McLaren take F1 technology into cycle racing
Innovation
McLaren take F1 technology into cycle racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Mar 2011   |  12:04 pm GMT  |  90 comments

As a keen recreational cyclist, I love the story of McLaren working with British cycling champion Mark Cavendish and the Specialized cycle brand to produce a killer road bike on which he can compete this season in the great cycling classic events. It had a winning debut with Cavendish’s team mate Matthew Goss this weekend.


Road bikes are all about being light and stiff at the same time. The S Works McLaren Venge, as it is called, is made using state of the art carbon fibre layering techniques and the frame weighs just 930 grammes!

Cavendish who has been 15 times a stage winner on the Tour de France in the last couple of years, rode the bike for the first time yesterday in the Milan-San Remo classic. It wasn’t an auspicious start for Cavendish as a puncture split him off from the lead group and so he wasn’t in the sprint at the finish, his speciality.

There is a precedent; Lotus developed a bike which Chris Boardman used to win a gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

McLaren Applied Technologies is doing some quite interesting stuff with athletes in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics, working with UK Sport on a wireless system for storing data and telemetry information for athletes in cycling, rowing and sailing. If British athletes hopefully pick up some gold medals next year, McLaren will be an important part of the story.

Cosworth is very active in this area as well, applying F1 data gathering technology to help sports people from many areas.

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  1. martin says:

    That is an amazing bike. Besides the aero features I love the subtle paint scheme with the bright colour hidden on the insides of the fork and rear stays.

    I’m pretty sure Cavendish’s team mate Matt Goss who won Milan San Remo was on the same bike too.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      The bike might be great but one thing is sure in cycling the best in sprinting or in climbing are always the best no matter what’s the brand of their bike.

      That has always been the case and will always be and it’s stupid to think that this bike will make him better.

      In cycling, it’s your physical fitness, your brains and the drugs. Everything else is pure PR something McLaren is multiple world champion at.

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        930 grams! What is the crankset made off? That and the rest of the transmission should be close to a kilo let alone the whole bike weighing less than a kg! How much does it cost?

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        sorry got the clarification – the whole bike weighs in at just over 2kgs

      3. James Allen says:

        I hear it has some kind of electrics in the gearchange too.

      4. Fletch says:

        Its only the frame that is 930g. The whole bike as ridden in a race has to meet the UCI (the FIA of cycling) specified minimum weight which is 6.8kg. Still very light but every bike in a pro race will be a very similar weight.

        Just like F1 really. Some bikes even have ballast added to hit the weight.

        The transmission is Shimano Dura Ace D2i. Rather than cables the gear changes are actuated by electric motors. Its quite flash but nothing special. The pros had it all last year and its available to the public as well.

      5. Pinball says:

        Yeah the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset is available to the public if you have a spare $4000 US. For me I’ll stick with my Aluminum Alloy frame and 105 group set. There a lot of things I can improve with my fitness and technique before a better bike will help.

      6. Mario says:

        The frame weights at 930g, the whole bike must be a lot heavier as Fletch explained above.

        Mind you I have got a classic-ish Allan road bike from circa 1990 and it’s duraluminium frame weights at 1030g and whole bike at 7.3Kgs. So 20 years on and there isn’t that much difference in weight. I suspect if it wasn’t for regulations they would have been able to produce much lighter bikes if they wanted to.

      7. Jack says:

        Jo something makes me think you aren’t a fan of McLaren which kinda makes your view ever so slightly tainted.

      8. Jo Torrent says:

        I am and I want to add something : Bikes are limited in their minimum weight in cycling in order to make it not too expensive to afford the lightest ones so there’s nothing to gain from carbon fiber. Besides it’s less comfortable than steel or titan frames.

      9. Mark V says:

        If a bad bike can make someone worse, then a good bike can make someone better. If that wasn’t true then the pros would all still be riding heavy single gear bikes.

      10. Jeff says:

        Apparently this bike is supposed to save 23watts at 43 kmh, thats one heck of a saving if you are on the thing for 7 hours. The detail on the bike is beautiful.

      11. Joe T says:

        To correct an earlier comment, equipment has always improved athletes performances and times when competing. Brains and strength are involved, but without developments in sport we would still be in the 1950′s. This bike is the next stage in development

  2. Jeff says:

    Cavendish didn’t win but the bike did. In the hands of young aussie superstar Matthew Goss, who has won 8 races this year now. He is a team mate of Cavendish.

    The bike is supplied to HTC via their relationship with Specialized, its a joint partnership with Mclaren.

  3. Ed Moses says:

    Cav may not have won yesterday, but his team mate Matt Gos won the race on this frame. Not too bad a start.

