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Trans. Tianjin Univ. 2010, 16: 045-049 DOI 10.1007/s12209-010-0009-2

Optimal Design of Mountain Bicycle Based on Biomechanics *

BU Yan (

) 1 HUANG Tian (黄 田) 1 XIANG Zhongxia (项忠霞) 1

WU Xiaofan (吴小凡) 1 CHEN Chun (

) 2

(1. School of Mechanical Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China2. Tianjin Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, Tianjin 300211, China)

© Tianjin University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

AbstractTo achieve better cycling performance and vibration comfort of mountain bicycle, the optimization of frame structural parameters and rear suspension scale parameters is investigated based on biomechanics. Firstly, the quadratic sum of rider lower limb muscles stresses is presented as the evaluation criterion of muscle fatigue. By taking the criterion as the objective function, the relative positions of three pivot points of frame are optimized to ensure that the frame structural parameters match the stature of riders. Secondly, the vibration performance is evaluated referring to the ISO 2631-1 Mechanical Vibration and Shock Evaluation of Human Exposure to Whole-Body Vibration. Ac- cording to this evaluation, the mapping relationship between the vibration performance and rider’s weight as well as structural parameters of rear suspension is revealed. Results show that the length of side link has no significant effect on vibration comfort, while rider’s weight is important in the design of mountain bicycle. Keywordsmountain bicycle; biomechanics; muscle fatigue; vibration comfort; optimum design

According to the survey performed by the Customs of China, mountain bicycles are the bulk of the total ex- port in quantity [1] . Unlike on-road cycling, the main char- acteristic of mountain cycling is the rough road surface. To save energy (riders are not easy to feel tired) and to gain better comfort performance should also be consid- ered in the dynamic design of mountain bicycle. Over the years, there have been many preliminary studies in this field. For the biomechanics, based on the theories of er- gonomics, medicine, mechanics and aesthetics, a design method of bicycle saddles was studied [2] . The pedaling mode of China outstanding female athletes of track cy- cling was investigated [3] . The antagonism relationship of lower limb muscles was analyzed based on the myoelec- tric signal, and the force of lower limb muscles during cycling was also analyzed [4] . Early methods for vibration comfort of mountain bi- cycle were based on dynamic modeling of bicycle and rider. A dynamic model of mountain bicycle and rider with six rigid bodies was developed to estimate structural loads and rider-induced energy losses [5-7] . A bond graph model of a hard-tail mountain bicycle for a fixed rider was created to predict the performance of the bicycle dur- ing extreme motions [8,9] . A mathematical model of rider

and bicycle system was built, which takes the bicycle as four rigid bodies and the rider as a single rigid body [10] . All these models are based on multi-body system dynam- ics theory, and the rider model was relatively simple. In recent years, some researchers have established the bio- mechanical model of rider with LifeMOD software to discuss the motorcycle cycling comfort and the human muscle activities [11,12] . Compared with the rigid body model of rider, the biomechanical model can reflect the rider’s real cycling status relatively. Based on biomechanics, this paper optimizes the scale parameters of frame structure to ensure that riders are not easy to feel tired, and also optimizes the scale parameters of rear suspension to gain better vibration performance.

1 Dynamic modeling and simulation of rider and mountain bicycle

The dynamic model of rider and mountain bicycle system is shown in Fig.1. The prototype is a full suspen- sion bicycle, the wheel diameter is 660,mm and material is A-alloy. The multi-rigid dynamic bicycle model was established with Pro/E and ADAMS software. The rider

Accepted date: 2008-06-23. *Supported by Tianjin Science and Technology Development Project (No.043186211) and Tianjin Key Laboratory of Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Equipment. BU Yan, born in 1979, female, Dr. Correspondence to XIANG Zhongxia, E-mail: xiangzhx@tju.edu.cn.

