McLaren take F1 technology into cycle racing
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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So what checks and balances are there in case the DRS fail to work for a particular driver if the race control activated it?


gives you cause for thought doesnt it?


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


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


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


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


“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.


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.


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 😉

9 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.


Nice description, I like that!


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


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


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?



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.


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!


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!


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


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.


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


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.


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!


Choppers were heavy too, I remember


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


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


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!!!


mclaren should imo concentrate first on tthe F1 business.they are over extending 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.


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.


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)


Its presented as an S-Works McLaren Venge.

So specialized is the brand, and McLaren is the collaborator 😉

Bit like Renault – Lotus


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?


Better late than never. Fernando Alonso fan’s! watch new tribute video of your hero @


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


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.


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


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?


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.


Want one.

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


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?


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.



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.


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.


I would love a photo, please post a link


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.

And an additional picture on my list of another vehicle:


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


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?


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)


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


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.


It is a Specialized bike.


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

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