Born in the USSR

Henry Hub

Rookie
Apologies if the title seems a little glib but, picking up on the comments of @BorgCash in the threads below about starting to play in 1982 with a Maxply knockoff, I would be fascinated to learn more from our resident Moscovite about tennis as a popular sport back then, the league/club system and access to hardware (Volkl seemed to be a popular choice for USSR players professionally but what was the popular choice for your average club player back then?).
 

34n

Semi-Pro
This is what we played with in the USSR ( not volkls, not maxplys )
I say WE because those frames were available for competitive young players though the clubs. It was not possible to get them in the stores.
After you reach cat. 1 level ( russian word "razriad" ) you were entitled to get two frames per year for free and you could purchase more frames at affordable price. "Affordable" price was as far as I remember 18 roubles. So I used to get 2 frames every year from my coach and had to buy additional 3-4 frames myself. I broke dozen of them.
I played with this racket from about age 13-14 to 18 . Then I went to the army and stopped playing competitively.
Thousands of young players in the country played exclusively with this particular model because it was the only affordable option for competitive players. Everything you could buy in the stores was not good enough.
Obviously I have tried pretty much every popular foreign made racket but could not afford having 5 Kramers in my bag.
Price for a decent foreign made racket was about 150r. My parents monthly income was probably 250-300r.

Red volkls were available to the "masters" through a similar state sponsored scheme. I think there were may be 20 active masters at any given time in the USSR.

Here is one of my frames.
VOSTOK Made in Estonia, 1979. 13.5 oz = 383g. Handle # 6. (grip size)
Note my initials on the throat Д.Т. )))

 
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BorgCash

Legend
This is what we played with in the USSR ( not volkls, not maxplys )
I say WE because those frames were available for competitive young players though the clubs. It was not possible to get them in the stores.
After you reach cat. 1 level ( russian word "razriad" ) you were entitled to get two frames per year for free and you could purchase more frames at affordable price. "Affordable" price was as far as I remember 18 roubles. So I used to get 2 frames every year from my coach and had to buy additional 3-4 frames myself. I broke dozen of them.
I played with this racket from about age 13-14 to 18 . Then I went to the army and stopped playing competitively.
Thousands of young players in the country played exclusively with this particular model because it was the only affordable option for competitive players. Everything you could buy in the stores was not good enough.
Obviously I have tried pretty much every popular foreign made racket but could not afford having 5 Kramers in my bag.
Price for a decent foreign made racket was about 150r. My parents monthly income was probably 250-300r.

Red volkls were available to the "masters" through a similar state sponsored scheme. I think there were may be 20 active masters at any given time in the USSR.

Here is one of my frames.
VOSTOK Made in Estonia, 1979. 13.5 oz = 383g. Handle # 6. (grip size)
Note my initials on the throat Д.Т. )))

I always prefer Москва ( Moscow ) racquet, that was a pirate clown of Maxply. My first coach gave me two of them for free use in 1982, i mostly struggled with very uncomfortable grip, got many blood blisters. Later racquet was recalled to Союз ( Union ). I still have my first racquet with me now.
 

BorgCash

Legend
This is what we played with in the USSR ( not volkls, not maxplys )
I say WE because those frames were available for competitive young players though the clubs. It was not possible to get them in the stores.
After you reach cat. 1 level ( russian word "razriad" ) you were entitled to get two frames per year for free and you could purchase more frames at affordable price. "Affordable" price was as far as I remember 18 roubles. So I used to get 2 frames every year from my coach and had to buy additional 3-4 frames myself. I broke dozen of them.
I played with this racket from about age 13-14 to 18 . Then I went to the army and stopped playing competitively.
Thousands of young players in the country played exclusively with this particular model because it was the only affordable option for competitive players. Everything you could buy in the stores was not good enough.
Obviously I have tried pretty much every popular foreign made racket but could not afford having 5 Kramers in my bag.
Price for a decent foreign made racket was about 150r. My parents monthly income was probably 250-300r.

Red volkls were available to the "masters" through a similar state sponsored scheme. I think there were may be 20 active masters at any given time in the USSR.

Here is one of my frames.
VOSTOK Made in Estonia, 1979. 13.5 oz = 383g. Handle # 6. (grip size)
Note my initials on the throat Д.Т. )))

The grip size 6 is very impressive now.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Apologies if the title seems a little glib but, picking up on the comments of @BorgCash in the threads below about starting to play in 1982 with a Maxply knockoff, I would be fascinated to learn more from our resident Moscovite about tennis as a popular sport back then, the league/club system and access to hardware (Volkl seemed to be a popular choice for USSR players professionally but what was the popular choice for your average club player back then?).
Volkl become affortable to even amateurs after Soviet National team signed a sponsor contract with Volkl ( it was about '85-'86, before it was all Adidas). Players who got Volkls immediately began to sold them ( some extra ones ) for 350 roubles. It was the standart price for foreign made racquet in Moscow from '85 and later.
 

34n

Semi-Pro
For 350r in the ussr you could feed a family of four for a month or two. I preferred government issued gear ))
Another factor was lack of access to stringing machine. I can string wood frame without a machine.
6 grip was okay for a wood racket. The smaller head you have the bigger grip you want.

Funny, one other thing I could not really imagine even in a wildest dream is a basket full of tennis balls.
 
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34n

Semi-Pro
It was not that dramatic.
The racket I mentioned was pretty decent. I could have switched to aluminum frames for example because they wont break and I could live with 3 frames for a few years. I considered Head Master. But I did not switch because it was not radically better. Jack Kramer was much better but it would break eventually and constant supply would require.

The same concept of the same equipment for everyone was through every sport in the ussr.
Besides tennis I was doing track cycling as a supplementary training. And it was pretty much the same thing with bicicyles.
If you are into cycling this article might be interesting

 

haqq777

Legend
It was not that dramatic.
The racket I mentioned was pretty decent. I could have switched to aluminum frames for example because they wont break and I could live with 3 frames for a few years. I considered Head Master. But I did not switch because it was not radically better. Jack Kramer was much better but it would break eventually and constant supply would require.

