Britannia Internet Magazine

February 11, 2000brittbike

The Ultimate Bicycle
by Liz Clark
Photography: Alan Chandler

Cyclist Bruce Bursford, who has broken the World Speed Record, is seen here putting the aerodynamic Ultimate bicycle through its paces.

The result of four years of research and development, Ultimate is made from pre-pregnated carbon weave,a highly advanced material used in military and civil aircraft, Formula One (F1) cars, high-performance boats and sports goods. Although the machine weighs only 4.9 kg, it is much stronger than a conventional steel-tube model.

To achieve the desired aerodynamic effect, the design of the Ultimate bicycle was approached by using the same software as for a jet fighter and the technology and materials used to make it were originally developed for military purposes.

The Ultimate is made by a process of “cooking” under pressure in an autoclave (a type of oven) and the metal components, such as wheel axles and gear teeth, are machined from titanium and aircraft quality aluminium.

The bicycle’s ceramic bearings give 30% less friction than conventional bearings and its silk and kevlar tyres weigh only 85 grammes to ensure less rolling resistance.

The idea for a bicycle to be made using the advanced materials and techniques usually found in the worlds of aerospace and FI came from Bruce Bursford himself. He has achieved a speed of 334.6 km/h on the Ultimate, breaking a previous record by a margin of 88 km/h.

Companies that have become involved in the project have included: Brookhouse Paxford, makers of Formula 1 cars and also active in aerospace; Lola, makers of Indie cars; Jet Blades, which makes turbine blades for Rolls-Royce; and Cytec Aerospace which supplies carbon weave to aero-space, Fl and Indie teams and to Richard Noble’s supersonic vehicle for challenging the world land-speed record.


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