Friday, January 20, 2012

Oooo, Barracuda!

My ex-wife, Valerie, is a bit short of stature, and stands 4'11" tall.  ("Four-eleven and a half!" she would always correct me.)  Because of that, it was very nearly impossible to find her a mountain bike which actually fit.  The smallest frames available from the brands that we carried, in the early to mid-90s, were in the 15 to 16-inch range.

In 1994 or 1995, I forget, Barracuda bikes introduced a 12-inch frame into their line.  The stand-over height and top tube length looked good, on paper, for Val.  The only problem was, we didn't carry Barracuda at the shop, and I couldn't afford to pay retail for one of their bikes.

So, I put a call into the 'Cuda sales rep and described my predicament.  "What I want to know," I concluded, "is will you sell me a bike for my wife at the Emplyee Discount price, even though we don't sell them here."

"I'll have to ask the home office," he told me.  "That's not generally allowed, but I will give it a shot."

At that time, Barracuda sponsored a race team which was all female.  A couple of their riders were pretty short, and that was why the 12" frame had gone into production.  I was hoping that meant that someone at the management level would understand my position and okay the sale.

A few days later, I got a call from the rep.  "I can set you up," he told me.  I later found out that the bike had come through their racing department, so that I got the sponsorship deal on it.  That allowed the bike to go out with no red tape.

A week later, I had the bike in the shop, building it up.  I was under strict orders to not tell anyone that I had gotten it at the discount (I think it's been long enough, now) because Barracuda didn't want every shop employee in the U.S. to ask for the same deal.

Val was thrilled to have a bike that she could actually straddle and have some stand-over clearance.  And, I was tickled that the bike industry was close-knit enough to allow the deal to go through.  I don't know if that kind of rule-bending would go over, today.


1 comment:

  1. There is a new Barracuda XX Team bike on ebay right now, 12 inch frame. Looks like a really nice bike. Anyway, I enjoy your stories, thanks for putting them up.


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