One of the early research studies we did investigated the differences in braking between beginners and experts. The particular graph below was from a study we did looking at a short descent leading in to a long sweeping turn. We did all the sciencey things like control speed and bike setup, and clear differences came out between the groups.
We broke the track down in to sections, and analyzed tons of data for many many months. It came as no surprise that the experts were faster (a LOT faster) over the short distance.
While the stopwatch doesn’t lie, sometimes the eye does. None of the braking differences were clear while watching the hundreds of trials, but by looking at the braking data itself, we were able to come up with recommendations for beginners to ride more efficiently.
This is the same as in fitness training: sure, the race times don’t lie, but if we want to get faster, we need to know what we are actually doing out on the race course.
So what do we do? We record data, analyze data, hire a coach, practice, practice, practice and GET FASTER!
Up until Interbike last year, we had been pretty quiet about the brake power meter. I had collected a bunch of years worth of data during actual riding and we’d all been working hard, but mostly working quietly.
Then we went to Interbike, and things kind of exploded! No one had seen a brake power meter before, and our old clunky prototype was more than a head-turner when walking through the outdoor demo!
While at the outdoor demo at Interbike, we showed the brake power meter to Vital MTB. We were fresh off the plan from NZ and super jet-lagged! I gave a glimpse of some of the data we had collected during real riding on real trails with professional riders and beginner riders. It was super exciting to talk a bit about the data and to show how we can help riders perform better. After all, that’s been the whole point of all these years of research!
Here’s a screen grab below. You can see the old data logger we started with. It’s kind of funny, but that dinosaur is now a decoration! You can read the full article here.
If there was ever a professional race in which both the use of brakes and the use of the pedals became apparent a cycling sport, this was it:
I remember watching that race with some serious excitement–we had already looked at the performance benefits of coasting down hills and was well underway with the brake power meter…and this race made it all clear for everyone.
This race run showed that you could beat the best in the world by braking smarter, and it turns out that you can brake smarter by riding fresher. We didn’t need to see his pedaling power that day (he didn’t pedal!), but soon we will be able to see how the best riders in the world brake. This is so exciting!