Chuck, this is the kind of bike that hard core cyclists would love. The price is not that high, frankly. Considering the amount of innovation and materials it is actually reasonable. A high end bike from Trek can cost over $5K. I do like the electronic shifter. I wonder if it is self adjusting. I guess that if you are spending $10K on a bike you don't have to worry about that.
I'm not a bicycling expert, Louis, so I'm not knowledgeable about the normal prices of racing bikes. But I've heard that a 7 kg bike will often cost more than $8,000. This one, with the electronic derailleur, is $10,000. Unfortunately, Lexus only allows it to be purchased in Japan, and they've only been selling it to dealers. Dealers have to travel to Japan to make the purchase.
@a.saji - If you consider the quality of components, the type of material used and then compare with other similar bikes manufactured you'll realize the price is quite reasonable. Then there's the Lexus name attached with it. That alone is worth a lot.
Charles, Great article. Juat have one question regarding the battery for the electronic controller: how long does it last? Is there a manual override when the battery is low? Also, just thinking out loud, pedaling the bike could be a way of powering the electronics using energy harvesting technology.
I think the bike itself is a marvel. Weighing at just 7 kg, the carbon fiber frame ensures the bike weighs minimal while keeping maximum strength and long life. What I don't understand, however, is the production policy at Lexus. Why make something like this available in Japan only?
far911, I think the answer to your availability question is that this is purely a market positioning ploy. Offering 100 of something in Japan or worldwide is practically not offering it at all, but the awareness is worldwide (such as in this blog), so mission accomplished. It's frankly a bit of a stretch for Lexus to tout this as a symbol of their manufactruing prowess, as they have very little to do with the actual components. I also imagine this is more impressive to car buyers; I actually both ride a bike and own a Lexus, but I can't imagine buying a Lexus bike. You would probably be laughed out of the peloton as having more money than brains. What next - Gucci bike shoes? :)
@Zippy - That could surely be the reason. In this case, do you think enthusiasts or Lexus owners such as yourself would refrain from buying enthusiast stuff such as this? If not, why? Some take enthusiastic machines like these for granted, so why not this?
far911 - "the battery should rely on charging from pedaling".
Did I miss something in high school physics? If I'm going to be pedaling, it would be more efficient to transfer the energy directly to the wheels rather than through the inefficencies of charging, storing, and converting.
The battery only supplies power to the shifting servos.
Cyclists going for speed don't want to carry the extra weight of a charging system on the bike, nor the extra load of powering the charger while they ride. Charging systems with front hub dynamos are a vast improvement over the little bottle dynamos that used to turn against the the wheel on my English 3-speed, but they still impose a weight and power penalty, and have limited power output. I choose to use Li-ion powered LED rechargeable lights for my commuting. Light weight, lower cost, and lower performance penalties. I don't have Di2 (Shimano electronic shifting), but I understand why one wouldn't use an on-bike charger to maintain it.
@Battar - I'm no genius on the subject either but the mechanical energy from pedaling is supposed to power the electronic shifting by giving electrical energy. If I mentioned something else by mistake, excuse me.
@far911 I speak as a cyclist for this one. You would never use use the converted mechanical enery to power the electronic shifters. That would take away from the power that goes into moving the vehicle. We, as cyclists, use every watt to move us forward, so we'd never waste it when we could use batteries to power our: GPS/computer, shifters, powermeter, lights(although lights aren't typical during racing). The Di2 shifting system in the Shimano Dura-Ace is a couple of years old now. They recently released it in their Ultegra model. Competitors: SRAM and Campagnolo have released electronic shifting as well. They all use a battery pack. If there was a way to convert and use the power reliably without it causing the bike to slow down, they would do it.
Let's see... Lexus' intent with this is to demonstrate "the company's knowledge of carbon fiber construction and advanced electronics." But "the bike doesn't take advantage of the LFA Works' carbon fiber loom, laser cutting, or autoclave equipment," and "Shimano Inc., a manufacturer of cycling components, provided the electronic control." I would expect that Shimano would supply it Di2, but that tells me little about Lexus beyong their ability to choose a good supplier. And if no Lexus CF technology (loom, laser cutting, autoclave) was used in the manufacture of the bike, what can the bike possibly tell me about Lexus' capabilities in these areas. Lexus is not the first automaker to brand a bike, but the story about the bike doesn't support the stated reason for the bike.
