With the Tokyo Olympics officially underway and the cycling events kicking off this weekend with the men's and women's road race events, sponsors are doing their best to capture the attention of onlookers with varying levels of customisation.
Some have gone for a classy flag-based approach, giving riders a sense of pride as they represent their country in what is one of the biggest road races in the 2021 calendar and, for many, the biggest race of their careers.
Meanwhile, certain brands have looked to the location of the Games for design inspiration, taking the Japanese theme to the extreme. Others have gone all-in on their design concepts with futuristic painting technologies.
So far we've seen custom concepts from various brands, all of which we've rounded up below.
Specialized has launched the 'Speed of Light' collection, a theme that doesn't just stop at the paint on its bikes. Extending to shoes and helmets, too, the design uses something that Specialized is calling 'UV-enhanced pigmentation paint'. This effectively means it contains light-effect reds and violets, and the colours transform when interacting with natural or artificial light.
The design has been applied to two bikes: the S-Works Tarmac SL7 road bike and the S-Works Epic cross country bike. It's also applied to S-Works 7 and Recon shoes, as well as the Evade aero helmet.
Sticking with the 'light' theme, Trek has added a new paint theme to its Project One Icon collection called 'First Light'.
Trek says the design is inspired by the Land of the Rising Sun - Japan - the host nation of the Olympics. The design certainly has a rising sun aesthetic to it, with the lower portions of the bike finished in darkened red hues, which lighten as you travel upward through the bike into oranges, yellows and then as you reach the top tube, the stunning design is capped off with a sky blue finish.
The design has been applied to the brand's Madone and Emonda road bikes, as well as the Supercaliber XC mountain bike. According to Trek, it will be ridden by over 50 athletes during the Games, including riders such as Bauke Mollema and Elizabeth Deignan.
Lapierre has also looked to the Olympics host nation for inspiration but with considerably less subtlety as to the Japanese origins of its Sakura Collection. It was created in honour of the famous Japanese cherry blossom tree and culture.
With Japanese lettering on the outer fork leg, and 'Tokyo 2021' adorning the chainstay, there's no denying that this bike is primed and prepped for Lapierre's sponsored Olympians, a collection of athletes that can be found in road, time trial and triathlon events, boasting riders such as David Gaudu, Cécilie Uttrup Ludwig, Stefan Küng and Marta Cavalli.
The design extends to the brand's Aircode aero bike, Aerostorm TT bike, and the new Xelius SL.
Rather than looking to Japan for design inspiration, BMC has looked at various locations around the world. Taking a tailored approach, BMC has giving each of its athletes their own design based around the respective nations they are in Tokyo to represent.
These designs extend to all of BMC's sponsored athletes, and include a Belgian theme for the reigning champion Greg Van Avermaet, as well as a South African livery for Nic Dlamini.
Despite not being a widespread approach from the brand like the rest of those above, we couldn't ignore this super cool anime-inspired design from Canyon, whose Aeroad has been supplied to Movistar's Annemiek van Vleuten.
Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.
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