Can Lotus' new bike ride again to Olympic gold?

Lotus bike in Norwich

Lotus Cycle Racing League Youth riders pictured with the new Lotus bike. - Credit: Supplied

One of the men behind creating the new Team GB bike unveiled by Norfolk firm Lotus ahead of the Olympics said it all comes down to making 'a fraction of a second' difference.

Richard Hill, chief aerodynamicist at Lotus' Hethel base, has been with the car firm for more than 30 years.

He worked with Chris Boardman on the record-breaking 'Type 108' bike ridden to victory in the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Lotus bike Norfolk

The new Lotus bike and an Elise car - Credit: Rob Borrett

However, although many people will want to remember the Boardman bike, the new one is very different, Mr Hill said.

Speaking at an event held at Hethel, he told this newspaper: "In 1992 it was about knocking off quite a few seconds, now it's about fractions of seconds which can make the difference between gold or nothing at all.


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"It's down to F1 levels of time. In 1992, cycle sport changed forever, but things have moved on since then. Back then it was about creating an airflow around the bike but now it's about integrating the bike with the rider in perfect harmony.

"Bikes don't ride themselves, they need riders."

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It's taken two years to develop the technology to do this - using the precision engineering at Lotus which is also deployed in its cars.

"Engineering is all about physics and it doesn't make a difference if you've got four wheels or two, the engineering principles are the same."

Lotus bike Norfolk

The new Lotus bike - Credit: Supplied

He said the riding position had been redesigned because regulations no longer allow the 'Superman' stretch as used by Boardman - who rode with his arms out in front of him.

Instead, the new bike's forks and handlebars are designed to lower the drag of the rider, which in turn lowers the drag of the frame.

Riders were subjected to hours testing the bike in a wind tunnel after the engineers at Lotus came up with the technology to achieve the aerodynamics.

Lotus has worked on the project with Hope Technology, which has supplied the bike’s frame and wheels, and engineering partner Renishaw.

The moment that changed cycling forever

Chris Boardman at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain.

Chris Boardman at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain. - Credit: John Giles/PA Archive/PA Images

It was the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when Chris Boardman pedalled to victory riding the revolutionary Lotus Sport bike.

Before that, Britain hadn’t won a cycling gold medal for 72 years. 

That bike was revolutionary with a fork with just one blade and a frame little more than an inch in cross section.

Boardman and the Lotus bike set a new world record and the image of him powering round with his futuristic aerodynamic helmet is an image many will always remember.

But can history repeat itself?



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