Lotus to Engineer British Cycling Team Track Bike for Paris Olympics
It wasn’t that long ago that British Cycling was the joke of professional cycling. In the course of about a century, British riders had only claimed one gold medal in any Olympic Games, and not a single Brit cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. Then Dave Brailsford came along and turned British Cycling around. Now they’re poised for another hinge point in their history. British Cycling paired with Lotus to develop a new track bike for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
If there is a company that knows design, lightweight materials, advanced engineering, and product development – all important aspects of creating a winning bike – it’s the same company known for automobiles that can only be classified as supercars.
The collaboration actually started back in the early 1990s with the Lotus Type 108, aka the LotusSport Pursuit Bicycle. “Back then, it was simply about developing an aerodynamic bike that would go fast,” said Richard Hall, the chief aerodynamicist for Lotus. “But really there are two separate elements – the bike and the rider – which come together as one to move through the air. That was the approach we took with the Tokyo bike and is continuing for Paris 2024.”
So what’s different with the new bike? “Put simply,” explains Hall, “since 1992 we have learned how to use the bike’s design to make the rider more aerodynamic, and also vice-versa. What’s improved is our understanding of how to get a bike and its rider round the track together in the fastest possible time.” The new bike allows the rider to interact with it in such a way that drag is lowered and interference is minimised. Part of that is accomplished by a wider front fork and redesigned handlebars.
The advances used on the new bike found their birthplace in Lotus cars. “We’re able to apply the experience we have gained in automotive to other forms of mobility,” said Russell Car, the director of design at Lotus. “Whilst aesthetics is crucial to the success of a product, we are co-located with our renowned engineering team, meaning we work hand-in-glove to strike the perfect balance of form and function which is integral to product design with engineering integrity.” That use of experience is bound to pay off, but we won’t know for certain until the games open in Paris. Still, it looks like this could mark a new period of revitalisation for the British Cycling team.
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