System helps racing cyclists adapt sitting position exactly to physical conditions

April 20, 2017
With the help of the bike scanner, athletes can adapt their racing bike optimally to their body. Credit: KIT/Markus Breig

Participants in the hardest bicycle races in the world, such as the Race Across America (4800 km), the Race Around Austria (2200 km and 30,000 meters difference in altitude) or Cape Epic in South Africa (700 km, 14,500 m difference in altitude and almost insurmountable terrain), should not only prepare their bodies optimally, but also adjust their sports equipment. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed a measurement system by means of which cyclists can adapt their sitting position exactly to their physical conditions.

"Our bike scanner uses a laser to measure both the athlete and racing bike. Then, a self-developed software calculates the optimum sitting position," Marian Hoffmann of the BioMotion Center of KIT's Institute of Sports and Sport Science (ISS) says. "In this way, overloading or inappropriate straining of the knees and the lower back in particular are avoided and energy consumption can be optimized," the sports scientist explains.

The hardware, a type of over-dimensioned bicycle stand, was built by Bernd Hermann, who is responsible for the development and construction of measurement equipment at the BioMotion Center. This stand allows for the precise measurement of the athlete's body and the racing bike. Measurements are made at anthropometric points of the locomotive system and at relevant points of the bike. Then, the measured data are processed by a self-developed software. On the basis of biomechanical model calculations, the most favorable sitting height and the best possible distance between saddle and handle bar are determined. "This yields the optimum individual sitting position of the cyclist," Hoffmann says.

Accompanying studies by students of sports science with active racing revealed that this optimization of the settings is successful, Hoffmann reports. However, the bike scanner is not only useful for competitive athletes. The researchers of KIT plan to apply the system to other bicycle types, such as mountain bikes or city bikes.

The bicycle was invented 200 years ago. With the original version, a walking machine without pedal, its inventor Karl Drais, who lived in Karlsruhe, (1785 to 1851), went from Mannheim to Schwetzingen, i.e. 14 km, within one hour on June 12, 1817. Individual adjustment of the handle bar and saddle height, however, was impossible at that time.

Explore further: Customized bikes to improve physical performance and prevent injuries

Related Stories

Fine-tuning prosthetics for cyclists

July 1, 2016

Disabled cyclists will be among those competing at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in September 2016. Ensuring top performance calls for prosthetics of superior design, but tailoring them to handle the combination ...

Dutch launch 'intelligent bicycle' that warns of danger

December 15, 2014

The Netherlands on Monday launched its first-ever "intelligent bicycle", fitted with an array of electronic devices to help bring down the high accident rate among elderly cyclists in the bicycle-mad country.

More cycling with e-bikes

May 20, 2015

According to a new study, electric bikes make people cycle longer and more often. The effect is best on women.

Recommended for you

Flying Dutch win world solar car race in Australia

October 12, 2017

Dominant Dutch team "Nuon" Thursday won an epic 3,000-kilometre (1,860-mile) solar car race across Australia's outback for the third-straight year in an innovative contest showcasing new vehicle technology.

0 comments

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.