An image of a Colnago bike has fetched almost $8,600 at auction, with the Italian bike maker becoming the first – as far as we know – company within the cycling industry to have cashed in on the growing non-fungible token (NFT) trend in which digital assets are stored on a blockchain.
It attracted just two bids, with the higher coming from user MTD-01, who will now have exclusive rights in perpetuity over the image of the bicycle – but won’t, of course, be able to ride it.
What the buyer does get, however, is a digital image of a one-off design which brings together elements of:
– The Bititan bike that Abraham Olano won the World Championships on in 1995
– Anthony Charteau's Polka Dot jersey-winning C59 from the 2010 Tour de France
– The C35 TTT that won the Team Time Trial World Championship 100km in 1994
– Giuseppe Saronni's Super Profil
– Tony Rominger's Hour Record bike
– Tadej Pogačar's Tour de France-winning V3Rs
– The C40 icon of Team Mapei.
The purchase price was calculated in cryptocurrency – 3.2 WETH (wrapped Ethereum) tokens, which equates to $8,592 (as Bicycle Retailer & Industry News points out, you could save more than two grand and get a real-life C64 with a custom paintjob).
Other digital assets to have been sold as NFTs include Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first ever tweet on the platform, Mike Winkelmann's digital artwork “Everydays: The First 5000 Days”, which went for $69 million at a Christie's auction and, just this past weekend, the YouTube viral video Charlie Bit My Finger, which sold for $760,999.
Colnago received some backlash when it announced that it was putting the digital asset up for sale, with criticism centred on the environmental impact of the computing power necessary to maintain blockchain technology (rather than the NFT itself).
This article from The Verge explains just why blockchain technology and its use to determine ownership of NFTs has such a big environmental impact, mentioning among other things that Ethereum, the cryptocurrency that the Colnago was purchased in, “uses about as much electricity as the entire country of Libya.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.