Even quicker with new handlebars

The BTU-Chair of Lightweight Design with structured Materials has developed and produced a customised track-bike cockpit for the LKT Team Brandenburg. The professional cyclists unleashed the new technology at the World Cup in autumn.

When tenths of a second are enough to determine victory or defeat, all sorts of tweaks are made to make athletes faster – and cycling is no different. The renowned cycling expert, Heiko Salzwedel, returned to Cottbus in the spring of 2018. Cyclists from various countries like Russia, Denmark, Australia and, most recently, Great Britain, have won numerous medals under his guidance. The coach has brought lots of knowledge to Cottbus – and lots of wishes.

Prof. Holger Seidlitz, Chair of Lightweight Construction with Structured Materials, explains how the cooperation with the LKT Team Brandenburg came about: »He’s used to working with the very best equipment. He wasn’t satisfied with what the market had to offer in terms of cockpits, which consist of handlebars, a stem, armrests, extensions and connecting components. That’s what brought him to the BTU.« The BTU had already worked with the sponsor, Lausitzer Klärtechnik (LKT), on other successful projects over the years.

The scientists had already worked on the development of high-end cycling equipment for a long time. The LKT Team is now benefiting from their wealth of experience: »You can see they’re both experts, and the overall package is also fantastic. We have everything here in Cottbus – that’s what brings us together. It’s great that top-level sport and technical excellence can be combined in our region«, says LKT Team Manager, Steffen Blochwitz.

The specific aim of the development work was to optimise the handlebars and construct the entire cockpit to make it adaptable to individual athletes and able to withstand the immense force exerted at the beginning of a race. The end result was a product made of carbon that brilliantly meets all the requirements: Improved aerodynamics, ergonomic handles, perfect grip in the arm rests and increased rigidity give the athletes greater speed and make the bikes safer. »We’ve managed to optimise the aerodynamics, which means that we have reduced the power required to push the handlebars through the air by 24% compared to the original model. The handlebars are now also lighter and more rigid, allowing a cyclist’s power to be optimally transferred onto the track at the beginning of a race«, explains Jonas Krenz.

The young cyclists came to the BTU on a warm summer’s day in August to inspect and test the new cockpit. The scientists had meticulously ensured that each set of handlebars matched the exact dimensions and requirements of each cyclist. The cyclists then completed their first test lap at the university sports facilities. Niklas Vogt saw a lot of happy faces and received lots of praise from people, like this year’s German Champion in the team pursuit, Richard Banusch: »The power transfer is fantastic – just what I was looking for.« Philip Weber also gave his opinion: »There’s a Formula 1 car beneath the handlebars. As it has been tailor-made for me, it has considerably improved my position on the bike.« The World Cup meet from 30 November to 2 December had a very special attraction in front of a home crowd in the Berlin Velodrome, as athletes from the Cottbus team competed against the best cyclists from around the world.