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

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.

100 thoughts on “Retro Vs Modern Bikes: 80s / 90s Oakley Cycling Icons”

  • Very fine, I started riding (for other than just school commuting) at the rise of the Oakley, Greg LeMond and aero… it was awesome… those glass made me look funny but I'm sure the street cred gave me an addition 5% power… Oakley for the win… but with a modern helmet…

  • The lower humidity in the South California desert makes for less drippy sweat since the sweat evaporates quickly. That is why the presenter saw less sweat.

  • Those oakely razors were awesome. I broke a pair of those , sent them back to oakley with a nice letter and they sent me back a new pair at no charge.

  • Plastic bike –>plastic rider. You say only 14 gears but what about durability that group ? How often do you must replace chain ?
    I will be serious – I really need modern levers. Old steel frames got souls , look beautifull. BTW – another good video !

  • Cyberdyne Systems: Skynet says:

    Ridiculously fast moving bird at 14:19, that thing had somewhere to be, lol.

    42-21? And people are complaining about 1x for not having range or too big of jumps??!?!?!? a 53×11-28 1x setup would have a 5% lower low ratio than that (1.9 vs 2.0) without having any larger jumps at all.

  • I had a Columbus TSX model. Was a great bike till I crashed into a Nissan truck door! Totaled the bike! Insurance paid me for the accident cause by the driver of vehicle. But could not find another one!

  • sandydenny lives says:

    My modern steel has greater speed and reaction than the steels of the 80's and 90's.Plus it's a lot stronger, and has 7-8% loss in climbing vrs a carbon of roughly the same price. So I remain a steelist, with lashings of carbon thanks to Campag.

  • Retro is nice when you not have hurry but the modern tech is always great! Thanks GCN for a cool retro Vs modern video and with a great presenter as the GCN legend Simon Richardson!

  • modern a course the functionality,everything as been improved, but I have to say I miss the originality from every label, most of the modern bike look very similar. some have a remain of the past as the Celeste Bianchi colored frame or the Wllier Cento10air with the Copper Ramato colour but the frames are often very similar its very difficult to see the different if you remove the decals from a black carbon frame. In the 80´s I by my first eyeshades from Oakley I never use cycling sunglasses before Oakley they change everything much cooler and modern look. And Greg was the coolest cyclist of the 80´s

  • Came across a vintage shop in Keswick in the UK Lake District that had a rack of vintage jerseys. Would have bought one but they looked so itchy I didn't even want to try one on! What the hell happened when it rained, did they sag?!

  • I'm a mountain biker, but this video intrigued me. The only thing I heard throughout this video was "roadie stuff, more roadie stuff, roadie this road bike that, minuscule improvement here, tiny weight savings there."

  • Usable distinction says:

    Retro cycling kit looks gash, modern cycling kit looks gash, cycling kit looks gash. Function over form if you actually care is possibly the only actual consideration.

  • To my eye…the old kit still looks super great. O.k. NOT the old helmet but I would happily wear the old school look from these teams again….

  • This video is awesome, loved the retro kit and that Lemond bike 👌 the colour took me right back to trying to spray paint my old bmx

  • Si and GCN, your videos are the best and the channel only gets better and better everyday! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us. 🙂 Now, can you sort out that "retro"/"vintage" use, please?

  • Blades , the forrunner of every cycling sunglasses ,
    But I think Phil Anderson was the first to wear factory pilots
    The Z shorts made Simon look very pro .!!!

  • I love riding my TVT 92 in red with full C Record kit, Sigma Pave rims (hand built by legendary mechanic Geoff Shergold) I built it in 1991 as a replica of Pedro Delgados 1988 tour winning bike. I just haven't got the heart to put Pinnerello stickers on it. I still have the Time Equipe shoes from the era, just need to source some old school cleats if anyone has some?

  • I live five minutes from oaklley, such a a cool factory and love the video on the kit and the comparisons. Cheers from so cal.

  • mgsboedmisodpc2 says:

    Fact checking time 3:52 yep correct
    look tvt 1992 greg lemond

    greg lemond Professional team(s)
    1981–1984 Renault–Elf–Gitane
    1985–1987 La Vie Claire
    1988 PDM–Ultima–Concorde
    1989 AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia
    1990–1994 Z–Tomasso

    La Vie Claire Team name history
    1984 La Vie Claire-Terraillon
    1985–1986 La Vie Claire-Radar
    1987 Toshiba-La Vie Claire
    1988 Toshiba-Look
    1989 Toshiba-Kärcher-Look
    1990–1991 Toshiba

  • You can test my Super 91 for a video when you like, it has the Dura Ace 7800 group on it,a Ferrari Novus saddle and its almost finished.

