1998 U.S. National Cycling Team GT
This is one of the U.S. Cycling Team bikes from the late ‘90’s.
It was the “55 Spare” that spent most of it’s racing life riding on the top of a car, leaning against hotel walls, disassembled and cramped in airplane baggage compartments.
Such is the life of a spare bike. Travel all the way to Morocco for a stage race and never get pulled off the car in a panic. Ready to race the Triptique Ardennes only to have your front wheel tasting the cobblestones, secured onto a different bike. The Tour of Berlin? Train tracks crisscross the roads, the pavement greasy with diesel fuel, and the designated team leaders, Josh Thornton and Dave Zabriskie, are in the right height range to need your help. Berlin has to be your race! Alas, it was not to be as Seth Angevine was the only rider of six team members to make it through the race, and he was too tall for you to help!
Always a bridesmaid and never a bride. Poor spare bike.
But you know, there was an upside to being a spare: you got the good parts. Spare bikes get a lot of attention on the roof of the team car, and since they sit out most of the races they’re always sparkly clean. They’re a great platform for a sponsor’s best stuff.
Teams like the National team get equipment budgets from their suppliers. To equip a lot of riders, you need a lot of parts. You had to find ways to stretch that budget. With Shimano, for instance, if a premium Dura-Ace derailleur cost 10 dollars out of that budget, a lower level Ultegra derailleur may have only cost 5 bucks.
With a few smart picks you could save enough money in the budget to equip many more bikes. Almost every team bike in the late ‘90’s had Ultegra brake calipers and front derailleurs in order to stretch the parts budget. Reynolds Ouzo Pro forks and Cinelli Grammo titanium stems made it onto only a handful of team bikes, usually spares like this one or onto the bikes of riders who knew how to sweet talk the mechanics and coaching staff.
Team bikes like this one were built from Reynolds 853 steel tubing and outfitted with mostly Shimano Dura-Ace parts. This bike got the threadless Reynolds Ouzo Pro fork instead of the standard GT Edge fork with the steel steerer tube. It has the special race wheels (with tubular tires instead of clinchers) which help to tip the scales at only 17 pounds. Mavic Reflex rims and Wheelsmith spokes make up the wheels. There’s a Chris King headset since Shimano only made threaded Dura-Ace headsets at the time.
This old spare bike has Time pedals, hopefully the right pedals for the medium-height racers (there was no pedal sponsor for the National team), a Cateye computer (power meters on race bikes were a rarity in the ‘90’s), crib notes on the stem marking the distance to feed zones and major climbs, and a number plate just like a real race bike…