25 years after the Lotus 108 helped Chris Boardman to a gold medal, there’ll be a brand new Lotus being raced by Team GB at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
This is the brand new HB.T and is the result of a collaboration between Hope Technology and Lotus Engineering with support from Renishaw, three British companies combining to provide the best possible equipment for the British track squad.
It’s a radical-looking bike with the insanely wide seat stays that join at the top of the extended seat tube and a similarly widely spaced fork design. It pushes right up against the UCI rules and it's been passed, there's a UCI approval sticker on the seat tube so they must be satisfied with it. It makes you wonder why no other track bike looks this way?
The forks and seat stays are 8cm wide and the work of English Institute of Sport, who were responsible for the original Team GB track bikes that were first introduced in 2002. The fork and handlebar were designed by Lotus using its considerable aerodynamic expertise, which Hope then integrated into the bike.
The wheels are also "revolutionary" but no details have been shared about them, other Hope's new manufacturing process resulting in an improved stiffness-versus-weight balance compared to regular disc wheels.
It’s has been wind tunnel tested in Southampton with both bike and rider, but it still needs to be approved b the UCI to qualify to be ridden at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which requires it to be ridden during the 2019/2020 Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup series by the GBCT before the end of 2019. It’ll have its first outing at the Minsk-Arena velodrome in Belarus this weekend.
Everything on the bike is new, with a big focus on getting the weight as low as possible. There’s no paint or filler on the raw carbon parts. Developing the new tube profiles and finessing the aerodynamic was helped by the 3D printing expertise of Renishaw to develop rapid prototypes. Everything about this bike is new – there has been no carryover of stress analysis, composite lay-up or component fitting the companies tell us.
Manufacturing of the carbon frame, fork and wheels was the work of Hope. The British company has invested in carbon tech in recent years with two mountain bikes launched that are made right here in the UK. For the track bike, it developed a new manufacturing process to enable it to reduce the weight to provide the best possible stiffness-to-weight ratio.
“We have created the frame using high modulus composites with fabric woven in UK, the in-house team has unrivalled engineering expertise with 30 years of composite experience and two Olympics behind them. Together we have refined the manufacturing method to make a superior product,” explains Ian Weatherill, Managing Director, Hope Technology.
On the return of an iconic name in British cycling history, Miguel Fragoso, Executive Director, Lotus Engineering says: “Lotus has always been at the very cutting edge of lightweight racing performance with its cars, and now – after 25 years away from cycling – we’ve collaborated with Hope to apply the same Lotus core values to this new track bike. We look forward to working with British Cycling as testing continues towards next summer’s Olympics.”
“It’s a dream team of engineering prowess,” adds Tony Purnell, head of technology for the Great Britain Cycling Team. “Hope Technology bring high-quality manufacturing standards and Lotus Engineering is renowned for lightweight design and outstanding aerodynamic efficiency. Both supported and advised by additive manufacturing experts Renishaw, who have ensured that Lotus and Hope have access to the most modern and fastest turnaround process from design to usable pieces.
“Following a terrific effort from our sponsors to bring this bike into reality, we have the task of evaluating the bike together with the English Institute of Sport to ensure it’s going to have the right performance in Minsk and Glasgow, and of course in Tokyo, and providing feedback to Hope and Lotus engineering teams.”
You’ll be able to see the bike for yourself if you attend the Rouleur Classic show this weekend starting Thursday evening.
And yes you’ll be able to buy one, with orders being taken from 1 January 2020. No price has been confirmed yet but we’ve asked. It won’t be cheap is our guess!
Who would love to see a comparison of the original Lotus 108 to this new one?
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.