Chapter 11

A Laboratory Technique to Compare Road Bike Dynamic Comfort
Yvan Champoux, Julien L´ epine, Philippe-Aubert Gauthier, and Jean-Marc Drouet
Abstract Comfort is an important characteristic in road bikes, and a major source of discomfort is the vibration transmitted
to the cyclist. Since human memory tends to forget the perceived vibration stimulus strength soon after the perception is no
longer present, a comparison between two situations must be done rapidly. Laboratory testing is therefore frequently used to
investigate and document perception. This paper presents a laboratory technique enabling us to subject the cyclist to various
types of bike vibration stimuli. The technique is based on the use of a bicycle simulator that generates vertical displacement
under both wheels of a bike. A commercial bicycle is used to replicate vibration outputs at the saddle and the stem of different
bikes. The strategy to determine the appropriate driving signals of each simulator actuator is presented in this paper. This
requires solving an inverse problem. The results indicate that the measured and the reproduced PSD spectrum shapes are
very similar. The main factor influencing the quality of reproduction is cyclist intervariability.
Keywords Vibration • Bicycle • Perception • Reproduction • Comfort • Excitation techniques
11.1 Introduction
One of the primary desirable characteristics of a road bike is its capacity to filter road excitation in order to reduce the
vibration transmitted to the cyclist. Vibrations generated by road surface defects are a significant source of discomfort and
fatigue and are a disincentive to ride. Comfort is fundamentally related to the cyclist’s perceptions. The cognitive dimensions
of the rider’s own assessments of “dynamic comfort” therefore need to be examined, and this involves a quantification of
thresholds and parameters that can influence the cyclist’s ability to perceive and differentiate variations in vibration levels.
A road bicycle is a very compliant and lightweight structure. Because of its weight and added damping, the cyclist has the
greatest influence on the bike’s response [1, 2]. Moreover, while riding, the posture and position of the cyclist also influence
the contact point vibration response [3]. Split testing, which compares A versus B in different situations, is an efficient
technique that can be used to assess human perception.
To study the cognitive parameters related to cyclist perception, laboratory testing must be used, but the test environment
should be as realistic as possible. The notion of ecological validity, first introduced by Gibson [4] in the visual and later
extended to the auditory modality [5, 6], expresses the need to study human perception and performance under ecological
conditions by preserving or recreating the contextual and environmental cues that are meaningful for the task at hand. An
experimental protocol is ecologically valid only if the participants react to some extent as if they were in a natural situation.
On methodological grounds, it is critical to re-create an experimental protocol that resembles a naturalistic situation so that
participants recognize and treat the stimuli as natural or potentially familiar experiences [7]. To facilitate the reactivation
of cognitive processes elaborated in a previous cycling experience, we decided to design an experimental protocol enabling
participants to use a real bicycle instead of an artificial structure such as a saddle and a handlebar driven by shakers.
Y. Champoux () • J. L´ epine • P.-A. Gauthier • J.-M. Drouet
V´ elUS Research Group, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universit´ e de Sherbrooke, 2500 boul. de l’Universit´ e,
Sherbrooke, QC, J1K 2R1 Canada
e-mail: Yvan.Champoux@USherbrooke.ca; julien.lepine@usherbrooke.ca; Philippe-Aubert.Gauthier@USherbrooke.ca;
Jean-Marc.Drouet@USherbrooke.ca
R. Allemang et al. (eds.), Special Topics in Structural Dynamics, Volume 6: Proceedings of the 31st IMAC, A Conference on Structural
Dynamics, 2013, Conference Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Mechanics Series 43, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4614-6546-1 11,
© The Society for Experimental Mechanics, Inc. 2013
99
100 Y. Champoux et al.
For the proposed technique, the laboratory reproduction system requires a commercially available bike as well as a cyclist
to ride it. This so-called “reproduction bike” has its own dynamic behavior. Avalid question must then be asked: Is it possible,
by providing adequate excitation inputs only, to accurately reproduce vibrational outputs of a different brand of bicycle?
Providing the answers to this question was the motivation behind the work presented in this paper. The test environment is
described in the first part of the paper. First of all, using input and output measurements on the reproduction bike only, the
accuracy of reproduction was investigated. In a final step, the target output signals measured on a different commercial bike
were compared to the reproduced signals in order to evaluate the quality of the reproduction.
11.2 Methods
A road bike simulator that was developed for testing road bike dynamic behavior in previous studies was used in this study.
Two Xcite model 1100–7 hydraulic shakers were used to impose a vertical displacement under each wheel as shown in
Fig. 11.1.
The bike is held vertically by using horizontal bungees attached near the seatpost clamp and to a lab fixture. The cyclist
is not required to pedal. The shakers’ amplifier electric signal inputs s
1
.t / and s
2
.t / generate a vertical displacement under
the wheels that corresponds to an existing road profile [8].
Output acceleration signals a
3
.t / and a
4
.t / were measured using PCB accelerometers model PCB 352C65 at the
stemhandlebar connection and model PCB 352C68 under the saddle at the saddle-seatpost connection. An LMS SCADA
Recorder and LMS Testlab software were used to acquire and analyze data. The TestLab MIMO FRF software package was
used to playback pre-recorded waveform signals.
The reproduction system can be represented by a MIMO two inputstwo outputs system (Fig. 11.2). The inputs S
1
.!/
and S
2
.!/ are the frequency spectrum respectively of s
1
.t / and s
2
.t / while A
3
.!/ and A
4
.!/ are the output Frequency
spectrum for a
3
.t / and a
4
.t /. Front wheel excitation with the stem acceleration is considered to be a direct path. Similarly,
the rear wheel excitation is the direct path to the saddle acceleration response. When both excitations are provided, part of
the front wheel excitation is responsible for the saddle output and part of the rear wheel excitation is responsible for the stem
output. These are the coupling terms responsible for the crosstalk.
Equation 11.1 represents in the frequency domain the input–output relationship. The FRF system matrix [H] contains four
terms.