  4. Zimm Zamm says:

    … well I hope it helps him, because so far his season hasn’t been that flash. HTC-Highroad may be better putting their eggs in the Goss basket, the way Cav’s form has been in comparison this year. Though, my suspicion is that Cav will be rid of Goss next year, like he was rid of Gripel this year – keeping Renshaw however as his wheel man. Go Australia!
    Seriously though, there are a lot of variables in cycling and, whilst I may be proved wrong, I think it’s a bit of a gimic.
    Bloody hell, I can’t believe I’ve discussed cycling on your F1 Forum James. If ever you’re in Adelaide we’ll go over some of the TdU routes. You’ll love it!

  5. jonrob says:

    “There is a precedent; ” Thanks for confirming my twitter comment James, (my memory sometimes works.)
    “McLaren Applied Technologies is doing some quite interesting stuff with athletes in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics,”

    When my daughter was doing her fine art degree at Chichester there were a lot of “Sports Science” undergrads there (bloody noisy lot too) One wonders if this is the modern culmination of that stream of research; or a completely different approach, though in my mind one cannot work without the other. The “skin” technology now used in championship swimmers’ cozzies is something I have long thought would be brought into F1.
    (Again something from my youth first seen on “Tomorrow’s World”)

  6. craigdaly77 says:

    Maybe if I become a mclaren fan they’ll give me one!! Nah… Don’t need one that badly!!

    1. craigdaly77 says:

      But seriously… It’s bloody awesome looking!!

  7. JJ MUPPET says:

    I am very envious of that bike and may genuinely enquire about a purchase, IF (F1 BACKWARDS) the price is even possible. Some Legend Builds like the Lemond special issues were a fortune back in the day. I have mentioned on this site I have other hobbies, well cycling is one of them and watching the Tour come in only a train ride through the Tunnel is one day I really look forward to. I am about to build a very rare Dave Lloyd from brand new, everything from 1996 and still boxed at this time. The artwork he called welding is gorgeous. Lots of carbon & TI. The time when road bikes were just taking on MTB technology and vice – versa I suppose. Good times.

    I suppose this would be the only Mclaren I could ever hope to own?

    Come on James I do 100 mile a week, can you beat that? It should not be too hard :<)

    1. IanSmithISA says:

      Good afternoon

      According to http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/specialized-mclaren-venge-aero-road-bike-launched-29642/ the frame alone is £5,000, yup five thousand.

      Bye

      Ian

      1. Phil Bishop says:

        I’m surprised it is that cheap
        some aero tri frames are more than that

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        no gold no diamond embedded

      3. CH1UNDA says:

        wow!

      4. JJ MUPPET says:

        I am also surprised that the frame is out so soon, that is not cheap but I did not expect it to be. Do you know about the components I assumed they were mostly made by Mclaren aswell to get the bike that light?

      5. IanSmithISA says:

        Good afternoon,

        No, the components are mostly standard top of the range from either Shimano or Campagnolo.

        Campagnolo probably know more about making light parts for a bike than Mclaren, as even the top sprinters can only just get close to 2 Horse Power for a few seconds, rather than the 750 plus that Mclaren people are used to.

        Professional road racing is governed by the UCI (triathlon is not) which has set a minimum bike weight of 6.8KG. All the main road bike makers can easily make a bike lighter than this.

        Have a look at http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/pp/road-track-bike/Road-Bike-Frames/FRAR to see the weight of cheap off the page frames, they have a CF frame of 1050g for less than £400 and an aluminium frame of the same weight for less than £300.

        Wind resistance and frame flex, not weight is where all the marketing and development resources are concentrated nowadays.

        Mclaren can probably add to a bike maker’s knowledge on carbon fiber layup for better strenght, and they probably have a wind tunnel that the RRA has forced to be idle.

        Bye

        Ian

  8. Edward Valentine says:

    It just goes to show how much spin off there is within the technology industry and in particular Formula 1. People say that F1 isn’t road relevant but that clearly is not the case as many innovations etc trickle down into different areas of driving, sports and consumer electronics.

    1. It sure helps that F1 and cycling have quite a bit in common, Edward.

      - The need for strong, stiff but extremely light materials
      - Aerodynamic efficiency
      - Maximum efficiency transferring power onto the road.

      1. Edward Valentine says:

        Well indeed Filip and the design aspect is also linked in. The points you have mentioned have plenty of application in the world around us.
        But if we look at F1 as a whole we’ll see that things like on board cameras (if I’m not mistaken were pioneered by Bernie and his organizations) anti lock brake mechanisms to name but a few have found important applications in the world outside F1 and not just in sport either.

