Bikes with more bite

Game for change: The National Sports Institute plan to make a few more tweaks to the bikes used by Azizulhasni Awang (left) and Shah Firdaus Sahrom.

PETALING JAYA: With 100 days to go before the Tokyo Olympics, national track cyclists Azizulhasni Awang and Mohd Shah Firdaus Sahrom can be assured of getting the best equipment support to zip around the Izu Velodrome come August.

Azizul and Shah Firdaus will be the last Malaysian athletes to go into action with the track cycling competition only taking place on Aug 2-8.

The Olympics will be from July 23 to Aug 8.

Because the Olympics were postponed by one year, the National Sports Institute (NSI) plan to make a few more tweaks to the custom-built track bikes used by the duo before they head to Tokyo for the Olympics.

The track bike was developed in a collaboration with Vorteq, a research and development company based in Silverstone and specialising in sports aerodynamics.

The project commenced not long after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics with the need to make sure Azizul has the best machine at his disposal to fight to bring back the first Olympic gold medal for Malaysia.

The bike, made with a mix of titanium and carbon fibre, was the lightest, stiffest and most aerodynamic in the world in its class when it was launched last year.

Priced at RM300,000 a piece, they were made available for sale to the public as well as national federations last year.

The NSI own the intellectual property rights to the bike.

While NSI chief executive officer Ahmad Faedzal Mohd Ramli did not reveal the exact changes, he did mention a need to fine tune the bike before Tokyo.

“This Olympic bike development project is in its fourth year now after beginning in 2017.

“The intention is to build a bike tailored to each rider’s physiology.

“The bike was actually ratified with the UCI (world body for cycling) early last year for use at the Olympics.

“But the Olympics was postponed to this year, so we have no choice but to follow the process.

“Azizul and Shah have one bike each and they used it during the world championships in Berlin last year.

“But we feel there is some fine tuning that we still need to do (to the bikes) before they are finalised for the Olympics.

“But I do not think we should disclose too much the changes. It’s not just the bike but Azizul and Shah Firdaus will have custom skinsuits and cycling shoes specially designed for the Olympics.”

Azizul and Shah Firdaus qualified on merit for Tokyo Olympics for individual sprint and keirin.

It will be the first Olympic outing for Shah Firdaus but the fourth for Azizul.

In Rio, Azizul bagged bronze in men’s keirin before going on to win a historic world title in Hong Kong the following year.

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