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Tour de Freds: 1988 Huffy vs. 2020 Cannondale

By Spencer Powlison

The bikes have changed; the training has changed; the budgets have grown, and the TV broadcast has gone worldwide. But one thing remains the same at the Tour de France: The riders still have to pedal their bikes up France's toughest climbs over hundreds of miles.

We wanted to get a taste of that glorious suffering, and we wanted to see the difference between the bikes of yesteryear and today's modern machines.

With a bit of inspiration from the Tour and unlimited access to The Pro's Closet's Bicycle Museum, we dreamed up Tour de Freds. We planned a ride that simulated the queen stage of the 2020 Tour de France, stage 17. The queen stage is recognized as the hardest day of the race and this year goes up two huge climbs over the course of 108 miles.

To take on the ride, I chose the bike of America's original Tour de France team, a 1988 "Huffy" built by Serotta for the 7-Eleven team. Bruce rode a 2020 Cannondale SuperSix, the bike of today's American Tour team, EF Pro Cycling. (Trek-Segafredo is also a U.S.-registered TDF team.)

Why is it called "Tour de Freds?" I think road cycling needs to become more inclusive, and I don't think we experienced riders have any right to look down our noses at enthusiastic newcomers. Sometimes, beginners are derided as "Freds." It's time to turn this on its head! All of us are out riding bikes for fun, challenging ourselves, and maybe even watching the Tour. No matter how old your bike is, how fit (or unfit) you are, or how many miles of experience you have, let's not take ourselves too seriously. If you're a cycling enthusiast, you're a Fred, just like me. 

2020 Cannondale SuperSix Evo Carbon Disc Ultegra

Pros:
  • Modern aerodynamics
  • Stiff but still has great comfort and vibration damping 
  • Shimano Ultegra R8000 is crisp feeling and reliable
  • Stealth black colorway
Cons:
  • 18+ lbs weight (more expensive Hi-Mod builds are lighter) 
  • Comes with tubeless-ready wheels but not tubeless-ready tires
  • It looks like every other new 2020 road bike
  • It won't make you an instant superstar (you still need to train!)

1988 Huffy 7-Eleven team bike

Pros:
  • Awesome aesthetics
  • Pretty stiff for a steel bike
  • Reliable shifting
  • Bombproof
Cons:
  • Pretty stiff for a steel bike
  • Bottom bracket knocks (user/mechanic error)
  • Gearing makes you feel like you're on a fixie sometimes
  • I can't keep it forever

12 comments


  • Right on with that ride!!! Surprised the Huffy was let out. I guess it is “just a bike”. It needed a stretch! Similar sentiment to my Eddy Merckx 7-11…boy is it heavy, rides like a race bike, but I do take it out every so often and enjoy the ride. Please, more riding videos!! :)

    Joe Vaskovic on

  • I’m a 74yr old man in Michigan. The home of the 7-11 team was a couple of hours down the road in Troy, MI at the World HQ of 7-11 Corp. I celebrated the Sevens entry into the world of TDF in 86. What an excellent video! I have a Cannondale Black Edition Caad 10, Di2 so in many ways the video had my heart. I’m watching the 2020 TDF now. The strengh of those riders, WoW!
    Thanks for the video, Excellent!

    Cecil Robbins II on

  • Awesome enjoyable video! Thank guys, very inspiring to say the least!

    See you on the road “Fred” :)
    John~

    John Campos on

  • Holy cow, I thought this ride was going to be the opposite with Bruce up front and Spencer bringing up the rear. Beautiful “Huffy”. Way to go guys.

    Mike Encinias on

  • This was epic. I SO ENJOYED this adventure!

    Natalia D on

  • Hey Brian, here’s my Strava from the ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/4012242492

    I’d suggest just taking Olde Stage to get over to Lee Hill, rather than going all the way down to 36. That wasn’t so nice, but we had to get the vert! (And refuel in North Boulder).

    Spencer Powlison on

  • First old bike wins under better climber- So not about the bike. Since I’m 68 now. Some of my fovorite bikes- 84 Schwinn Peloton Pro Columbus SL/SP frameset-Full Suntour Superbe Pro 7 sp. groupo including hub set with Conti 19 mm tubulars – Don’t miss high speed shimmy on downhill. Weight Right at 22#. My current ride 09 Colnago EPS with 2012 Full groupo rim brakes single pivot rear- 11 sp. Campy Super Record TI (last gen with open spider front rings 53-39 front 11/23 rear and Latest version 2019 Bora Ultra 50 w/ Tufo Elite 225 gr. 22 mm tubulars. Have no problem braking at 40 mph down hill from top of hoods. By the way I weigh 270# on a good day. Bike however even with Xpedo Carbon TI pedals 2 carbon water bottle cages- Cateye wireless computer – 140 mm Zipp Sprint Stem- Zipp SL 70 Carbon bars- Sella Italia Flight Carbono Saddle and a original New old stock Mike Sinyard signed Aero Carbon seat post 27.2mm with insert for Colnago 31.6 seat tub. Still below UCI 6800 Gram. Took 2 bikes Between 84 Schwinn (lost in fire in 2003) to love a bike as much. Just fun to ride. By the way no broken anything. Thanks Guys for the video.

    Frank Davis on

  • Can you post your route, or at least the main roads/turns you rode. Looks like a great local-ish ride for me. Keep up with the awesome videos.

    Brian Schmierer on

  • Fun Video I am still riding my 1995 Serrota – when I bought it, the guy said it’d last my whole life. So far, so good!

    Daniel James Martineau on

  • “We’re all Freds….” So true, I love it.

    Neri Garcia on

  • Incredible challenge, incredible scenery, incredible that Spencer had to climb 12K feet on a 21! Great vid!

    Gordon Selkirk on

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this Tour de Freds segment! As I still ride my original 1988 58cm Tesch S-22 4130 Tru Temper racing bike, it was a pleasure to watch the old Huffy moan and creak! Thanks for a great show!

    Joseph Heartsner on


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