The Lotus Type 108 (originally known as LotusSport Pursuit Bicycle) is an Olympic individual pursuit bicycle. The revolutionary frame is an advanced aerofoil cross-section using a carbon composite monocoque.
The use of monocoque frames for bikes is not new, but their development was improved through the work of Norfolk based designer Mike Burrows, who advanced both the design and build through utilising carbon fibre mouldings.
Burrows' design was initially rejected by British cycling manufacturers. However, it was to be received more enthusiastically by the British Cycling Federation. The design was considered illegal by the UCI. Therefore the project was prematurely shelved in 1987.
In 1990, the UCI revoked the ban on monocoque frames. Shortly after this, Lotus Engineering became involved in the project through a friend of Burrows who took his design to the Lotus factory. The potential was evident and Lotus’ knowledge and aptitude at using carbon fibre techniques allowed the design to finally realise its potential. By February 1992, Lotus Engineering had acquired the rights and marketed the bike as the LotusSport Bike. In addition, the design was modified and perfected through a series of wind tunnel tests, by the Lotus aerodynamics specialist Richard Hill.
The success of this was emphasised when Bryan Steel was able to shave five seconds off his time for the two kilometre pursuit at an international race meeting in Leicester.
The profile of Lotus and Burrows was raised at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. A new world record of 4 minutes 24.496 seconds was established as well as Chris Boardman winning the 4000m pursuit, catching World Champion Jens Lehmann in the final. The publicity of this medal, the first British cycling medal at the Olympics in 72 years, confirmed to Lotus the potential of marketing a production version. This was to become the Lotus Type 110.
Following the Olympics, the Type 108 was modified with the introduction of a set of elongated tri-bar handlebars to suit the, since banned, superman position.
A total of fifteen Type 108s were built including one prototype in 1991, as well as three frames for use in the Olympic Games. A further eight replicas were offered for sale at £15,000 each. Of the fifteen, at least two are on display, one at the Lotus Factory at Hethel, and Boardman's hour record bike at the Museum of Liverpool. A third example is on display at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, located in Birmingham, AL, USA.
Chris Boardman’s Olympic gold medal winning bike was on display at the Science Museum in South Kensington, London, in a temporary exhibition which ran from 16 March to 20 June 1993, entitled "SuperBike: An Exhibition on the Olympic Gold Medal Bicycle", and was later returned to Lotus Engineering. The Science Museum keeps on its permanent collection the 2nd of the replicas made by Lotus Engineering (Inventory Object Number 1993-76)
- Mike Rowbottom (1992-07-30). "OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Cycling: Boardman takes his golden bow". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- "Case Study - Lotus Type 108 and 110 Sport Bicycles". Lotus Engineering. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-26. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- Nick Rearden (2010-06-28). "Boardman hands over his Lotus bike for new Liverpool museum | Latest News". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 2012-01-04.[dead link]