I got another Terry catalog in the mail the other day. Lest people get the wrong idea, this was addressed to Susan and I rarely engage in cross dressing (though the sports bra Pamela was selling for $1 was a temptation). Anyway, my take on Terry is that this is a niche market designed primarily to meet the needs of small women, who, by and large, can’t find cycling equipment that fits them. Since Susan is in the normal range, the catalogs usually hit the recycle bin as fast as the umpteen offers of Visa cards. This time, though, I decided to have a look to see what wares they were selling these days.
The company started to fill a real need in the cycling world, bicycles designed specifically for the dimensions of women. Georgena Terry couldn’t find a production bike that gave her an adequate fit since bikes at that time were universally designed for the male torso, so she decided to make her own. They were very popular with small women who really didn’t fit well on the “normal” sized frame.
The next pioneering product Terry produced was the Terry saddle. This was the first saddle with a hole in the middle, although the hole was covered with Lycra (“saddle with a secret”). This started a genuine revolution in women’s saddles, and spawned many similar saddle designs.
Looking at their current catalog, it was hard to distinguish it from all the other catalogs. Lots of clothing and various fashionable outdoor gear but most of it made by others and sold by Terry. They seemed to be following the trend of everyone selling everything. I knew it was the beginning of the end when Micky D started selling chicken, and the Colonel started selling non-chicken.
It took a while to find them, but they still sell saddles, and have expanded their offerings to include men. I tend to prefer the Real Man saddle design (http://sheldonbrown.com/real-man.html), but it seems reasonable that the male of the species might be interested in comfort as well. They had four models, and I zeroed in on one that was for “riders ... interested in maximizing comfort.” That sort of begs the question, what were the other models for, masochists? But I pressed on, and found the less comfortable ones were for “those who didn’t want to lose the feel of the road.” Beginning to sound like a condom ad. All of them had a line item “Reduces discomfort:” with the type of discomfort it reduces. This is a bit of advertising frankness rarely seen. Most advertisers would never in a million years suggest that their product could be associated with discomfort. Just as it is impossible to buy a small anything in this age of super sizing, advertisers avoid terms with negative connotations. “Discomfort” is definitely one of them.
There were some other actual cycling gear made by Terry: shorts, gloves, but most of it could be bought anywhere. One surprising item was “Terry clipless pedals” a set of pedals with SPD types cleats that looked a lot like any other SPD pedal. I failed to see the value added here by Terry.
So, I kept saying “Where’s the bike?” that started the Terry company. On the very last page, there was mention of a bike sale, that you could find out about by going to their web site. In my mind, this is what really set Terry apart, and now it seems to have taken a back seat to other stuff you can get anywhere. Maybe I just don’t get retail.