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A $20K hi-tech bike?

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In keeping with the technology theme from my last post, I will mention the Factor 001 bike that I saw today on Quickrelease.TV. The bike was designed by BERU f1 systems, a supplier of performance engineering solutions to the motorsport, automotive, and marine industries. Exactly what kind of data the bike will provide is not yet clear, but the company claims that this will be the “ultimate bicycle and training tool, combining innovative design and advanced electronics to record and analyse volumes of biometric data.” As the post speculates, a power meter and HRM output will surely be parts of the toolset that will be integrated into the composite frame and proprietary components.

Details about the bike are scarce at this point and, to be honest, I am not sure what I think of the design of this prototype. Still, I am glad to see a company with a successful history in automotive engineering taking an interest in the design of a high-end bicycle. I have written about some of the automotive branded bikes on the market in the past, but this is a bit different. Most of those past bikes have really just been licensed products or have resulted from co-branding agreements in which the car company bearing the brand name had very little design input. Anyway, I guess time will tell if the Factor 001 will go the direction of bikes like the old Ferrari Colnagos (not the new CF4s, but the old ones with the big flywheel attached to the crankset) or if the varied engineering background of a company like BERU f1 will possibly lead to a product with a few truly innovative features.

As I have said before, I like to see ideas for bicycle products coming from companies outside the traditional bicycle industry. In some cases, a degree of unfamiliarity can provide a fresh perspective in the development of a product (those who don’t feel like they already know all the answers aren’t afraid to question the status quo). I am not really speaking specifically about the factor 001 at this point, but I think this is a trend that we will see more of in the future. At any rate, I am curious to hear what you all think about companies from other industries designing bikes. Any thoughts on the subject?

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  1. erik k December 18, 2007 at 8:18 pm -  Reply

    looks interesting are those campy parts, shit for 20 k it better be record ide like to see a better quality photo, also the fork/headstead/steer tube looks interesting or at least very trigonal

  2. erik k December 18, 2007 at 8:19 pm -  Reply

    and actually now that i look at does that bike have disc brakes?

  3. Jay Parkhill December 18, 2007 at 10:07 pm -  Reply

    [At any rate, I am curious to hear [what you all think about companies [from other industries designing [bikes. Any thoughts on the subject?

    Doug Bradbury and Paul Turner used their motorcycle backgrounds to good advantage. Alex Pong didn’t. I’m all for the clean-slate approach so long as some good ideas make it onto the board eventually.

  4. countersTrike December 18, 2007 at 10:33 pm -  Reply

    Huffy came up with that $12,000. ten speed look-alike in 1980, so I guess this is fair play- kind of an automotive backlash! Most amazing is the mindset people do not get older. Cars go through lumbar supports, electronic anti-lock brakes, changes of all sorts; and eventually change size or shape. Designs from a new source is excellent, but that diamond-frame/backbreacker with the customery hatchet is fairly common.

  5. bikesgonewild December 19, 2007 at 2:18 am -  Reply

    …if you follow all of james’s leads, you can get a little better look at what 20k will buy…

    …small carbon discs, eric, something an insider told me about several years ago…kinda stunned me at first but now it makes sense…uci acceptance ?, who knows when…

    …jay, i would assume that initially, they had to have hired someone that fully understood the parameters of modern racing bicycle design…paired him up w/ their electronic data person…
    …it ain’t real pretty & i wonder how that fork / frame junction will stand up in the wind tunnel…
    …counterstrike, one of the main uci considerations is having a diamond frame configuration & a bike this expensive would have to go ‘pro’…

    …i’ll guarantee you messrs turner & bradbury had a bigger influence on the field of mountain bikes than this company wil have on road bikes & that comment is in no way meant to denigrate beru f1 systems…

    …doug & paul forever changed the face of mtb’s just as mtb’s forever changed the face of cycling itself…

  6. James December 19, 2007 at 10:16 am -  Reply

    Great comments everyone. Thanks for the input so far.