The same concept of the same equipment for everyone was through every sport in the ussr.
Besides tennis I was doing track cycling as a supplementary training. And it was pretty much the same thing with bicicyles.
If you are into cycling this article might be interesting

Great article, thanks for sharing. This last paragraph is the best and I can see how the crux of it can basically can be applied to a whole lot more than cycling.

"The end result, however unintended, was that this system bred a road racer least of all concerned about equipment (as long as it worked) and heavily concentrated instead on making sure he's got good legs on the race day. This breed of a racer would not waste his time searching cycling forums seeking opinions on whether or not he'll be better off buying 40mm or 50mm deep rims, this brand or that brand, 16 spokes at the front or 20, elliptical shaped spokes or flat, or should he upgrade his frame to this year's model or wait for the next year's one (50g lighter), and on and on. No, he would be making sure he trains right and rests plenty, he eats the finest diet he can afford, knows everything there's to know about the race he is going to do, analyses his previous mistakes and good moves, has a race plan and can guess what his rivals can and cannot do. If possible, he will go and ride the race course to see where he can possibly attack or where his rivals can attack him. In other words, his thoughts are about what he can do to have a good race rather than what equipment he can get. The former is a road racer, the latter is a bike equipment consumer. The former will look after his equipment with care and attention and be always content with it, the latter will neglect it and throw it away as soon as something "better" is on the market".
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
Great article, thanks for sharing. This last paragraph is the best and I can see how the crux of it can basically can be applied to a whole lot more than cycling.

"The end result, however unintended, was that this system bred a road racer least of all concerned about equipment (as long as it worked) and heavily concentrated instead on making sure he's got good legs on the race day. This breed of a racer would not waste his time searching cycling forums seeking opinions on whether or not he'll be better off buying 40mm or 50mm deep rims, this brand or that brand, 16 spokes at the front or 20, elliptical shaped spokes or flat, or should he upgrade his frame to this year's model or wait for the next year's one (50g lighter), and on and on. No, he would be making sure he trains right and rests plenty, he eats the finest diet he can afford, knows everything there's to know about the race he is going to do, analyses his previous mistakes and good moves, has a race plan and can guess what his rivals can and cannot do. If possible, he will go and ride the race course to see where he can possibly attack or where his rivals can attack him. In other words, his thoughts are about what he can do to have a good race rather than what equipment he can get. The former is a road racer, the latter is a bike equipment consumer. The former will look after his equipment with care and attention and be always content with it, the latter will neglect it and throw it away as soon as something "better" is on the market".
Well...yeah but it's obviously not black and white like most things in life. Standard bell curve distribution, I suppose. The only thing is that just "stepping into" the TT forum swings you all the way to the more extreme part of it.
 

haqq777

Legend
Well...yeah but it's obviously not black and white like most things in life. Standard bell curve distribution, I suppose.
That is a given. Crux of it however can be applied to most things as I said above, i-e focus more on honing basic skills than letting equipment bog you down.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
Of course. I mean the entire article under discussion is about competitive cycling to boot :)
Sure, albeit with rather highly philosophical approach... All I'm saying from the off is that it's not like you're either a "road racer" or "equipment consumer". The crux you're talking about is, actually, that purely philosophical thing applicable to a niche group of people who are lightly dipping into competitive universe. Once you start to really compete, you tend to get the right stuff which either helps you or at least won't stand in your way (depending on your financial abilities and commitment) and gets the job done. Once you are a sponsored pro, you get the best gear your sponsorship deal is capable of. Plus once you're a competitive road racer, you literally become an equipment consumer because you burn through the gear really fast.

I get the zeitgeist of the era that article speaks about (I haven't lived too long in that system, being born in 1985, but I'm not unfamiliar with it either) but it's not like guys from USSR/communist countries were racing on crappy stuff, too. Lots of gear produced in those countries at that time was really good and would dare to say competitive to what was going on "behind the Iron curtain". Guys from USSR were not allowed to compete at Tour de France etc but I bet a guy like Sergei Sukhoruchenkov (1980 Olympic road race champion) would give Hinault and co. run for their money on his USSR bike. Not because he was so focused on racing because he could not get a better bike so he didn't have to geek out but because his bike, along with his riding, was good enough. So what if it was the only decent bike produced in the only bike factory around and only came in two colours? If you were top of the line racer, you got the best of what was available...same as today.
 

haqq777

Legend
Sure, albeit with rather highly philosophical approach... All I'm saying from the off is that it's not like you're either a "road racer" or "equipment consumer". The crux you're talking about is, actually, that purely philosophical thing applicable to a niche group of people who are lightly dipping into competitive universe. Once you start to really compete, you tend to get the right stuff which either helps you or at least won't stand in your way (depending on your financial abilities and commitment) and gets the job done. Once you are a sponsored pro, you get the best gear your sponsorship deal is capable of. Plus once you're a competitive road racer, you literally become an equipment consumer because you burn through the gear really fast.

I get the zeitgeist of the era that article speaks about (I haven't lived too long in that system, being born in 1985, but I'm not unfamiliar with it either) but it's not like guys from USSR/communist countries were racing on crappy stuff, too. Lots of gear produced in those countries at that time was really good and would dare to say competitive to what was going on "behind the Iron curtain". Guys from USSR were not allowed to compete at Tour de France etc but I bet a guy like Sergei Sukhoruchenkov (1980 Olympic road race champion) would give Hinault and co. run for their money on his USSR bike. Not because he was so focused on racing because he could not get a better bike so he didn't have to geek out but because his bike, along with his riding, was good enough. So what if it was the only decent bike produced in the only bike factory around and only came in two colours? If you were top of the line racer, you got the best of what was available...same as today.
My take was purely based on what was written in the article and my general worldview of things. I have neither raced cycles or lived in USSR. I think you have taken off on a tangent to the simple point I was making above which was to emphasize that one needs to focus more on honing skills before you start worrying about equipment and gear. In a level playing field, former matters more and everything else comes later. The concept doesn't apply to a "niche" group. It applies to everyone.
 

