Hope and Lotus have collaborated to create the HB.T, a track bike that is quite unlike anything that we’ve ever seen before and is due to be raced by Team GB at next year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The HB.T takes full advantage of the UCI’s new rules that allow forks and seat stays to be up to 8cm wide, creating a wildly flared profile around each wheel that is said to massively reduce drag.
There’s a lot to take in on the HB.T, so we’ll start at the front of the bike and work our way back.
The cockpit of the bike bears a passing resemblance to the cockpit seen on the Cervelo S5, with a bullmoose-like stem flowing into the bars. A more conventionally-shaped aero cockpit has also been developed.
The cockpit then flows into an insanely wide dual crown fork that extends above the head tube. The fork legs themselves have a very narrow profile from the front but are much wider than a typical fork.
This wide profile creates a truly cavernous space around the super-narrow track tyres. This void is extremely striking and has, presumably, been used to reduce drag. The fork sharply tapers down to a conventional width at the dropouts.
Moving back, the front triangle of the bike is very compact, but uses fairly typical frame tubes in this area.
Things become wild again as you move to the rear, with the wide seat stays extending way above the top tube to join the seat tube at the clamp. Again, the space around the rear wheel is remarkable and creates a profile that is totally unique.
The HB.T’s wheels have been developed specifically by Hope for this project and are said to be constructed using a “revolutionary manufacturing process” (we’ve asked Hope what this is and for more info on aero data) that has significantly reduced the weight of the wheelset without sacrificing stiffness. Both a disc and tri-spoke wheel have been developed.
This is not the first bike either of the brands has created — Hope has released a handful of mountain bikes over the last few years now, including the carbon HB130 handbuilt in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, while Lotus has a heritage in Olympic racing, with its legendary Type 108, ridden by Chris Boardman, taking gold in the individual pursuit at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Renishaw — a well-known expert in the 3D printing world — also collaborated on the project, helping to create a number of parts on the frame.
Finally, British Cycling, which hopes to race the new bike at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was closely involved with the project.
To be sanctioned for use at the Olympics, the bike must first be raced in a number of UCI Track Cycling World Cup events in 2019, so it will see its first outings in Belarus (1-3 November) and in Glasgow (8-10 November). The bike will also be on display at the Hope stand at this weekend’s Rouleur Classic.
The press release for the new bike claims that — as with all equipment that is to be used in the Olympics — the HB.T will be available to the public.
We’re really looking forward to seeing the bike raced in anger and, seeing what is possible with the new UCI rule change, we also reckon this could herald in a new era of bicycle design.
Update, December 20th 2019: pricing has now been announced
Pricing has now been announced for the HB.T frameset and its various iterations (omnium, sprint and pursuit), as well as for the new full carbon disc wheels and trispoke front wheel.
As expected, the prices border on astronomical by bicycle standards, starting at a whopping £15,550 + VAT for the frameset alone (i.e. without handlebars or wheels).