The auto change bicycle

Jan 13, 2009

Researchers in Taiwan are designing a computer for pedal cyclists that tells them when to change gear to optimize the power they develop while maintaining comfort. The system is described in the latest issue of the International Journal of Human Factors Modelling and Simulation.

As environmental pressures mount to find greener modes of transport, more and more people are turning to bicycling not only as an enjoyable form of exercise but also as their main mode of transport for commuting. But, athletes aside, few people know how to adjust the gears on their bicycle to get the most power out of their pedaling without becoming uncomfortable either through having to pedal too fast in a low gear on level roads or straining when going up hill or to maintain a high speed.

T.Y. Lin, Y.C. Chen, and H.C. Ping at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, at National Defense University, Tashi, Taiwan, ROC, explain how ergonomic studies show that cyclists can be in an optimum state during cycling with a fixed output power and cadence (pedaling speed). They have now developed a computer algorithm that gives any cyclist a gear shift strategy to cope with almost any cycling conditions and maintain this optimal state without reducing comfort.

The researchers point out that bicycles are a nineteenth century invention but there has been little fundamental change in the bicycle's components in the last 75 years or. Indeed, good derailleur gearing systems allow riders to move efficiently and feel comfortable but not necessarily optimally so for the untrained cyclist. Nevertheless, the derailleur gear system can fine-tune the relationship between the cyclist's leg strength, their cardiovascular system, and the riding environment.

Efforts to improve bicycles have tended to focus on modifying components and ignored the fact that seated in every saddle is a human being. Lin and colleagues have factored in the human element of cycling and considered that a fit and healthy non-athlete should be able to ride a bicycle for several hours generating 75 Watts of power without suffering fatigue and at a comfortable cadence of between 60 and 100 revolutions per minute.

The algorithm devised by the team and tested by simulation of a 12-speed bicycle provides a gear-shifting sequence with minimal power losses and gear shifts. "By following the sequence, riders can operate the derailleur system more easily," says the team, "Riders will also feel comfortable because all gear-ratios can be used, and gear-shifting actions will be smoother." The computer will automatically adjust to riding conditions, satisfying the human element. It would not be hard to imagine extending the concept to entirely automatic mechanical gear-changing system.

Paper: "Development of an optimum bicycle shifting strategy based on human factors modeling" in Int. J. Human Factors Modelling and Simulation, Vol. 1, pp 159-173

Source: Inderscience Publishers

Explore further: Researchers evaluate mosquitoes' ability to float on water in order to potentially design aquatic robots

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How music listening programmes can be easily fooled

12 hours ago

For well over two decades, researchers have sought to build music listening software that can address the deluge of music growing faster than our Spotify-spoilt appetites. From software that can tell you ...

Fighting invasive species in Michigan's lakes

Feb 25, 2015

Everyone knows that clean water is important. But for the state of Michigan, surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes, it is absolutely essential—to the economy and the environment. That's why the research being done ...

Scientific spring in isolated Antarctica

Feb 24, 2015

In Antarctica, the crew of the French–Italian Concordia research station are preparing for the winter. They have to survive six months of complete isolation – four in darkness because the Sun never rises ...

Team develops web tool to speed data collection

Feb 20, 2015

By 2030, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older. To understand the role neighborhoods play in seniors' ability to 'age in place'—living safely and independently in one's home of choice rather than ...

Recommended for you

Applications of networked micro-drones

2 hours ago

Micro-drones are already being put to use in a large number of areas: These small aircraft face extensive requirements when performing aerial observation tasks or when deployed in the field of disaster management. A newly ...

Large-surface light-emitting plastic film

Mar 03, 2015

Based on OLED technology and implemented by means of a printing machine, this method developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd provides an opportunity to create patterned and flexible light-emitting ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.