Faris

Professional
I get the zeitgeist of the era that article speaks about (I haven't lived too long in that system, being born in 1985, but I'm not unfamiliar with it either) but it's not like guys from USSR/communist countries were racing on crappy stuff, too. Lots of gear produced in those countries at that time was really good and would dare to say competitive to what was going on "behind the Iron curtain". Guys from USSR were not allowed to compete at Tour de France etc but I bet a guy like Sergei Sukhoruchenkov (1980 Olympic road race champion) would give Hinault and co. run for their money on his USSR bike. Not because he was so focused on racing because he could not get a better bike so he didn't have to geek out but because his bike, along with his riding, was good enough. So what if it was the only decent bike produced in the only bike factory around and only came in two colours? If you were top of the line racer, you got the best of what was available...same as today.
Hmm. Im not sure what you are arguing against. My understanding is that article doesn't say that top guys at national level were racing on crappy stuff. From what I understood the last paragraph and the whole article basically suggests that at earlier stages of development the gear was barely passable and that led to a mindset which emphasized more on skill development rather than worrying abt equipment. As the guys progressed and proved themselves with racers using similar type of crap gear, the gear started getting better and better from the state (as stated in the article). I believe that is what @haqq777 was pointing to above as well.
 

haqq777

Legend
Hmm. Im not sure what you are arguing against. My understanding is that article doesn't say that top guys at national level were racing on crappy stuff. From what I understood the last paragraph and the whole article basically suggests that at earlier stages of development the gear was barely passable and that led to a mindset which emphasized more on skill development rather than worrying abt equipment. As the guys progressed and proved themselves with racers using similar type of crap gear, the gear started getting better and better from the state (as stated in the article). I believe that is what @haqq777 was pointing to above as well.
That is indeed what I took away from the article as well. And that is why in my post above I mentioned that in a level playing field where everyone had similar gear, you must have had to focus more on things beside the bike (you can make the bike efficient only to degree) like putting in the miles, hard work, nutrition etc. And when I said concept applied to everyone, I meant that no one else (in that category) had better bikes so those wanting to succeed had to look elsewhere besides the bike to progress to the next level. This mindset, at an early stage and in a competitive setup, is what I was alluding to before. And of course as the young riders progressed and got success within their group, they were then given better bikes as well. And their gear continued to get better till they reached the echelon of racing in the country.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
My take was purely based on what was written in the article and my general worldview of things. I have neither raced cycles or lived in USSR. I think you have taken off on a tangent to the simple point I was making above which was to emphasize that one needs to focus more on honing skills before you start worrying about equipment and gear. In a level playing field, former matters more and everything else comes later. The concept doesn't apply to a "niche" group. It applies to everyone.
Well, you were the one underlining that this article is about competitive cycling. The concept obviously applies to everybody at some point of their professional cycling development but what you have in the end in this particular situation is either pros or high level amateur competitors who are fully aware of it (and are highly dependent on their carefully selected gear precisely because of the level playing field) or guys who don't compete so couldn't care less unless they do (because they want to for some philosophical reason). All you're left with are folks somewhere around entry/lower level amateur competitions - that's certainly not everyone as far as cycling is concerned.

Hmm. Im not sure what you are arguing against. My understanding is that article doesn't say that top guys at national level were racing on crappy stuff. From what I understood the last paragraph and the whole article basically suggests that at earlier stages of development the gear was barely passable and that led to a mindset which emphasized more on skill development rather than worrying abt equipment. As the guys progressed and proved themselves, the gear started getting better and better (as stated in the article). I believe that is what @haqq777 was pointing to above as well.
My point is that the premise that a communist system per se produces racers less concerned with what they were competing on and more with honing their skills is off, because

A) The fact you have to race something crappy at first and then move on to better stuff once you prove yourself does not make you hone your skills on itself. You either want it and do it, or you don't(coaching and parenting plays a big part, too...universal thing).

B) You have to do crappy stuff first and better stuff next everywhere in the world, I guess. I highly doubt you're just awarded good stuff from Bianchi, Castelli and so on just because. Cycling is not a career people wealthy enough to buy better gear generally line up for their kids so we can scratch this scenario.

C) Crappy beginner stuff from USSR is just as crappy as crappy beginner stuff anywhere else, be it 1980's or 2020's.

...

D) that paragraph about "road racers" vs "equipment consumers" along with the overall take home message is a bit ridiculous in the context of the whole article and it only applies to a rather small group of semi competitive riders who most probably haven't gone through any kind of systematic cycling training and have enough money to geek out on gear. We are talking about 2-3000 bucks where better bikes (road or MTB) begin so I can't imagine that much of an "equipment consuming" either.

It's the same thing in tennis. Pros and folks who have gone through the system know their way around tennis in general and don't need bumper sticker quotes to set them straight, people who just hit for fun don't care. Most amateurs who regularly compete at tournaments have either found out the hard way what to do or are at least fully aware what geeking out does to their game so this "get better before you blame equipment" message is useful for a rather narrow group of lightly competitive amateur players who try to compete but don't know yet.

For the record, I do get the overall concept of honing skills before everything else because it's painfully obvious and it's my bread and butter day in, day out because of the career choices I've made.
 

Sanglier

Semi-Pro
Where do the Glavsportprom Kneissl clones fit inside this equipment hierarchy? We learned elsewhere from @BorgCash that used examples like the ones below are quite common and inexpensive today, but were they widely available when new? In which Soviet Republic/factory were they produced? Did they import the prepregs (to match Kneissl specs) or source the material locally? Austria being neutral, I'd imagine Austrian sports equipment makers were ideal collaboration partners on this sort of projects. Were there any Soviet Fischer clones?



Personally, I find these relics fascinating, as they demonstrate that despite the apocalyptic rhetorics and saber rattling between rivals big and small, people never stop to look for ways to work together when there is mutual benefit. If an entire Red Army division could be mobilized to play French, British, and German troops alongside British and American movie stars in an Italian production of a Napoleonic war epic at the height of the Vietnam War ("Waterloo"), then anything and everything is possible. :)
 

haqq777

Legend
Well, you were the one underlining that this article is about competitive cycling. The concept obviously applies to everybody at some point of their professional cycling development but what you have in the end in this particular situation is either pros or high level amateur competitors who are fully aware of it (and are highly dependent on their carefully selected gear precisely because of the level playing field) or guys who don't compete so couldn't care less unless they do (because they want to for some philosophical reason). All you're left with are folks somewhere around entry/lower level amateur competitions - that's certainly not everyone as far as cycling is concerned.
I really don't think you understood the point I was making. Of course I am underlining that the article is mostly about competitive cycling. And of course, the concept of honing skills applies to everyone who is competing - as I mentioned before also - even in "entry/lower level amateur competitions" or what have you. If you want to progress, you have to find that edge which has more to do with just bikes in this particular instance - given that everyone has the same equipment - otherwise you will not reach the top tier. If you are not interested, you obviously don't give a hoot and won't make it. Not that hard to grasp the point I was making. After all, you just said it was "painfully obvious".

