Human Factors in Bicycle Design Determination of Optimum Values for Bicycle Sizing Parameter ( or How Big Should My Bike Be?) Human Factors in Engineering Design - Case History Adam Lorimer April 2002 Contents Handlebar Position Total Sizing Systems Different Cycling Disciplines
Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.
Determination of Optimum Values
for Bicycle Sizing Parameter
( or How Big Should My Bike Be?)
Human Factors in Engineering Design
- Case History
Some studies have shown that oxygen uptake (VO2) can be optimised by having the correct saddle height. Setting-up a Time Trial bike properly can result in improvements as much as 4.5%.
Gluteus maximus (GM)
Biceps femoris (BF)
Vastus lateralis (VL)
Tibialis anterior (TA)
Vastus medialis (VM)
Rectus femoris (RF)
Mechanics of Pedalling
Electromyography (EMG) measures the electrical pulses generated by contracting muscles.
EMG has been used to identify the operation of the major cycling muscles of the leg.
1. Crank Length
2. Saddle Height
3. Saddle Fore/Aft
5. Handlebar Drop
Which Bike Measurements ?
There are three points at which the cyclist comes into contact with a bicycle:
It is therefore the relative position of these points with which we are concerned.
Height to Sternum Notch
Inseam Leg Length
Out-stretched Arm Length
Shoulder Width (bony protrusions)
Which Body Measurements ?
These distances considered with respect to the anthropometric measurements of the cyclist affect the position the body takes while cycling.
Most systems use the following body measurements as a basis for calculations
Some systems take extra measurement such as:
Thigh Length Hip Flexibility
Forearm Length Body Weight
Cranks tend to be supplied in standard lengths, 170mm for road bikes, 175mm for mountain bikes
A longer crank allows more torque to be applied to power the bicycle, but the foot must travel a greater distance for each pedal rotation.
This means a longer crank effectively lowers the gear ratio. The gear ratio can be easily changed so this is not a factor in determining the optimal crank length.
Optimal crank length is some function of overall leg length or thigh length.
If the crank is too long the leg must develop power outside its most efficient range of motion.
If the crank is too short, pedalling cadence must be very high. This is limited to the speed at which muscles can “switch on and off”. Efficiency is also reduced at very high cadences.
There are no accurate methods available for determining crank length.
Crank length should normally be 18-25% of inseam leg length (C), but this does not hold true for cyclists with very long or very short legs. Beyond this, fine-tuning should be based on what “feels” right.
There are a number of criteria to determine the optimal saddle position
The crank position allowing maximum force input (3 o’clock position) should coincide with the leg’s natural position (maximum power output from cycling muscles)
The pelvic girdle should remain horizontal and the knee slightly bent throughout the pedalling circle for comfort, efficiency and to prevent injury.
Optimum Saddle Position is a COMPROMISE
The lower the saddle the smaller the front profile of the cyclist, so therefore the lower the aerodynamic resistance
A lower saddle lowers the centre of gravity of the cyclist, thereby improving handling.
25-30º knee flexion,
pedal BDC, normal foot position
John Howard Method
30º bend in knee when pedal BDC,
normal foot position
(goineometer on femur and tibia)
Greg LeMond Method
Saddle height (2) = 0.883 х Inseam leg length (C)
(- 3mm for clipless pedals)
These methods take no account of a cyclists tendency to pedal with the foot angled up or down
These methods address the first requirement for saddle position directly
The widely excepted method for determining the horizontal position of the saddle in relation to the bottom bracket, is that when the crank is in the 3 o’clock position a plumb line dropped from the tibial tuberosity (bump below the knee) will intersect the pedal spindle.
The position of the CoM while seated then determined the fore/aft saddle position.
Bontrager’s recommends a method that uses the
position of the body’s centre of mass (CoM) while pedalling out of the saddle to determine the relative
The CoM should be 2-3 cm behind the pedal spindle in the 3 o’clock position.
position of the handlebars to the pedal.
Fore / Aft Saddle Position
Keith Bontrager – The Myth of KOPS
Bontrager claims this method is ungrounded in biomechanics. It assumes, falsely, that the direction of gravity has some bearing on a cyclist ability to pedal and only addresses the cyclists position when seated.