  • Clément Andrieu says:

    The néon yellow razor blade on the vidéo isn't a vintage pair, it's a "New razor blades" from 2005. And not from the 80s.

  • Masters of Harmonica says:

    Well…I ride daily, all year long, snow or sun, and I'm on a 1986 Schwinn Traveler in Cobalt Blue with Continental Ultra Sport II tires at 120 PSI that I restored, cost me $75 plus the tires and water bottle cage and bottle, 27" wheels, safety brake bars and stem shifters, and a big boy water bottle, with a 15 year old Giro helmet (all the fitting pads fell out) and lycra pants and snowboard goggles…and cause It's cold, I'm wearin' HOT HANDS hand warmer inserts, and shoe warmers, and sometimes I put plastic shopping bags around my socks when it gets really cold, and am wearing a military parka with this huge hood…and I ain't quick, but I ain't dead and in the ground neither, and I can let my gal have it for an hour…and I love this video cause I'm a dreamer, and I'm not the only one. I see you on the road I may kick your ass, cause I train on rollers 5x a day and got some serious scoot left, so watch out for that Schwinn Traveler in Cobalt Blue. Wanna see my badass Schwinn? See VINTAGE BIKES Facebook group? Keep these videos coming kid.

  • Apart from that monstrosity of a helmet the retro kit looked pretty cool but then Greg was stylish for his day he also won the first ever tour I watched as a lad and what an introduction to road cycling it was too 1989, and it's still the best tdf I've ever watched. It was the start of era not just for me but for the world of cycling had finally bumped into the world of aerodynamics. Thankfully Giro rapidly improved every element of helmets and I personally think that they set the stage for safer riding for all of us by bringing helmets that people actually wanted to wear, the Air Attack SC. I actually saved up to buy one and even now looking at my current Scott Cadence I think there are some stark similarities even though there's a quarter of a century's worth of development between them. I also really hope the UCI relax their 3-1 tubing ratio in the near future too, yeah keep the diamond shaped profile of the frame cos it's shape that defines the whole conventional (safety bicycle) bike frame shape we know and love but going aero looks super cool, I've seen a lot tt frames built up into road bikes and they look stunning and let's face it the cycling world is vain, it has to be to get the attention that it needs from the media and henceforth inspiring the public who fall in love and want to sign up to a life behind bars.

  • Veritas Originale says:

    RETRO but with MODERN components such as: integrated brake/gear changers, 3 rings up front and 11 out back, tire compounds, tubeless, carbon rims~ But keeping to older look and metal~ At least for non-professional training/riding. Thanks for the vid! You've got yourself a new subscriber;-)

  • What’s going on w/ Si’s front brake cable? Looks like it got all wonky in the rebuild after flying, maybe unseated or even cracked?

  • 4:21 are you guys on HWY 39(azusa canyon road) or GMR(glendora moutain road)? Looks like it, cool to see the GCN team in my area

  • Greg Le Mond did a lot of firsts: Oakley glasses (I recall he was the first to wear sunglasses), full zip jerseys, aero bars, focus on the tour, using a heart monitor, so many more. Also, at the end of his career he was one of the first to adapt wattage training. He saw immediately how the the power meter would be the tool for training.
    My Mt. Rushmore of cycling: Merckx, Coppi, LeMond, Hinault.

  • It,s so funny all talking about aerodynamic on a bike. Well the weight will be importent – but what about the aerodynamic
    by all the unshaped weekenddrivers look like a sausage on abike —

  • I really quite like the look of those retro and few modern Oakleys. Very funky, and fun. However, in North America average Oakley wearer is a massive douche in his pickup truck, who sees no other road users around him, and occasionally throws some litter out his open window. Just a personal observation. Very rarely you see actual cyclists wear those.

  • Year 2030: in this side one beatifull 1992 road bike in perfect condition, in the other side one mountain of braking carbon, ruinned bateries and cables

  • e2 Environnement says:

    F_{D},=,{tfrac 12},rho ,u^{2},C_{D},A

    Aerodynamic on a bicycle!!!!.lots of bolocks for the marketing of a bicycle. Unless you are Mercks going to Mexico city to beat a world record. Go down to reality and promote simplicity and freedom of cycling

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