A
3
A
4

D

H
31
H
32
H
41
H
42

S
1
S
2

(11.1)
The off diagonal terms H
32
and H
41
are the coupling terms. It is important to underline that the system matrix [H] is
always measured with a cyclist riding on the bike. It should also be noted that a typical road excitation input is used to
measure [H].
Fig. 11.1 Road bike simulator
and the measurement points
( )
ij
H ω
S
2
(w)
A
3
(w)
A
4
(w)
S
1
(w)
Fig. 11.2 MIMO representation
of the system showing the direct
path and the coupled transfer path
11 A Laboratory Technique to Compare Road Bike Dynamic Comfort 101
The inverse matrix ŒY  D ŒH
1
can be calculated frequency by frequency. All the calculation are done with MATLAB.
The inverse problem allows calculating in the frequency domain the system inputs using the outputs as indicated in (11.2)

S
1
S
2

D

Y
13
Y
14
Y
23
Y
24

A
3
A
4

(11.2)
The reproduction system (bicycle and cyclist) impulse responses y
ij
.t / can be obtained by calculating the inverse Fourier
transform of the corresponding term Y
ij
. One can then calculate the time signal s
1
.t / and s
2
.t / by summing the contribution
of the time signal output a
3
.t / and a
4
.t / convoluted (*) by the respective impulse responses as shown in (11.3) and (11.4).
s
1
.t / D y
13
.t / a
3
.t / Cy
14
.t / a
4
.t / (11.3)
s
2
.t / D y
23
.t / a
3
.t / Cy
24
.t / a
4
.t / (11.4)
The time functions y
ij
.t / being the impulse responses, each term of (11.3) and (11.4) corresponds to a filtering process
of acceleration signals using a Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filter with coefficients provided by the time functions y
ij
.t /.
11.3 Experimental Validation
The reproduction procedure developed in this work is implemented as follows:
(i) Acceleration signals a
3
.t / and a
4
.t / measured simultaneously on several different bikes being tested. These signals can
be obtained on the road or in laboratory conditions with a cyclist riding the bike. The phase relationship between these
two signals must be maintained.
(ii) The selected reproduction bike is installed on the simulator. With a cyclist sitting on the bike, the systemis characterized
by measuring its system matrix [H].
(iii) Using the previously measured quantity in step (i), the shakers’ excitation signals s
1
.t / and s
2
.t / are calculated using
(11.3) and (11.4).
Having a set of s
1
.t / and s
2
.t / for several bikes, it becomes possible to implement comparison perception tests such as
split testing.
11.3.1 Validation Using the Reproduction Bike Only
The quality of the reproduction was first investigated using data measured with the reproduction bike only. Three different
tests were done to obtain this data:
Test (a) H
31
and H
41
measured simultaneously when the front shaker only is activated.
Test (b) H
32
and H
42
measured simultaneously when the front shaker only is activated.
Test (c) s
1
.t /, s
2
.t /, a
1
.t / and a
2
.t / measured simultaneously when both shakers are activated.
The same road signal was used for both shakers and with the same cyclist on the bike.
Figure 11.3 shows the measured system matrix amplitude [H] of the reproduction bike with a cyclist on the bike.
The system matrix measurement was repeated several times in a row to evaluate measurement variability. Between two
consecutive tests, the cyclist was asked to dismount. Figure 11.4 shows the FRFs H
31
and H
42
. The vertical axis is not
expressed in dB for this figure. At each frequency, the ratio between the minimum and maximum amplitude of all the curves
