The following story is loosely based on a recent motion picture, to whose creators we offer our profound apologies. The names of the bikes have been changed to protect the innocent. (Editor's note: No bicycles were harmed in the creation of this feature.)

Once upon a time, there was a small bike shop. It wasn't the biggest bike shop in town, it didn't have the largest selection, and it didn't have the fancy-schmancy display racks and track-lighting that the other shops in town had. But it was very popular among the cycling cognoscenti of the town, and it wasn't uncommon to see the local racing club gathered at the shop after their Saturday morning training ride, celebrating their exploits and arguing about components. They would gaze up at the cycling posters, at Fausto Coppi climbing an Alpine pass, at Greg LeMond crushing Ciappucci in the mountains, and they would know that this was truly a bike shop, not a store that happened to sell bikes.

But sometimes they would yearn for something new. Being sponsored by Andy, they of course rode on Campy-equipped bikes. Always the best--Ergopower, dual-pivot brakes, Shamal wheels. But . . .

"Hey, Andy," they would say to the shop's owner, "When you going to start carrying Shimano stuff? All the other teams use it!" Andy, who once rode as a professional in Europe, would just shake his head and chuckle.

"Shimano?" he would say. "Why, all they really know how to build are fishing reels! Have you ever seen a Shimano rider win the Tour?"

And all the racers knew that Andy was referring to the Tour de France (which, as he would point out to them every July, has never been won by a Shimano-equipped rider).

Life was fine until one day, when Andy's banker came to visit the shop.

Andy's banker rode bikes, but only off-road. He had a fine bike, too. Full-suspension titanium frame, Rock Shox with the upgrade kit, full Shimano XTR.

Andy's banker was unhappy with the business the shop was doing. "Sell Shimano stuff," he would tell Andy, "and you'll make a lot more money!"

"No!" Andy would reply. "If I did that, how could I sleep at night?" And so, Andy's shop didn't make quite as much money as the other bike shops in town, but as Andy put it, "I'd rather be less successful than sell my soul!"

On this occasion, however, Andy's banker was very serious. The Bank Committee had made a decision. He had to sell Shimano or go out of business. They would foreclose on his loan.

So, Andy had no choice. He called up his supplier the next day, and ordered a whole line of Shimano-equipped bikes. Got a whole new set of bikes for the racing team, too.

At first, the race team was very happy. They thought it was just great, having bikes that looked like all the others in the peloton. "Hey, you're finally with it," the other riders would say.

Andy's wife tried to comfort him. "Of course they like the Shimano stuff," she would say. "Look at it, it's got more gadgets on it than a Swiss Army knife!"

"Yeah," Andy would reply, "but I can't get a single @&#! spare part for any of 'em!"

So the riders liked being part of the crowd. Sure, it was a little like the scenes in Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the aliens wanted the hero to fall asleep and "join them," but what the heck? Everything was great until . . .

The day of the final day of the Classic.

The Classic was the local three-day road race series. It was the race everyone most wanted to win, and the final stage was the most prestigious of all. Andy's team had trained for weeks, adding distance, doing intervals, watching their diet carefully, even abstaining from s - e - x.

The day of the Classic's final stage dawned bright and warm. It was a good day to race. Andy's team lined up with the others and they were off!

At first, the race went well for Andy's team. They had men in all the breaks, they controlled the pace, they covered all the moves. They even won a few intermediate sprints. Then, things started happening.

First, one of the bike's ShimaNO derailleurs snapped off. Then a pair of brakes stopped working, when a tiny part fell off. Bottom brackets started grinding, instead of spinning smoothly. The race looked like it was slipping away from them--every time they tried to move now, something would break! Even neutral support stopped giving them bikes or wheels.

Any sized up the situation. He sped up to the peloton in the team van, and conferred with his road captain. The race would be passing right by the shop in a few miles, he said. Have the team stop there, I have a plan!

The road captain thought that was ridiculous, but decided to go along. With the rest of the peloton watching in amazement, Andy's team stopped at the shop.

There, in front of them, to their utter amazement, were their old bikes. They looked great. Their Campagnolo equipment sparkled in the bright sunlight. The Ergo levers sat there, shining, their shifter cables neatly hidden beneath the tape. The cranksets even shone on the back side!

"Say buon giorno to your bikes, guys!" said Andy. "I've been saving them for just such an occasion."

The riders quickly jumped on their old bikes, tossing their ShimaNO-equipped mounts aside in disgust. "Save the frames, doctor Andy," they shouted as they rode away. "Scrap the components, though, it's Campagnolo Only from now on!"

Well, Andy's team won the Big Race, taking first, second, and third places. It was the first-ever sweep in the race's history, and it caught the attention of all the other teams, who also decided to switch component groups.

Andy went medical back to his supplier with a vanload of ShimaNO road groups. "I can't sell these any more," he said. "Go ahead and send some mountain bike stuff--until Campy gets their act together store there, too!"

So, in the end, everyone lived happily ever after. Andy regained his diginity, his team won lots of races, and a little bit of Italian design and history went out the door with every road bike.

The End

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This page created December 27, 1996
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