        It’s such a shame that attemps at innovation like the “F duct” and double diffuser get blocked so quickly.

  9. McLaren have problems building fast cars so they turn to making fast bicycles…much simpler to make ;)

    Hahaha I’m only kidding

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Ron is really missing F1… But we don’t miss him.

      1. Nah, it was always funny looking at his face when Ferrari took another championship

      2. Jeff says:

        I do. I hope he has a continued presence in the paddock this year, if only to annoy Max

      3. Gold Leaf says:

        What is with “we” … have you now taken it upon yourself to speak for the rest of the commenters. A little presumptuous, no?

        Perhaps other commenters would prefer to carry themselves with a little more decorum, exercise a little more respect for the storied accomplishments of others, perhaps prefer not to be associated with such rude and boorish empty-barrelled behaviors.

        I guess what I am saying, men like Ron Dennis achieve and do, while others noisily mash at keyboards on comment threads … there is a very clear and distinct difference between the two, never allow yourself to be confused that one is somehow in any way equivalent to the other.

      4. Phil Bishop says:

        nicely put

      5. iceman says:

        I think you’re forgetting his important contribution to the fan experience last year, namely cutting Eddie Jordan’s microphone cable :)

  10. Parc Fermé says:

    But Cavendish’ teammate Matthew Goss also had this bike yesterday and won Milan – San Remo. OK, so he’s not British but Australian but worth to mention.

    1. devilsadvocate says:

      Thats alright, Mark Webber is an Aussie and most of the Brits piled on his bandwagon when Lewis wasn’t winning… well at least until he punted Lewis in Singapore, then he became a dirty colonist again

  11. Henry says:

    I think it should be added that although Cavendish didn’t win his team mate Matthew Goss did. So, it was far from a fruitless debut for the Venge.

  12. Jack says:

    McLaren may be involved but it’s still a bike, so doubt it’ll spend most of its time going the wrong way down one way streets and jumping red lights

    1. Davexxx says:

      Its weight will increase a bit when they bolt on the KERS too…

  13. Tim. says:

    Wonder why they called it S Works that name has been used for years by Specialized….hum seems a bit like Ferrari calling it the F150…and Ford being unhappy.

    1. James Allen says:

      It is a Specialized bike.

      1. Tim. says:

        OK…that is good…would hate to see more naming rights issues.

  14. Stefanos says:

    Hopefully it won’t get confused with the low-budget prams with the same name :)

  15. Joakim says:

    Completely the wrong place to post this, but I just started wonder, is it allowed to service both cars at once with two pit crews during a race? I’m guessing no since we havn’t seen it before, but still, is it?

    1. Ask Hamilton and Alonso, they should have the answer for you…

      (no – there’s only space for one car in each team’s pit box)

  16. Harvey Yates says:

    I’m a big McLaren fan and have been since the middle 80s. Even so I have to say that that is one ugly creation.

    I’ve had bicycles all my life but am now down to just three, a couple of mountain bikes, or rather hill bikes now due to my knees, and a B.A.R. Bates from around 1950 with Diadrant front forks.

    Now that is beautiful.

    If they could make fast bikes that look stunning 60 or more years ago then McLaren still have some work to do.

    Aesthetics matter.

    Would you like a photo, James? It is pure cycling porn.

    1. Phil Bishop says:

      I would love a photo, please post a link

      1. Harvey Yates says:

        Thanks for asking.

        There is something so elegant about a classic bicycle.

        It is the cheapest of my bikes, costing probably less than an eigth of either of my off-road bikes, but the thrill of riding it is tremendous.

        I opted for generic brakes as the originals were great except when you wanted to stop.

        Don’t believe anything you read about Diadrant forks giving a cushioned ride. They look cool though.

        http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj83/NZOZ/BatesBAR.jpg

        And an additional picture on my list of another vehicle:

        http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj83/NZOZ/NOGODcopy.jpg

      2. Phil Bishop says:

        thanks for pic Harvey and this made me laugh

        I opted for generic brakes as the originals were great except when you wanted to stop.

        bike looks cool and colour suits it nicely. you just need to all a little orange as a Gulf homage

        I’ve not ridden anything as old as your bike but a friend of mine is a huge advocate of steel frames and has been on at me for some time to restore and old frame. Not sure I have time or inclination so may get something like this instead
        http://www.cooperbikes.com/T200-steelracingbike.html

  17. devilsadvocate says:

    James, my other comment was a little off topic so I wanted to make sure this one didnt get taken off with it. You say this was an S-works (specialized) joint venture with mclaren, so my question is what exactly did Mclaren contribute to the party is it just name and paint? o did they let s-works use their autoclave?, or did they get their hands a little more dirty in the designing the venge? If so would this be the only vehicle to bear the MP2 designation?

