Annie Last and Liam Killeen’s bikes for this weekend’s Olympic cross-country races will be covered in a mud-resistant ‘nano-coating’ designed to repel the worst of the British weather.
The revelation is one of the few secrets to emerge from British Cycling’s research and development team – the Secret Squirrel Club – which is led by Boardman and Dimitris Katsanis, a former track racer turned composites engineering expert.
“We’ve been out and weighed mud and how much mud a bike can carry and it can be 4-5kg on a really claggy day,” Boardman told The Sun.
“We will be putting a special coating on our mountain bikes — its called P2i — it’s nano-coating, plasma-applied in a special chamber and nothing sticks to it.
“It’s done on such a scale that you could coat your phone in it and it would look exactly the same. But if you dropped it in the sea it would still work perfectly because it coats everything inside and outside.”
P2i is a company which describes itself as the world leader in liquid repellent nano-coating technology.The firm’s website reads: “P2i’s patented technology employs a special pulsed ionized gas (plasma), which is created within a vacuum chamber, to attach a nanometre-thin polymer layer over the entire surface of a product.
“This process dramatically reduces the surface energy of a product, so that when liquids come into contact with it, they form beads and simply run off.”
While the weather is currently forecast to be warm and sunny (at the time of writing, at least) in Hadleigh this weekend, with the women set to race on Saturday and the men on Sunday, the technology is an example of British Cycling’s ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ philosophy which has helped Team GB to such success in the velodrome and on the road.
“Rather than try and improve one thing by 10 per cent — which would be very, very difficult to do — we go and find 1,000 things and improve them all by a fraction of a per cent, which is totally do-able,” said Boardman.
British Cycling’s multi-million pound research and development programme came into the spotlight last week when Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins rode a custom bike commissioned by UK Sport to victory in the Olympic time trial. You can read the story behind that machine on our sister-site RoadCyclingUK.
Last, who recorded a career-best finish of third in the final World Cup of the season in Val d’Isere, is expected to ride a bike which has also been designed with the Olympics in mind, although it has been developed by Boardman Bikes, who sponsor the Brit. Last has been riding the 26-inch hardtail, labelled the B56, throughout the year, and elements of the bike’s design will transfer into Boardman’s 2013 range. We expect Killeen to run his Giant XTC carbon 29er in Sunday’s men’s race.