Transactions of Tianjin University

Vol.16 No.1 2010

is a 26-year-old man, 175,cm in height and 65,kg in weight. The biomechanical model of rider was con- structed with LifeMOD software, which is composed of 19 body segments, 18 joints and 118 main muscles. De- tails can be found in Ref.[13].

and 118 main muscles. De- tails can be found in Ref.[13]. Fig.1 Dynamic model of rider

Fig.1

Dynamic model of rider and mountain bicycle

The cycling is assumed on a sine-wave road surface with 25,mm amplitude and 500,mm wavelength, and the cycling velocity is 1.78 m/s. The exciting displacements were applied to the wheels to describe the relative motion relationships between the bicycle and ground. The motion simulation included inverse and forward dynamic simulation. Firstly, the bicycle model was equipped with a constant speed motion drive at the crank arm, which drived the bicycle pedaling. With the feet attached to the pedals, the legs followed the pedals cy- cling. During the inverse dynamic simulation phase, the muscle contraction histories were recorded. Then the muscle was simulated in linear PD-Servo formulation to produce a force to recreate the motion history. Finally, the motion drive was removed from crank, and the bicy- cle was pedaled by the rider model. Also, the displace- ments, velocities and accelerations of bicycle bodies and performance parameters of rider were obtained.

2 Parameter optimization of frame based on muscle fatigue

2.1 Objective function

The muscle fatigue evaluation presented by Crown- inshield [14,15] is the quadratic sum of muscle stresses, which is shown as

J =

σ

i

2

=

i

(

stresses, which is shown as J = ∑ σ i 2 = ∑ i ( S

S

F

ii

)

2

(1)

σ the

stress of the ith block of muscle;

block of muscle;

of the ith block of muscle. Because the varied range of rider upper body posture is rather narrow during cycling, and the lower limb mus-

where J is the quadratic sum of muscle stresses;

F the tension of the ith

i

i

S the physiological cross-section area

i

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cle plays an important role, the muscle fatigue can be evaluated by the quadratic sum of the lower limb muscle stresses. The smaller the value, the less remarkable the fatigue, indicating that the bicycle is suitable to the rider, and can provide better performance for the special rider. Taking the rider as an example, 17 blocks of major lower limb muscles and muscle physiological cross- sectional areas in mm 2 are shown in Fig.2 [16] .

areas in mm 2 are shown in Fig.2 [ 1 6 ] . Fig.2 Human limb

Fig.2

Human limb muscle anatomic distribution

The quadratic sum of the 17 blocks of major lower limb muscle stresses is considered as the evaluation dur-

ing cycling. The smaller the value, the better the cycling performance.

2.2 Design parameters

Axle, saddle and handlebar are called 3 pivots of bicycle frame [17] , which constitute the contact interface between the rider and bicycle. The frame structural pa- rameters are determined by the relative positions of the 3 pivots. Moreover, both posture and force of a rider are affected by the 3 pivots. So the relative positions among the 3 pivots are important factors in the optimal design of frame structure. The upper body posture is determined by the dis- tance between saddle and handlebar, which is almost kept constant during cycling. So the relative distance between saddle and handlebar is considered as a constant. Accord- ing to the theory of ergonomics [18] , the human body is the most comfortable when the back muscles are in a relaxa- tion state on condition that the spine is natural as the hu- man body is in the sitting posture during cycling. Studies have shown that the cycling posture is the most comfort-

able when the angle between the upper arm and upper

thoracic is 50° [19] . Then the upper body posture is gained as shown in Fig.3. Taking the bicycle in this paper as an example, the distance between saddle and handlebar is 624 mm, and the angle between saddle and handlebar connection and ground is 9.6°.

BU Yan et al: Optimal Design of Mountain Bicycle Based on Biomechanics

Optimal Design of Mountain Bicycle Based on Biomechanics Fig.3 Upper body posture of rider The lower

Fig.3

Upper body posture of rider

The lower body posture is determined by the dis- tance between axle and saddle, which changes with the cycling motion all the time. In this paper the relative dis- tance between axle and saddle is determined through the best cycling posture at which muscle fatigue is the mini- mal. Based on the original bicycle structure, the axle po- sition is stationary, so the saddle position is taken as a design parameter and the handlebar position is gained through the best upper body posture. In summary, the main design parameter of frame structure can be presented by the coordinates of the sad- dle position (x, y).

