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Lentus’ Success with the Cervélo Bike Frame Project

  • Tuesday, 4th October 2016
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

In June 2015, Lentus Composites was awarded the project to work with leading bike manufacturers Cervélo, to design and manufacture competition bike frames.

According to Cervélo, it makes aerodynamic bikes and it is known as the manufacturer of ‘the world’s fastest bikes’.

The challenge given to Lentus was to take the low drag aerodynamic shape developed by Cervélo and match or exceed the performance standard of the ultra-stiff, ultra-light UKSI bike within the tight packaging constraints and reduced cross sections of the highly aerodynamic geometry. The target was to make a bike that was stiffer, lighter and more aerodynamic than anything on the market today whilst exceeding previous strength and longevity tests – ‘the world’s fastest bike’.  Project kick-off was 13 months before the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics in August 2016.

Lentus says it employed its wide ranging expertise in material selection, laminate design, test and development, tooling design and manufacture and component finishing to deliver a successful outcome. It explains further that the structure of the bike was designed in the virtual environment using specialist software, allowing over 50 variants and iterations to be simulated before committing to the final laminate designs for test. Lentus’ vertically integrated manufacturing capability allowed for all of the tooling and test rigs to be designed and manufactured in parallel with the design of the frames to deliver a fully concurrent engineering process and deliver the project in industry beating time scales.

The initial prototype frames were tested at Lentus and Cervélo prior to being tested on track by the athletes. They say that feedback from the athletes was quickly incorporated into the engineering process to iterate the frames to meet the requirements of each of the athletes and each of the track disciplines. From this process the development of the frames split into two streams, one to further develop the endurance frame and the other for the sprint frame. They say that the result being a stiffer and lighter sprint frame with new geometry that provided a significant performance gain in short races and a lighter, stiffer endurance frame optimised for aerodynamic performance in long distance races. Further customisation was enabled through the design and manufacture of athlete specific handle bar components using a combination of composites parts and metal additive layer manufactured components. This collaborative and iterative process ensured that the athletes were delighted with their new bikes.

To further optimise the performance of the bikes, Lentus says it designed and manufactured a suite of other weight saving composite, polymer and metallic components which were used throughout the bike.

All of the above components were delivered in time for, and used at, the Rio Olympics.

Simon Odling, Managing Director said, “I am so proud of the team at Lentus for their sheer hard work on this challenging project. We not only helped Cervélo with the design and manufacture but also the testing and delivery to tight deadlines. This was an exciting project for all involved and we look forward to continuing our work with Cervélo in the future.”

Sean McDermott, Cervélo Engineering Director, said, “We have been very impressed by Lentus Composites’ technical capabilities. Cervélo appreciates the team’s commitment and hard work in helping us meet the tight deadlines for the Rio Olympics, and we look forward to future collaboration.”


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