    Doug Bradbury and Paul Turner are great examples. No doubt they were industry outsiders who forever altered the evolution of the bicycle. Alex Pong’s concept bike never made it anywhere, but I wouldn’t say that none of his ideas influenced others. The Magic Motorcycle cranks certainly were ahead of their time if you compare them to some of the hollow forged cranks of today.

    BGW, I’m glad you pointed out the small carbon discs. I won’t hold my breath for the UCI to allow them, but they do make some sense for road bikes as they are already in use in Formula 1 cars.

  7. Anonymous December 19, 2007 at 10:54 am -  Reply

    “BGW, I’m glad you pointed out the small carbon discs. I won’t hold my breath for the UCI to allow them, but they do make some sense for road bikes as they are already in use in Formula 1 cars.

    I’m sure there are plenty of racers who would love to have brakes that don’t heat their rims (and tire cement) up.

  8. James December 19, 2007 at 12:01 pm -  Reply

    Oh come on Anon, rolling off an overheated tubular in a fast corner isn’t so bad. It builds character, right.

  9. bikesgonewild December 19, 2007 at 6:03 pm -  Reply

    …james, one of the initial concerns about the use of carbon fiber discs & pads for braking systems in F1 was that until the braking surfaces were highly warmed up (by their own friction, of course) the calipers had little effect in actually slowing the car…laugh, laugh…
    …this goes back to the late ’70’s w/ brahbam, then owned by bernie ecclestone…

    …i don’t know how the problem was solved, whether through pad material or simply applied friction but obviously there was a solution…

  10. jorgensen December 19, 2007 at 10:42 pm -  Reply

    As for the disc brakes, designers as a group, live to break rules. So, the UCI was of no concern. I happen to like that it has a Declining top tube. The fork needs a generation or two more of development, I drew one up where the bars attach to the bike at the forkcrown region, think Scott Drop-In bars upside down, would place the flex where it could be of some use. Not a new idea by any means.

  11. bikesgonewild December 19, 2007 at 11:57 pm -  Reply

    …apropos of nothing but the F1 connection…beru f1 systems previewed the prototype bike last week at the ‘british racing drivers club’ awards luncheon & announced that mclaren f1 driver lewis hamilton would receive the first bike ‘next year’…
    …several days later, young mr hamilton was popped for driving over 120mph in france…mercedes towed away, 600 euro fine & license suspended for 6 months…
    …ah, perhaps beru could extend that offer a little sooner…

  12. Ron December 20, 2007 at 9:01 am -  Reply

    Two things I notice :

    1. Disc brakes for this road bike.

    2. Rear wheel touching, or almost close to the seat tube. What the heck is that?

    3. Looks sharp, almost like a TREK but nothing new.

    4. Waste of money. 🙂

  13. James December 20, 2007 at 12:39 pm -  Reply

    BGW, thanks for the F1 carbon disc background info. I am definitely no expert on F1. Interesting.

    Ron, it looks like the rear tire/rim nests into a pocket in the seat tube. I like some frames that have an integrated channel for the rear wheel, but I agree that in this case the detail looks a bit strange. Tolerance is an issue too. They probably expect people to use no more that a 23c tire, but you wouldn’t want a rock wedged in that channel with a carbon frame. Also, the way I like to jump railroad tracks on my road bike, I always need a little clearance for the occasional slightly out of true rear wheel. (Note to anyone reading this from Specialized: please disregard that last comment about track jumping. If my S-Works frame or fork ever breaks it will probably just be a JRA).

  14. bikesgonewild December 20, 2007 at 10:16 pm -  Reply

    …jorgensen, the problem w/ the brakes regarding the uci, is the sanctioning factor…they are very specific about component standards as i’m sure you know…

    ..your brief handlebar description sounds interesting…any bars i’ve seen being anchored at the fork crown area are usually a version of the tt bullhorn bar, based low for aerodynamics & weight…what you’re suggesting is an altogether different yet “absorbing” proposal for that very reason you mention…

    …i had to re-peruse your post to get the picture…i’m also wondering in retrospect, if you’re suggesting that you are a designer of this same beru f1 project bike ?…
    …if so, please weigh in as such…i submitted my ‘real name’ info to the beru site in the hope that i might learn more…

    …either way it’s an interesting project & i rather like that declining toptube myself…
    …please be in touch & cheers…

  15. jorgensen December 21, 2007 at 8:15 am -  Reply


    No, just a reformed designer. I do some here and there but can’t afford to do it anymore full time.

