Bastion confirms producing failed Australian team pursuit handlebar

The brand says it is working with the Australian Olympic Team to understand the cause behind the failure

Alex Porter crashes in the men's team pursuit qualifying at Tokyo 2020
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Australian brand Bastion has confirmed that it produced the handlebar which failed during the Olympic men's team pursuit qualifiers on Monday, though the precise cause remains unconfirmed. 

Cycling Weekly noted on Monday that the handlebar looked to be a Bastion model, and that the brand had removed the product from its website, soon after the crash in the Izu Velodrome.

On Tuesday, Bastion published a statement, noting: "Our team is working with the Australian Olympic Team to understand the cause behind the failure of one of our handlebar units during the four-person, Australian pursuit challenge at the Tokyo Olympics overnight.

"Our first concern was for Alex Porter and the entire team. We are in constant contact with the Australian Olympic cycling team and coaches, and give our assurances that we are using all means available to investigate why this occurred."

Bastion uses Additive Manufacturing - put crudely - 3D printing. It brought this process in-house when it purchased a Renishaw AM250 3D printer, and according to the brand's website, the machine is running Grade 5 Ti6Al4V Titanium Alloy.

The handlebar which failed during the event looks extremely similar to the base bar which previously existed on Bastion's Base Bar page, which reveals a 404 message at time of writing. 

A cached version of this page, from July 29, reads: "These bars are designed to fit the Argon 18 Electron Pro Track Bike. They replace the OEM Base Bar and allow more reach and knee clearance for out of the saddle efforts. A Spacer Stack is also available in various configurations."

Argon 18 supplies all riders using its equipment with a handlebar, in a statement released on Monday evening, VP of Product Martin Faubert said: "while Argon 18 has designed a handlebar for the bike, and provided that handlebar to the team, it was not our bar in use during this incident." 

With aerodynamics playing a defining role in the team pursuit event, and margins growing ever slimmer, teams are moving to 3D printed and custom parts in order to gain the advantage available from sizing components to the exacting needs of athletes - without the need for a custom carbon mould.

Bastion also produces a custom sprint stem, Madison bar and cranks for Cycling Australia.

The base bar, which provides the riders with a longer reach than the standard Argon 18 set up, appears to have four mounting points along the top section, with the snapped component appearing to fail very close to two of these along the centre of the stem area. 

In a statement following the incident, Cycling Australia noted: "Discussion concerning what caused the incident is understandable, but it is clear that it will take some time to establish exactly what happened."

It added: "While the immediate focus is on the success of the Australian Cycling Team across the remainder of the Olympic program, there will be a thorough investigation and review of the factors involved in the incident.

"To ensure the fairness of this process, we will make no comment on the detail of the investigation until it is complete."

Porter was able to remount his bike following the crash, and under the 'recognised mishap', Australia repeated its attempt. The quartet clocked a time of 3:48.448, taking fifth, with first place going to Denmark with 3:45.014. 

This leaves the four-man squad to compete for a bronze medal, and it remains to be seen if its riders will run the same base bar again or revert to an alternative. 

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