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The most expensive bike in the world, according to the Guinness Book Of World Records, is the beautifully titled Butterfly Bike, named so by its creator, British artist, Damien Hirst.
The reason for its name, according to reports, is that Hirst used authentic, real-life butterfly wings when varnishing the frame… we cannot confirm if any of the air-borne insects were harmed in the process of making the bicycle.
Sold at an auction at Sothebys, New York, for a whopping $500,000, the wing-wheeled contraption was ridden by former great Lance Armstrong (before all the cheating stuff) during the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France. It positively flew across the finishing line at the Champs-Elysees in Paris, helping its rider to an overall third place finish (before that position was then re-populated by Bradley Wiggins due to said cheating stuff).
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World’s Costliest Bicycle Sold at a Charity Auction
To everyone’s credit, the bike was sold to raise funds in aid of Armstrong’s successful LiveStrong cancer charity, which provides free support services to anyone afflicted by the condition. The disease famously affected Armstrong at the height of his exploits.
Although the use of real butterfly wings on the most expensive bike ever may shock some observers, followers of Hirst and his art shouldn’t be surprised. The Devonian-based master creator has made his name in using animals as part of his exhibitions – most notably stuffing an entire tiger shark and suspending it in an encased glass case filled to the brim with formaldehyde in the 1990s. If you’re willing to park a shark in a vitrine, plastering the wings of (hopefully already deceased) butterflies onto a bike frame is no big deal.
One thing’s for sure though: this bike is a real object of beauty and may well end up on my shopping list if I was a lottery winner!
Most Expensive Bikes Ever
The Butterfly Bike passed the previous holder of costliest bike in the world in November 2009. That title allegedly belonged to the Trek Yoshimoto Nara, which fetched a cool $200,000. Also sold at Sotheby’s, and also ridden by Lance Armstrong – this frame was decorated by the aforementioned Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, who embellished it in a cartoon of some feisty characters in boxing gloves.
Despite the heavy costs – Tour De France bikes are notoriously light. According to the UCI (cycling’s governing body) the minimum weight must be 6.8kg – and you can be sure that those specs are pushed to the limits. Professional cycling, if nothing else, has a reputation for doing what is necessary to find those edges.
The Best Bike in the World?
It might be the most expensive bicycle of all-time, but is Damian Hirst’s Butterfly Bike really the best bike in the world? Comment below with your favourite bike.