In the world of motor sports, UBC is a well-known brand. The German company specializes in carbon fiber, manufacturing extremely high-performance parts for Toyota’s Formula 1 cars and luxury rides like the Porsche GT2. The problem was, while those gorgeous machines relied on UBC parts, they never bore the UBC name. So a few years back, Ulf Bräutigam, the company’s CEO, had an idea to raise his company’s profile: UBC would build a vehicle of its own. In 2010, he enlisted industrial designer Christian Zanzotti to design a carbon-fiber bike that the masses simply couldn’t ignore.
The result is the Coren, a $32,500 fixed-gear ride that the company deems "the world’s most ground-breaking bike." That’s a bold claim (to go along with a bold price tag), but the bike has certainly succeeded in its main objective: getting people’s attention. It was a standout at the Eurobike convention earlier this year.
Zanzotti says he was given "carte blanche" by his client when approaching the project. "From the beginning, it was clear the bicycle had to match the racing history and the spirit of UBC," he told me. "It had to be sportive, and technologically advanced." It also had to be something that only a company like UBC, with years of materials experience, could produce. "The CEO loved the idea of creating a masterpiece that showed the competencies UBC had developed in the last 20 years."
In designing the Coren, Zanzotti worked closely with UBC’s engineers, who had a bit of summer downtime between Formula 1 seasons—they "liked the challenge of pushing the material to the limits," he says. After a few months of prototypes, the final design called for a parallelogram-shaped frame built from a type of carbon fiber typically reserved for racecar chassis. Overkill? Perhaps. But the frame does cut a striking figure—and helps the Coren weigh in at a relatively light (though not really crazy light?) 17 pounds. Rather than a conventional chain, the bike employs a carbon-drive belt system, though the company said that single-speed and electric versions are also in the works.
At $32,500, the Coren’s not a bike that many will get to ride in their lifetimes. But at least it’s something beautiful UBC can stamp their name on.