Lexus only finishes and paints the carbon frames, according to the slide. this is what i would have expected anyway. it is likely an open-mold frame, in which the actual bike manufacturer in Taiwan or mainland China owns the molds and can make other identical bikes having different brand names. lexus also does not make the rims, cranks, shifting system, anything. all is off-the-shelf.
the 9070 Di2 batttery is not under the stem, and is not the size of a 9v battery. that little box is a wire junction. the battery is likely inside the frame, often held in the seatpost, although it can be charged through the front junction.
this could have been any of a number of bikes that have been on the market for a little while and may even be in stock at your local dealer right now.
Though your point is well taken, the owners of these bikes live in prestine gated communities or will ride around with security details. I cannot imagine an average Japanese person paying this kind of money for a bike?
@tiorbinist - You're right. When you're on something like this, you're bound to get attention. This is limited edition stuff and most people won't buy this for riding a bike. It'll serve as a collector's edition in their arsenal.
Chuck, Very interesting slideshow. It's curious that Lexus would make this kind of investment in developing a bicycle. The weight is impressive but the gear shifting mechanism would be great to test ride.
The weight is not that impressive. It's a the minimum legal for UCI sanctioned events. Lighter weight is possible, without the electronic shifters and carbon fiber frame. But for the racing market, there's not much incentive to go below the "legal limit." I've seen one very pretty steel-framed bike (carbon fiber wheels) that probably weighed about 14lbs. It was for an adult male, but I wouldn't have put a 240 lb adult maile on it, nor would I have taken it on some of the roads around here. But it was very, very nice. And it was expensive, but probably a good bit less than $10K.
My own sturdy, steel-framed touring bike might, on an extreme strip-down diet, get down to 25 lb. But then I'm not racing, and I'm not riding rides with 9000 ft of climbing in a day.
Al, it's just as curious that Lexus is making movies and geting involved in art galleries. The movies aren't about cars. They're actual movies, shown as the Cannes Film Festival. There's a lot I don't understand about automotive marketing.
New features show up at the Dura-Ace level of Shimano's road set and then trickle down over the years to the lower tiers of their product line. 2012 was the first year that Di2 was available in the Ultegra line.
This is really nice demonstration racing bike alternative, but as others have stated, there's not much new here. Electrically powered shifters have been available for several years and I've seen designs for detecting crank and wheel speed to implement automatic shifting as well. As for the remaining components, they're simply using the best available.
What I haven't seen is an electric bike that uses an efficient hub motor as a regenerative motor/generator to make a true people powreed hybrid (or plugin hybrid) bike. Unlike the Lexus 10K bike, this could be a game changer... a mass-market bike that is useable by both the fit and the not quite so fit for local transportation.
If there is anything this economy need to really get it rolling, it is a $10,000 bicycle. They could be built in Detroit, just in time to avoid them going bankrupt and marketed in those areas where many home owners have lost their homes to bank foreclosures. They need something to spend their excess money on since they have lost their homes.
Then when I hear that some of this audience thinks the price is reasonable, it makes me wonder what field of engineering they are in. My son recently bought a brand new bike (of a brand name I do not recall) that he had customized to suit him. He paid $700 and I almost had a fit, but it is his money. The last bike he had that I bought, about 13 years ago, cost $150.
I guess I need a $10,000 dollar bike to go to some coffee shop and drink a $5 latte, before I go to lunch for a $50 steak. Does anybody reallize how many really important things could be bought for 10 grand. Look at all the fishing tackle I could have bought for that amount. Who knows, some of it may actually catch fish better than live bait.
