Int J Sports Med 2001; 22(6): 400-404
DOI: 10.1055/s-2001-16242
Physiology and Biochemistry

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Energy Cost of Riding Bicycles with Shock Absorption Systems on a Flat Surface

H. Nielens, T. M. Lejeune
  • 1Centre de médecine du sport, Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2Service de médecine physique et réadaptation, Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2001 (online)

Bike shock absorption systems reduce the energy variation induced by terrain irregularities, leading to a greater comfort. However, they may also induce an increase in energy expenditure for the rider. More specifically, cross-country racers claim that rear shock absorption systems generate significant energy loss. The energy losses caused by such systems may be divided in terrain-induced or rider-induced. This study aims at evaluating the rider-induced energy loss of modern suspended bicycles riding on a flat surface. Twelve experienced competitive racers underwent three multistage gradational tests (50 to 250 W) on a cross-country bicycle mounted on an electromagnetically braked cycle ergometer. Three different tests were performed on a fully suspended bike, front suspended and non-suspended bicycle, respectively. The suspension mode has no significant effect on V˙O2. The relative difference of V˙O2 between the front-suspended or full-suspended bike and the rigid bike reaches a non significant maximum of only 3 %. The claims of many competitors who still prefer front shock absorption systems could be related to a possible significant energy loss that could be present at powers superior to 250 W or when they stand on the pedals. It could also be generated by terrain-induced energy loss.


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Prof. H. Nielens

Centre de médecine du sport
Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc

avenue Hippocrate, 10
1200 Brussels, Belgium

Phone: +-32-2-7641650

Fax: +-32-2-7649063