the story of a bike
by Paul Greasley
email Paul Greasley
There's a massive drive at my school to encourage more reading especially discovering and engaging in new texts and genres. Well, if the shoe was on the other foot, we would be at the top of the reading board! We were kindly sent a copy of a great little book telling the story of a bike which changed the future of bike racing giving birth to that 'superman' riding position. The Lotus bike. If it sounds like a book you need to add to your collection, please drop Paul an email.
The Lotus bikes are head turners defined. Whether you're a fan of them or you despise the aesthetics, they are a talking point at cycle shows and beyond. The crazy looking frame with the bars stretched out was something the cycling world hadn't seen before all those decades ago. The bike was a turning point and probably the first example of marginal gains although there was nothing marginal at what the bike could produce with the right rider. Boardman anyone?!
What comes across straight away is how knowledgeable and passionate Paul is about the Lotus bikes. We came across Paul via his Lotus 110 Club handle on Twitter and if you ever need anything confirmed about the iconic bikes, he's your go to guy.
The book begins with an introduction of a fellow called Mike Burrows who was one of the men behind the world's very first carbon fibre monocoque. I can now look at my Tarmac and trace it's family tree back! He approached British Cycling with this new technological advancement but the UCI didn't take to it. After a break from the setbacks, Burrows did revisit the idea and began building new models. By 1991, UCI had changed their mind and accepted monocoques into the racing world and Burrows began a partnership with Lotus Engineering.
After it seems having gone through some red tape and bureaucracy, it caught the eye and attention of Chris Boardman who was looking for that 'marginal' gain' for his 1992 Barcelona Olympics attempt. Richard Hill of the aerodynamics department made some additions particularly what fans come to label as the 'superman' pose where the rider has their arms stretched out maximising riding position in terms of air flow and reducing resistance. With the bike set and with the right rider ready, well, you know the rest!
Worth A Read?
Oh definitely. I am not going to share anymore of Paul's well researched and written book because it would be pointless investing in it. It's fascinating to hear the story behind such an iconic bike, how all it took was a vision and the right networks and partnerships to make the impact it had/has on the cycling world. I never knew the monocoque frame was once banned by the UCI. You'd think they would welcome technological advancements but hey, if they have rules about certain sock lengths in races, maybe it's not surprising it takes the governing body of cycling a while to embrace change. Paul has gone to great lengths to share his love and passion for a bike which turns heads at every bike show and race. The photos accompanying the history are well chosen with a few mullets thrown in to show how long ago the birth of the Lotus bike happened! I hope he doesn't mind me sharing but Paul has self-published this book so it's all him when you read through.
So if you've got a gap on the shelf, The Story of a Bike is a well worthy addition next to autobiographies and TdF annuals. Give Paul a shout if you're interested or at least a follow, you'll enjoy the nostalgic tweets and photos he posts!