A sophisticated training tool developed by BAE Systems will help fine-tune performance of the British cycling team

BAE Systems engineers performance of British cycling team

A high-tech stationary bicycle developed by defence engineers from BAE Systems will help boost the performance of British cyclists.

The device, the so called advanced cycling ergometer, measures athletes' power output and expended energy while accurately replicating the centrifugal forces experienced in a velodrome.

Designed to be easily portable, the system can be used to simulate sprints and endurance rides as well as road events, and provide detailed insight into what's happening with the athlete.

“Highly accurate testing tools such as the cycling ergometer help to ensure athletes are performing at their most competitive,” said Paul Barratt, lead biomechanist working with the Great Britain Cycling Team at the English Institute of Sport. “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.”

The most important component of the advanced cycling ergometer is a large flywheel located at the rear. Equipped with adjustable blades, the flywheel allows the athlete’s support team to increase and decrease resistance on the pedals, accurately mimic different gear ratios, and generate forces based on the individual load and the track that is being simulated.

During a training session, which can take place in a laboratory to allow the most accurate data measurements, sports physicians can collect gas and blood data. This way, they get the best insight into how the athlete uses his or her energy.

“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 programmes,” said Henry White, BAE Systems’ UK Sport Technology Partnership lead. “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.”

The ergometer has been developed as part of an eight-year technology partnership between BAE Systems and UK Sport.

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