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Propelling Britain's cyclists towards success

11 March 2016

BAE Systems revealed details of the advanced technology it has developed for Britain’s top cycling athletes to help propel them to success in 2016.

UK Sport- Ergometer (Image courtesy of BAE Systems)
UK Sport- Ergometer (Image courtesy of BAE Systems)

A team of engineering experts at BAE Systems has worked closely with the British Cycling team to develop an advanced cycling ergometer that measures the immense power output of elite cyclists.

The system measures the work-rate and energy expended by cyclists and is capable of replicating the centrifugal forces of a velodrome more accurately than any other testing tool. The vital data collected includes gas and blood analysis and enables testing at high speeds to analyse the athlete’s technique. 

The advanced cycling ergometer was developed as part of the technology partnership between BAE Systems and UK Sport and following a specific request from British Cycling for an adaptable system that could be customised for different riders and events. The system was also designed to be easily portable which means it can be used in a laboratory ensuring the data captured is more accurate.

Paul Barratt, Lead Biomechanist - Great Britain Cycling Team, English Institute of Sport said: “Every performance on the world stage requires elite athletes to be at their best. Highly-accurate testing tools such as the cycling ergometer help to ensure athletes are performing at their most competitive. BAE Systems has created a portable and accurate system that we believe will be integral to the teams’ training regimes and will help us to achieve our medal winning target at the Rio Games”.

With an appearance similar to a normal ergometer or static exercise bike, the advanced Cycling Ergometer houses a large variable fly wheel at its rear - with blades that can be adjusted to increase or decrease resistance on the pedals, mimic different gear ratios with incredible accuracy and generate forces for the cyclist based on their individual load and the track on which they are riding.

Henry White, BAE Systems’ UK Sport Technology Partnership lead said: “We take great pride in supporting UK Sport and apply the same problem-solving principles and ingenuity to challenges in sport as we do to tackling complex defence and security programs. The cycling ergometer is a unique system which we hope will boost the success of the British Cycling team and is one of a number of projects on which we are working this year with UK Sport.”

As well as track events such as sprints and endurance rides, the cycling ergometer can also be used to test the performance of cyclists involved in road events. It has proven instrumental for track stars including Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

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