It's with great pride that Prendas Ciclismo have reintroduced Catlike Helmets to our range for 2018. After a few years away, it's wonderful to have the Catlike Whisper and Catlike Mixino available once again for our customers to wear.
Although our association with Catlike goes back a long way, they were not the first helmet brand to be available from Prendas. That accolade goes to Briko when in the late 1990's we sold the Briko Twinner helmet - well-loved for its twin hole design that improved airflow - in Mapei Blue, Vitalicio Red and Casino Yellow.
Fast forward a few years, we sought out Catlike as they were the helmet sponsor to the Euskadi team, and as we had the Etxeondo clothing and the Orbea bike, we were keen to have the matching Kompact Pro helmet in orange and blue with the team logos.
As the Catlike Whisper was not introduced until 2006, during the early years the team wore the Kompact Pro helmet which was a very popular model for us with it's 21 vents.
With its orange outer shell and light blue inner, the helmet sold well to both uber fans of the team as well as customers that enjoyed using a bright and visible helmet on their commute to work or long weekend rides.
At the start of 2006, Catlike introduced the Catlike Whisper to their range using their sponsorship of Euskaltel and Comunidad Valenciana to push the product's arrival to the masses.
It's fair to say that the design was pretty revolutionary at the time with many helmets looking very similar at the time, but those 39 vents certainly caused some love/hate reactions, as did the price at the time.
It was a big jump with the Kompact Pro then at £69.95 and the new Whisper model £119.95 for the plain colours and £124.95 for the team-issue helmets.
During the Summer of 2008, our favourite rider of the team Samuel Sánchez took an important victory at the Beijing Olympic Games road races - pointing to his Catlike Whisper helmet as he crossed the finish line.
We loved the image so much that we took the unusual step of taking out a full-page magazine advert in Procycling magazine using it to congratulate Samu on his victory.
Without the stats to hand - we're pretty sure the ROI on the cost of the advertisement was virtually nil but were just happy to see Samu win!
Catlike enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity, brand awareness and importantly sales thanks to their association with the Cervélo TestTeam.
Unlike the Euskaltel team helmets that were carefully colour co-ordinated and had team logos liberally applied, the Cervélo TestTeam Whispers were a stock all-white Whisper helmet which allowed people to buy the exact same helmet as the professional riders.
With it being a neutral colourway, it matched all of their existing cycling kit too.
This was in stark contrast to when Catlike sponsored the Movistar team which had a great looking Green and navy helmet which was never going to have the same appeal.
After many years of a signed Julien Absalon poster pinned to the warehouse walk next to Andy's desk, in 2013 we finally got round to commissioning a custom run of 100 red, white and blue Catlike Whisper helmets that matched the design Absalon wore in 2008.
It just so happened to match the club colours of the Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers, so many club members benefitted from the custom request.
That was really the last time we held a serious amount of Catlike Helmets in stock, and although we've subsequently dabbled, 2018 sees us re-introduce the brand with high hopes for both sales of the Catlike Whisper and Catlike Mixino helmets in a range of colours.
Catlike and Prendas Ciclismo were both founded in 1996, with former professional rider Pepe del Ramo at the wheel creating the brand whilst working at a bike shop.
As a pro, Pepe rode for Seat-Orbea (it's still one of my favourite Etxeondo team jerseys) in the service Pedro Delgado during races like the of Tour de France.
Pepe's nickname as a pro was "The Cat" - which he took forward into the name of his newly created company.
If you wish to find out more, we'd recommend taking a look at this article by Cyclist magazine that was written after a factory visit.