Carbon Monocoque Bike

Client: SP Systems for Lotus
Object: carbon fibre bike frame
Project Start: 1992  
Project Delivery: 1994

Chris Hornzee-Jones designed what subsequently became the "Lotus Sport ATB Mountain Bike". The original frame was inspired by the shape of jumping dolphins.

Chris Hornzee-Jones was employed by  ‘SP Systems CompositAir’ when he proposed this project out of personal passion for high performance bikes. The Californian aerospace component-producers agreed to fund the research of  this idea in order to enter the bicycle manufacturing market as a new venture. The design went into production at SP Systems before industry giant Lotus Sport bought the rights to the concept.

The monocoque design utilised the unique properties of carbon, glass and Kevlar composite materials to provide a very high lateral stiffness in combination with vertical shock absorbing compliancy. This made it a forerunner of the emerging class of high-performance ‘superbikes’. The first batch of Lotus bikes was available to buy in the UK and USA.

The Lotus bike’s unique and elegantly shaped frame (unlike anything else on the market at the time) quickly became a design classic. It won the ID (Institute of Designers) magazine Award for Visual Design. An example of the first production of the Lotus Sport MTB can be viewed in the UK’s Science Museum  and via their online catalogue.


Photo credit for museum installation photos: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library