Skip to main content
Log in

Development of a test rig and a testing procedure for bicycle frame stiffness measurements

Sports Engineering Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article


The stiffness measuring method for bicycle frames is not standardized, leading to a wide variety of test setups; they differ in many aspects such as applied load, support constraints and frame deflection measurement. The aim of this paper is to draw attention to this problem and to quantify the perturbing, unwanted side effects that influence the stiffness measurement of the bicycle frame. This is illustrated by developing a multi-purpose rating test method for bicycle frame stiffness. The proposed test rig design considers different aspects which should be taken into account when measuring the bicycle frame stiffness. In the experimental setup, it is observed that the contribution of the test bench compliance led to 21% difference in the frame stiffness results; the influence due to the head, the tube-bearing type the corresponding preload resulted in up to 19% difference in the stiffness results between the lowest and highest stiffness values measured; hysteresis effects caused by pulleys are estimated to introduce errors up to 11%; and the influence due to the operator variability and sensor accuracy is estimated to be less than 3%.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Lessard LB et al (1995) Utilization of FEA in the design of composite bicycle frames. Composites 26:72–74

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lépine J et al. (2014) The relative contribution of road bicycle components on vibration induced to the cyclist. Sports Eng 2:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Lépine J et al. (2013) A laboratory excitation technique to test road bike vibration transmission. Exp Tech 40:227–234

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Pelland-Leblanc J-P et al (2014) Effect of structural damping on vibrations transmitted to road cyclists. In: De Clerck J (ed) Topics in modal analysis I, vol 7. Springer International Publishing, Florida, pp 283–290

  5. Petrone N, Giubilato F (2013) Development of a test method for the comparative analysis of bicycle saddle vibration transmissibility in 6th Asia-Pacific Congress on Sports Technology, Hong Kong, pp 288–293

  6. Barry N et al (2015) Aerodynamic performance and riding posture in road cycling and triathlon. Proc Inst Mech Eng Part P J Sports Eng Technol 229:28–38

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Dyer BTJ, Noroozi S (2015) A proposed field test method and an assessment of the rotational drag of contemporary front bicycle wheels. Proc Inst Mech Eng Part P J Sports Eng Technol 229:67–75

    Google Scholar 

  8. Jermy M et al (2008) Translational and rotational aerodynamic drag of composite construction bicycle wheels. Proc Inst Mech Eng Part P J Sports Eng Technol 222:91–102

    Google Scholar 

  9. Drouet J-M, Champoux Y (2012) Development of a three-load component instrumented stem for road cycling. Proced Eng 34:502–507

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Drouet J-M et al (2008) Development of multi-platform instrumented force pedals for track cycling (P49). The engineering of sport 7. Springer, Paris, pp 263–271

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  11. Rowe T et al (1998) A pedal dynamometer for off-road bicycling. J Biomech Eng Trans ASME 120:160–164

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Moore KJ (2012) Human control of a bicycle, doctor of philosophy dissertation, mechanical and aerospace engineering, University of California, Davis

  13. Oertel C et al (2010) Construction of a test bench for bicycle rim and disc brakes. In: 8th Conference of the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA), Procedia Engineering, vol 2, issue 2, pp 2943–2948

  14. Giubilato F et al (2014) Engineering evaluation of “reactivity” of racing bicycle wheels. Procedia Eng 72:489–495

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Lépine J et al (2012) Technique to measure the dynamic behavior of road bike wheels. In: Allemang R et al (eds) Topics in modal analysis II, vol 6. Springer, New York, pp 465–470

    Google Scholar 

  16. Petrone N, Giubilato F (2011) Methods for evaluating the radial structural behaviour of racing bicycle wheels. In: 5th Asia-Pacific Congress on Sports Technology. pp 88–93

  17. Herrick JE et al (2011) Comparison of physiological responses and performance between mountain bicycles with differing suspension systems. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 6:546–558

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Liu YS et al (2014) Analyzing the influences of bicycle suspension systems on pedaling forces and human body vibration. J Vibroeng 16:2527–2535

    Google Scholar 

  19. EFBe Prüftechnik (2010) Rigidity test stands. Accessed 5 May 2015

  20. Giant (2013) The truth about road frame testing. Ride Life Ride Giant, vol 2, Retrieved from

  21. Rinard D (2015) Lab vs. reality. Accessed 21 June 2015

Download references


This work was supported by the Agency for Science by Innovation and Technology (IWT) [Grant number 120789] and by Eddy Merckx Cycles.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joachim Vanwalleghem.

Ethics declarations

Ethical approval

No human subjects were involved in this study.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Vanwalleghem, J., De Baere, I., Loccufier, M. et al. Development of a test rig and a testing procedure for bicycle frame stiffness measurements. Sports Eng 21, 75–84 (2018).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: