Belgian bike consortium announce wind tunnel funding

Bike Valley tunnel set to open in 2014/15 and rival Specialized's

Specialized might have unveiled the world’s first cycling specific wind tunnel today, but a consortium of Flemish bike companies have been awarded €500m to build one of their own.

The Bike Valley group is based in Paal-Beringen and members include Ridley, helmet specialists Lazer, clothing manufacturers BioRacer, coaching company EnergyLab, and Flanders Drive, who help develop low carbon vehicles. The consortium were told yesterday that that Flanders regional government had awarded them the cash to help develop the facility.

The wind tunnel’s total cost is expected to be around €2m (around £1.7m), with the shortfall being made up of contributions from the Bike Valley group. They may approach banks for loans, Ridley PR and marketing manager Jochen Bessemans told BikeRadar.

Ridley have been at the forefront of developing aerodynamic frames, being one of the first to integrate brakes into forks and seatstays for an extra aero advantage on the Noah Fast. They first announced their intention to develop a cycling-specific wind tunnel in 2010, when they hung a poster of one on their factory wall.    

Bessemans said: “We have about 70 people working in our offices here in Belgium, and about 90 people around the world, so we’re still a small company, as are the other companies in Bike Valley. If you want to stay competitive with multinationals like Specialized we have to combine our forces and have the government backing us up. We’re a bit jealous of the way they [Specialized] can handle this.”

Bessemans said he hopes the tunnel will be functioning by the end of 2014 or early 2015.

In March, Eddy Merckx Cycles were awarded €150,000 from the Flemish regional government, to investigate bike stability.

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