3 World Record Breaking Bikes – So Fast They Were Banned!

3 World Record Breaking Bikes – So Fast They Were Banned!


– I’m here at the Boardman
Performance Centre in Evesham the UK. In this place you can undergo physiological testing, physiotherapy, biomechanical sessions, even hone your position
in the wind tunnel, but I’m here for something oh so special too, and that is to check out three of
the world’s fastest bikes that have ever been used. (upbeat music) Now you may well think you’ve already seen the bike on the GCN Tech channel, but no you have not. Quite recently I did a feature on the Lotus One-Ten, which is the road going version
of this bike if you like. This one though is designed for track and speed purely. This bike quite literally gives me goosebumps. Now it is an original design concept of a guy called Mike Burrows, who originally designed something quite similar to it back in 1985, and it was called the Wind Cheater. However due to the UCI’s
regulations and rules, bikes like that weren’t
allowed in competition. So it meant that Burrows essentially shelved that project in 1987, probably due to the frustration
caused by those rules. While he continued his passion of developing recumbent bicycles, how then did Lotus end up in this project? Well going on hearsay, back in the summer of 1991, a Lotus test driver, and also Formula Two driver Rudy Truman, who is a key cyclist bumped into Mike Burrows in John Borwell Cycles in Norwich, which happens to be where Lotus is based. They got chatting away both keen cyclists, and Burrows started to tell Truman all about the wind cheater
prototype that he had. Of course Truman showed
pretty keen interest in this, went back to Burrows workshop borrowed that prototype, and took it into work in Hethel, which is where Lotus is based. Now with this bike up against the desk of Rudy Truman in those Lotus offices, the project engineering director, the late Roger Becker, he came along, looked at it, and said that is great. We’ve got to build it. That makes him an absolute
legend in my eyes, and opinion, and if it doesn’t in your eyes, this will certainly make him a legend. He drove the Lotus Esprit
in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, which also featured another hero of mine, a Mister Roger Moore,
Sir Roger Moore no less. Now it wasn’t all plain sailing though, because Roger Becker had to then go off, and convince the rest of the Lotus board to run with this project. Probably not the easiest
thing to do at the time, because Lotus wasn’t in the
most financially stable place. Sales off the M100 Elan car was suffering, because they weren’t reaching
the anticipated forecast, however Becker he must
have been a good salesman. He must have pitched it
absolutely brilliantly, because when the board came to vote, this got the go ahead by one vote. Now when Roger Becker
broke the news of this being allowed by the Lotus board, I can imagine he was super
excited for two reasons. Well this project was
given the green tick, plus the fact that the UCI had also kind of relaxed its stringent
rules around frame design, which was fantastic, because back then track cycling wasn’t as popular as what it is now. These days track cyclists are almost household
names across the world. But I don’t reckon the UCI expected something like this to
land through the post as a framed design, but Truman, you got to give your hat off to him right? The guy, he managed to convince them that this would increase the
popularity of track cycling, and for this man here, as a 12 year old it changed my life. Rudy, he was paired up with
a guy called Richard Hill, who was a Lotus aerodynamic expert, and for good reason, because that wind cheater prototype apparently wasn’t the lightest of bikes, wasn’t the stiffest, and also surprisingly wasn’t that good in the wind tunnel. Plenty of refinements happened, and it was an action packed six months. Early mornings, late evenings,
weekends, you name it, they worked around the clock to get this bike developed, and it finished at the Barcelona Olympics in July of 1992. Right, let’s check out the bike then, and you can see it catches the wind, because obviously it is designed for velodrome use. But it’s got an A-symmetric
style frame design on that monocot frame, meaning get this, the wheels are just attached on one side. It’s like a canter lever type mounting, which is so futuristic. If we think now we’ve got Canondale on their lefty fork, and everything. But if I look at the rear wheel where that’s fitted in, it’s just an amazing feat of engineering, as is the front fork too. I’m going to stick with those front forks, because this is so, so cool. These days times for our riders are getting higher. They’re not getting so extreme, but Boardman, he managed to get himself into such a good position. Check out where those
handlebars actually come from. That’s right, they don’t come from the
top of the forks steerer, or anything like that. They’re actually coming straight out of the fork frame. That is so low. The handlebars, they have got such a cool profile to them. Hardly any height at all, but a real aerodynamic depth in there, so the wind is just going to flow over it. Check out the bulbas ends if you like, where Boardman started his efforts from. I think these are probably actually my favourite
part of the whole bike. The actual way in which
the bars have been moulded into the forks, and then these aluminium risers here, that the extensions go on top of. I reckon that this could well be a bit of titanium here, that the elbow rests are made from. Then a little knob, the Lotus 25 interior are led to believe is the red elbow pads
