Lotus launches Type 136: A £20,000, track-inspired. electric road bike

Said to harness design and engineering excellence, is this the most high-tech bike on the market?

Lotus is synonymous with success in track cycling. While it might have turned heads – and had its critics – the distinctive and unique Lotus/Hope track bike answered with medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with Great Britain topping the cycling medal table aboard the eye-catching machine. Lotus’ history on the velodrome dates back to the iconic Type 108 bike at the 1992 Barcelona Games, and the company has been constantly at the forefront of innovation since then, never afraid to think outside of the box. The new Type 136, unveiled today and shown at Rouleur Live 2023, is perhaps the most remarkable release yet from the British brand.

Type 136 is described by Lotus as a track-inspired performance road bike, electrified. It features the same, eye-catching geometry on the lightweight carbon fibre frame as seen on the Hope/Lotus track bike, with wide, flared fork legs and similarly broad and flat seatstays – something that Lotus says comes from a desire to consider both rider and bike as a single unit. Type 136 also features V-shaped handlebars, wing-shaped forks and vaulted chain stays which Lotus says helps it “carve through the air with speed and efficiency.”

Impressively, considering Type 136 features an e-bike motor from High Performance System (HPS), a fully-built bike weighs in at just a claimed 9.8kg. Lotus says that the ‘Watt Assist Pro Motor system’ is derived from the Mars Lander Project, where limited weight and zero maintenance were critical factors to the mission’s success. Lotus says that it is the lightest e-bike motor system on the market from HPS, weighing just 1.2kg in total. The motor is designed to sit sleekly in the bottom of the downtube going into the bottom bracket – at first glance it’s hard to even tell it's there, barely affecting the aesthetics of the bike. Lotus says the actual motor weighs just 300g, meaning that such a lightweight system won’t impact the handling of the Type 136.

See this bike at Rouleur Live 2023

Also giving the bike a distinctly non e-bike feel is the cleverly designed battery placement. Lotus has disguised the battery as a water bottle and it can be detached from the frame at the push of a button. This easy removal and installation aims to make the bike easy to use with or without motor assistance depending on a rider's requirements for a particular day, Lotus describes this as “dual-use functionality.”

Such groundbreaking innovation inevitably comes at a price, with the Type 136 bike retailing for £20,000. Lotus has launched an exclusive limited first edition launch production run of 136 individually numbered bikes with unique Lotus motorsport-inspired livery, while the standard model will go on sale in spring 2024.

Chris Hoy, six-time Olympic champion and a Lotus bikes ambassador explained in a press release that Lotus has rewritten the track bike design rule book ever since it released the Lotus 108, inspiring a generation of track cyclists.

"This is an incredible bike, which says so much about the pioneering endeavours of Lotus and the iconic status of its bikes over the years,” Hoy said of the Type 136 model. “As a teenager I vividly remember watching Chris Boardman powering the Type 108 to a gold medal in Barcelona in 1992 and smashing records on the Type 110 to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France two years later.”

The launch of an e-bike aligns with Lotus’ movements in the automotive industry, with the brand also releasing a range of electric cars with the Eletre, Emeya and Evija.

Feng Qingfeng, CEO, Lotus Group, commented: "I am proud to launch the Lotus Type 136 as the next chapter in our high-performance journey. For the past 75 years, Lotus has been relentlessly pushing the boundaries of innovation on the road and track. Type 136 shows that we continue to do so. Launching alongside Eletre, Emeya and Evija, it will further expand global perceptions of what to expect from Lotus.”

For more information on the Type 136 bike, visit the Lotus website.

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