With our forthcoming epic cycle ride to the Belgian Grand Prix – 400 miles in 4 days for charity – we thought it would be good to investigate how similar cycling and F1 is… it proved rather easier than we first thought – the two have loads in common.

If you would like to know more about the ride to spa and would like to donate, read more here.

Lightweight

It’s all about weight in F1, save some weight and you have more to play with in ballast to make the car handle how you’d like.  Great news.  In cycling, you would have thought that some bikes are light and some are lighter, but oh no no no, it’s a little more complicated than that.  Take the simple bottle cage for example, it’s used for holding your drink and costs around £3.  But then you could save 50g of weight and get a nice composite one that self-adjusts to the size of the bottle, for only £9.  Not much difference to be fair, but then how about saving another 50g or more and for just shy of £100 you can bag yourself an aero-friendly carbon fibre bike cage.  Wow.

Innovation

Formula 1 development never stands still, in fact from one day to the next the cars are continually changing, whether it be on fancy computer software, in the wind tunnel or trackside, the drive for perfection never lets up.  Similarly, in cycling did you know that new bikes come out every year, along with new gear systems, lighter and stronger parts and innovation in every possible area.  Electronic semi-automatic gearboxes – not just for F1 my friend, pricey bikes have them too.  Madness.

Wearing silly outfits

You may think that F1 drivers look cool, but take a step back from the F1 bubble and let’s face it, no matter if it’s Pedro De La Rosa in his whites or Fernando Alonso in his red overalls, they all look a bit silly standing around in sponsor emblazoned onesies.   As for cycling, head to a track or a popular park and you’ll notice loads of ‘pro’ cyclists speeding around in sponsor emblazoned spandex, also pretty silly looking.

There’s advanced technology and then there’s F1… and cycling.

If you’re reading Badger GP, you’re probably more than aware of the levels and extremes that Formula 1 goes to in terms of technology, it really is beyond belief. They say that much of the technology is gradually passed down to road cars – which may be the case with some of the fancy gearboxes, safety measures and braking systems, but what about everything else that’s created and invented by F1? You guessed it, cycling – that’s where it ends up.

You don’t have to look very hard to find carbon fibre parts in cycling, and much of it is aerodynamically designed – from wheels spokes, to front forks, to even brake callipers. Many of the design philosophies and manufacturing techniques developed in F1 are now in use by bike companies too. McLaren even teamed up with Specialized to produce a very expensive bike, as used by Jenson Button. But that’s not our focal point, oh no, because nice as it is, it’s no match for this – the Factor One-77, devloped my Beru F1 Systems (aka BF1) – a company that every team on the grid use for their wiring looms and more.

The clever folk there have produced this masterpiece – the Aston Martin Factor One 77 which is built to order to the tune of £25,000 and then some. Check out the site for more info. Yes it’s mind boggling but more than enough proof for our point that a lot of F1′s fancy tech ends up on two wheels…

Brits are good at it

Moving away from technology and bits and pieces – look to the people in the sports.   The brits are all over both of them, as recently as the 2012 Olympics, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton are all household names and superstars in the cycling world partly responsible for assisting in Britain dominating the cycling events.  Of course there are loads of successful British F1 drivers, you don’t need us to tell you that, but look to the teams and the British dominate the world of F1 engineering, just as they do in cycling too.  Yes there’s some from Italy (Campagnolo is the engineering equivalent to Ferrari), Japan (Shimano), but much of the great cycling achievements and design has come from the UK.

French origins

“Grand Prix” is a French word, the governing body of the sport, the FIA is also French (Federation Internationale Automobile) and it’s still a pretty major deal in F1, despite there not actually being a race in France currently.  Over to cycling and well there’s the Tour de France for starters and there are loads of French manufacturers too, but did you know that the first ever bike race was way back in 1868, in Paris.  To prove the previous point more, this first race was won by a British cyclist.

Fitness

Formula 1 drivers have to be ridiculously dedicated to their fitness in order to succeed, one momentary lapse of concentration and they could bin their multi-million pound racing machine into a barrier or wall and it’s game over.  Of course, cyclists don’t have the luxury of a 800bhp engine, let alone any of the other gizmos – so fitness is pretty important to them too.

This fitness point may seem like a weak entry into this list, but there’s more to it – the best drivers in F1 actually use cycling as a way of keeping their fitness up.  Mark Webber famously underwent some pretty heft surgery and rehab after damaging his leg in mountain bike accident, Jenson Button is seemingly obsessed with triathlons and cycling, as is Timo Glock and then there’s the driver who’s referred to as being the ‘most complete’ Mr Alonso who’s spent much of the summer break tweeting about his cycling.


https://twitter.com/alo_oficial/status/232450011886149632
Start when you’re young

Simple – they say that good F1 drivers starting karting when they very young, when did you get on a bike?  There’s another reason why cycling is like F1, you need to start early and learn not to crash.

And there’s more….

Once we started, we were finding it hard to stop, there are so many more reasons and links between cycling and Formula 1, it’s crazy – what else can you think of, let us know in the comments.

Adam Mills

Founder and Team Principal at Badger GP
Been a fan of F1 since the days of 'our Nige'. Enjoys the soap opera as much as the racing. A creative geek, with entrepreneurial tendencies who loves coffee, cycling, mod culture and music. Founded of Badger GP in 2008 to give informative, interesting yet entertaining content about Formula 1.

Latest posts by Adam Mills (see all)

  1. a few very useful technologies used on todays cars were in fact originally designed for the bicycle. Those fancy cars were an afterthought.

    Check out the ‘history’ bits.
    Ball bearings – Used in wheels and any hinged part these days: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_bearing
    Also, pneumatic tyres (previously solid rubber or wood probably!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tire

    If you haven’t already, you really should check this out when you have a spare hour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZtHFxIs6so

  2. You forgot to mention stiffness (all energy used for bending the machine is energy that could be used making it go forward faster).

    There’s also the Lotus bike that Boardman used in the Barcelona Olympics to win the pursuit which is a good F1 to Cycling link :)

    Also from memory Alain Prost took part in a stage of Le Tour in in (i think) 1993 such was his fitness level. It was possibly L’etape du tour (http://www.letapedutour.com) but it’s still pretty hardcore.

  3. Aerodynamics, they put cyclists through wind tunnels as well these days. 90% of resistance on a bicycle is air, as in formula one, for every second gained, nine tenths will be aero. Oh and a completely unfair and anal ruling body in the form of UCI and FIA, and they are both french!

  4. Since my chances of becoming an F1 driver are slim, we just got amazing bikes. Inspired by non other than Jensen and Alonso, our family started riding again. You see things differently being outdoors. Great read and fantastic comparisons. Well done!

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