That radically original British Cycling track bike might not be so original
The Team GB Lotus x Hope racetrack bike used by the British cycling team at the Tokyo Olympics certainly generated a lot of buzz where reference is debuted in October 2019, dedicated its highly unconventional intend( we even paidHope a inspect right after its debut ). More recently, however, the motorcycle has also produced some serious disagreement as renowned cycling technologist and aerodynamicist Richard McAinsh — together with Dutch brand Ku Cycle, which McAinsh founded with Alex Bok — is now claiming the design was stolen.
Bok’s history with McAinsh dates back more than a decade, to when the former was passing professional triathlon squads, and when 3T — for whom McAinsh was working at the time — was a sponsor.
” During those last few years of the team — 2012 and 2013 — that’s when Richard said the idea came about of things he had learned from Formula 1, about the front of the car, how some of those concepts could be transferred to bikes ,” Bok said.” He left 3T in 2013 and then started to sell his engineering services from then onwards. By 2015 -2 016, he knew he was on to something, so in 2016, he filed his patent.
” By 2017 and 2018, he went to the UK to work with various research partners, and started to tune the simulate; there were already two or three simulations done. In 2018, he thought he genuinely had something here, so he started to look for investors and partners. He did speak to people in the UK — people quite close to British Cycling — but it didn’t happen. And then in January 2019, he reached out to me as an old crony from the triathlon crew days .”
Team GB’s bike sure looks a lot like this drawing from Richard McAinsh’s patent, but stranger things have happened.
McAinsh continued to develop those earlier hypothesis, and Ku Cycle was just about to get off the floor with an innovative triathlon motorcycle that looked like nothing else out there.
And then October 2019 came.
” We were sitting outside an office ,” recounted Bok,” and then suddenly, “its like” flames coming out of[ Richard’s] ears. He was furious. I could see he was really altered as a person, because somewhere he feels, in that search in 2018 to find investors, he shared maybe a bit too much .”
The British Cycling track bike being used at the Tokyo Olympics is undeniably revolutionary, but at least one company is claiming it’s not so original.
It doesn’t take a professionally trained eye to see some suspicious similarities between the British Cycling machine and what’s depicted in McAinsh’s patent, such as the radically wide spacing and general shape of the fork blades and seatstays, the dual-crown fork, and the course the seatstays fasten high on the seat tube.
Interestingly, Bok says the British team bike actually missed out on a newer aero aspect — Ku Cycle’s triathlon bicycle obscures its raised chief tube behind the rider’s arms — presumably because the design was inspired by an earlier iteration of McAinsh’s concept.
” They are really implemented things that we deliberately didn’t use[ from the original patent documentation] because we knew it was a bit slower ,” Bok said.
Given McAinsh’s reaction when he first became aware of the British Cycling track bike, and what seem to be clear ” borrowing” of his intellectual property, it’s fair to wonder why the pair waited so long to voice the alarm. In this modern age of social media, it’s almost unbelievable there wasn’t even a mention of the dispute on Twitter( and I is necessarily admit that I don’t envision I would have displayed the same level of self-restraint ).
Shortly after that fateful day in October, Ku Cycle’s investors suggested to the pair that they embark on a thorough research and fact-finding mission before originating any official legal proceedings. During that process, Bok says they discovered British Cycling actually filed for its own patent in late 2019 — one Bok says was ultimately diminished due to McAinsh’s prior claim to similar technology.
This image from the patent British Cycling applied for in 2019 creates a few cases eyebrows.
” One thing that came back was a secret filed patent by British Cycling ,” Bok said.” Our patent lawyers couldn’t look inside the patent because it was filed as’ secret ‘. Nobody can conducted an investigation into it during the application process. We found that a bit surprising but we didn’t think too much of it.
” In March of this year, the[ British Cycling] patent wasn’t approved because the examiner procured our patent relevant. In other words, it was too close[ to ours] to get theirs approved. Since the Olympics didn’t happen[ in 2020 ], we said to let it rest and see if the bicycle gets applied later .”
What supposedly pushed McAinsh over the edge was when he and Bok were approached by a UK filmmaker who was asking permission to include the patent in a documentary as an arise informant for the team’s design, when clearly no such agreement was in place.” That’s when he said we have to put a stake in the ground ,” Bok said.
The other side of the narrative
You’ve likely noticed at this point that simply the direct perspectives of Ku Cycle founder Alex Bok are included here. Bok told me he and McAinsh agreed that there should be just one point of public contact over this issue, and in fact, I first contacted McAinsh, who to be allocated to Bok( Bok already mentioned McAinsh is currently on holiday ).
But what about British Cycling, Lotus, and Hope? I wasn’t able to get in touch with Lotus, and Hope declined to provide an official statement, instead passing me over to British Cycling. I did manage to get a hold of British Cycling’s head of communications, Scott Dougal, and while he was willing to provide some information strictly on background, he was able to offer the official cable from the organization 😛 TAGEND
” The design for this motorcycle has been in the public eye for almost two years so we were surprised to only hear of this through the media, and on the first day of the way program in Tokyo. We are confident that the bicycle does not infringe any patents and we are happy to deal with any challenges through the appropriate processes.”
Still a chance for a happy pointing?
It clearly remains to be determined whether British Cycling did, without a shadow of doubt, inappropriately use McAinsh’s intellectual property. There’s likewise the notion called multiple discovery, which describes how very similar findings or inventions can legitimately be the result of truly independent folks and processes.
However, there’s also the principle of Occam’s Razor, which says the most basic and most obvious explanation to a problem is most often the correct one. I’m no intend technologist or expert in patent legalese, but at least to my nose, the smell exam in such cases … doesn’t smell very good. That said, it’s important not to jump to opinions, and it seems likely this is something the lawyers will ultimately figure out.
As for McAinsh and Bok, they insist they’re not trying to obtain money out of British Cycling, Lotus Engineering, or Hope( though I’d be surprised if some didn’t exchange hands when the dust ultimately settles ).
” We’re not overly aggressive in this ,” Bok said.” But if we’re right, then at least come and talk to us, and let’s be sensible and professional about it, and provide solutions. I don’t conceive a answer needs to be found in a court .”
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