Automobile influence on the bike industry

BMC Lambo
With air slicing design, coupled with a mechanical beauty and visually pleasing color schemes, it’s no wonder that several bike companies have used automobiles as inspiration.

Ferrari has been a muse to Colnago for several years. According to the Colnago site the first Ferrari badged Colnago was the CF-1 with a limited production run of 500. And if you need to ask how much a CF-1 retailed for, you can’t afford one. However if you gotta have one, I discovered that the Bike Exchange in Australia is selling a 60cm Ferrari for 26,000 Australian dollars ($26,915 American).

Last year we saw Mark Cavendish on a Specialized Venge, which was designed in collaboration with McLaren Technology Center – famously known for their Formula 1 cars. Specialized claims that the result is weight savings and improved stiffness over a standard Venge.

Specialized offers the McLaren in flat black kitted with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 with some assorted Zipp goodies for a retail of $18,000.

Today BMC announced an impec Lamborghini model. It looks to be the same BMC impac but detailed in a black and red color scheme. Naturally anything with Lamborghini stamped on it has to have a limited run and in this case it’s only 30 bikes.

Like the McLaren Venge, it also has Shimano’s Di2 with “exclusive high profile carbon rims.”

I mentioned on Twitter several days ago that I hadn’t seen the BMC squad racing the impec. I had heard from someone associated with the team that the robotically made frames had some issues. BMC’s media person replied to my question on Twitter saying, “the impecs were R&D tested for nearly two years. Now they’re in phase 2 and available to the public.” I’m not sure what phase 2 means, but I’m guessing/hoping that whatever problems BMC might have had with the impec were sorted out.

In VeloNews’ (now Velo) 2011 Buyer’s Guide BMC owner Andy Rihs said that the automobile industry’s mechanization of building cars is a success. He pointed out Toyota as an example of a company that made top quality cars with mechanization.

Can top quality bikes be made by this method too? There will be some bugs to work out – frames will fail due to real life circumstances – but I do see the automobile industry continuing to influence bike design (like McLAren) as well as construction. Ten years from now we could see robots, like the ones in the BMC factory, making frames day and night. Rihs expects to see a return on his investment in the “next three to five years.” Who said Cylons didn’t exist…

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