The new Boardman Bikes HQ and concept store in Worcestershire was ceremonially opened today, with the doors opening to the public on Monday. Significantly, it has its own wind-tunnel, and Chris Boardman says this is the "most exciting thing I've ever done in my adult life because it's been a dream of mine for more than seven years and, at last, it's come to fruition."
Boardman may now be Manchester's cycling and walking commissioner, famous for wanting everybody to get on bikes no matter what their likely top-speed, but his background is very much going fast on a bicycle, and doing so by the application of science.
From his time working with Lotus and its aerodynamicists in the MIRA tunnel before his Olympic Gold at the Barcelona games in 1992, through to his time as British Cycling’s head of R&D, Boardman has racked up countless hours in wind tunnels and has developed a keen understanding of aerodynamics.
"It will be a genuine game changer for the sport of cycling," said Boardman about the wind-tunnel-equipped shop.
"Making aerodynamic understanding accessible to anyone who wants to go faster – be they sportive rider or pro athlete – will be nothing short of revolutionary."
The 18,000 sqft store is based on outlet-mall-cum-country-park near Evesham.
Boardman added: "I knew that we had an idea that was going to be the most accurate tunnel in the world and we could do it and make it at a price accessible to the everyday cyclists but took that back to the team of Boardman and they were all over it – they could see the value of this.
"Having seen the impact that aerodynamics had for Olympic athletes I could see absolutely no reason why this wouldn't have been hugely valuable to somebody riding time trials, triathlons or even sportives. On such rides you might be going slower but you're out there an awful lot longer so aerodynamics affect everybody who wants to go more than 10 miles an hour on a bicycle."
The Boardman Performance Centre (BPC) is based on The Valley in Evesham, an out-of-town shopping centre opened in 1999 and home to retailers such as Fat Face and Mountain Warehouse. The store is managed by Tom Payton, formerly of Islabikes.
The BPC wind-tunnel's fan has 2.2m blades, and can be hired for £195 – this will include 30 minutes in the tunnel with your bike, evaluation of your position on the bike, and trialling up to two improvements.