    Overall, I think this design is conservative, I wonder if the designers had seen the now over two decades old Modolo (Kronotech?) carbon styling exercise.

  16. bikesgonewild December 22, 2007 at 12:07 am -  Reply

    …jorgensen…now you’re dredging them up…1986 bottechia modolo kronotech ‘carbon everything’ design exercise…21yrs later it still looks good…
    …in 1985, battaglin actually built the carbon monocoque framed pirana (italian spelling), which you may recall had a regular rear carbon disc & a massively bulged front disc wheel whose shape corresponded to the disturbed air pocket of the crankset area…the front fork dropouts had to have been 18in (est) apart…
    …inoxopran wheeled it out for visentini’s ’85 giro d’ italia ‘cronoprolog’ to best the likes of moser & hinault…the boys in the booth took one look & said “uh uh, no way”…it is still a wild looking design & deserves an A for effort…
    …visentini reputedly picked up over three sec per kilo in testing, over his old times…that is a testament to the concept…

    …if you’re interested, i’ll mention a carbon exercise i had a hand in…

  17. Ron December 22, 2007 at 9:15 am -  Reply


    An interesting but not very impressive design. With a channeled section in the seat tube, you would imagine the rear triangle has to be made so much more stiffer lateral wise. I would be concerned about the strength of the section.

    There isn’t a better picture of that clearance but it seems like it makes the bike limited to 23c’s. or whatever fits it best.

    Third, if you’re riding in mud or grit in wet weather, I would imagine the tire could sweep off dirt into the inside channel and soon you would have another problem area to watch for while wanting your bike clean.

    As much as I like the fact that car companies can make a statement by making bicycles, I don’t feel its in their area of expertise at the moment to make something nice and and commercially viable.

  18. Anonymous December 22, 2007 at 9:27 am -  Reply

    Interesting discussion so far – As one of the designers it will be interesting to see where this topic goes.

    Perhaps I shoud explain though that this is not a styling exersise or an OTT TT bike, but a thoroughly thought-out production (albeit in limited numbers) road bike & serious training platform.

    We’ve done the maths and as intersting as the Modolo concept (yes, I’m old enough to remember!) and beam framed TT bikes were, their designs are sub-optimal for an all-round useable road machine.

    UCI rules don’t figure either because the Factor 001 is not designed for mass-start races – And I don’t like having to put up with second-rate braking performance. Oh and rest assured rear tyre clearence is not an issue.

    Kind regards.

  19. jorgensen December 22, 2007 at 4:04 pm -  Reply

    The Factor 001 would be interesting to ride, calc’s get you strong enough, but probably not tell you of the feel. one aspect of road race discs, would be wheel changes, neutral suport is problematic enough now, “sorry, no wheel for you, the disc does not line up, is the right thickness and the correct diameter”

    The reason I brought up the Modolo, which I would not wish to ride in a cross wind (lateral center, way too fat forward) is that since the bike has brakes that will not pass current UCI views, why not question a bit more?

    I remember shots of the bulge front wheel tt bike, made sense to me, problem is that I could see it would typeform others pretty quickly, probably scared the UCI guys right off. Where were the triathletes?

  20. Anonymous December 22, 2007 at 4:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jorgensen,

    The Factor 001 is not designed for UCI sanctioned mass-start races – Just as a car such as a Bugatti Veyron isn’t designed with FIA regulations in mind. So super-quick wheel changes take a back seat to having the best braking option. It is a fast road machine rather than a ‘racing’ bike.

