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The Australian track cycling team unveils a $100,000 bicycle in their quest for an Olympic gold medal in Paris.
Cycling Sport

The Australian track cycling team unveils a $100,000 bicycle in their quest for an Olympic gold medal in Paris.

Luxury bicycles are not affordable. However, browsing through the internet shop of Factor Bikes, a company specializing in cycling, potential shoppers may be surprised by the cost of one specific item.

Although the majority of Factor’s bike models are priced at $10,000 to $15,000, wealthy cycling enthusiasts have the option to buy the brand’s track bike for a staggering $97,979. This top-of-the-line Hanzo track cycling bike is currently on the market for nearly $100,000, which is not a mistake.

The bike chosen by the Australian track cycling team for the 2024 Paris Olympics is not adorned with gold plating or diamonds. However, it boasts cutting-edge aerodynamic technology in the hopes of achieving victory at the velodrome in August.

Track cycling teams have always prioritised marginal gains, with milliseconds separating top riders on the world stage. But to avoid an uncontrolled arms race between well-funded national teams, the sport’s global governing body, the UCI, requires teams to use commercially available equipment.

The applicable technical rule states that “equipment must be available for purchase and suitable for use by anyone participating in cycling as a sport.” Teams who want to use experimental equipment that is not commercially available must request official authorization.

Therefore, in order to comply with these regulations and standards, Factor had to place the new Australian bike on the market in Paris. However, it would be counterproductive if competitors were able to utilize the same components that national teams and manufacturers spent extensive time refining. This is why the cost is excessively high.

Jesse Korf, executive general manager (performance) at AusCycling, stated, “The price is not determined by us. However, according to regulations, a bike must be available for commercial purchase, and there are no regulations regarding its price.”

This regulation pertains to all gear, including high-tech helmets, streamlined gear, and even socks, that riders wear during competitions, and they must be available for purchase.

The rule was treated seriously. During the previous Olympic Games, British Cycling and AusCycling filed a complaint against Denmark’s use of undergarments with aerodynamic properties, claiming that they were not accessible for purchase. However, the Danish team went on to win a silver medal in the men’s team pursuit and the protest was dismissed by the UCI commissaires’ panel.

Australia is crossing fingers that their new bicycle in Paris does not encounter any similar issues. The bike boasts unique forks, aerobars made of 3D-printed titanium (likely under thorough examination following Alex Porter’s incident at the Tokyo Olympics), and specialized wheels. A model of the bike, which was presented to the press at a January event, also showcased distinctive dot-painting decals inspired by First Nations.

“Our deep roots in engineering and aerodynamics has culminated in the creation of Factor Bikes’ first track bike,” the promotional material claims. “Designed for Olympic discipline pursuit racing, our track bike pushes the boundaries of speed to create the world’s fastest pursuit bike. Ready to launch off the start in Paris 2024, our track bike breaks the mould of stiffness, aero performance and speed.”

The bicycle was created through a strong collaboration between AusCycling and multiple Australian companies. This partnership involved specialists from the Formula One and World Tour cycling teams, as well as the aeronautical industry.

“What would it look like if we brought together the top talents in Australia to support our athletes?” stated Korf. “That’s the goal we set out to achieve.” Factor, a company with British ownership and manufacturing in Taiwan, holds partial ownership by Australian tech billionaire Scott Farquhar and has a significant presence in Australia.

The bike that costs $100,000 may possibly be one of the most expensive ones in the world, or even the most expensive. Will it give Australian cyclists an advantage to win gold in Paris? Korf stated, “I can confirm that it is much faster and has less drag than our previous bikes.” However, it is impossible to compare it to the British or Japanese bikes in a wind tunnel, as they are not available for testing side by side.

“It is exceptionally quick – significantly quicker than our previous speed – but whether it is the absolute fastest, remains unknown,” he stated. “That is part of the excitement.”

Cycling fans wanting their own Factor track bike would be well-advised to wait. It is understood that after the Olympics, the price tag will drop to a more reasonable amount in line with the brand’s other models.

Source: theguardian.com