If handlebars are positioned in front of and below the saddle they can be more easily pulled up on to counter the forces on the pedals.
The lower and further away the handlebars the more aerodynamic the position assumed by the body.
Handle Bar Position
The position of the handlebars is limited by the length of the upper body (B-C), the length of the arms (D) and the flexibility of the hips and neck.
There are no simple, generic techniques for determining handlebar position.
Trial and error must be used to determine the longest, lowest position that meets the cyclists comfort requirements.
Total sizing systems estimate reach and handlebar drop in relation to all other sizing parameters
Custom frame builders often have there own systems for fitting a bicycle to a customer
The system is often a collection of rules of thumb, based on years of experience as well as some biomechanical analysis.
Some systems are available commercially as computer packages. Others are available to use on-line, free of charge.
There follows a selection of companies and websites offering these services.
Fit Kit systems - http://www.bikefitkit.com/ - Converts body measurements to set-up recommendations.
Serrota Cycles - http://www.serotta.com/sizing.htm - This system concentrates on flexibility, strength, and biometrics rather than body measurements. Can be done on a bicycle, or a Serotta "Size Cycle".
Ergo Fit - http://www.bicyclefit.com/ - Concentrates on knee (femur/tibia) angle and wedges (Big Meat) under the foot to correct problems and maximize performance. Widely available in the USA.
Bioracer - http://www.bikefitting.com/English/SiteInfo.html - Advanced "measure the body and output a fit" system. Popular in Europe.
Wobblenaught - http://www.wobblenaught.com/ - Uses body measurements and under foot wedges
Wrench Science - http://www.wrenchscience.com/WS1/default.asp - On-line bike fit computer
Drafting, or slipstreaming, is banned in triathalon, so an aerodynamic position becomes the most important requirement.
Pedalling efficiency is still important, but slower speeds mean that aerodynamics have less effect. Handling requirements mean the body position is more
The reach is long
upright and and the handlebars are wider
Downhill Mountain Bike and BMX
Emphasis moves completely from pedalling efficiency to handling. Handlebars are above the saddle, which is rarely used, and the
saddle is set further forward to put less strain on the muscles involved in running. Allowing them to be rested.
reach is very
short. The handlebars are very wide and in line with the forks to quicken steering.
Different Cycling Disciplines
Generally a recreational cyclist will put more emphasis on comfort and less on efficiency than a competitive one.
The relative positions of the pedals, saddle and handlebars, determine the position the body takes while cycling
The bike must be fitted to the measurements of the cyclist.
Crank length ~18-25% of inseam leg length (C),
Cycling uses many muscles
The saddle height should
be such that the knee remains slightly bent while pedalling
Try different methods
Set up is inexact, and depends on the intended use.
Handlebar position is a compromise between comfort and aerodynamics
Good bike fit is paramount for comfort, efficiency and performance
Books and Articles
Baker, A. – Bicycling Medicine, Simon & Schuster 1998.
Burke, E. R. – Serious Cycling, Human Kinetics.
Doughty, T. – The Complete Book of Long Distance and Competitive Cycling, Simon & Schuster.
Metcalfe, J. – Mountain Bike Fitness Training, Mainstream Publishing.
Whitt, F. R., Wilson, D. G. – Bicycling Science, 2nd Edition, MIT Press.
Analytic Cycling - http://www.analyticcycling.com/PedalModelConcept_Page.html
Klein Direct Fit Philosophy - http://www.kleinbikes.com/tech_guide/fit.asp
How to Fit a Bicycle, Peter Jon White, http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
Human Power, The Technical Journal of the IHPVA - http://www.ihpva.org/pubs/hpindex.html
Thanks To My Cranks - http://www.thankstomycranks.com/
The Myth of KOPS, Keith Bontrager - http://www.bsn.com/Cycling/articles/kops.html
Bicycle Crank Length: Some References - http://www.nettally.com/palmk/crref.html
Reference available in Sheffield Librararies - http://www.thankstomycranks.com/refs.htm
Links to bike fit calculators - http://www.cyclemetrics.com/Pages/FitLinks/bike_fit_links.htm