The University of Southampton

Cycling performance optimised by real-time aerodynamic drag meter

Published: 4 September 2020
The RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel is ideally suited for vehicle aerodynamic work and performance sport testing. Photo credit: Ian GC White

A cycling drag meter that improves aerodynamic performance in real time has been developed with support from expertise and facilities at the University of Southampton.

The Body Rocket device beams readings from the seat post, handlebars and pedals wirelessly to a cycle computer to give riders precise feedback on different positions, movements and kit.

Professor Eric Rogers, from the Vison, Learning and Control (VLC) research group, provided data and signal analysis during the product development, drawing upon specialist knowledge from previous research on inertial navigation in space and sensor fusion algorithms.

The new drag meter was tested and validated at Southampton's RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel as part of the national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme.

Dr Martyn Prince, Principal Research Engineer at the Wolfson Unit in the School of Engineering, says: "We were able to apply our knowledge and systems in sports-based aerodynamic testing. This allowed iterations of the Body Rocket product design to be tested and benchmarked against aerodynamic drag results measured in the controlled environment of the wind tunnel with a range of different bike setups."

The RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel has been at the forefront of aerodynamic research for more than 30 years. It is used extensively, not only by the performance sport industry, but also industries including automotive, aerospace and marine and maritime.

Eric DeGolier, Body Rocket founder, says: "Around 80 per cent of aerodynamic drag in cycling is created by the rider. Body Rocket's Garmin cycle computer gives you precise, real-time feedback as you experiment with different positions, movements and kit. Then, after each session you can sit down and analyse the data on our app to identify incremental improvements and answer questions like 'what's my optimal riding position?' and 'will adjusting my saddle help me go faster?'."

Read the full story in the latest Re:action, the University’s research and enterprise magazine.

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