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Elinor Barker: My bike

12 October 2017

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From one red rocket to another, Elinor Barker’s bike history is a tale of lies and gear shifting through the ages.

Now, she is accustomed to top-of-the-range machines such as the red Cervelo T4 she currently rides on the track and the Specialized frames she has on the road.

But it all began with the ultimate hand-me-down of a three-time pre-owned bike, given to her as a four-year-old.

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“My very first bike had been my older sister’s before mine and my brother’s before that and my uncle’s before that,” said the 23-year-old.

“It was a tiny little red bike that we called the rocket bike that we all learned to ride a bike on.

“My first racing bike was very similar, I was probably around 11 and it had shifters on the down tube and three gears and I loved it.

“My parents told me it cost them £1000 to buy for me, but when we sold it we got £15 for it so I think that might have been a little lie.

“From then on I had a series of different bikes that I thought were incredible but obviously if it’s a bike that you can afford yourself when you’re 13 then it’s not going to be great!

“There were a lot of down-tube shifters going on and very old bearings and that kind of thing.”

Her current track bike may have no gears, or brakes, but while some riders like everything tailored to the very millimetre, Barker takes a different approach.

“It’s a squad bike so everybody on the British squad has the same bike – I’d say it maybe costs around five or six thousand including the wheels,” she admitted.

“The main parts that are individual to me, though, are the saddle and the pedals – just because of personal preference.

“The first bike that got given to me was when I was 18 and I joined my first professional team. It was a Colnago and I had two.

“I had a training bike with manual gears and then a racing bike that was exactly the same but with electric gears and it was just the best thing – it was incredible and really eye opening into the standard of the technology these days and how good bikes can be and how much of a difference it really does make.

“And then from there I’ve had pretty high spec bikes, I’ve been very lucky.”

Increasingly a presence on a road now as much as the track, Barker – who has recently re-signed for the UCI WorldTour team Wiggle-High5 ahead of the 2018 season – knows she is spoiled by her current choices.

“As well as the track bike I’ve got road and time trial bikes,” she added. “My time trial bike has electric gears, that I’ve never had before on a time trial bike and it’s awesome.

“It’s so much easier to have shifters on the hoods so that when you’re going round corners or climbing then you can change there, rather than having to reach onto your skis – it’s a dream.”

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