And as I said earlier as well, my point is more based on my experiences and worldview and not necessarily whether USSR and other communist/authoritarian regimes were right or wrong.
 

Faris

Professional
My point is that the premise that a communist system per se produces racers less concerned with what they were competing on and more with honing their skills is off, because

A) The fact you have to race something crappy at first and then move on to better stuff once you prove yourself does not make you hone your skills on itself. You either want it and do it, or you don't(coaching and parenting plays a big part, too...universal thing).

B) You have to do crappy stuff first and better stuff next everywhere in the world, I guess. I highly doubt you're just awarded good stuff from Bianchi, Castelli and so on just because. Cycling is not a career people wealthy enough to buy better gear generally line up for their kids so we can scratch this scenario.

C) Crappy beginner stuff from USSR is just as crappy as crappy beginner stuff anywhere else, be it 1980's or 2020's.

...

D) that paragraph about "road racers" vs "equipment consumers" along with the overall take home message is a bit ridiculous in the context of the whole article and it only applies to a rather small group of semi competitive riders who most probably haven't gone through any kind of systematic cycling training and have enough money to geek out on gear. We are talking about 2-3000 bucks where better bikes (road or MTB) begin so I can't imagine that much of an "equipment consuming" either.

It's the same thing in tennis. Pros and folks who have gone through the system know their way around tennis in general and don't need bumper sticker quotes to set them straight, people who just hit for fun don't care. Most amateurs who regularly compete at tournaments have either found out the hard way what to do or are at least fully aware what geeking out does to their game so this "get better before you blame equipment" message is useful for a rather narrow group of lightly competitive amateur players who try to compete but don't know yet.

For the record, I do get the overall concept of honing skills before everything else because it's painfully obvious and it's my bread and butter day in, day out because of the career choices I've made.
I think you are making a lot of assumptions here that are not valid in my opinion and have nothing to do with what both above poster and I are making evidently. Either way, I will indulge a bit.

1.) If you are replying to the poster above suggesting he is saying communism helps produce a racer not concerned with equipment, that is your invalid assumption number one. Read his reply above.

2.) In a competitive environment, you do the best you can with equipment you have. When everyone in your league/class has crap equipment, you DO hone your skills by either working harder, or working on discipline, putting in miles, etc. If you don't, you don't advance. Very simple concept.

3.) Strictly keeping the article in mind, and having read stories about soviet era and growing up myself all over the globe, you simply can't suggest that crappy stuff in USSR was same as crappy stuff everywhere. It isn't. Capitalist and most other countries, mostly those with better access to imports and a better flow of goods, will always have basic goods and material of better quality because of options they have.

4.) Access to goods. From what little I know, average Joe in USSR didn't have access to much given the low salary and access to materials and goods. You make do with what you are handed. You don't have options. And those goods in most cases were used/old that break down often (see article).

5) You are entitled to your opinion but I certainly don't think the drive home message is ridiculous at all. Sure road racers and consumers are not mutually exclusive or antithetical to one another. But that isn't what the author was suggesting anyway. His message was that guys who are less concerned with equipment and more concerned with finding an edge, they will always perform better than those (he terms them "equipment consumers") who are looking for the next best thing. Sure it is an opinion and can be refuted. But I don't find it "ridiculous".

Yes, lets not go too far and have a look at the tennis scene. I have seen the local guys kitted out looking like Roger Federer having the nicest gear with no game to show for and I have seen guys with one old racquet in bag beating Open level guys. The higher up you go the more you find players less concerned with their racquet and more with drills and practice and workouts etc. The more I am worried about repeatedly modding my stick and blaming it when I net the ball, the less I am focusing on improving other aspects of the game.

I am not saying that you are right or wrong, or in some weird way trying to defend communism, but simply highlighting how I think differently than you. I think we have hijacked the thread enough. Time to move back to tennis.
 

34n

Semi-Pro
The Kneissls manufactured under licence appeared close to the 90s. I do not know where the factory was.
The bigger one (Progress) was fairly popular.
I have tried both, and I also have tried the original White star. ( my coach in the university played with the White star )
The original frame made in Austria was much stiffer than the Master.
Master being not as stiff had the same issues as most of the wood frames - sweetspot shifted towards the handle and a soft, dead tip.
While the original frame had sweet spot accurately in the center of the string bed and playable tip.
I can recall those details because this was probably the most important factor I was looking for when I compared frames.
So I kept playing with my old wood frames in the university since I could not find significant advantage over them and, frankly, did not care much as I played just for fun.


Where do the Glavsportprom Kneissl clones fit inside this equipment hierarchy? We learned elsewhere from @BorgCash that used examples like the ones below are quite common and inexpensive today, but were they widely available when new? In which Soviet Republic/factory were they produced? Did they import the prepregs (to match Kneissl specs) or source the material locally? Austria being neutral, I'd imagine Austrian sports equipment makers were ideal collaboration partners on this sort of projects. Were there any Soviet Fischer clones?

 

joohan

Hall of Fame
1.) If you are replying to the poster above suggesting he is saying communism helps produce a racer not concerned with equipment, that is your invalid assumption number one. Read his reply above.
I'm not replying to Haqq, I'm reacting to the original article shared. Or better, I am replying to him regarding a quote in discussion by explaining my thinking regarding the article the quote is from.

2.) In a competitive environment, you do the best you can with equipment you have. When everyone in your league/class has crap equipment, you DO hone your skills by either working harder, or working on discipline, putting in miles, etc. If you don't, you don't advance. Very simple concept.
Yeah, so? You do the same everywhere anytime regardless of what equipment you may or may not get. That was my point regarding the original article - you don't need to be in Soviet Union with no access to goods for that.