    1. Andy C says:

      The MP4 designation is due to the tie up between McLaren and Rons Project 4 operation.

      You’ve have to assume they did some aero and carbon work on the bike.

      1. unoc vII says:

        Indeed.

        MP4 used to stand for Marlboro Project 4 but as Marlboro left it became McLaren Project 4.

        The P4 is from when Dennis joined McLaren and merged his small inadequate racing team with what was then a very small McLaren.

  18. CJM says:

    Want one.

    But then I wanted the Jordan push-iron too and didn’t get one…

  19. Adam Taylor says:

    Also as a keen cyclist I love this story, if the bike goes as fast as it looks it will every race. Id love to get my hands on this but feel this may be slightly out of my price range.

  20. Charlie says:

    Beautiful looking bike, but it will be very interesting to know the details of what McLaren’s full involvement is with this project (Design? Materials? Aero? Construction? Marketing?).

    Although i don’t know the deatil’s of this frame, 930 grammes is nothing to shout about these days, as there is a variety of mass-produced XC mountain bike frames that are in that ball park (Cannondale Flash Ultimate -950g, Scott Scale 899 -899g, Merida O.NINE – 900g) and these off-road frames have to be able to withstand a lot more stresses, forces and abuse then any roadie frame.

    1. Phil Bishop says:

      the bike radar link posted earlier by Ian goes into this a bit more, check it out. The power savings are huge…

      Quote

      Claimed weight for the Venge frame is 950g, with the complete module (frame, fork, seatpost, crankset) tipping the scales at 2.07kg for the McLaren and 2.18kg for the S-Works. But of course, the focus with these bikes wasn’t just on cutting weight.

      Specialized have conducted track testing with the Venge against their current top-line race bike, the Tarmac SL3. Claimed watts saved by the Venge range from 3W at 20km/h to a whopping 23W at 45km/h, and presumably a lot more than this at Mark Cavendish’s sprint speed of around 70km/h. Giving a professional rider that sort of advantage is incredible and should be apparent from very early on in the season.

      End Quote

      now I wonder if they’ll be designing a rack for the back of the MP4-12C?

  21. Rich C says:

    SO will there be a tiny little Cosworth hidden away in there someplace?

  22. Game says:

    Better late than never. Fernando Alonso fan’s! watch new tribute video of your hero @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NItahaKkYuc

  23. M__E says:

    Ha! Im a big recreational cyclist myself and was watching La Primavera yesterday too, one of the best ones for years, never heard anything about mclaren being involved in cav’s bike though..interesting side note, so mclaren makes specialized’s carbon bikes, or just this one?

  24. jmv says:

    Interesting, but is presented here as a McLaren bike.. but is a Specialized + McLaren product.

    S-Works is a brand owned by Specialized (for some years now)

    1. Andy C says:

      Its presented as an S-Works McLaren Venge.

      So specialized is the brand, and McLaren is the collaborator ;-)

      Bit like Renault – Lotus

  25. bk says:

    mclaren should imo concentrate first on tthe F1 business.they are over extending now.is it any wonder the 12c and these other ventures have come at a time they are struggling to match the drinks maker.RBR.?F1 first dominate there before yelling about these ancilliary businesses.

    1. Nando says:

      They need to diversify. They can be never be left in the position again where they’re forced to accept such a large fine.
      Besides with all the cost-cutting measures there is only a finite amount of man-power they can quota for F1.

  26. Andy Carr says:

    James do projects like this act as a minor distraction for the F1 Team, or are they completely unrelated in reality?

    1. James Allen says:

      McLaren has a separate division called Applied Technologies which is all about finding new markets for the technology they develop in F1. Helps keep the cash rolling in and useful diversification. Cosworth are busy doing the same and to a lesser extent Williams

      1. Kishan says:

        Believe Williams are working on a road going version of KERS for porsche. Think it was due to the fact the last time round Williams were the only team to use a mechanical KERS system. it has been 2 years and I still don’t know what they had!!!

  27. jonrob says:

    My first push bike had a cast iron frame and no gears. On reaching school about 2 miles from home I had to get it down ten steps to the playground level and the bike shed, this was ok going down but carrying the thing up was a struggle since I was a 4 stone weakling with chilblains and hayfever. Don’t know they’re born nowadays. Baah!