The Lexus effort is straight PR, but $10,000 bikes are not out of the question. $150 will buy a bike you can play with, but don't depend on it for much. Just under $1000, you can get a reliable machine that will take you where you want to go. Going up from there, there are two paths, performance and peacock. More money typically means lighter weight, more durable components, smoother shifts and better braking. Depening on the bike, it can mean better ride comfort over long rides (75 miles and longer). For racers, its about getting rotating weight as low as possible without making the bike too fragile, sure handling for high speed descents, and keeping total weight close to that magic number defined by UCI as the minimum allowable for road bikes. At some point, there is the peacock factor. Lamborghini's are pretty cars and go fast, but I can't afford one, and I don't have anywhere I can drive and use the speed. The same can be said for some bikes at the high end -- "See, I have money to burn - I just bought a $15K bike just like the pro's use. I just rode it 5 miles down here the coffee shop. Isn't it pretty." Peacock.
But make no mistake. In between the bike from Wal-mart and the "peacock bike," there is a continuum of technology that some of us find usefuil enough to pay for.
I commute by bike year-round and ride some longer day-touring rides (up to 100 miles). I want my bike to be reasonably light, comfortable for long distance, and absolutely bullet-proof in its shifting, braking, and power delivery. It doesn't take $10K to get there, but it takes more than $500.
I'm inclined to agree with those who said that there's nothing really new here. It fails as an avanced-technolgy demonstrator, since almost everything here, such as carbon-fiber frames, has been available for years from other bicycle manufacturers. In fact, it's missing some technolgies that are available on bikes at the $1300 price point, such as hydraulic disc brakes, instead of the side-pull, cable-actuated rim brakes. The only technology I can see that is somewhat advanced is the elctronic deraileur, and Fallbrook Technologies has an electronically-controlled, continuously-variable transmission (ECVT) for bycycles that can also be shifted manually, which is far more advanced than a semi-automatic deraileur (see link below).
Hydraulic disc brakes are for mountain bikes. I think the reason they don't have hydraulic rim brakes is because they used Shimano for the shifters. This means they have to use Shimano's braking system, as the shifting and braking systems are fully integrated. SRAM came up with the innovation for hydraulic rim brakes in their RED line this year. Mark Cavendish was the only rider in the Tour de France to use such a system. It is credited to have prevented him from involvement with a major crash on Stage 1.
What I didn't like was the term "liberal use of carbon fiber." The newest carbon fiber technology in the weaves and in the directional layering of the material, reduces the need for "liberal use." Also, with one look at this bike, I can tell you the geometry sucks. I wouldn't pay more than the components are worth ($2800) for this bike. The seat stay is too long, the front fork isn't airfoiled, the chain stay says I'm a climbing machine but the fork-angle says I can handle. I don't think any design went into making this bike a performance bike, so no one would buy this bike for use. Some people may say, "That's okay. It's a collector's item." To them I say, "Then Lexus wasted their money trying to prove that they are on the front of carbon fiber technology."
John Deere and Harley Davidson are twocompanies that ventured into bicycles. I would promote that a good bike designer could aid the car companies into today's smarket bettrer than the reverse. I'm supprised that it does not have 4 doors and a trunk. PS For the record John Deere and Harley Davidson are not in the market today for bicycles. Go RAGBRAI! (Look it up if you do not know what RAGBRAI is.)
An interesting article, and a product that would not be useful for anybody riding in the real world. It is way to spartan to be comfortable for a long ride, and probably none of the assembly is serviceable outside the Lexus castle. And those ultra-light-weight wheels just don't work for riding no handed. So while it may be appropriate for some Tokyo executive to park in his office and brag about, it does not show much other value, except as a show-off piece.
Just like the luxury sports cars that every manufacturer is struggling to make this bike is more of a publicity stunt from the said company. Nobody will buy this for the mere reason of biking! it will be bought as means of attention seeking. Don't be surprised when you see the buyers on the front pages of national newspapers.
As an avid cyclist, I think it's great that Lexus chose to use a carbon-fiber race bike as part of their brand imagery. Were their design choices cutting edge? I'd say mostly. For sure, the average car guy can relate to the bike as it's similar to others out on the road. I'd love to see Lexus now take it to the next step and sponsor some bike related events. And then do something really unique - perhaps collaborate with a Japanese university-led program to achieve the human powered land speed record. Then they could really exercise their innovation chops on that bike.
Lexus will never cease to amaze the automotive industry. Those who can afford to own such a cutting edge bike should also have an equaly matched gear. One thing they absolutely must do is to shop for biker belt buckles in order to complete their equipment.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
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