made out of leather here, which Boardman forearms gently pressed on. If we check out this saddle to bar drop, that is so extreme, especially compared to
modern day positions. One of the reasons how Boardman managed to actually
get into this position. Now I’ve this weird memory of a child either seeing a documentary, or reading about it in a magazine, that Boardman worked for the team, or actually gaffer taped
his hands into position, and gradually lowered him to get into a super aggressive,
aerodynamic position. These days however, riders are much higher, because then they close
up the frontal area, but we didn’t know those things back then. But it worked for Boardman, that was the important thing about it. Let’s look though at
some of the extra details on this bike. I would have loved to actually have brought my took kit with me, and take it all apart so I could show you everything. But I don’t want to ever mess with a bit of history like this. Besides some of the fittings on it are pretty special, and I don’t think I’ve got tools to remove for instance
this headset top cap cover. But the wheels as we’ve already said are held in place on just one side. Then they’ve got these pretty cool finishing touches on the axle ends, including on the rear there. That Lotus badge reminds me of the head badge on the
vehicles that we see these days, bobbing up and down motor ways. The tyres fitted to these wheels. These are Continental Olympic bees. There are super light. They were super expensive, even back in 1992. I remember flicking through
the pages of magazines, with my jaw almost on the floor at the cost of them. They got a silk carcass to them, super light, super fast, pumped up to probably 200 PSI. That wouldn’t have been
the most comfortable ride let’s face it. The wheels though, yeah that’s right. Loads of you will be thinking why on earth didn’t he use a disc wheel on the front,
as well as on the rear. Well in Barcelona the
village room was outdoors, meaning a gust of wind could well have sent
Boardman off of his line, down there on the black line on the track, and he could’ve lost a few seconds, possibly over the four kilometre distance. However in training he did in fact use a front disc wheel, and broke the world record then by four seconds. Other finishing touches include titanium inserts where necessary, or required. For instance the headset cups, they’re titanium, the bottom bracket shell, that’s titanium too, and I bet a pretty penny that also the fork inserts are also. Now with all of this aside, there’s a finishing detail on the bike that I was always curious about. Why the Union Jack, or
the Union flag actually as we should call it. Originally I thought, well it’s because
Boardman was representing Great Britain at the Olympics, but in actual fact the bike itself was really plain, and well some would say
a little bit boring. They decided to pop down to
a local auto factor to shop, so a little car shop, and they bought themselves a Union flag, stuck it on just to liven it up a bit. Later transpired, it was a little knot to the Lotus 79 Formula One car. I love finishing touches like that. My first memory of this bike wasn’t actually the Barcelona Olympics. It was in May of 1992, and the front cover of a British magazine, Cycling Weekly. Now the guy riding on one of these bikes was a gentleman called Brian Steel, who I’ve actually had the
pleasure of racing against, although he did put me away by quite some margin. Now he used this bike at an international track meeting at the Saffron Lane Velodrome in Lester, which is sadly no longer around. Still he used the bike, and he set a personal best by two seconds over four kilometres. A good achievement, but not enough to raise suspicion, because it didn’t necessarily show off just how quick this bike could go. I’m sure Brian, you don’t mind me saying that mate, however all the other nations were pretty interested, because they hadn’t seen
this used in competition. The UCI equipment delegate who was there, this was also the first time he’d seen it. But well, they just simply nodded, and went use that in the
Olympics if you want. But the run up to the Olympic Games, just two months away, wasn’t necessarily that
straight forwarded. During this time Britain had what can only be described as a heat wave, I guess the weather was over 20 degrees. But I’m joking. The heat wave was pretty strong, and it meant that the resin being used to cure the carbon fibre wasn’t able to cure quick enough. I mentioned as well earlier on about the
number of early morning, and late evening there were, and there are two unsung
heroes in the tale of this bike being built. Les Holt, and Mark Holsee. Now they actually started work at 3:00 am, so that they could work
on the carbon fibre. They were the only guys who
could actually work on it, because Lotus remember, didn’t have any experience
in carbon fibre at that time. A big hats off to those two gentlemen. (music) The Barcelona Olympics in 1992, that was when the world
caught sight of this bike. It was on television sets all over the world. Boardman sat on it, he broke the world record twice, the Olympic record twice, and just as important he made me fall in love
with track cycling. Oh and get this, this project was so secret, virtually nobody else in the Lotus factory knew that they were even building a bike. Now I’ve got heaps more geeky stats, I’ve dug out, and researched, along with help of real lovers
of the Lotus sport projects, so that will be in the description below. But now I’m going to show you another bike that you
