Panasonic Individual Custom System 1988
Industrial giant Panasonic has been making bicycles in Japan for decades. In the 1970′s and 80′s, Panasonic bikes were quite popular in the U.S, with obviously good brand recognition and a high quality selection from which to choose.
In 1987, Panasonic launched PICS, their Individual Custom System. Get a high quality custom Panasonic bike of your own design in two to six weeks! Bike shops like Classic Cycle were given a Panasonic combination TV/VHS tape player, which could be set up in the shop to play a looping video showing a factory tour and explaining it all:
First, a customer would select a bike style: road or mountain. Next, pick steel or titanium tubing. Six mountain bike sizes and about eight road bike sizes to get just the right fit (not a bad selection at the time).
Components could be selected from two tiers of Shimano mountain bike equipment, and Shimano 600, Sante’, or Dura-Ace groups for the road bikes. A glossy brochure showed all of the paint styles available with one, two and three color stripes, panels, and fades. The bike shop would have a dozen sample frame tubes on hand painted with all of the bright options (there was probably about a thousand different paint schemes available). The PICS buyer had 12 letters with which to spell out their name, which would then be laser etched into the handlebar stem or stamped on the top tube.
Once all of the selections were made, the order form was faxed to Japan on the bike shop’s new Panasonic facsimile machine (super high-tech!), you waited a few weeks, and voila! Federal Express dropped off your new bike.
This particular bike was customized for an “R. McReynolds” in fashionable lavender and polished titanium. We don’t believe that Campagnolo equipment was ever an option straight from Japan, and this bike was most likely given a new component group in about 1991 or ’92.
My personal PICS bike was a red, white, and blue steel mountain bike with Deore XT equipment from 1988 and ”P.R. Johnson” on the top tube. It took fourteen days to get it from Japan, and it was stolen during my sophomore year of college. Anyone seen it?