When it comes to track cycling, especially at the Olympics, the margin between winning and losing often comes down to the thousandth of a second. As a result, Olympic track events can be an arms race, as national federations seek to squeeze every watt, second or millimeter out of their setup.
Towards the end of 2019, just months before the then anticipated start of the Tokyo Olympics, the GB team unveiled a radical new track bike with wide forks and chainstays.
That bike is the Lotus x Hope HB.T, an all new carbon fiber track bike that uses 3D printing technology as well as an interchangeable cockpit that allows it to transform from a drop bar bike to start up. mass and a pursuit style bike with base bar and aero extensions.
As the name suggests, the bike is a collaboration between two British brands Lotus and Hope. Lotus, an automaker by day, has a steeped history in cycling and is famous for the Lotus 108 ridden by Chris Boardman at the 1992 Olympics. Hope Technology, a Lancashire-based engineering company, is a component maker a leading mountain biker and manufactures everything from brakes to group components, as well as a carbon fiber bike, the HB130. The collaboration was supported by Renishaw, an engineering technology company that contributed to the process of 3D printing some components.
The frame and the fork
The immediate feature of the Lotus x Hope HB.T ââis the wide position of the fork legs and chainstays.
The reason is to consider a âbike and cyclistâ approach to aerodynamics. When traveling at speeds that follow cyclists, air resistance is the biggest obstacle to speed. So it was decided that by moving the fork legs and saddle outward and aligned with the rider’s legs, the bike would better deflect the air around the rider, resulting in better overall aerodynamic performance.
The frame is made from carbon fiber, or more precisely “carbon fiber, prepreg material, autoclaved” according to our sources at British Cycling. It then uses 3D printed titanium for the dropouts, the dropout that adjoins the saddle stays at the seat tube, as well as what would be considered the crown of the fork.
3D printing technology continues in the cockpit as well, with the same ‘additive-made titanium’ construction used for all available handlebar choices.
The Lotus Sprint handlebar is the drop down bar setup and will be used in mass start events like the Omnium or the Madison. The Lotus Pursuit is the aero bar setup, complete with the base bar and aero extensions, and which will be used in time trial events such as the Team pursuit.
The bike’s cockpit is interchangeable, which means that the same frame design will be used by all GB team riders regardless of what events they participate in and what handlebars they use. Each rider will have their own custom molded design to maximize their aerodynamic performance and best meet their ergonomic requirements.
As with any track bike, the transmission used by Team GB will feature a single fixed gear. However, Team GB opted for a shorter pitch chain. This is the novelty of this approach, we have already covered Team GB’s short-pitch transmission in a separate story.
Instead of the usual 1/2 inch pitch chain, the team opted for a 3/8 inch pitch, which offers more teeth for a chainring of the same size, providing more points of engagement. and helping to better distribute the couple. evenly over the entire chainring and sprocket, increasing its efficiency.
The chain in question is Renold’s Velo CT-T, which costs Â£ 450.00 per chain, and the chainrings and sprockets are said to be made by Hope.
Wheels and tires
The wheels are also made specifically for this project, courtesy of Hope. However, they are new in their construction in that instead of a multi-part construction, usually two sides glued together, they are designed in a unibody construction, making the entire wheel in one process.
Cyclists have the choice between a disc wheel, which will offer greater aerodynamics thanks to its solid construction, or a three-spoke wheel, which maintains a full carbon fiber construction, but with three points of reinforcement – the spokes – between the central hub and the outer rim. The three-spoke design is generally lighter and therefore more maneuverable.
Although not confirmed by the GB team, from the footage we have of the team’s recent waiting camp at Newport Velodrome in Wales, it appears the GB team is also using a tire size different at the front from that used at the rear. Cycling news understands that the team uses Vittoria’s Pista Speed ââtires front and rear, but it looks like a larger volume tire is used at the rear.
According to Chidi Onuoha, communications manager at Team GB, the bikes will be fitted with saddles from Simmons Racing – a UK composite manufacturer specializing in cycling saddles and shoes, as well as ice skating speed skates. Two saddles are offered, the Simmons Pursuit and the Simmons Sprint, for their namesake event types.
The cranks are said to be Look Components Zed 2 Track cranks. However, cyclists have also been spotted using Infocrank’s power meter crank.
Want to buy one?
You can, but it will cost you. The rules of the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale, the governing body of cycling) state that any product used at the Olympic Games must be available for purchase by the general public.
Article 1.3.006 of the UCI Technical Regulations Clarification Guide states: “The equipment must be of a type sold for use by any person practicing cycling as a sport”.
However, although leeway is available for prototypes in most UCI sanctioned events, the Olympic Games see a different set of rules, as stated in rule 11.1.010 of the UCI Cycling Regulations. , Part 11 Olympic Games â:
âThe equipment to be used during the Olympic Games must comply with the UCI regulations, and in particular with article 1.3.006.
âFor track races, any equipment used at the Olympic Games must have been commercially available – in accordance with article 1.3.006 – no later than January 1 of the year of the Olympic Games and therefore may not be in development phase (prototype) In addition, the equipment must have already been used during the year preceding the Olympic Games in an event appearing on the list as defined in the Track Equipment Registration Procedure the UCI. “
The bike is already available for purchase from Hope, for Â£ 15,550 plus VAT, and that will only get you the frame, seat post, fork and stem. To add handlebar choices you’ll need to shell out between Â£ 1,550 and Â£ 4,050 more, and for the ‘tuber’ seat post it will be an additional Â£ 1,040.
If you want wheels with that, you’ll pay Â£ 2,450 for the rear and Â£ 2,100 for the front of the disc or Â£ 2,250 for the three spokes.
In total, this represents a maximum cost price of Â£ 25,340 plus VAT – value added tax – at 20%, bringing the total to Â£ 30,408. Madness.