Lexus time-trial bike

Lexus time-trial bike
Japanese maker develops new Eddy Merckx bike in wind tunnel.

Lexus has become the latest luxury car maker to associate itself with a high-end bicycle, teaming up with cycling legend Eddy Merckx, regarded as the most successful cyclist of all time.

The level of collaboration between top end car and bike makers is increasing. Initially, car makers lent their badges to big-budget two-wheelers, but now they are providing technical assistance.

Last year British supercar brand McLaren collaborated with US-based bike brand Specialized to develop an aerodynamic frame, the Venge.
Lexus time-trial bike
Then there were limited-edition bikes from Ferrari, Land Rover, Lamborghini,  Porsche and BMW. Even the local heroes, HSV and FPV, got in on the act with entry-level mountain bikes.

Lexus says it provided its expertise in lightweight materials and aerodynamics it learned from the exclusive LFA supercar for the Belgian bike brand’s latest model, the Eddy Merckx ETT.

The prototype time-trial bike was recently put through its paces in Lexus’ German wind tunnel facility under the guidance of engineers from both companies
Lexus time-trial bike
Unlike conventional ultra thin, elliptical-shaped tubes of regular TT bikes, the Eddy Merckx prototype features a series of large holes along the length of the downtube to allow air to pass through it, referred to as the “Venturi effect” by Merckx engineers.

“By opening up our downtube, with these so-called Venturi-slots, we are keeping the same stiffness as a closed profile, but we can reduce the aerodynamic drag significantly,” Merckx R&D engineer Dave Luyckx says.

Aerodynamics play a significant role in triathlons and time trials, with both disciplines being a race against the clock where every second counts. As such, the TT bike, with its aggressive geometry, places the rider in the most aerodynamic position - low and out of the wind - compared with conventional road bikes.
In addition to the rider’s position and equipment, every bike component is scrutinised to reduce wind resistance, including the placement of brakes, cables and water bottles, as well as the choice of wheels.

Similar to rivals, the LFA road car has a predominantly flat underbody and active rear wing for improved aerodynamic performance, and a chassis and bodywork mostly made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb says the tie-up is logical.

“We are proud that the technology used to develop Lexus’ range of luxury vehicles and LFA supercar can advance the design of something as pure as a racing bicycle,” he says.
The production version is currently not listed in the company's 2012 range so is not expected to be available for some time.

Nicknamed “The Cannibal”, Eddy Merckx won every major race on multiple occasions during his 17-year career (1961-78) and is widely regarded as the most successful cyclist of all time.

Not without doping controversies, his titles include the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia five times apiece, and all major one-day races, or “monuments”, at least twice, with 19 monument victories in all, including Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, to name a few.
His company has been building road bikes for more than 30 years.

Having lost the Quick Step sponsorship deal to Specialized, Merckx now provides bikes for the pro-continental Topsport Vlaanderen team.

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