Mountain bike braking power meter to be revealed at Interbike

Are you braking bad?

Suspension telemetry is old hat in mountain biking now and there are very few teams on the World Cup circuit that don’t attach measuring gizmos to their suspension in the off season.

Photo: Massey University

However, fork and shock set up are only part of the speed puzzle, that’s why a scientist from New Zealand’s Massey University has invented a world’s first braking power meter.

Dr Phil Fink’s invention measures the amount of time a rider uses the brake and the power that is transferred through the rotor. Braking can now be accurately quantified and analysed, the data of which could theoretically be used to improve performance. Dr Fink and Matt Miller (an assistant lecturer) spent two years researching braking’s effect on speed and fatigue and seem confident the power meter will improve both.

Miller said: “We took several national-level mountain bikers and had them repeat a descent without pedaling. More skilled, faster riders brake powerfully over a short space of time, whereas slower, less skilled riders brake with less power over a longer time period.

“What wins races? Speed. Speed is a result of how hard you pedal [propulsive power] and how little you slow down. Changing your speed depends on how fit, or unfit you are, and of course how much you brake. We think braking indicates the level of a rider’s skill.”

The patent-protected prototype will be introduced at Interbike and manufacturers and suppliers are apparently already interested in it and it is likely to be commercialised in the future.

Sure, this may only be of commercial interest to the very top racers but we’d love to know what can be learned from braking performance, especially when combined with other factors such as suspension set up or different tyres. Let’s hope Fink and Miller find the industry backing they need to make this a reality.


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