Concept bikes from the 80s

It probably won’t surprise anyone to hear that I love concept bikes, but I am especially enamored with the pre Lugano charter designs of the 80s and early 90s. I vividly remember the first time I saw the full carbon fiber Bottecchia Modolo Kronotech on the cover of ID Magazine around 1987. The vast majority of bikes at that time were lugged steel, so the “aerospace inspired” Kronotech prototype was like nothing I had ever seen before (with the possible exception of the Bowden Spacelander, which wasn’t exactly a performance oriented machine).  That Bottecchia concept served as a pretty literal inspiration for my blue track bike marker sketch of the same era, and it was really the first bike that made me think about the importance of design in the bike industry.

There are countless other bikes from the 80s that influenced me-  Moser’s 1984 hour record bike,  the Battagin Fir Piranha from ’85,  various iterations of the Cinelli laser,  and some of the crazy full fairing Rossin  protoypes just to name a few. Today though, I want to share two bikes from the 80s that I don’t remember from that time.  I don’t know much about either one of these, so I am hoping that someone out there can provide a few more details.

Laurent Fignon’s Dream Machine by Gitane was built around 1987 (I believe) for an hour record that he did not attempt. The concept bike was displayed at the Paris Cycle Show sometime in the late 80s, but that is all I know about it. Fignon was one of my favorite cyclists at the time, so I can’t believe I don’t remember this bike and would love to find out more about it.

I already mentioned my fondness for 80’s Cinelli Lasers. Even though they were made from steel tubing, those bikes were beautifully sculpted like nothing else at the time. This particular Laser track concept lacks the elegance of its namesakes, but it is quite interesting.  According to an Instagram post by Cinelli graphic designer Marco Panzerini, two of these were made, and one still resides in the Cinelli headquarters near Milan. That is all I know, but I would love to find out more about this particular Cinelli concept. When was this made? Was it built as a prototype? A show bike? Is the construction sheet metal over a standard diamond frame?

If anyone can tell me more about either of these bikes, please do so in the comments.


4 responses to “Concept bikes from the 80s”

  1. Peter Dudle says:

    I’ve never seen the Cinelli in your post before but it kind of reminds me of the Trimble time trial bikes of the 1980s. I’d suspect that it is just a clamshell fairing over a traditional double diamond frame.

    • James Thomas says:

      Yeah, I am pretty sure there is tubing under the shell. I just wonder if the shell is carbon, fiberglass, or formed sheet metal like so many of the other old Laser details. Either way, I bet this is one heavy bike. Probably made just for show, but I would love to know if anyone ever rode it on the track.

  2. Andrew says:

    I saw the Bottecchia displayed in a Museum in the Netherlands 1987. I had a good look at it as it was just displayed on the floor. It was truly a Concept Bike and would not have been able to be ridden – no braking, no gears or place to mount rear derailleur, no chain & the Crankset did seem operational. Looking at the specs of the bike in the link it is meant to have “continuously variable transmission”

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