need to know all about. (music) Another bike now, but from the same era
as that Lotus One Away. Vastly different in terms of design, shape, and probably aerodynamics too, but what do I know. Now Corima, cooperation
of (mumbles) Martar was set up by Jean Marie Refar and Pierre Martar in 1973. They focused on composites
in aeronautical, or aerospace industry, as well as the automobile industry too. Fast forward though to 1988, and they started to make
a disc wheel for bicycles, and then came the four spokes, and in 1991 this came along. (music) The Corima Couger, or also known sometimes
as the Corima Cointreau. These bikes actually were really popular with track sprinters, for quite some time. The reason being, they could be totally customised to a rider’s specification, which played straight into the hands of someone like Boardman, who had the ability, and flexibility to get low, and long for a long period of time, up to an hour say. This was used just for that. In 1993, this bike was used at Velodrome Dulac in Bordeaux for Boardman’s
hour record attempt just one year after he got
Olympic gold in Barcelona. Now apparently there was a bit of a falling out between Chris and Lotus
after the Barcelona Olympics, because of the bike he was using, and what he was contracted to ride during his amateur racing. But all of that aside, Harry Middleton was an instrumental part in Chris going for the hour record in using this bike. Now Harry Middleton, he was Chris’ manager, and agent, and actually set up the team that Chris was riding for in the season of 1993. North were all Velo Kodak. Now, interestingly here too, is that that squad were actually using Cougar bikes, although that Cougar was no link at all to the Corima brand as a side note, those Cougar bikes were actually built by legendary frame builder Terry Dolan. But Corima wanted to be involved somehow in the Tour de France what with them being a French brand. This played into their hands, an advantage I guess if you like, because the hour record attempt coincided with Stage 18 of
that year’s Tour de France that finished in Bordeaux, and was actually won by
Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, AKA the Tashkent Terror. And importantly meant that the media were in town, and they could truly give the hour record the attention it deserves. (music) Right, the bike then that attempted that world
hour record back in 1993. As you can see the frame totally different, put
my hand through there, nothing like that 108 frame. Remember they could be totally customised, so we’ve got here the actual head tube into down tube joint. It’s much different
from the standard model that was offered. Really elongated flat bit here, and also the seat post. Traditionally it was a normal seat post that went inside of there. Now I reckon there is a normal one inside of it, but it’s really well integrated, because they built up the
seat mast from the frame. We move forward to the
handlebars and forks, again integrated, so it takes very similar design ideas from those of the Lotus, but they are a lot more chunky I think is the easiest way to describe it. They’re not quite as thin, so there’s a little bit
more depth to them there, and the actual bar ends they tend to go a little bit backwards, rather than forward. They kind of flips around, but the elbow cups, and the tri bar extensions, they use something pretty similar to. We’re beginning to see a lot more carbon fibre being used here in the handlebars for instance, but the tri bar extensions, or skis as we sometimes like to call them, have actually been moulded for Boardman’s fingers. So that when he ‘s
laying down in the power, he can really grip on there, nice and firmly. I love attention to detail like this. We’ve got no Lotus 25
leather interior here though, but we have got some foam padding for the elbows during that hour record. Now, something which really struck me even as a youngster when I saw Boardman go
for this hour record, is the fact that he
used four spoke wheels. When Corima produced a disc wheel, and I’m pretty sure even
made a front disc wheel at that time too. Velodrome Du Lac in Bordeaux is an indoor Velodrome, so wind wasn’t going to
affect the attempt whatsoever. Now presumably they just wanted Boardman to showcase these wheels, rather than the disc version. Now when Boardman
attacked that hour record, I cannot believe to imagine what was going on inside of his head, because just seven days before his arch rival Graeme Obree had set a new world hour
record of 51.596 kilometres. Boardman though, he was
incredibly strong mentally, and beat it by 674 metres, and that set up a tug of war between these two riders
for many years to come. Three years later it went to this. Now Boardman used on occasion during his time with Graeme bikes batched up as Lotus, sometimes batched up at Eddie Merchkx, and sometimes with no logos on whatsoever. Eddie Merchkx bikes were
sponsoring the Graeme team, and obviously they wanted to
maximise their sponsorship along the way. Lotus, I’m led to believe
were absolutely furious that this was happening, but I assume couldn’t
really do anything about it. After all they had sold
these bikes to the team. Now there is a little bit of history here, because Eddie Merchkx did the same trick on Ernesto Colnago who
built the hour record bike that he used in Mexico of 68. The Lotus won 10, which is what the model
number of this bike is, is a multi purpose bike, meaning it could because used both on the road, as well as on the track. Due to the interchangeable
