One of the standout tech stories of this year's Tokyo Olympics was the radical track bike used by Team GB.
That bike, the HB.T, was a collaboration between British brands Lotus and Hope, and it's unlike anything else available at the moment. Distinctive primarily due to its uber-wide fork legs and seatstays, these are said to be designed with the rider's legs in mind, putting all three in a line so that airflow is better managed around the rider, thus providing a claimed aerodynamic advantage.
Today, Team GB's Ethan Vernon rode an adapted version of that bike to 7th place in the World Championships U23 time trial.
His bike, complete with brakes and a groupset unlike its track-focussed stablemate, is the only one of its kind.
"I enjoy riding it," Vernon told reporters after his ride. "It's pretty special to be riding on this bike as there's only one of them around."
As the only person to have ridden the HB.TT in competition, Vernon is feeding back to manufacturers as to how the bike rides in comparison to the track version.
"It's really stiff, out of the corners you can just feel it," he explained. "And on a course like this, where you're accelerating out of 90-degree corners, every little helps"
The main adaptations to transform the bike from a track bike to a TT bike are in the addition of a groupset and brakes, but to get those parts fitted required a near overhaul of the bike's frame, fork and stays to accept cable routing, derailleur mounts and brake calipers. All of which were carried out by Hope engineers in the brand's factory in Barnoldswick, UK.
The groupset is courtesy of Shimano's Dura-Ace R9100 series - notably not the new Dura-Ace R9200 which launched recently. The brake levers come from the same series, while the calipers are Hope's own.
Instead of a Dura-Ace chainset, Vernon has stuck with Team GB supply chains by opting for a Verve Infocrank power-meter chainset instead. However, Vernon has been forced to return to a standard chain - for which he's gone with Shimano Ultegra - since Team GB's small-pitch chains don't play nicely with Dura-Ace groupset componentry.
Vernon has also swapped out the 3D-printed titanium cockpit used in Tokyo in favour of a system that combines a Hope-supplied base bar with Vision Trimax extensions. Holding his Wahoo Elemnt Bolt cycling computer in place between these extensions is a K-Edge TT mount.
At the front, Vernon has opted for a Campagnolo Bora WTO 60 front wheel, wrapped in Vittoria's super-fast Corsa Speed TLR tyre, which he has set up tubeless with Muc-Off valves. Curiously, despite having run Campagnolo's Bora Ultra disc rear during test events in advance of the World Championships, Vernon was seen using a HED rear disc wheel complete with Israel Start-Up Nation branding.
"Alex Dowsett lent it to me, as I was having issues with my other one this morning," he explained. "It was a last-minute substitute."
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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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