The $80,000 WX-r Vorteq Track Bike: Or, How To Not Sell A Bike

Yes folks, as if the ferocious-looking Lotus Hope track bike of Team GB that will cost you $25,500 US for the frame + forks wasn’t eye-wateringly expensive enough, along comes the WX-R Vorteq frame, priced at $34,000 (note: forks will cost you extra).

Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia

Malaysian track cycling star Azizulhasni Awang is riding the complete $80,000US bike at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Azizulhasni Awang, by the way, is the rock hard cyclist who won the World Cup after picking himself up off to finish the race and collect the points, with part of the track stuck in him.

Yeah, this guy…

Yaki Tori, anyone?

Back to this bike…

Here are the cost of parts:

Frame: $34,000

Forks: $6,900

Saddle: $4,100

Seat Post: $4,100

Front Wheel: $8,400

Rear Wheel: Apparently, you can use whatever you like, which… hmm that seems odd?

Handlebars: $13,800

Drivechain / Crank: Unlisted

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What? That is a lot of cash isn’t it! But, I’m still kinda interested. It’s gonna take all my savings, I’d likely have to sell the car, remortgage the house, might well cost me my marriage too… but tell me about the sizing, do I travel to their factory for a custom fit? Will they be weighing my nostril hair and reshaping my kneecaps for greater aerodynam-icity? The whole hundred and nine yards I expect?

Ah, no… but you can choose either a Small… or a Medium!

(It’s almost as if they don’t actually want to sell it, isn’t it…)

Surprisingly, on the WX-R Vorteq website, there isn’t a lot of information about the bicycle (or the chain, nor the crank), and very little to suggest just why it is so expensive.

Can a bicycle such as this really be with $80,000?

Well, not unless it’s made from gold and covered in diamonds, surely. So why is the price tag to the consumer so high?

Let’s let the folks at CapoVelo.com have a stab at it, seeing as they asked the same Q:

“But, what makes it so expensive?

For starters, the Vorteq uses a proprietary ratio of high modulus carbon fiber that WX-R isn’t willing to disclose. But, perhaps more importantly, the bike underwent a series of testing that involved everything from CAD (Computer Aided Design), to FEA (Finite Element Analysis), CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and static and dynamic structural testing in cycling specific wind tunnels in order to achieve the ultimate balance of low aerodynamic drag, low weight and optimal stiffness.

Ah, so that’s why…. Ah, no actually, it’s a mile off. That’s a load of guff (carbon fibre, you say?!).

CAD is… well, it’s CAD. My Ikea candle was likely a product of CAD.

Any TT bike and road bike frame of any use goes through FEA and CFD analysys these days, and again it doesn’t tell us a lot – or anything, actually – about the technology that’s purportedly in the bike.

Whilst there is no doubt that these bikes are at or near the cutting edge in technological terms (we are talking bicycles here, it is important to remember), and that a great deal of research (in $80,000 we trust) went into building them, none of the CAD, FEA stuff nor the optimisation of ‘optimal stiffness’, no matter how optimally that optimality was achieved (I’ve optimally had it with the word ‘optimal’ when it comes to bike bumpf, TBH), nothing – and I mean, really, nothing -can justify these prices.

Therefore, the price tags are inflated, and there is a reason for that.

All bicycles used in UCI and Olympic competition must be available for sale. This means technically that anyone can buy them, so that no one can complain about another team or rider having an impossibly unfair advantage.

So, how do the manufacturers of these ‘super bikes’ deter their riders’ rivals from buying the same bike their teams use? They price them so exorbitantly high that they more or less ensure exclusive use of their bikes for their selected riders. The other top teams with a deep budget and / or enough prestige will co-operate with different frame builders to create their own top end bikes, and the manufacturer will then also price the frames and parts highly.

And even if say Team Oz wanted to buy this bike, could they all fit on a Size S or an M? Good luck with that!

The manufacturers such as Hope and Vorteq get publicity out if this, not bike sales. They’ll be hailed for their technological know how and advances, whatever they may be, and connected – they hope at least – to success on the track. They’ll likely not sell many $34,000 frames but they never really expected to, nor were they asked to, and instead they will sell more of their other, more reasonably priced products, the stuff that forms the backbone of their businesses.

And that is the real secret of the track super (expensive) bikes.

Author: crankpunk

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist.

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