3.) Strictly keeping the article in mind, and having read stories about soviet era and growing up myself all over the globe, you simply can't suggest that crappy stuff in USSR was same as crappy stuff everywhere. It isn't. Capitalist and most other countries, mostly those with better access to imports and a better flow of goods, will always have basic goods and material of better quality because of options they have.
So you're saying that simple tube crappy aluminium bicycle from not USSR is better than a simple tube aluminium bicycle from USSR? Because them being equally crappy was my only point regarding crappy stuff being equal. I would also argue about the more general issue of your quote - I don't think that free import options automatically means better quality goods. Cheaper stuff with bigger margin for a seller maybe. I would argue, for instance, that local shoes produced in Czechoslovakia were of much better quality than whatever is imported from China now. They still are, just fyi.

I would also argue that totalitarian regime industry is capable of producing better quality product for less simply because they can order material and people around at will. USSR could point to whatever resource they wanted from anywhere in the Eastern bloc+China and most likely get it. Not too hard to get good quality, I'd reckon.

4.) Access to goods. From what little I know, average Joe in USSR didn't have access to much given the low salary and access to materials and goods. You make do with what you are handed. You don't have options. And those goods in most cases were used/old that break down often (see article).
Not sure how this is unclear. The article speaks about a training system and once you're in the system, you use what system offers you. It does not matter what salary your family have or what. All I'm saying is that it works like this almost everywhere in the world even to this day, because cycling isn't a sport privileged kid choose as a career on a regular basis. Again, a point with regards to the original article.

5) You are entitled to your opinion but I certainly don't think the drive home message is ridiculous at all. Sure road racers and consumers are not mutually exclusive or antithetical to one another. But that isn't what the author was suggesting anyway. His message was that guys who are less concerned with equipment and more concerned with finding an edge, they will always perform better than those (he terms them "equipment consumers") who are looking for the next best thing. Sure it is an opinion and can be refuted. But I don't find it "ridiculous".
I've explained this two times already.

...

No problem at all regarding moving on.
 
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joohan

Hall of Fame
I really don't think you understood the point I was making. Of course I am underlining that the article is mostly about competitive cycling. And of course, the concept of honing skills applies to everyone who is competing - as I mentioned before also - even in "entry/lower level amateur competitions" or what have you. If you want to progress, you have to find that edge which has more to do with just bikes in this particular instance - given that everyone has the same equipment - otherwise you will not reach the top tier. If you are not interested, you obviously don't give a hoot and won't make it. Not that hard to grasp the point I was making. After all, you just said it was "painfully obvious".

And as I said earlier as well, my point is more based on my experiences and worldview and not necessarily whether USSR and other communist/authoritarian regimes were right or wrong.
Look, I reacted to a cheesy two sentences at the end of the paragraph you shared and pointed out that people in general are usually somewhere in between two extremes as is the standard statistical distribution in this world. Then I jumped a few steps ahead and cryptically brought in those guys who enjoy switching gear more than winning into discussion (that's this: #12). From that point on I started to react to the original article. That's just for the record.

Regarding the "honing skills before what not"...: I do agree with it and I do agree that everyone can benefit from keeping it in mind. All I'm saying is, with regards to the article and with extension to other sports as well, that from the whole pool of people doing whatever sport, actually only a small group of people may find this to be a life changing revelation. It's like writing an article about how compromises are key to successful long term relationships and that ladies are capable of snoring, burping and pooping smelly poop, too. Anyone who has already been in a long term relationship knows these things full well so while it obviously is generally true, that article has an actual added value mostly to guys who are about to enter their first long term relationship. That was my whole point regarding your point.
 
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haqq777

Legend
Look, I reacted to a cheesy two sentences at the end of the paragraph you shared and pointed out that people in general are usually somewhere in between two extremes as is the standard statistical distribution in this world. Then I jumped a few steps ahead and cryptically brought in those guys who enjoy switching gear more than winning into discussion (that's this: #12). From that point on I started to react to the original article. That's just for the record.
Understood. So I wasn't imagining things, you really were going back and forth between multiple points making it a bit hard to follow. Thank you for clarifying.

For the record, last two sentences indeed sound like he painted with a broad brush, but overall, to me they make sense contextually. When you start reading the article from beginning till the end, these last two sentences do not stand out as much and you follow very easily what the author is suggesting. Don't get me wrong, there are quite a few things in the blog that I can cherry pick on as well, but I'd much rather try to follow what author is saying. His overall point resonates with me.

Regarding the "honing skills before what not"...: I do agree with it and I do agree that everyone can benefit from keeping it in mind. All I'm saying is, with regards to the article and with extension to other sports as well, that from the whole pool of people doing whatever sport, actually only a small group of people may find this to be a life changing revelation. It's like writing an article about how compromises are key to successful long term relationships and that ladies are capable of snoring, burping and pooping smelly poop, too. Anyone who has already been in a long term relationship knows these things full well so while it obviously is generally true, that article has an actual added value mostly to guys who are about to enter their first long term relationship. That was my whole point regarding your point.
Of course. You aren't wrong. But by the same token however everyone at some point in time will know more or less about something that is put out there, not just bike racing. Pick any topic. You will always have someone who knows more than the next person and you will always have pieces that do not add value for certain sub sets, be it any topic.

Just an example here. When I finished my doctorate and was looking to get my dissertation published, the first thing that I was told by my published peers, publishing house and instructors was to make it as basic and as reader friendly as I could even if it contained (in my view) some very simple facts on Southwestern Asian political dynamics. And these are facts which most of the locals (in densely populated if I may add) subcontinent take to be as a given. If we started going by your line of reasoning - that certain stuff doesn't apply to a group or will not enrich their life etc because they already are aware of it or know it - you won't find any reading material out there at all. My rebuttal here being that there will always be a set that knows and one that doesn't. It shouldn't take anything away from the writing.

Good chat. Have run my course now and will bow out.
 

Flootoo

Rookie
My take was purely based on what was written in the article and my general worldview of things. I have neither raced cycles or lived in USSR. I think you have taken off on a tangent to the simple point I was making above which was to emphasize that one needs to focus more on honing skills before you start worrying about equipment and gear. In a level playing field, former matters more and everything else comes later. The concept doesn't apply to a "niche" group. It applies to everyone.
I like that.
But then again I'm the type of peasant who can describe different racquets in terms of weight, that's all. I switched to Luxilon 12 months ago, and I have absolutely no feelings about it- I snapped a string so I had it restrung.
If my positioning and preparation and stroke mechanics aren't correct, it doesn't matter what equipment I have.
 

