A PROTOTYPE bike worth tens of thousands of pounds has been stolen overnight from Ilkley.

The Hope Bike 211 is one of only about 15 in existence and is said to be "almost priceless".

The test bike has been built by Barnoldswick company Hope Technology and was outside the home of a member of staff when it was taken on Thursday night.

Because the bike is so rare it is thought it will be very noticeable and difficult to sell on.

Woody Hole, a manager at the company, said: "Basically these bikes are not even on sale yet, they are so rare. They are prototype bikes that have been on-going now for 14 to 16 months. There are only about 15 in existence.

"Whoever stole it is going to do very well to get rid of it."

He said the bikes will probably cost between £6,500 and £8,000 when they go on sale at the end of the year - but at this stage each one was almost priceless.

"They are worth tens of thousands of pounds because there are so few of them," he said.

The stolen bike's rarity means it will stand out and will attract a lot of attention if it is ridden.

"I have one myself and wherever you go they turn heads," Mr Hole said. "There are so few of them and if they turned up anywhere people would notice.

"Even if someone tries to strip the bike to sell the parts a lot of them are one-offs. They will not fit on any other bike."

In an appeal for information on its facebook page the company says: "The HB211 bikes are extremely special to us here at Hope. Last night, sadly, one of our employee HB211 test bikes was stolen from the Ilkley, West Yorkshire area.

"Please help us find the bike, keep your eyes open. There are only a handful of HB211 bikes on the trails. If you see someone riding one, perhaps question where it came from.

"The bike cannot be stripped for parts. All parts are very unique. The hubs, headset, bottom bracket, brakes among other parts are unique.

"The stolen bike has Fox 36 forks on and an Ohlins coil shock. The bike has prototype number 6 marked on it.

"Please call Hope on 01282 851200 if you can help."