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The British Cycling Federation has concocted a number of unusual machines for its track racers over the years, and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, will clearly be no different. With aerodynamic input from Lotus Engineering and manufacturing by Hope Technology, British Cycling’s latest track bike is arguably its wildest yet.
The airfoil profiles and overall layout of the main triangle looks straightforward enough, but the fork and seatstays display some novel thought. Aerodynamicists have long tried to figure out how to deal with the interaction between spinning wheels and nearby static structures, and in this case, Lotus seems to have decided that the best solution is to just move them as far away as possible so that they can do their work in less turbulent air.
The fork legs have a notably deep profile and exceptionally broad spacing that appears to be nearly 20cm apart. There’s a dual-crown arrangement with the frame, with one attachment point directly on the carbon fiber stem, and another dramatically pared-down section where a more conventional crown would typically reside. Down below, they take an abrupt turn back inward toward the hub, which looks to have conventional spacing.
It’s a similar story out back. Like the fork blades, the seat stays are situated very far apart and have a notably deep-and-narrow profile. They attach up top to an extension that hangs off the back of the seat tube, and take a nearly-vertical path down to the rear dropouts. Heel clearance was obviously a concern, given how the seatstays are cut out toward the bottom.
Although most of the bike is made of carbon fiber, many of the hard points – such as the upper seatstay extension, the fork tips, and the rear dropouts – appear to be made of 3D-printed titanium. Recently advances in the technology have made it a truly viable option from a performance standpoint, and it’s more conducive to custom sizing than more traditional manufacturing techniques.
Up front, meanwhile, is an integrated carbon fiber handlebar and stem that will surely be custom-molded to each rider. The stem on the drop-bar configuration has a split profile — similar to the current Cervelo S5 — that likely helps with torsional stiffness, and the bar itself is somewhat reminiscent of the track-specific 3T Scatto.
More details on the new bike are sure to be released in due time, but for now, British Cycling is keeping mum. One thing seems certain, however: it’ll be a wicked fast machine.