was calculated. The maximum ratio for all the frequency range 0–100 Hz is 1.25 (1.9 dB) for H
31
and 1.06 (0.5 dB) for H
42
.
Figure 11.5 shows the matrix [Y] which is simply the inverse of [H] calculated frequency by frequency. All calculations
were done in MATLAB with no filtering or matrix regulation.
To calculate the FIR filter coefficients y
ij
.t /, the inverse Fourier transform of each term Y
ij
was calculated. Prior to this
calculation, the DC value and the first frequency components were zeroed using a simple cosine taper high pass filter with
a cutoff frequency set at 3 Hz. The frequency band of interest is 3–100 Hz. A low pass filter with a cutoff frequency set to
150 Hz was also used to remove the high frequency content. The sampling frequency was set at 8,192 Hz and the FFT record
length was 2 s. The numerical impulse response duration was 2 s yielding to a 16,384 coefficients FIR filter.
102 Y. Champoux et al.
20 40 60 80 100
0
20
40
a
|
H
3
1
|




d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
/
V
20 40 60 80 100
0
20
40
b
|
H
3
2
|




d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
/
V
20 40 60 80 100
0
20
40
c
Frequency (Hz)
|
H
4
1
|




d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
/
V
20 40 60 80 100
0
20
40
d
Frequency (Hz)
|
H
4
2
|




d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
/
V
Fig. 11.3 System matrix amplitude [H] of the reproduction bike. (a) H
31
, (b) H
32
, (c) H
41
, (d) H
42
. A cyclist is riding the bike
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
0
50
100
150
a
b
½
H
3
1
½


(
m
/
s
2
)
/
V
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
0
50
100
150
Frequecy (Hz)
½
H
4
2
½


(
m
/
s
2
)
/
V
Fig. 11.4 Measurement variability for H
31
and H
42
(a) H
31
five tests; (b) H
42
three tests
The filter coefficients were rearranged to obtain an impulse response with evanescent ends to minimize the truncation
errors. Figure 11.6 shows the calculated four impulse response functions.
This first validation test used measurements obtained only from the reproduction bike. The input and output signals were
measured simultaneously as indicated previously in the description of Test (c). Using the output signals a
3
.t / and a
4
.t / in
(11.3) and (11.4), it was possible to solve the inverse problem and calculate the inputs s
1
.t / and s
2
.t /.
The first validation test consists of comparing the calculated and the measured inputs. Figure 11.7 allows us to compare the
measured and the calculated inputs signal s
1
.t / for a typical short time segment. The PSD of the measured and reproduced
shaker input signals G
s1s1
and G
s2s2
are compared in Fig. 11.8. The mean discrepancy between the calculated and the
measured PSD is 0.2 dB and the maximum discrepancy is 2.3 dB. The ratio between the measured and the calculated total
power for s
1
.t / is 0.98 and 0.94 for s
2
.t /.
11 A Laboratory Technique to Compare Road Bike Dynamic Comfort 103
20 40 60 80 100
-60
-40
-20
0
a
½
Y
1
3
½




d
B

r
e

1

V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
20 40 60 80 100
-60
-40
-20
0
b
½
Y
1
4
½




d
B

r
e

1

V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
20 40 60 80 100
-60
-40
-20
0
c
½
Y
2
3
½




d
B

r
e

1

V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
Frequency (Hz)
20 40 60 80 100
-60
-40
-20
0
d
½
Y
2
4
½




d
B

r
e

1

V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
Frequency (Hz)
Fig. 11.5 Inverse cyclist-bike
system matrix [Y] of the
reproduction bike. (a) Y
13
, (b)
Y
14
, (c) Y
23
, (d) Y
24
-1 -0.5 0 0.5 1
0
10
20
a
y
1
3
(
t
)



