Experience A Better Ride

Zoran Interview with Dan Casebeer, Grand Performance Bicycles


We recently had the pleasure to sit down (well, ok, talk via Zoom) with Dan Casebeer, Grand Performance Bicycles. Dan is our Zoran Performance Eyewear distributor in St. Paul, MN. You may know Dan through his racing career. In 1973, he earned a spot on the US Cycling Federation National Team, led by the late Eddy Borysewicz. Dan continued with the national program for seven years, competing in numerous international races, including the Tour of Guatemala, Tour of Chile, and Tour of Costa Rica. Racing during that period, Dan went head-to-head with some of the biggest names in American cycling, including Greg Lemond, Davis Phinney, and Andy Hamsten. In 1983, Dan set the US national hour record in Indianapolis, covering nearly 45 kilometers (28 miles) and besting previous record holder Steve Tilford by a mile and a half.

Q: What was the decision process or why did you decide to bring Zoran into your store?
A: I wasn’t impressed with most glasses out there. And when I put Zoran glasses on … when Brandon brought the set in and I tried them on, it was like I was seeing clearly. I hadn’t done that forever. The clarity of that for me riding a bike, is mind blowing. I wanted to share that with my customers. I was extremely impressed. And I can get (other) free sunglasses. (But), I usually buy what I like.

Q: What were the top few most notable differences that these glasses had over others, obviously on the visual side.
A: One, the clarity. I mean, it’s just you put them on and my whole visual area was just so much clearer, and I didn’t have any distortions in any of the lenses and I’ve ridden some pretty good stuff. At least I thought it was good until I tried to try this stuff. For me, the clarity of the lens is everything. They are very clear, extremely high quality. Two, the readers. When I got my readers, I just paid for them. I wanted that aspect to enhance my cycling.

Q: What about price?
A: They’re expensive, but I think they’re worth it. I like a really a precise lens. I like that clarity, which I don’t get with other glasses that I’ve had. I’ve had custom (sunglasses). I have a different brand that I have two custom prescriptions in, and they’re not the same.

Q: How have the glasses sold?
A: I have a couple more guys buying glasses because I’m riding them, and I’m impressed. I’ve sold a couple of them. I got a buddy who bought a couple, and he’s trying to sell them for me, too. So, for us right now (thanks to COVID restrictions), it’s word of mouth, but it’s also using them and saying, wow, I noticed the difference.

Q: Are you still wearing other glasses?
A: (I have two other pair) One’s a yellow lens, one’s a dark lens. And they’re not the same as Zoran’s. And they bug me. And I don’t like that. So, I stopped wearing the one pair because it just wasn’t right. And the other pair was fine. But when I went to the Zoran’s, I don’t wear the glasses anymore. They’re not even a second choice. That’s the way I deal with my business is like, quality, quality is first.

Q: What do your customers say about Zoran glasses?
A: More of my store’s clientele are aging. So, (they have) more sensitivity to light. Everybody’s pretty much wearing glasses or contacts. For example, today we were all riding, and it was raining. My Zoran glasses were clear because we didn’t have that much UV rays. And they’re like, wow. So, we’re sitting out for coffee and they’re all looking at my glasses and, well, the glasses were awesome. A couple of guys said “yeah, I think I might have to come in for a pair.”

Q: Have you had any trouble selling the glasses?
A: We’re still pretty restrictive with the COVID stuff. So, we don’t have hundreds of people walking in our store because it’s a tiny little store, but we’re fairly restrictive because it’s a tight store, so we don’t have big open spaces and stuff like that. Eventually, hopefully, the COVID thing will go away, and we’ll be able to open up a lot more. We’ll have more people just being able to wander around and ask more questions so we can talk to them longer and that kind of stuff. That’s been our problem. Customers are on the ride with me. I tell them to try my glasses. And they say, crap, these things are super clear. I say yup. And they just took off their glasses that they were wearing, and they put mine on. I tell them yeah, that’s why I wear these. And then when you’re riding, to me the clarity is even more evident. So, as I’ve said, I want to make sure I’m seeing what I’m seeing. That’s the way I look at it.

Q: What has been your experience with being a Zoran dealer and dealing with Zoran.
A: Right now, I would say, I (just) call you Brandon, of course. It’s not like crazy quick to get glasses. But (in) these times, nothing’s quick. If you are waiting for something that’s high quality, you’re willing to wait a little bit. We had to wait a couple of weeks for getting glasses as well. That’s what happens when you’re getting quality. If you just want stuff off the shelf, that’s a different thing. And that’s not something that our store is really known for. We’re known for higher quality, better service and better-quality parts. We generally never discount unless it’s one of our club members who gets a small discount or something like that. And we don’t sell online. If it says $500, it’s $500. It’s not $399. We’re not doing that. We don’t like to deviate far from those norms. So, we just keep that price. We’re not going to gouge either.

Q: The genesis of the Zoran Sunglasses company started on a Sunday ride with Brandon, who sold me a pair of Oakley Jawbones and it was a hot Sunday morning. I pulled up to the stop sign. I mean, it’s 90 (degrees) and the Jaw Bones just went poof (and fogged). And I couldn’t see anything with so much fog and moisture on the lens. Have you noticed improved moisture control in the lens?
A: Yeah, definitely. Today it was pouring rain, and we’re riding in a pace line, and we’re just getting inundated with water. And we’re humid up here. We’re not New Orleans humid, but we’re humid up here. We’re not St. Louis humid, but we’ll have 90 degrees. It got up to about 90 on our ride. And about 85% humidity. (The) glasses were clear. I mean, they just they were great. I went home. I didn’t even need to clean them. Really. They were spotless. So, a little bit of moisture. Occasionally I’ve had a sweat drip off of my helmet or something like that. You just wipe it off, or most of the time, it just dries up, and then you’ll have a little salt stain at the bottom of your glass.

Q: Have you noticed reduced fogging?
A: I mean, generally unless crazy temperatures, like riding at 15 degrees. We’ll ride for two or 3 hours, and you will get a lot of your hot face cold, cold exteriors. They will fog up a little bit, but mine are always clearing before anybody else’s will. So, they will fog up a little bit. But those are extremes. Most people don’t ride at those temperatures. You know, I think it’s just we’ve got the extremes here. We just generally don’t expect anything out of a ride at 15 degrees. It’s going to be cold, and you’re going to be hot. But once you’re moving, they clear up instantly.

Q: Prior to selling Zoran, did you sell many sunglasses or the like?
A: Well, back in the old days, when Oakley first came out, we used to sell just tons of Oakley’s. And then Oakley kind of shot the bike shops in the head and went on to their own little thing. Bike shops made Oakley what Oakley is. And then Oakley’s gone and left us behind and dry. We sell Tifosi and we used to sell a couple of other ones. I would say, maybe $3,000 dollars’ worth of glasses a year. But they’re $60 or $70 a set. We go through probably two or 3 pair a week.

Q: Do you feel that over time you’ll have success making them (your customers) understand that there’s a reason that the glasses are priced where they are?

A: Yeah. We sell $10,000, $12,000, $15,000 dollars bikes, and then the guy walks out with $50 pair of sunglasses. Or like a pair of bike shoes that are just thrashed. They’re $250 dollars a pair of shoes, but they’re 10 years old. We have to change the industry. I think you always have to market it (in such a manner) that you have to say quality, quality over quantity.

Q: What about the customer that says “Well, I always lose my sunglasses?
A: You don’t lose them if you don’t stick them in your helmet. Or put them in your bag or clean them. A customer shouldn’t have this problem. I wear my helmet if I go into a store. I used to take the sunglasses off if I went into a store. Now I just leave them on because I can actually see what I’m doing. I’ll just wear my glasses and they change, the photochromatic ones. They just change for me and, sometimes, I don’t even notice I am wearing them. I think that’s the kind of thing if you can give them the experience of not taking the glasses off, and give them the clear, clear lens, that quality lens, this should not be an issue. This is what sold me on them.

Q: We are working on a crash replacement plan so if you go down and you scratch it, we’re going to have to make a new pair for you. We are willing to offer them a discount on the purchase of a new pair if that occurs. What do you think of this idea?
A: I think I’d say that’s an incentive. Honestly, the glasses have been really good. I mean, I haven’t had a scratch. My old custom pair, I think I dropped them once and there was a big scratch of course right where I look. I’ve dropped the Zoran’s a few times, I’m pretty sensitive and I didn’t notice anything. I think the quality is really good, so you tend not to have scratches. And if you have a major catastrophe, I would say the crash replacement plan is a good thing to say (have).

Q: One last question for you Dan. Looking back, was this new category of performance eyewear missing, like in the industry.
A: Oh, for sure. I mean, you get Oakley, which are $300 or $400 dollars, and there’s nothing to them. It’s a style thing, and it’s promotional. Whatever. I think you got performance bikes. You should have performance shoes. You got performance drinks. You should have performance glasses. Performance helmets, performance clothing. Why not performance glasses?

Thank you, Dan! We appreciate you taking the time with us. (Edited for clarity)