TU Delft Offers WCF Participants a Glimpse of Futuristic Bicycles
DELFT, the Netherlands – The Cycling Lab of the Delft Technical University (TU) opened its doors for the World Cycling Forum participants last month. In a series of presentations, they were informed on the background of the Cycling Lab and what this lab brings the bicycle industry. The participants also toured the university campus by bike to see the laboratory, including the wind tunnel and the making of the bike that is to break the current speed record.
Some 30 people visited the Cycling Lab as an optional 3rd day of the World Cycling Forum which took place last 4 -5 June in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The Cycling Lab is part of the Sport Engineering Institute of the TU Delft. This is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the researchers of five faculties of the university. It positions TU Delft as one of the most engineering oriented university in sports research, combining the broad fundamental knowledge of its faculties.
Sports Engineering Institute
Started in 2014 the TU Delft Sports Engineering Institute aims to connect researchers and multidisciplinary sport-related projects including cycling. However when cycling is concerned, the applied research lines are not focused on sports only but on two very specific elements of daily use of the bicycles: fall prevention and better steering. “We created a hub at the TU Delft to connect businesses and sports organization with our professors,” explained Dr. Daan Bregman of the Strategic Development/Valorisation Centre at the TU Delft. “With our X!Delft project we want to make innovation visible in exchange for know-how.”
It was Dr. Arend Schwab (and his fellow researcher Jodi Kooijman) who made this Cycling Lab at the TU Delft famous in 2007. As biomechanical engineer at the Cycling Lab he published a study on ‘how a bicycle rides’. “Why is a bicycle so interesting,” asked Arend Schwab to the WCF audience visiting the TU Delft. “For nearly 150 years, scientists have been puzzled by the bicycle. How on earth is it possible that a moving bicycle can, all by itself, be so stable? We did find the answer and it now helps us to improve cycling safety.”
Recently the TU Delft and the bicycle manufacturer Royal Dutch Gazelle developed a prototype of a bike with smart steering assistance that may help to reduce the number of falls with bicycles. The bike has a smart motor in the handlebar that provides steering assistance if the cyclist is in danger of falling. The Cycling Lab can validate the body behavior with the bicycle simulator developed at the university.
‘Ring of fire’
To enable a multitude of life size objects to be aerodynamically analyzed Dr. Andrea Sciacchitano and his team developed Large Volume Particle Image Velocimetry, also called the ‘ring of fire’. While the static analysis in a wind tunnel of cyclists of the Giant Alpecin team, a new application is real time aerodynamic analysis of training cyclists in a ‘ring of fire’ on an indoor cycling track. Here a laser is used to measure drag in a dynamic position. One of the initial results of this testing methodology is that the drag of motorcycles escorting in road-racing is much bigger than anybody expected.
Speed is leading not weight reduction
The TU Delft is also home of the Human Power team, a joint project of the universities in Delft and Amsterdam. “With our Velox 9 we will try to set the female speed world record without support next September in Battle Mountain in the United States,” explains Sebastian Hartgring, student in Civil Engineering and responsible for PR and public relations for the Velox 9. “The main difference with previous generation Velox bike is the servomotor to change gear, Vredestein dedicated tyres, a bigger front wheel and special wheel protectors to reduce drag. Except a few parts, like the tyres, everything is made by ourselves. Speed is leading not weight reduction.”