Davis Phinney’s 1984 7-Eleven Serotta
Before the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics American manufacturer Murray signed on to sponsor the US Cycling team as well as the legendary 7-Eleven Team. There was one major problem though. As a producer of low-cost bicycles and lawn equipment, Murray didn’t have a clue what sorts of equipment real bike racers used or needed. So they brought in an up-and-coming American frame builder, Ben Serotta, to build their bikes for them. Serotta started building frames in 1972, at just 14 years old, and by the early 80s he was building bikes for some of America’s top amatuer riders, as well as the technical support bikes for Campagnolo. It was Bill Woodull of Campagnolo who recommended Serotta to 7-Eleven team manager Jim Ochowicz, and the rest is history.
These early red Campagnolo equipped bikes were understated compared to the later tricolor Huffys (also Serotta-built) that the team would sport. Built with Columbus SLX tubing, they mostly reflected the fashion of the time: stiff, steep, and high off the ground for short distance criterium style racing. Perfect for a hard hitting sprinter like Davis Phinney.
This early partnership spawned an on-going relationship between Phinney and Serotta, with Phinney able to ask Serotta to tweak the frame and test different configurations, changing various handling characteristics, resulting in discoveries that fueled the bike development for the 7-Eleven team throughout the 80s. Phinney raced on this particular bike in the 1984 Olympic Individual Road Race, finishing 5th. It sports a special chainring engraved with Olympic logos and an Olympic decal on the head badge. It’s also interesting to note that Phinney rode with his brakes in the “Italian” style (or “Moto” as some refer to it), with the right hand controlling the front brake. This runs against the grain for most American riders but he remains known as one of the peloton’s best bike handlers.