Cutting-edge test bike will bring the best cyclists in the world to Leuven

16/01/2018

The Bakala Academy, KU Leuven's research- and testing center for top sports, today revealed a new eyecatcher: an isokinetic test bike. This set-up allows cyclists to perform output measurements with their own bike, allowing them to recreate the levels they reach during races. The product is a cooperation between several Leuven MindGate members: Comate designed the machine thanks to funding provided by the province of Flemish Brabant. Laurens De Plus, professional cyclist for the Belgian Quick Step team, gave the attendees a demo of the setup.

Bakala Academy is known for attracting world-class athletes from all over the world who are looking for medical tests, body measurements, altitude simulations, running analysis and so on. One of the most frequently used test set-ups for cyclists and triathletes is the isokinetic strength test. 

"This test allows us to make an accurate image of a cyclists power output", Peter Hespel, professor Exercise Physiology, mentions. "In certain stages of a race, let's say in an escape or when sprinting towards the finish line, the cyclists have to be capable of delivering very high amounts of strength. During our test, the cyclists perform six efforts at maximum intensity for five seconds. Each effort at a different number of rotations per minute."

Unique in the world of cycling

© KU Leuven - Rob Stevens

The original device was developed years ago at KU Leuven as well. "This test is unique in the world of cycling since the cyclists can use their own customised bicycle. This recreates their match conditions and delivers the most realistic results."

Sander Van den Dries, Co-founder at Comate, noticed the test's immense potential. "When visiting Bakala Academy two years ago, I noticed this test set up. The concept was unique, but starting to wear down a bit and the design needed some improvement as well. Since there was no budget to start from, we decided to fill in a project for subsidies from the province, which we eventually received in 2015 as one of five innovation projects from Flemish Brabant."

"This project is a great example of how knowledge institutions, companies and governments can work together to create an innovative and market-oriented product", Marc Florquin, Flemish Brabant's council member for economy, mentions.

Logically, this innovation will not go unnoticed in today's cyclist environment. The world's best cyclists all have the Bakala Academy in their address book and it is expected that household names like Marcel Kittel, Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet will make a stopover in Leuven anytime soon. Although professor Hespel emphasized that amateurs are more than welcome to see how much juice their legs can deliver compared to the world's best.

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