Faris

Professional
I'm not replying to Haqq, I'm reacting to the original article shared. Or better, I am replying to him regarding a quote in discussion by explaining my thinking regarding the article the quote is from.
Then you need to word your responses better. You were all over the place and jumping from point to point making it very unclear what you were really addressing.
Yeah, so? You do the same everywhere anytime regardless of what equipment you may or may not get. That was my point regarding the original article - you don't need to be in Soviet Union with no access to goods for that.
So you are conceding that you do hone and sharpen skills given a level playing field. This is from your first reply to me

"The fact you have to race something crappy at first and then move on to better stuff once you prove yourself does not make you hone your skills on itself".


As far as doing the same everywhere, that is incorrect. Other non communist countries had better access and options available for lowest tier grade equipment. From personal example, even the countries we term as developing had better access to western made low tier bikes (if we want to keep the bike example here). Soviets didn't and were using second hand crap, per the article.

So you're saying that simple tube crappy aluminium bicycle from not USSR is better than a simple tube aluminium bicycle from USSR? Because them being equally crappy was my only point regarding crappy stuff being equal. I would also argue about the more general issue of your quote - I don't think that free import options automatically means better quality goods. Cheaper stuff with bigger margin for a seller maybe. I would argue, for instance, that local shoes produced in Czechoslovakia were of much better quality than whatever is imported from China now. They still are, just fyi.
Read the article for the love of God. I'm not saying all this. The author is. And that is not in anyway related to the point he is trying to drive home. You have admittedly not lived in the USSR as you yourself admitted above, and have not seen things first hand. Your counter to the author sounds a bit rich right about now. That is all I'm saying.

I would also argue that totalitarian regime industry is capable of producing better quality product for less simply because they can order material and people around at will. USSR could point to whatever resource they wanted from anywhere in the Eastern bloc+China and most likely get it. Not too hard to get good quality, I'd reckon.
See above point.

Not sure how this is unclear. The article speaks about a training system and once you're in the system, you use what system offers you. It does not matter what salary your family have or what. All I'm saying is that it works like this almost everywhere in the world even to this day, because cycling isn't a sport privileged kid choose as a career on a regular basis. Again, a point with regards to the original article.
Have you even read the article? Here is a direct quote:

"When you start cycling, usually between the ages of 12 and 14, the State gave you a second-hand Старт-Шоссе (pronounced start shosse) -- a beginner's racing bike. Made of water pipe tubes and mostly steel components, it weighed over 14kg. Старт-Шоссе was not a bike you would be excited about, unless you're a 12 years old kid and your family could not ever afford to buy this kind of a bike for you (it cost about an average monthly salary or an equivalent of around AU$4,000 in buying power). At any given time, there was always something wrong with Старт-Шоссе. If it's not a headset (constant problem), it's a bottom bracket, rear/front derailleur or a broken spoke".

And this when he explains about bike upgrade to next level:

If it's not free, the street price for these bikes was 4 times the price of Старт-Шоссе or an equivalent of 4 average monthly salaries (unlike Старт-Шоссе, Чемпион-Шоссе were not available to the public, and in fact were only made to order, by so called спец-заказ (spets-zakaz or "special order")).

The whole article talks about free markets and what people could afford etc. Are you seriously going to tell me after reading above that getting a newer bike with limited resources was even possible? The system trained based on what was available but the fact that no one could afford a nicer bike also matters here. Pretty simple takeaway.

I've explained this two times already.
...
No problem at all regarding moving on.
No you have simple regurgitated the same thing and haven't really touched on any of what I said. But its ok. We can definitely move on.
 

haqq777

Legend
I like that.
But then again I'm the type of peasant who can describe different racquets in terms of weight, that's all. I switched to Luxilon 12 months ago, and I have absolutely no feelings about it- I snapped a string so I had it restrung.
If my positioning and preparation and stroke mechanics aren't correct, it doesn't matter what equipment I have.
You, sir, will make for an excellent developmental coach :)
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
Understood. So I wasn't imagining things, you really were going back and forth between multiple points making it a bit hard to follow. Thank you for clarifying.

For the record, last two sentences indeed sound like he painted with a broad brush, but overall, to me they make sense contextually. When you start reading the article from beginning till the end, these last two sentences do not stand out as much and you follow very easily what the author is suggesting. Don't get me wrong, there are quite a few things in the blog that I can cherry pick on as well, but I'd much rather try to follow what author is saying. His overall point resonates with me.


Of course. You aren't wrong. But by the same token however everyone at some point in time will know more or less about something that is put out there, not just bike racing. Pick any topic. You will always have someone who knows more than the next person and you will always have pieces that do not add value for certain sub sets, be it any topic.

Just an example here. When I finished my doctorate and was looking to get my dissertation published, the first thing that I was told by my published peers, publishing house and instructors was to make it as basic and as reader friendly as I could even if it contained (in my view) some very simple facts on Southwestern Asian political dynamics. And these are facts which most of the locals (in densely populated if I may add) subcontinent take to be as a given. If we started going by your line of reasoning - that certain stuff doesn't apply to a group or will not enrich their life etc because they already are aware of it or know it - you won't find any reading material out there at all. My rebuttal here being that there will always be a set that knows and one that doesn't. It shouldn't take anything away from the writing.

Good chat. Have run my course now and will bow out.
I should have been clearer from the off. Point taken and thanks.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
Then you need to word your responses better. You were all over the place and jumping from point to point making it very unclear what you were really addressing.
Duly noted, although it was you who jumped into our discussion .)

So you are conceding that you do hone and sharpen skills given a level playing field. This is from your first reply to me

"The fact you have to race something crappy at first and then move on to better stuff once you prove yourself does not make you hone your skills on itself".
What I'm saying is that you have to hone your skills regardless of what is or is not available in Soviet Union or anywhere else.

As far as doing the same everywhere, that is incorrect. Other non communist countries had better access and options available for lowest tier grade equipment. From personal example, even the countries we term as developing had better access to western made low tier bikes (if we want to keep the bike example here). Soviets didn't and were using second hand crap, per the article.
I disagree with this from the off and I've already explained why. I think coherently enough.

