How it used to be: Right, the rather fetching look of Ken Souza in his briefs and windshield-style shades. Left, some sunglasses were even bigger. *Photos supplied
How it used to be: Right, the rather fetching look of Ken Souza in his briefs and windshield-style shades. Left, some sunglasses were even bigger. *Photos supplied

I was recently looking in an Oakley sunglasses display and was amazed to see they had reintroduced the Eyeshade and Razor models so fashionable in the early days of triathlon. 

Triathlon began to develop an equipment identity in the mid 1980s.

Athletes like Scott Tinley, Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Ken Souza and Scott Molina began racing in swim briefs, with Tinley developing a cloth pad sewn into the briefs. 

They borrowed large windshield-style sunglasses from Jim Jannard’s bicycle grip company named “Oakley”. 

The California surfer look was infused into cycling with neon-coloured briefs  and bare chests or a bright neon “cut short” baggy running top developed for triathletes. The Razor sunglasses in neon colours were the early models of the now more familiar Oakley sunglass sports models — all developed for triathletes!

There weren’t any compression suits to keep you looking trim.

Bike frames were still steel and many triathletes used cycling time-trial bikes with very steep angles. 

Charley French and Boone Lennon, both affiliated with ski company Scott USA, then made the first “Scott DH” aerodynamic handlebar. 

The oddly-bent aluminum bar mimicked the arm position of a downhill ski racer in an aerodynamic tuck.

Some accounts suggest Charley French used the first Scott DH bars at the 1986 Ironman in Hawai’i.

At the 1987 Desert Princess Biathlon (then a name for run, bike, run), several athletes had the Scott DH handlebars. 

The combination of the steep angles and cumbersome aerobars made these bikes very unstable. 

Cage strap-in pedals were the norm with leather lace-up cycling shoes and gear shifters were on the bike’s downtube, not at the end of the aerobars.

Helmets were some sort of Styrofoam with cloth covers that stretched over them to add colour. 

There were no Garmin computers or soft-ended triathlon seats and shoe laces were tied before the quick-tightening methods came in.

There certainly have been some changes since the 1980s!