dropouts on the rear, as well as the fact you can
mount a break here on the front, and also the rear, however the front has
got a customised fork, which we will come on to, don’t worry, and you’ve also got rooting there too for the internal cables. I’m not going to go into
the full development of this bike, because some of you will remember a couple of months ago I did a full look at the Lotus 110 bike, but I have got another
snippet here for you. Because I would like to chuck
those in that space here. Lotus joined forces with
a company called Aerodyne in South Africa. While they produced 263 of these bikes in South Africa and just 60 in the UK. There we are, my facts of the day. This bike just like the Corima Cougar was used by Boardman for
a hour record attempt, and importantly a successful one. September the 6th, 1996, Boardman he set a distance
of 56.375 kilometres in one hour, and that distance has
never ever been beaten. It’s incredible, and outrageous, and the most outrageous thing about it, is the fact it was done during the Superman era of positions. When I say Superman, I mean Superman. Check out those handlebars. I think the perfect starting place then, has to be the handlebar
extensions on this bike. Never before had we seen anything quite like it. Now this was actually the
brain child if you like of Graeme Obree who remember was Boardman’s arch rival. I don’t think he was
his enemy necessarily. In fact I do recall, Chris once lending Graeme
his helmet for an event. Maybe it was vice verse, either way they got on absolutely fine, but this position meant that you could really reduce the frontal area, when it came to aerodynamics. Hence, how it could actually translate into such a big distance during
that hour record attempt. Just look at how long they are. They’re longer than the front wheel. So Boardman had a new set of forks with these integrated
handlebars built for him for his hour record attempt. I’m led to believe it was by a gentleman called Simon Asp, who was actually building
frames at this time for a company called Hotter. Hotter, their frames had a
kind of similar resemblance I guess you could call it, to this style of bike. Now the hour record had somewhat developed in the three years since that successful attempt in Bordeaux at the Velodrome Du Lac. The attempt at the Manchester Velodrome in September of 1996, well Boardman used a pair of Mavic wheels. We’ve got the Comet disc
wheel in the rear there, it’s got a lenticular shape to it. Then we’ve got the five
spoke IO wheel on the front. Now these wheels are still being used in competition to this day. They have yet to be surpassed it seems in terms of aerodynamics when it comes to a multi spoked wheel. What with track bikes
being so minimalistic. There’s not generally many
finishing touches on them. Generally it’s such a
purist sport if you like. I mean obviously we’ve got the
extreme of these handlebars, something that sadly the UCI banned, and kind of reined back in the development of sport
I guess you could say. But we do hae a chain set on this bike, which I’ve never ever seen before. I have no idea who made it. I have a bit of a hazy memory I guess, that possibly Royce who made titanium bottom brackets, and other specialist bits of equipment down in the sack of England. Maybe they’re involved in it. I’m not sure again who
made the chain ring. Could well be a company called MDT. From memory they were based in Cheltenham, which is not a million miles away from where we are today, and Evesham in the UK. So carbon fibre chain ring, super cool, although it does have obviously the steel outer teeth there, and that’s got 53 teeth paired up with a 15 2 sprocket, the rear. Importantly for me the pitch of that chain is 1/8 of an inch. Something which is so
special on a track bike, just the noise it makes. The last little detail I
just want to point out, is Selle Sam Marco Saddle. Now it’s a no slip system on there. These were all a rage
around the mid nineties. Essentially the brand decided, why don’t we embroider our logos all over it, and tell everyone, but you’re not going
to slip off the saddle, because it’s going to create a little bit of resistance in there. While it did, because it must have done. Boardman would’ve been able
to stay in that position, and not be pushed by the backwards, or forwards thanks to this. You still see riders doing it to this day, putting things on their saddles, so it grips on to the lycro just a tad, so that they stay firmly seated. All right, all right, I’m going, I’m going, only joking. I’ve got to actually say
a huge thanks to the folks of the Boardman Performance Centre. They have been absolutely wonderful today, to let me come and check out these bikes. Also, a massive thanks to a
gentleman called Paul Griesly, without his help, the information regarding
those Lotus bikes would be nowhere near as complete, so a huge thanks to you Paul, top man. Right, remember as well to like, and share this video with your friends, and also what video in terms of historical aspects of cycling would you like me to look into next. Because without Chris Boardman, to be honest I wouldn’t be here today. My passion for cycling
would be nowhere near what it is. Remember to check out the GCN Shop at shopglobalcyclingnetwork.com. We’ve got a whole heap of goodies for you to check out. Then for two more great videos, how about clicking, or checking out the video on the Lotus 110 super bike that Chris Boardman used, and well for another
absolute belter of a video, click just down here.

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