2.3 Constraint conditions

Cartesian coordinates system taking the mass center of axle position as the initial point is established in Fig.4. The angle between seat tube and ground ranges from 68° to 73° according to experience in the field of bicycle. Based on this value, the angle is extended from 65° to 75°. The leg and foot are assumed to extend completely when the pedal is at the lowest position, and thigh is horizontal when pedal is at the highest position. Taking the two positions as limit states, four boundary lines of saddle can be obtained as y = 3.2 x + 42.6, y = -0.07 x + 62.1, y = 2.2 x-11.1, y = -0.45 x + 50.5, 140 mm x 320 mm, 450 mmy 610 mm, as shown in Fig.4.

x ≤ 320 mm, 450 mm ≤ y ≤ 610 mm, as shown in Fig.4. Fig.4

Fig.4

Design parameters and their ranges

2.4 Optimal results

Based on the dynamic model of rider and mountain bicycle coupled system, the predictive equation of quad- ratic sum of lower limb muscles stresses is obtained by simulation and regression analysis [20] ,

J = 2 337 411.506 −−+8 461.055 x

8 268.230 y

36.355 xyx−+−8.540

7.389 y

2

2

2

0.033 xy + 0.014 x

3

(2)

Considering the ranges of design parameters, the lo- cal optimal parameters can be gained from Eq.(2), i.e., x = 272 mm, y = 610 mm, and J = 96 079. 010 5 (N·mm -2 ) 2 . According to Eq.(2), the relationship between the rider fatigue and design parameters of frame structure is obtained, as shown in Fig.5. In the given range of pa- rameters, the optimal saddle position for the special rider can be obtained, which can make the lower limb muscle fatigue minimum.

which can make the lower limb muscle fatigue minimum. Fig.5 Relationship between rider fatigue and design

Fig.5

Relationship between rider fatigue and design parameters of frame structure

3 Parameter optimization of rear suspen- sion based on vibration comfort

3.1 Objective function

The mechanical vibration may do harm to human body and cause discomfort. The mechanical vibration and shock evaluation of human exposure to whole-body vi- bration is specified in the International Standard ISO2631-1 [21] . The human body model of seated position includes 3 input points with 12 vibrations in the axial direction. The weighted root-mean-square (RMS) accel- eration, which is weighted by the sensitivity of human body to frequency and axial vibration, is regarded as a fundamental factor for the evaluation of vibration. And the body comfort reactions are defined as various magni- tudes of weighted RMS acceleration. Because the human body would respond differently under driving body and vibrated body, the limit value for the weighted RMS ac- celeration specified in Ref.[21] may not be proper for bicycle riders. Thus, the vibration comfort is only evalu- ated relatively in this paper according to the method of weighted RMS acceleration. In this paper, the rider and mountain bicycle system is regarded as a two-dimensional kinetic system. The swing of the bicycle during cycling is neglected. Another assumption is that the rider is sitting on the bicycle mov-

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Vol.16 No.1 2010

ing with a constant speed. The single axial rotational vi- bration is also neglected since the rider’s trunk has the ability of auto-regulation and the pitching vibration of saddle is small. Hence the vibration model can be simpli- fied to the vibrations of saddle in the horizontal and ver- tical direction and the vibration of pedal in the vertical

direction. The vibration of foot, when the rider is cycling continuously, is also replaced by the vibration of central axle. When cycling at a low speed, the vibration fre- quency resulting from rough roads is low, so the human body vibration can also be neglected. Therefore, the vi- bration comfort can be evaluated using the RMS of the

vibration acceleration

direction at saddle and the vertical direction at central axle,

a in the horizontal and vertical

v

a

v

=

22 2 ( ωωω⋅⋅ka )( + ⋅⋅ka )( + ⋅⋅ka ) d x x k
22
2
(
ωωω⋅⋅ka
)(
+
⋅⋅ka
)(
+
⋅⋅ka
)
d
x
x
k
y
y
k
y
y
1
1
1
1
2
2

(3)

where

a

x

is the RMS acceleration of saddle in x direc-

1

tion;

a

y

1

the RMS acceleration of saddle in y direction;

the RMS acceleration of central axle in y direction; ω and ω , the weighted frequency numbers [12] , in this

= 2/2.8 =

k , the weighted

=

a

y

2

d

k

paper, the excited frequency is 2.8 Hz, so

0.714 3 and

ω = 2.8/4 = 0.7;

k

k

x

1

axis numbers [21] , in this paper,

0.4. Eq.(3) becomes

, k

y

1

k

x

1

and

= 1,

y

2

k

y

1

ω

d

= 1 and

k

y

2

a

v

=

22 2 (0.714 3 aa++ ) (0.7 ) (0.28 a ) xy y 11 2
22
2
(0.714 3
aa++
)
(0.7
)
(0.28
a
)
xy
y
11
2

(4)

The smaller the value of a , the better the vibration com- fort.

