider among my college crowd traded in his Centurion for a Cannondale, and even though I thought the guy was a bit arrogant, along with being a bragger, I did admire his bike. It seemed so different, and technologically forward thinking. His Cannondale easily cost twice what the next person in our riding group spent on their bike. Also, a few hardcore triathlon types had adopted Cannondales, and since we all were interested in triathlons, took notice. And, there was a bicycle shop, a prominent dealer in the area, that aggressively sold the brand. That's just my own experience. It is interesting that you were influenced by the professionals, even though your knowledge of how professional bike selection was a bit iffy (no offense meant, just a interesting insight you shared).
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Old 03-15-19, 03:53 PM
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In the 80s, I rode a Trek 412 (purchased new in 1982) and then, after that was stolen, a '79 Raleigh Super Course that I bought from the original owner. Oh, and lots of Raleigh 3-speeds.
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Old 03-15-19, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikerider007 View Post
I don't know how Klein was considered in the 80s as I was still more into BMX. But it's a sleeper on my rides. Most everyone is on Carbon with 10-11 speeds and I have no problem except with the very top percentages. I would imagine many aluminum are sleepers that just got a bad rap from heresay, as the window between steel and carbon was short.
I have always thought of Klein bicycles to be top shelf... again, I didn't race, so, I don't know how they were perceived in race circles. Even in the 80's I admired them. I'm sure they look the part of the sleeper when riding with today's carbon frames made 30 or more years later.
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Old 03-15-19, 04:47 PM
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Iíve always felt that some of the late 1980s Schwinns (other than the Paramount) were sleepers, much like the Prologue mentioned earlier. This Circuit that I put together for one of my kids. Dura-Ace, Columbus SL, race geometry - this is a really nice bike! If it were my size, the kid would be riding something quite different.


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Old 03-15-19, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
My history is different, and I imagine what was deemed "cool" varies from region to region. The best "financed" rider among my college crowd traded in his Centurion for a Cannondale, and even though I thought the guy was a bit arrogant, along with being a bragger, I did admire his bike. It seemed so different, and technologically forward thinking. His Cannondale easily cost twice what the next person in our riding group spent on their bike. Also, a few hardcore triathlon types had adopted Cannondales, and since we all were interested in triathlons, took notice. And, there was a bicycle shop, a prominent dealer in the area, that aggressively sold the brand. That's just my own experience. It is interesting that you were influenced by the professionals, even though your knowledge of how professional bike selection was a bit iffy (no offense meant, just a interesting insight you shared).
A lot of the bike magazine ads back then would say stuff like "Bernard Hinault rides only Campagnolo components", or "Greg Lemond chooses exclusively Look carbon fiber frames" or something similar, which could lead an extremely gullible person such as myself (as I was back then) to think these professionals sometimes picked out their own equipment. I was just curious for a long time why no one ever won the Tour on a Cannondale, since they're such great bikes.
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Old 03-15-19, 06:29 PM
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I think the Raleigh USA line up could be considered sleepers. They got enough gruff from being associated with, OMG... Huffy that nobody really gave them a chance. But their frames were top stuff in their upper levels.
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Old 03-15-19, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speedslow View Post
I think the Raleigh USA line up could be considered sleepers. They got enough gruff from being associated with, OMG... Huffy that nobody really gave them a chance. But their frames were top stuff in their upper levels.
Yes, not even the Kevin Bacon starring Quicksilver movie could pull these bikes out of their conundrums. I don't remember seeing anyone riding them, during the 80's, even though I'm pretty sure there was a Raleigh dealership in my adopted home city.
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Old 03-15-19, 08:02 PM
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I guess I'll echo some of the other comments about the Prologue and Circuit. I have both and they are both great rides and really fast. I honestly like both of them better than my 1997 Paramount, strange as that is. The Prologue just feels like part of me out on the road. The Circuit is the bike I've nabbed all my Strava sprint KOM's on. No matter what bike I try to beat it with, I fail. It just leaps under me like a scalded cat when I stand up and get on it.


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Old 03-15-19, 09:00 PM
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very big prologue fan. make mine the grey/black fade.
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Old 03-16-19, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by uncle uncle View Post
Yes, not even the Kevin Bacon starring Quicksilver movie could pull these bikes out of their conundrums. I don't remember seeing anyone riding them, during the 80's, even though I'm pretty sure there was a Raleigh dealership in my adopted home city.
I rode for a team in the 80's, DCC/Huffy, and we got Raleigh frames, 531 and 753. You had the option of racing something else but the paybacks from the team were less if you weren't on a Raleigh. At that time, Huffy owned Raleigh or maybe it was the other way around, I can't remember.
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Old 03-16-19, 04:43 AM
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Fignon rode a Raleigh in his Systeme U days from 86-89:

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Old 03-16-19, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
For the longest time during the 80's and early 90's, Cannondale road bikes were true sleeper bikes. I could really fly on mine, and I knew a few people who raced on them and got good results. But it was just galling to me that none of the European professionals rode them. It sounds silly now, but I desperately needed the validation of seeing someone win a Giro or TDF on one (or at least a stage) before I could consider mine a to be legitimate race bike.

It was really nothing beyond the fact that Cannondale didn't sponsor a team at that time, and if a pro was not paid to ride one, it wasn't ever gonna happen.

Eventually Cannondale did sponsor a team, and Mario Cipplolini won many stages on his Cannondales. But for the longest time, I had a difficulty convincing myself that mine was even possible to win a Tour stage on a Cannondale, even if someone like Lemond or Indurain rode one. I was naive enough to think that pros decided themselves which brand of bike they would ride, which to me these days is pretty laughable.
Interesting story about Mario Chippolini.
While riding for Specialized , this was 2003 or 2004., they wanted him to ride their flagship carbon bike for that years world championship race. MC prefered aluminum.
Specialized build him a one off aluminum bike for that race. The only worlds that he won!
The next season MC road Specilizedís flagship carbon bike painting in worlds colors.
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Old 03-16-19, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post

Interesting story about Mario Chippolini.
While riding for Specialized , this was 2003 or 2004., they wanted him to ride their flagship carbon bike for that years world championship race. MC prefered aluminum.
Specialized build him a one off aluminum bike for that race. The only worlds that he won!
The next season MC road Specilizedís flagship carbon bike painting in worlds colors.
It was the 2002 worlds and this is the bike. One of coolest bikes ever made in my opinion.

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Old 03-16-19, 05:20 AM
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Wow! I want that bike! Looks like it's going 60 kph just sitting there.
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Old 03-16-19, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Wow! I want that bike! Looks like it's going 60 kph just sitting there.
Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post
It was the 2002 worlds and this is the bike. One of coolest bikes ever made in my opinion.

I did a little research....... seems specialized only made aluminum bikes in those days....Still a way cool bike. Not sure how I came up with that story???
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Old 03-16-19, 05:58 AM
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Replacing the Old Nail as my Cape Cod leave at mom's house bike.

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Old 03-16-19, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post



I did a little research....... seems specialized only made aluminum bikes in those days....Still a way cool bike. Not sure how I came up with that story???
Haha, I would have never noticed. Pretty much any statement ever made can be picked apart and something incorrect found about it, if someone tries hard enough. Great story nonetheless.
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Old 03-16-19, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Fignon rode a Raleigh in his Systeme U days from 86-89:


1986/1988 SystŤme U - Gitane

1989 SystŤme U - Raleigh

1990/1991 *Castorama - Raleigh

1992 *Gatorade - Bianchi
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