I keep doing that chain-tweet thing instead of posting on DW like a civilized being.
So I looked a little further into that weird-ass “Santé” groupset that Brigadelle’s brake levers are from.
Facts are thin, but it looks like about a 2-yr (1988 and 1989) production run. Shimano positioned it between 600 (later called Ultegra) and Dura-Ace, which is a slot in their line that doesn’t exist anymore. (They use this rolling tier system with a trickle-down strategy for new tech. Dura-Ace is the racing group and test-ground; it's for sponsored humans, not regular humans. Ultegra is the ne plus ultra for people spending too much of their own money.)
Anyway, it seems like Santé was a test, to see if visual style could upsell components. What's interesting to me is that it seemed remarkably un-cynical: the tech WAS actually top shelf; making it LOOK top-shelf was an add-on, not a replacement.
So, long story short, not much of it was made and the remaining functional pieces are eBay-worthy fetish objects. I'm seeing similar brake levers (in only slightly better condition) going for $50, and new old stock downtube shift levers going for $250. I bought this whole bike for $160 in Minneapolis in 2007.
Bike history is kind of fun; no wonder Sheldon Brown was so into it. Every continent is the lost continent.
There’s some contemporary Santé marketing around the internet in scans. Consumer brochure, bike shop brochure. And god damn, whatever you think about polluting technical components with fashion, you have to admit those enameled derailleurs look hot as FUCK. You would ride that. I won't let you get away with saying you wouldn't ride that.
Also of note in those brochures: weird preference for passive voice, subtle ja→en translation artifacts, SO MUCH MAN THIGH. Basically they fell in from an alternate universe where corporate Japan got confused and decided yours truly was the preeminent American sex symbol.
I kinda hear that. I just bought a new bike; it has the 2015 (I think) version of Ultegra and IT RULES (it's difficult to even describe if you haven't experienced it, but the short version is that this is how bikes work in heaven), but the components look like nothing in particular. Visual design this decade seems focused on the frame (and certain static accessories), ignoring components. Maybe the Santé experiment was a bust, and looks turned out to be useless for selling component technology. I dunno.