The bad news for the rest of the world? Britain’s wheels are particularly round. Wait until the French find out.
During the resounding success of the GB team at the London 2012 velodrome, the boss of the France team accused them of skulduggery and L’Equipe asked if they had “magic” wheels. British cycling chief Dave Brailsford then stoked the fire by joking that they were indeed “specially round”.
This time however, Team GB really reinvented the wheel. For the first time, they made them “in one” from a single continuous piece of carbon, rather than gluing two discs and the rim together. The main objective was to reduce the weight of the adhesive, which could reach 100 g. But the ripple effect was to form a perfect circle.
Design engineer Sam Pendred poses with the bike made by Hope Cycles for Team GB
Pendred showed Sportsmail’s David Coverdale around the bike a few weeks before Tokyo
“When you glue pieces together, they can be in the wrong place slightly,” says Sam Pendred, design engineer at British bicycle maker Hope. “Because we managed to make this whole rear disc wheel in one go, we took out a lot of complexity and a lot of the potential for error – so the wheels are just as round as they are going to be. “
The Lotus x Hope HB.T - a collaboration between the two British engineering and manufacturing companies – was actually released in October 2019. But it has only been used by a few drivers in one-off races since then, this is the wish of Team GB. to keep its benefits a secret until Tokyo 2020 track cycling begins on Monday.
The most drastic part of its design is its wide fork and seat stays, designed so air can deflect around the rider’s legs. When asked if this would be the best bike on display at the Izu Velodrome, Ian Weatherill, Hope’s general manager is unequivocal. “It is,” he said. How can he be so sure? “It’s the concept of aerodynamics on it.
The team has now made the wheels “in one” from a single piece of continuous carbon (above)
“In the past, bicycles were designed like a bicycle, not like a bicycle and a cyclist. We are the first company to work with British Cycling on the concept of the combined bike and cyclist.
“Maybe it’s psychological, but one of the test pilots said when you ride it you don’t feel the wind on your legs.
“British cycling has won everywhere, with a combination of wetsuits and helmets, and cycling is a part of that. They hope they can get ahead of everyone.
“If a runner feels like they’ve done the best that can be done for them and it looks fantastic, it makes them feel better. It makes all the difference to think they’re onto something special.
The GB team wanted to keep their advantages a secret until the start of the track cycling events.
Hope executive Robin Godden adds, “Part of the bike looks different is that at the start line the opponents will look at it and think, ‘This bike is better than mine’. The fact that it is different and that it has not been used, it kind of gets into the heads of other riders. ‘
The bike has received rave reviews from team GB riders since they started using it in training before heading to Tokyo, with Jason Kenny saying it ‘hit the nail on the head’ so that he was going in search of his record seventh gold medal.
“The runners sent us messages to thank us,” Weatherill reveals. “Jason and Laura Kenny sent us a nice little video to show the staff here.
“Laura was asking for another bike! Nice gestures like that show their mentality and it got everyone here.
Weatherill estimates that Hope has spent around £ 1million to develop and manufacture the 40 bikes that will be shipped to Tokyo for use by the GB team’s 16-member track team.
Under new regulations established by cycling’s governing body, the UCI, the bike is in fact available to the public for purchase, although it will cost punters £ 15,000 to £ 25,000.
“We will never get our money back by selling the bikes,” Weatherill adds. “But it just gives us a good feeling to support British Cycling and hopefully help them win medals. “