    The frame ‘architecture’ was arrived at simply because it offers the best lateral stiffness with the least mass, not to fit with UCI regs (which it wouldn’t in any case – the press release shots don’t show very much at this stage)…


  21. James December 24, 2007 at 8:33 am -  Reply

    Jorgensen, I agree with BGW that your handlebar concept sounds quite interesting. Do you have a sketch of it that you would like to share? Also, I am glad you brought up the old Modolo Kronotech. I remember that concept well and I can’t believe that in all the time I have been doing this blog I have never posted about it. I should do a post about that bike as well as some of the other 80s concept bikes that BGW mentioned. Some of those bikes really got me interested in ID as a career while I was in high school.

    Anonymous Factor 001 designer, Thanks for joining the conversation, It is always great to hear the designer’s perspective. If you have additional pictures or info about the bike, send me a message and I’ll be happy to post more.

  22. Anonymous December 24, 2007 at 5:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi James,

    Yes – Of course we will let you all know more when we can. Whetting peoples’ appetites yet not giving away too much of the good-stuff is a mighty-fine line to walk…

    Season’s greetings to all whoever your god might be – Anonymous Neil

  23. jorgensen December 25, 2007 at 11:40 am -  Reply


    Somewhere in the flatfiles! is a sideview of what I had concepted. Taking the kids on holiday, but when I return I am pretty sure I can dredge them up.

    To the member of the bike design team- Pleaae do not misunderstand, it is fine that it is a non-UCI bike, could even help push design forward a bit, but the design does place it in a very small region of the market. Not a problem either, just how it is.

    A note on Bugatti, a good friend has a neighbor who owns one, got a slow leak puncture in the tire, had to send the whole wheel tire package back to Germany, as no one in the USA at the time had the equipment to deal with the run flat hyper speed rated tire. No repair allowed, a new tire fitted. The cost? You can do the math, tire life expectancy 3K miles per the manual, set of four, $36K! That is not a car, its a toy. I think comparing the bike to a toy is precarious

  24. bikesgonewild January 1, 2008 at 2:13 am -  Reply

    …anon neil…yes, great to have you posting on this…my question would be: why the narrow rectangular down tube when lateral stiffness is a major consideration on any bike ?…as i mentioned on the ‘quickrelease tv’ blog, much work has been done in regard to shaped tubing for what is intrinsically the single most important tube w/ the lat/torque concept in mind…
    …i’ve also considered that the down tube was tied into your data acquisition system…would that lat/torque info measurement be a reason for it’s shape ?…

    …ok, a second actual question (sorry !) would be in regard to the braking system…what kind of surface to surface interface are we looking at here ?…can’t imagine it needs to be a secret…

    …jorgensen, please remember, the “tle” of only 3k miles per set @ $36k (tires & wheels ???) allows for ‘pur sang’ smoking (turn off the traction control) of all four wheels while achieving the fastest ‘production car’ acceleration times in the world on the way to the overall fastest speed (insert incredulous snicker) …the bugatti volkswa///oops, veyron is a toy but quite an amazing one…
    ..the most wonderfully impractical bit of info i might share re: the bugatti would be this…a maclaren f1 coupe, a pretty heady car in it’s own right, could be allowed a velocity of 120mph/194kph & the veyron (from a standing start) would beat it to 200mph/322kph…such are the juxtapositional vagaries of aerodynamics, power & the egos of competing brand managers…i digress…

    …happy new year to all, here at the church of the bike…

  25. Marilyn January 17, 2008 at 12:53 am -  Reply

    Nice blog. Keep up the good work. Cheers:-)

  26. Anonymous March 12, 2009 at 10:27 am -  Reply

    When one of the “integrated proprietry” components becomes obsolete by some possibly minor technical innovation, then the bike becomes a $20K dinosaur, right?

  27. harvey August 22, 2010 at 6:04 am -  Reply

    need a £1.000.000 top-secret doesnt excist american black-projects stealth 2 ton bike lock for that one to leave out side the pub ey avalible to any one for 99p in 2110 if we still exsist .

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