Lewis Hamilton's �20k Anglian bicycle

THE Tour de France may be over for another year, but an East Anglian town's connection with professional bike racing is just beginning - with the development of a �20,000 bike.

THE Tour de France may be over for another year, but an East Anglian town's connection with professional bike racing is just beginning - with the development of a �20,000 bike.

Inside a small, unassuming workshop in Diss, dozens of engineers are putting the finishing touches to the most advanced bicycle in the world.

The Factor 001 will borrow electronics technology from Formula 1 cars to give riders the edge, but at a cool �20,000, it does not come cheap.

One of the first people to receive the bike will be someone more accustomed to four wheels than two - Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton.


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John Bailey, managing director of BERU F1 Systems, a company which until now has focused on automotive engineering, said: “We gave him a prototype and one of the first production bikes will be his.”

He added: “We're working with some professional teams at the moment, but I can't say who they are.

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“It's quite a complex process; it's totally made to order. You won't be able to go to a bike shop to get measured. Each frame is individually made.”

Almost every single component has been developed by the company and it completely breaks the mould for bike design.

The frame is made from super-fine layers of carbon fibre, glued together and baked at 350C to make it hard and strong.

The handlebars, wheels and seat are all made the same way in the company's spotless clean room, with an enormous oven.

More than 40 electronic sensors hidden in the frame will measure everything the bike and rider does, giving valuable training data via a built-in touchscreen computer.

“It's totally a training tool. It's for optimising your pedalling technique more than anything else,” said Mr Bailey, adding that famous professional cyclists will travel from around Europe to Diss to be measured for the custom-made bike.

Even the gears have had the Formula 1 treatment. There are no cables or levers, like on a normal bike. Instead the chain is moved by two lightweight motors controlled by switches placed on the handlebar.

There is no clunking or clicking when you change gear on this bicycle, just a robotic whirr.

But because of all this complicated technology, producing each one will require an enormous amount of work.

Even with the large team working at the Diss factory, the company will be able to produce just one per week once it goes into production in November.

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