Read the article for the love of God. I'm not saying all this. The author is. And that is not in anyway related to the point he is trying to drive home. You have admittedly not lived in the USSR as you yourself admitted above, and have not seen things first hand. Your counter to the author sounds a bit rich right about now. That is all I'm saying.
I read the article several times. True, I have not lived in USSR, I lived in it's Eastern bloc satellite b.i.t.c.h. Not the same, not too far off either. I have first hand experience with the sort of bicycles mentioned in the article and if they were crappy at all, they were about as crappy as whatever entry level gear was imported after Velvet Revolution in 1989. Does that qualify as first hand experience? Just btw, still got a bunch of 1970's bikes and they are still going strong.

I quote you again:

you simply can't suggest that crappy stuff in USSR was same as crappy stuff everywhere. It isn't. Capitalist and most other countries, mostly those with better access to imports and a better flow of goods, will always have basic goods and material of better quality because of options they have.
That is your opinion, right? Already explained why I disagree...

I'll let the rest slide as it seems like it's not worth it to either of us.

...

Cheers and thanks for discussion.
 

Faris

Professional
Duly noted, although it was you who jumped into our discussion .)



What I'm saying is that you have to hone your skills regardless of what is or is not available in Soviet Union or anywhere else.



I disagree with this from the off and I've already explained why. I think coherently enough.



I read the article several times. True, I have not lived in USSR, I lived in it's Eastern bloc satellite b.i.t.c.h. Not the same, not too far off either. I have first hand experience with the sort of bicycles mentioned in the article and if they were crappy at all, they were about as crappy as whatever entry level gear was imported after Velvet Revolution in 1989. Does that qualify as first hand experience? Just btw, still got a bunch of 1970's bikes and they are still going strong.

I quote you again:



That is your opinion, right? Already explained why I disagree...

I'll let the rest slide as it seems like it's not worth it to either of us.

...

Cheers and thanks for discussion.
Fair enough. And likewise! (y)
 

retrowagen

Hall of Fame
Wow, glad that debate has ended.

Thanks to our friend and colleague, @BorgCash, I have one of these post-Soviet, post-Kneissl “Master” frames in my collection. They were evidently made in the early 1990’s, after Kneissl ceased its production of the White Star Pro Masters/Masters 10, whose mold it used. For reference, Kneissl abandoned making racquets with this mold in their factory in Kufstein, Tirol, Austria in 1987. My “Master,” like the others made by their manufacturer—whose main product prior was hockey sticks, or so I am told—has a 1991 date stamp.

Its workmanship isn’t too bad, although the clear plastic grommet strip (which it shares in common with that *other* racquet from this mold, the Adidas Lendl GTX Pro) seems to be made of a lesser quality of plastic than usually seen on racquets. The layup plays like it does not contain Kevlar (as the Kneissl White Star Pro Masters and Master 10 did), but rather more like a graphite-Fiberglass composite, such as the Adidas or the Kneissl White Star Pro. It’s a heavy racquet, by the way.

I gather Artis, in Czechoslovakia, also used the same Kneissl mold, as did a Brazilian factory who made Kneissl-branded racquets (it seems really weird to me to have a ski company based in the alps having a go making racquets in Brazil... sort of an “I got drunk at the company’s Christmas party, and woke up at a desk in Sao Paulo” situation?).

I would love to have a copy of the Brazilian and a copy of the Artis in my collection; can anyone out there help?
 

Sanglier

Semi-Pro
Thanks to our friend and colleague, @BorgCash, I have one of these post-Soviet, post-Kneissl “Master” frames in my collection. They were evidently made in the early 1990’s, after Kneissl ceased its production of the White Star Pro Masters/Masters 10, whose mold it used.
Is the "date stamp" to which you are referring above the grip, Retro? My own "Master" and "Progress" (shown in Post #19 above) are marked "VII-87" and "5-89" respectively, which I assumed to mean "July 1987" and May "1989", when the USSR was still in one piece, and glasnost and perestroika were in full swing. Unless those are not date stamps?
 

retrowagen

Hall of Fame
Is the "date stamp" to which you are referring above the grip, Retro? My own "Master" and "Progress" (shown in Post #19 above) are marked "VII-87" and "5-89" respectively, which I assumed to mean "July 1987" and May "1989", when the USSR was still in one piece, and glasnost and perestroika were in full swing. Unless those are not date stamps?
Yes: mine is inscribed “5” (pertaining to grip size), then on a line below, “6.91.”
 
I would love to have a copy of the Brazilian and a copy of the Artis in my collection; can anyone out there help?
I' can't help you out. But I least you have now a name and a picture. Someone in my country sells this.



I have seen Artis "Twin Reflex" rackets on a czech site. Those did not look egg shaped.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
a copy of the Artis in my collection; can anyone out there help?
If you can tell me what exactly are you looking for (model name etc.), I can have a looksy. People in former Czechoslovakia have all sorts of these racquets in their attics, basements, garages and usually sell them for like 10 bucks on the internet.

For example:

 
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BorgCash

Legend
For 350r in the ussr you could feed a family of four for a month or two. I preferred government issued gear ))
Another factor was lack of access to stringing machine. I can string wood frame without a machine.
6 grip was okay for a wood racket. The smaller head you have the bigger grip you want.

Funny, one other thing I could not really imagine even in a wildest dream is a basket full of tennis balls.
Yes, you could. The food in the former Soviet Union was very cheap, unlike modern Putin's Russia.
If you could get free gear it's ok, but not much people had this possibility. And you could get free local made staff of bad quality.
Even members of National tennis team (all were cotracted with Adidas - racquets, shoes, apparel, everything) - top ten Soviet players - bought Maxply (it was definitely better than Adi racquets) from Soviet number one player Alexander "Alik" Metreveli (the only men's Wimby finalist from USSR and Russia, though it was weak 1973 issue) who had personal contract with Dunlop for racquets and shoes.
 

