"If I don't believe in solipsism, who will?" - Al Batt

Sunday, February 7, 2010

McLean and the Performance Catalog

I was given the 1982 Performance Bike Fall -Winter catalog along with some other old brochures by Dan Lestrud one rum addled evening a few months ago. This is rather poignant, as McLean Fonvielle died suddenly at the age of 29, before the catalog was distributed. I am posting it because of an email I received from McLean's close friend, Dale Brown, who was unaware of the catalog . Below is page six of the catalog and a clip from the email:

Re: the Performance brochure ... That was an interesting turn of events, for McLean Fonvielle to decide to offer his frames through the mail order process.

Although I had functioned for a while earlier as his representative to bike shops in the eastern seaboard, I was out-of-the-loop in that decision, but would be interested to time travel and see what lead up to that circumstance.

As background, McLean custom frames had been distributed to bicycle shops around the USA by a company named Cycle Imports in Cornish, Maine. Bob and Judy Richmond operated that business and when McLean bikes appeared at the NY International Bike show (maybe twice) it was in the Cycle Imports booth. They also imported Charles Roberts, Stan Pike (albeit briefly) and a wide range of components including TA, Campagnolo, etc.

(Jack Gabus recently acquired Judy Richmond's personal McLean frame which had become over the years somewhat rough, and rehabbed beautifully as a gift for his wife...)

In any case, there must have been a break down in the relationship with Cycle Imports, as having the bikes in Performance would not have enhanced that distribution channel... It was erhaps no coincidence that there was a great friend, 
Chuck Lewis, a mentor who had earlier run The Clean Machine, a local bike shop, working for Performance, so maybe McLean thought this new (at that time) mail order concern would do a proper job of representing the marque? It would be fun to ask Chuck about that.

Obviously, had I the opportunity, I would have advised him otherwise, because even then, mail order was the despised nemesis of all local bike shops, and this move would have alienated most of his shops, probably even cause many to no longer offer McLean frames.

So, in short, it was quite a shake up in approach to see McLean frames in that catalog.   It is more than ironic that none were ever sold through that means....

-Dale Brown

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