    Was this for proper cycling, or for going round in circles on a banked wooden track indoors 2mm behind a weird motorbike

    1. Simon Haynes says:

      I had a Raleigh Chopper, and we stayed at a friends flat for a couple of weeks once – on the third floor. I was only 12 and I had to push that thing up 3 flights of stairs after every use. Once day, coming down, it slipped out of my hands on the last set of stairs and bumped all the way down to crash right into the middle of the neighbours door. Wouldn’t have been so bad, except my brother had cleaned his bike on the balcony the previous day and tossed the bucket of filthy water over the side – right onto the same neighbour’s washing. And, silly me, I was the first to look over the edge to see what all the shouting was about.

      1. James Allen says:

        Choppers were heavy too, I remember

      2. Phil Bishop says:

        Chopper’s were ace. I loved mine. I understand that they are now pretty expensive collector’s items. They remade them a few year’s but H&S regulations made them remove the gear shift from the cross bar. pfft!

    2. Nando says:

      It’s a road bike. Cavendish is a sprinter though so he’ll usually be travelling about 2mm behind his team-mates until he pops out to sprint the last 250m of a 200km stage.

      1. unoc vII says:

        I believe you mean he’ll stay behind until the last 250metres before activating his DRS and KERS…. please

  28. Rich C says:

    If they really want high-tech carbon fiber ppl maybe they should partner with Red Bull. They seem to have the layered/bendy technology down pat!

  29. Andy C says:

    James,

    I look forward to reading McLaren produce fastest and race winning F1 car. But I fear it may be some time ;-)

    Joking, both the Mp4-12c and the bike are made from separately financed parts of the group. Automotive and applied tech respectively.

    Lots of agitating and press on Lewis at the moment. Does his contract run out at the end of this season? Or next.

    1. unoc vII says:

      I wonder if it will be like Ferrari.

      Ferrari don’t make great F1 cars while making great road cars.

      So I wonder if McLaren will be similiar…. i.e. We wont see a good McLaren F1 car this year as they made a good bicylce instead.

      Another thought, they said they may make an engine in 2013. How about combining the two, and making a moped?

      Carbon Fibre Bicycle with 600bhp engine!

  30. James Draper says:

    I have some great ideas!!! I think that for London 2012 there should be a sprinkler system installed, KERS systems allowed on the bikes, a safety cycler in the event of a crash and mandatory tyre changes with the use of multiple compounds both mountain bike and race types.

    Nice bike any evidence of an F-Duct?

  31. I wonder whether Button will be using one of these for his triathlons from now on…

    1. Phil Bishop says:

      wrong geometry for a tri-bike but would suspect they’ll go there next…

  32. Matt says:

    The level of interest in pro cycling generally, that this post has generated. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me… the parallels of characters, technology, strategy ,politics and scandal exist across both F1 and Pro Cycling.
    However,I have always struggled to find a Pro Cycling equivalent( focused, expert and connected)of the jamesallen on F1 blog. Any recommendations out there.

    1. James Allen says:

      Nice description, I like that!

    2. Jeff says:

      Cyclingnews.com is very good, more in the autosport mode then James site. For me, twitter is the home of my cycling passion, far better than twitter is for F1. Lots of interesting people, many riders tweet regularly.

    3. Cameron Isles says:

      Johnny Wilcockson = Alan Henry.

      Phil Liggert = Murray or James.

      Paul Sherwen = Martin.

      Lance Armstrong = Schumacher. (7 titles + late comebacks)

      Bjarne Riis = Ron Dennis.

      Alp d’Huez = Spa ;-)

  33. unoc vII says:

    “to produce a killer road bike”

    That was a bit of a poor choice of words… or maybe I’m just a bit too dark today… anyway off to the political correctness facility for one of us

    I do a bit biking, but it’s all mountain bikes and being the commited person that I am I bought a bike a while ago and just ride it in new places rather than scouring the internet for a new one.

    So, does anyone know if this thing alredy exists?

    Seems logical that an F1 team with all their carbon fibre integrity should go into making it for other sectors of the market. Surely canoing at the like could use atleast a carbon fibre structure to reduce weight and hence help boyancy.

  34. Pinball says:

    Does Jenson have one yet? He rides Specialized S-Works bikes.

    1. Tim. says:

      His TT bike is very different…it must be part of the Mclaren deal-

  35. Silverstone79 says:

    I’m sure the reason they didn’t put any pedals on it are purely aerodynamic !

  36. Van says:

    Nice piece of kit. Now, if only they could make a decent F1 car too…

  37. pking008 says:

    So what checks and balances are there in case the DRS fail to work for a particular driver if the race control activated it?

    hmmk…….

    gives you cause for thought doesnt it?

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