Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pro Bike Pron: Lothar Thom's Cinelli Laser

With all the cyclingnews Giro TT bike coverage, such as Wiggins's PinarelloMillar's Felt & Pinotti's Scott, I thought I'd do an alternative post on one of the most beautiful TT bikes ever dreamed up- the Cinelli Laser. This was built in 1984, yes, 1984 for East German track sprinter Lothar Thoms, who must have been a pretty big guy looking at this frame. 

The stand out features of this frame are the integrated headset, top tube and stem in-line with the top tube, which is very much an in vogue thing to do in 2010 for TT bikes, such as Pinotti's Scott. Also, de-rigeur is the solid outer chainring and the smoothed off tube junctions. The difference is this frame was all done in steel rather than carbon fibre and the integrated headset was done with a quill stem because Aheadsets hadn't been invented! Check out the below section through the head tube, courtesy of Gilco Design.

So, what I don't get is if they had all these aero features figured out in 1984, why the hell does the bike have bullhorn bars? Oh yes, that's because no one had invented tri bars yet!!! It'd be very interesting to see how this bike stacked up in a wind tunnel against the modern day wonders, and I suspect it'd do quite well with the right set of handlebars. But when one considers that 75% of rider drag is position orientated (according to this study) I'll bet the bullhorn bar choice would negate all these minor gains from smooth tubing shapes etc. making for an aero bike that was a bit like designing the fastest Ducatti the world has ever seen then putting some chopper handlebars on as your finishing touch. Evidently a bike far far ahead of it's time, and a really interesting anomaly when one considers how unadvanced rider positioning was back then. But these anomalies are what makes things interesting from a historical perspective. What is evidently timeless is the beauty of the details and the sheer craftsmanship involved. Italian bike design at it's best. Key images and info sourced from: