27 Nov TU Delft graduation project allows cyclists to gain time in corners
TU Delft student Niels Lommers has teamed up with professional cycling Team Giant-Alpecin (also the team that Dutch cycling star Tom Dumoulin is part of) to create a ‘measurement bike’ that is able to record how cyclists steer and brake. Improved insight into braking and how to approach corners can result in precious time gains. With this research constituting his graduation project, Lommers graduated from TU Delft on Friday, 27 November.
Hanging on for dear life
‘In a winding descent, a cyclist such as Nibali flies down like a condor, while the same descent may leave Thibaut Pinot hanging on for dear life’, says Niels Lommers from the Faculty of 3mE at TU Delft. ‘Better understanding of when to brake and the best way to take a corner can provide a crucial edge on the competition. Despite this, how cyclists brake and steer has generally been taken for granted in cycle racing.’
‘That’s why I dedicated my graduation research to developing a method and a ‘measurement bike’ to provide cyclists with feedback on their cornering technique. There’s currently a lot of variation between cyclists attempting a winding descent, for example. One of the ways in which I can help is by measuring how a cyclist leans during a corner, the line they take and how they brake and steer. In the long term, we also expect that gaining a better understanding of how cyclists brake and steer will result in less crashes in the sport’.
Last year, the TU Delft Sport Engineering Institute and the professional cycling team Team Giant-Alpecin (also the team that Dutch cycling star Tom Dumoulin is part of) worked on the prototype of the measurement bike. The bike is able to record how cyclists brake and steer. The initial results indicate major contrasts per kilometre between cyclists that are good at descending and those that aren’t, for example.
‘The preliminary experiments were conducted last year at our training camp in La Plagne, France. This resulted in various interesting outcomes and insights’, explains Teun van Erp, the scientific expert at Team Giant-Alpecin. However, the measurement bike in its current form is still primarily a scientific instrument and is yet to become a high-performance racing bike. ‘This is just the beginning’, adds Van Erp. ‘We’re going to be collaborating with the TU Delft Sports Engineering Institute to see what the next step should be. We are certainly keen to further develop this method of measurement and to make more widespread use of it’.
‘This project is the first step towards a measurement set that can rapidly transform any bike into a ‘sensor bike’’, explains Arend Schwab, researcher at the TU Delft bicycle lab. A huge amount of data is already being collected – it’s difficult to imagine cycle sport without power meters, wind tunnel tests and the heart rate monitor.
The sensor bike allows the following parameters to be measured: steering angle, gradient, braking power (front and rear), location on the road and speed. By linking this data with existing power measurement systems, cyclists’ steering and braking performance can be objectively assessed. ‘The focus of future research is on further development and improving feedback’, conclude Schwab and Lommers.
- [In Dutch] Afstudeerproject levert wielrenners tijdwinst op in bochten, Engineersonline, 30 november 2015
- [In Dutch] Kort door de bocht: deze fiets helpt wielrenners met dalen, NOS, 28 november 2015