(
V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
/
s
)
-1 -0.5 0 0.5 1
-4
-2
0
2
b
y
1
4
(
t
)



(
V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
/
s
)
-1 -0.5 0 0.5 1
-4
-2
0
2
c
y
2
3
(
t
)



(
V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
/
s
)
Time (s)
-1 -0.5 0 0.5 1
0
10
20
d
y
2
4
(
t
)



(
V
/
(
m
/
s
2
)
/
s
)
Time (s)
Fig. 11.6 Impulse response
(filter coefficients) for the four
terms of [Y]. (a) y
13
, (b) y
14
, (c)
y
23
, (d) y
24
11.3.2 Reproduction Quality Assessment
To explore howthe proposed approach of using a reproduction bike succeed to reproduce the vibrational behavior of different
bikes, a road bike named the “target bike” of a different model and brand than the reproduction bike was selected and tested.
The target bike was installed on the simulator and the same shaker road input signals were used. The seatpost and saddle
acceleration levels a
3t
.t / and a
4t
.t / were measured. These signals and their respective frequency spectrum A
3t
and A
4t
are the target signals. Using the procedure presented previously, the signals s
1t
.t / and s
2t
.t / were calculated. These signals
were then used to drive the shakers, and then the reproduced output acceleration signals a
3r.t /
and a
4r.t /
were measured.
Comparing the target and the reproduced signals is the ultimate way to check the validity of the approach. An accurate
reproduction would show a perfect match between reproduced and target signals.
Figure 11.9 shows the comparison of the reproduced and the target acceleration PSD at the stem and at the saddle. A third
curve (thick line) shows the measured PSD when the original road signals were used. The shape change of the curves from
the thick line to the solid line demonstrates how the reproduction bike outputs are modified by changing the input signals.
104 Y. Champoux et al.
20.6 20.7 20.8 20.9 21 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4
-2
-1.5
-1
-0.5
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
s
1
(
t
)


(
V
)
Time (s)
Fig. 11.7 Comparison of the
measured shaker input signal
s
1
.t / with the calculated signal.
Solid line: measured signal;
dotted line: calculated signal
exciter
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
-60
-40
-20
0
a
G
s
1
s
1




d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
2
/
H
z
G
s
2
s
2




d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
2
/
H
z
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
-60
-40
-20
0
b
Frequency
Fig. 11.8 Comparison of the
measured and calculated PSD for
the shaker input signals (a) Front
exciter G
s1s1
(b) rear shaker G
s2s2
11.4 Discussion
The problem investigated in this study is somewhat similar to what is known as crosstalk cancellation in the audio research
community. Crosstalk cancellation is often applied to binaural sound reproduction at a single listener’s ears using two or
more loudspeakers [9–12]. For audio applications, crosstalk cancellation is somewhat complicated by: (i) the propagation
time between sources and receivers and (ii) the full audio bandwidth. In the case studied in this paper, the mostly non-
resonant and highly damped behavior of the reproduction bike is sufficient simplifies the derivation of the inverse, crosstalk
cancellation, filter and simple inverse processing.
The identification of natural frequency using Fig. 11.3 is difficult because there is no well-defined peak in the FRFs.
Modal analysis showed that the peak and valley in H
31
around 30 Hz is associated with the front and back cantilever beam
mode of the bicycle fork and front wheel.
Several parameters can influence cyclist-bike system behavior [3]. In this paper, a cyclist sits on the bike during all tests
for the following reasons: (i) the human body part vibrational behavior in contact with a vibrating structure is recognized
to have some non-linearity; (ii) the normal stiffness of road bike tire changes drastically with prealod. Testing at running
11 A Laboratory Technique to Compare Road Bike Dynamic Comfort 105
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
-10
-5
0
5
10
15
a
G
a
3
a
3
d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
/
H
z
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
-10
-5
0
5
10
15
b
G
a
4
a
4
d
B

r
e

1

(
m
/
s
2
)
/
H
z
Fig. 11.9 Comparison of the
target and measured acceleration
PSD at the stem and the saddle.
(a) Saddle acceleration PSD
G
a3a3
, (b) Seatpost acceleration
PSD G
a4a4
Solid line: replicated
PSD, dotted line: target PSD,
Thick line: reproduction bike
PSD output when shakers are
driven by the original road signal
preload levels imposed by the cyclist allows a reduction of the nonlinear effect. One of the main elements that must be taken
into account when testing bicycle vibration is the cyclist’s “posture” [3] which is related to the way the cyclist leans on the
bike, leans onto the handlebar, sits on the saddle and contracts his muscles. These elements have an important effect on the
vibrational behavior of the cyclistbicycle system. For studying bike design modifications in relation to its dynamic behavior
and comfort, the inherent variability of the cyclist must be taken into account, and testing techniques must be developed to
minimize its impact on test variability. Figure 11.4 shows measurement variability of the matrix [H].
The inverse matrix system [Y] is directly calculated in MATLAB from [H]. No regulation of the matrix is required. To
obtain the impulse response, it is necessary to get rid of the DC component and the few first frequency lines for all Y
ij
.
Because a piezoelectric accelerometer is used, the first few lines of the FRFs for [H] are not measured correctly and the
amplitude is close to zero. Consequently, the corresponding lines of Y
ij
have very high amplitude and must be removed.
Figure 11.6 shows the impulse responses. No time windowing was necessary and the use of 16,384 coefficients seems to be
adequate so that both ends of each impulse response asymptotically converge toward zero amplitude.
Figures 11.7 and 11.8 provide a first indication of the quality of the reproduction. Because in this case the measurements
were done on the same bike, one would expect that the measured and the calculated shaker excitation signals would be
identical. Indeed, Figs. 11.7 and 11.8 show that the discrepancies between the target and the measured values are relatively
small. The system matrix and the reproduction measurement require three different tests. The intervariability of the cyclist’s
position and posture could explain most of the discrepancies.
The last validation test results are shown in Fig. 11.9. The target signals (stem and saddle PSDs) are compared with the
reproduced PSDs. The response of the reproduction bike (thick line) was definitively reshaped by the use of a different shaker
input signals for reproducing the target bike outputs. A frequency span of 5–100 Hz is used to plot the graphs. The capacity of
hand and buttock to perceive vibration varies with frequency as described in the ISO standards [13, 14]. Taking the hand and
buttock sensitivity into account and the fact that most of the vibrational power shown in G
a3a3
and G
a4a4
is below 55 Hz, it
would be justified to judge the reproduction quality between 5 and 50 Hz. The reproduction quality at the saddle is better than
the one at the stem. This is expected because typically two-third of the cyclist’s mass is on the saddle and the intervariability
of a subject is lower at the saddle. In Fig.11.9a the replicated amplitude is overestimated around 23 Hz when compared to
the target signal. The results are taken from a single measurement and in a certain way this could be considered as a worst
case scenario. In any case, the frequency spectrum shapes of both the target and the reproduced signals are very similar.
11.5 Conclusion
For perception studies of comfort in a laboratory, a commercial bike was used to develop a reproduction system. The use
of vibrational output signals to calculate the required inputs for driving the shakers is essentially an inverse problem. It
was shown in this paper that inverting the system is quite straightforward and no specific matrix or system regulation is
required. The capacity of the reproduction system to reproduce vibration accelerations at the stem and saddle was examined
106 Y. Champoux et al.
and it was shown that the frequency spectrum shapes are well reproduced. Nonetheless, some amplitude discrepancies
were observed, mainly at the stem. This approach requires that a cyclist sit on the bike during all tests as well as when
characterizing the system. The reproduction system includes both the cyclist and the bike. Practical testing considerations
related to nonlinearities were raised to justify including a cyclist. The current challenge to studying comfort is related to the
fact that the cyclist has a strong influence on the vibrational response of the bike cyclist system and a change in position or
posture can introduce important variability. The results presented in this paper are based on a single measurement. Repeating
all measurements over several days will prove to be worthwhile. It will also be interesting to consider the effect of different
cyclists. Finally, we also need to ask if, in order to maximize the quality of the reproduction, it would be necessary to repeat
all measurements, including the system matrix characterization, for each cyclist.
Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada
(NSERC) and the participation of Cerv´ elo and Vroomen-White Design.
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