News for April 11

Australian Bike Inventor says he is being ripped off!!

The story in the national daily, the Australian, by cycling writer John Hogan is headlined "US rode off with my invention: veteran".

Hogan reports that "A veteran Gold Coast cyclist claims that a new super bike to be released by the Americans this month for use at the Atlanta Olympic Games is a spin-off from his prototype. Lionel Willott 76, is convinced the Americans have pirated the invention on which he has held a provisional patent for four years. He has written to the Australian Institute of Sport's road cycling staff in Canberra to warn them of what the Australians will be up against in July - but has had no reply."

"Willott ays the road bike used by Australian cyclists has a loss of six per cent in the drive mechanism, caused from the Derailleur system. He also maintains there is a loss in torque with a spring-loaded Derailleur caused by chain ride-up, whereas his mechanism has no ride-up and a loss of only two per cent in the dirve, and the torque is improved. Willott says his design is more sympathetic to the muscles. He said an international rider photographed him on his unique bke two years ago in a race at Tweed Heads. The rider later told Willott he would take the photograph to America and get it (the bike) made properly."

Bill Notes: We keep racing until we die over here!!!

Willott said that "As soon as they saw it they would have known what to do. They (the Americans) could spend a million dollars developing it, whereas I'm only an old man with not much money."

Hogan continues that "Willott, who has worked on bikes for 15 yeras and still races and rides 200 kms each week, says he is too old to develop the bike and go into business. He wrote to European manufacturers, Shimano and Avocet, who make bikes and parts and specialise in gear changes, trying to generate interest in his brainchild. The French company (Avocet) were quite interested but didn't keep in contact. Shimano said it would look at it once he had a complete patent but the hobby cyclist could not afford $30,000-$40,000 to get it.

Willott said "I'm just a worker and can't go ahead and spend big money. I've got a provisional patent and I've kept that up, but whether I've lost the priority date all over the world I don't know. But there is a provision in American patents where if you're the inventor, you're the only person who can patent it. So it might cover me in America."

Hogan writes "He was photographed riding the bike at the World Masters Games in Brisbane two years ago. He later approached an Australian company, hoping it would produce the bike. It was interested but did not proceed."

"So what will he do if the Americans release what he believes is his brainchild?"

Willott says that "All I can do is clap, I suppose. I don't know what I can do but they will release it because all my tests have proved it is a better bike, but it wants a little more money spent on it than what I can fund. They (Americans) can get solenoids into the gears that I can't do. I've got the bike right. It's just some of the gear changes need electrical tuning."

Hogan says that "Willott said he had written to Canberra in a bid to help the Australian team if it were interested but there had been no response." Willott says that "There is a lot of scepticism in bike riders. They've got a bike they keep in the dining room [Bill notes - all my bikes are in my dining room - it's the bike room!!] and they think it's the only bike in the world [Bill notes again - yep, my Col with Campy], but there is a better bike."

Hogan says that "AIS road cycling mechanic Darrell McCulloch did not dismiss Willott's bike out of hand yesterday but was certain the American's new look machine would have a chain."

McCulloch said that "Perhaps he might have something, but I've been around the bike industry since 1978 and I've seen lots of claims for lots of different things from people who think they are on to something. So far nobody has come up with anything better than the roller-chain as far as durability, low friction and actually having a gear-changing mechanism. The American release will have a chain. The Americans do this every time before the Olympics. It's done by GT bicycle company this year and it's a great PR exercise, which is what they want. What they have done for the time-trial bikes is they have got special aerodynamic bike parts not used for normal road-racing. It's only used for certain events such as the time-trial at the Olympic Games. They have gone through profiling the equipment to make it very aerodynamic. We have a similar thing."