3.2 Design parameters

To facilitate the determination of design parameters and their ranges, coordinates are established as shown in Fig.6. Point D is the origin where the rear suspension system and bicycle frame are connected. Taking the wheel central distance and structural parameters of frame as constants, the design parameters related to rear suspen-

v

sion are the length of side link l AB , the length of connect- ing rod l BC and rider’s weight m.

of connect- ing rod l B C and rider’s weight m . Fig.6 Ranges of design

Fig.6

Ranges of design parameters of rear suspension

3.3 Constraint conditions

Based on the weight status of adults, the range of m

is from 50 kg to 100 kg.

mm.

mesh in Fig.6 are the feasible zones of pivot B, which are

. And

the lower area is the eliminable and unreasonable one

limited by the spatial dimension of structure motion. The

= 386 mm and

length of other bars is l = 403 mm,

plotted by the constraint conditions of l and

ranges from 90 mm to 130

l AB

l BC

ranges from 310 mm to 380 mm. The areas of

DG

AB

l

DC

l

BC

l

DA

= 207 mm.

3.4 Optimal results

Based on the simulation of dynamic model of rider and mountain bicycle system, a 2nd-order stepwise re- gression model is obtained to analyze the effects of pa- rameters and their interaction effects on

a

v

.

a

v

=

23 563.9417

11.378 3

−−m

32.979 3

l

AB

94.441 6

0.064 32

l

BC

−+ml

0.309 7

AB

ll

AB BC

+

0.038 96

2

m

0.086 26

+

ml

BC

0.143 4

2

AB

l

+

0.114 8

2

BC

l

+

(5)

= 380 mm,

the relationship between vibration performance and de- sign parameters can be acquired from Eq.(5) as shown in Fig.7, Fig.8 and Fig.9.

Setting m = 65 kg,

l

AB

= 90 mm and

l

BC

Fig.8 and Fig.9. Setting m = 65 kg, l AB = 90 mm and l BC

Fig.7

Relationship between a v and m

Fig.8

Relationship between a v and l AB

Fig.9

Relationship between a v and l BC

Fig.7 shows that for the same mountain bicycle, the rider with different weights has different vibration com- fort. The parameter of rider’s weight is an important fac- tor in the design of mountain bicycle. Fig.8 shows that when the rider’s weight and the length of connecting rod are constant, the optimal length

of side link is 100 mm. Fig.9 shows that when the rider’s weight and the length of side link are constant, the optimal length of connecting rod is 360 mm. Compared with the other two design parameters, the vibration comfort is the most sen- sitive to the length of connecting rod.

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BU Yan et al: Optimal Design of Mountain Bicycle Based on Biomechanics

If the rider’s weight is given, the optimal parameters of rear suspension can be obtained from Eq.(5) for the best vibration comfort. For exemple, when setting m = 75 kg, Eq.(5) becomes

a

v

=

22 929.735 9

0.064 32

ll

AB BC

−−l

56.208 9

+

0.143 4

AB

2

AB

l

+

87.972 2

0.114 8

l

BC

2

l

BC

+

(6)

Considering the ranges of the design parameters, the

= 117

= 350 mm, and the predicted RMS acceleration

optimal parameters are obtained from Eq.(6):

mm,

l AB

l BC

a

v = 4 218. 67 mm s -2 .

4

Conclusions

(1) The optimal positions of three pivot points of frame can be achieved by the optimal method, which makes the cycling performance best for a special rider. (2) The relationship between vibration comfort and design parameters including the rider’s weight can be described by the 2nd-order stepwise regression model. (3) The rider’s weight is an important factor in the design of mountain bicycle. If the rider’s weight is speci- fied, the reasonable design configuration of rear suspen- sion will improve the vibration comfort greatly.

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