BorgCash

Legend
It was the situation of total lack of simple things in the USSR. So people were ready paid much much more for things from Western World. Even plastic bags with some company drawing on it ( Lee jeans for example and etc.) that were get free when you bought smth in normal country, were sold in the USSR for 5 roubles each. It was question of prestige.
There were some ridiculous cases in the mid 80's when you could change small flat in Moscow for a new VCR.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Where do the Glavsportprom Kneissl clones fit inside this equipment hierarchy? We learned elsewhere from @BorgCash that used examples like the ones below are quite common and inexpensive today, but were they widely available when new? In which Soviet Republic/factory were they produced? Did they import the prepregs (to match Kneissl specs) or source the material locally? Austria being neutral, I'd imagine Austrian sports equipment makers were ideal collaboration partners on this sort of projects. Were there any Soviet Fischer clones?



Personally, I find these relics fascinating, as they demonstrate that despite the apocalyptic rhetorics and saber rattling between rivals big and small, people never stop to look for ways to work together when there is mutual benefit. If an entire Red Army division could be mobilized to play French, British, and German troops alongside British and American movie stars in an Italian production of a Napoleonic war epic at the height of the Vietnam War ("Waterloo"), then anything and everything is possible. :)
No, there were no Fischer clones in the USSR. Kneissl were made in Moscow on sports gear factory named Хоккей (Hockey), they also made hockey sticks as well. First the quality was good, but then it become bad, Kneissl did not accepted that kind of quality, and the production continued without reference to Kneissl license.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Where do the Glavsportprom Kneissl clones fit inside this equipment hierarchy? We learned elsewhere from @BorgCash that used examples like the ones below are quite common and inexpensive today, but were they widely available when new? In which Soviet Republic/factory were they produced? Did they import the prepregs (to match Kneissl specs) or source the material locally? Austria being neutral, I'd imagine Austrian sports equipment makers were ideal collaboration partners on this sort of projects. Were there any Soviet Fischer clones?



Personally, I find these relics fascinating, as they demonstrate that despite the apocalyptic rhetorics and saber rattling between rivals big and small, people never stop to look for ways to work together when there is mutual benefit. If an entire Red Army division could be mobilized to play French, British, and German troops alongside British and American movie stars in an Italian production of a Napoleonic war epic at the height of the Vietnam War ("Waterloo"), then anything and everything is possible. :)
I still training with these two types of racquets.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Is the "date stamp" to which you are referring above the grip, Retro? My own "Master" and "Progress" (shown in Post #19 above) are marked "VII-87" and "5-89" respectively, which I assumed to mean "July 1987" and May "1989", when the USSR was still in one piece, and glasnost and perestroika were in full swing. Unless those are not date stamps?
Yes, yours were made in July 1987 and May 1989. There were also price, grip number and weight info ( Л -L, ЛС - LM, С - M ).
 

BorgCash

Legend
Duly noted, although it was you who jumped into our discussion .)



What I'm saying is that you have to hone your skills regardless of what is or is not available in Soviet Union or anywhere else.



I disagree with this from the off and I've already explained why. I think coherently enough.



I read the article several times. True, I have not lived in USSR, I lived in it's Eastern bloc satellite b.i.t.c.h. Not the same, not too far off either. I have first hand experience with the sort of bicycles mentioned in the article and if they were crappy at all, they were about as crappy as whatever entry level gear was imported after Velvet Revolution in 1989. Does that qualify as first hand experience? Just btw, still got a bunch of 1970's bikes and they are still going strong.

I quote you again:



That is your opinion, right? Already explained why I disagree...

I'll let the rest slide as it seems like it's not worth it to either of us.

...

Cheers and thanks for discussion.
It was more possibilities to get different good staff ( sports gear also ) in the CSSR than in the USSR.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
It was more possibilities to get different good staff ( sports gear also ) in the CSSR than in the USSR.
Ok but it's just another shade of grey. My credibility of having any first hand experience was in question and I truly believe that even though the "dose" might have been different, the "taste" of the system was pretty much the same. Nevermind, it was not the point but I don't want to drag this any further.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Ok but it's just another shade of grey. My credibility of having any first hand experience was in question and I truly believe that even though the "dose" might have been different, the "taste" of the system was pretty much the same. Nevermind, it was not the point but I don't want to drag this any further.
Probably yes, there is no enough freedom.
The system was seriously wrong, almost like today's one in modern Russia.
 

Capt. Willie

Hall of Fame
This is what we played with in the USSR ( not volkls, not maxplys )
I say WE because those frames were available for competitive young players though the clubs. It was not possible to get them in the stores.
After you reach cat. 1 level ( russian word "razriad" ) you were entitled to get two frames per year for free and you could purchase more frames at affordable price. "Affordable" price was as far as I remember 18 roubles. So I used to get 2 frames every year from my coach and had to buy additional 3-4 frames myself. I broke dozen of them.
I played with this racket from about age 13-14 to 18 . Then I went to the army and stopped playing competitively.
Thousands of young players in the country played exclusively with this particular model because it was the only affordable option for competitive players. Everything you could buy in the stores was not good enough.
Obviously I have tried pretty much every popular foreign made racket but could not afford having 5 Kramers in my bag.
Price for a decent foreign made racket was about 150r. My parents monthly income was probably 250-300r.

Red volkls were available to the "masters" through a similar state sponsored scheme. I think there were may be 20 active masters at any given time in the USSR.

Here is one of my frames.
VOSTOK Made in Estonia, 1979. 13.5 oz = 383g. Handle # 6. (grip size)
Note my initials on the throat Д.Т. )))

Two questions....Why is Vostok written in our Latin Alphabet....shouldn't it be something like Boctok? And is that the same company that makes watches?
 

Capt. Willie

Hall of Fame
Back in the 80s I thought Volkl was an East German company because it seemed only Soviet and Eastern European players used them. I can't recall anyone from the west using one.
 

34n

Semi-Pro
Two questions....Why is Vostok written in our Latin Alphabet....shouldn't it be something like Boctok? And is that the same company that makes watches?
Agree Vostok is a Russian word, should be written "Восток" = East in English.
The factory was located in Tartu, Estonia. Estonian language uses Latin alphabet. So it was kind of natural to them using latin letters.
My guess the word was so popular in transliteration because of the early spaceship series Vostok-1, 2, etc. that were mentioned in many languages in native alphabets rather than translation. ( "Sputnik" is another example)
Watches - I dont think so. I believe name of the watch was also derived from the space craft.
 
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