Friday, April 9, 2010

BT Superbike

It’s amazing what you can find when you poke around. This is a BT (Bike Technologies) Superbike developed in the mid 1990s from a chance collaboration between the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) and RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology).
This particular bicycle was given to its previous owner by his employer at the completion of the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000. The bike sat in his office for 10 years as a conversation piece before being passed on to me. It is almost certainly a hand-me-down from the AIS track team as evidenced by the decals which are placed beneath the clear coat (standard production frames do not wear the AIS decals). Not to mention the numerous battle scars from past exploits on the track. And this specimen clearly had a tough life.

Superbike. A name so presumptuous on a design so audacious that it’s become cool and iconic. It also helps that the Australian track team under Charlie Walsh was a tour de force whilst riding these bikes (1994-1996).

Typical for the AIS track team, this bicycle has full Campagnolo componentry albeit from a mixture of groups. With the assortment of parts, one can imagine this being a competition pursuit frame (wearing full C Record componentry and Ghibli disc wheels) that has subsequently devolved into a training bike (with Chorus road cranks and Campagnolo "Sidney" 2000 rims). The bike has been tidied up but nothing has been changed. Nice to think that maybe some rising track star has ridden these exact components...

For me this is how a carbon fiber bicycle should look. Simple, swoopy, aerodynamic lines.
Excellent information on the BT Superbike can be found through these links to the Powerhouse Museum (Sydney).

Monocoque bicycle frames like the BT Superbike came into being following relaxation of the UCI regulations in 1990 leaving Mike Burrows to bring out the Lotus Sport track pursuit prototype in 1991 (conceived much earlier then shelved in 1987). This subsequently became the Lotus Sport 108 in 1992 and hit the headlines when Chris Boardman won the 4000m individual pursuit at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics setting a world record of 4 min 27.357 sec, and lapping the 1991 World Champion, Jens Lehmann, in the final.

Lotus then went on to make the production Lotus Sport 110 road bike and Mike Burrows went on to design similar frames for Giant.

Lotus Sport 110

Giant MCR

It is a shame that these bicycles are now, once again, illegal under UCI regulations (current rules require a double triangle frame) but let’s leave that discussion for another day...

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