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Museeuw flax bikes and more

Road Bike 13 350

Last year, I briefly mentioned the flax fiber frames that were introduced during the 2007 Tour by Johann Museeuw, the former Belgian champion known as the Lion of Flanders. Museeuw has a range of carbon/flax models in the 2010 line, which you can read more about in a recent FrameForum piece. The Museeuw bikes are claimed to have a smooth ride due to the flax content, and the article discusses an engineering test that seems to substantiate that claim. In the test, one of the Museeuw flax models (the MF-5) was compared with 3 popular carbon fiber frames- the Pinarello Prince, the Cervélo R3SL, and the Wilier Cento Uno.

“Each bike was fitted with five accelerometers at all the key points of the bike that determine ride quality. From these sensors, the collected data was then analysed to produce a map of how each bike performed in terms of damping performance”

See the resulting graphs over at the FrameForum article.

I also have a few other links to quickly pass along:

Blake is a bike commuter in San Francisco who designed a clever little device to lock your helmet to your bike. Take a look at his website for the HelmetLock. Also, you can see a recent review of the Helmet Lock over at Bike Commuters.

“Not exactly professional design” is how Peter opened his email to me, but his “draught horse” trailer is pretty cool. Take a look at the pictures on his website.

Bike Radar had an interesting article last month, which stated that, “this year, for the first time, the Dutch spent more on electric bikes than they did on city bikes.” I think this will be a trend in many other places going forward.

Cool Hunting recently posted “Seven Standout Bikes”. They were looking for a “clean design aesthetic”, so it apparently they gravitated toward fixed gear and single speed models… no surprise there.

Finally, I want to mention that I recently put together a slideshow portfolio of some of my photographs from pro bike races. Race photography is something that I am becoming increasingly interested in, so I am looking forward to shooting the US Pro Championship time trial and road race next weekend. Speaking of the US Pro races, I just updated the post about a meet-up that weekend. If you are going to be in town for the races, plan to stop by.

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  1. RobM August 21, 2009 at 7:38 pm -  Reply

    Those are some great photos you've got posted there.

    Might I recommend that you post some large, widescreen, desktop backgrounds for download? There are very few available of that quality out there.

  2. Ron August 22, 2009 at 1:33 pm -  Reply

    James :

    Flax bikes have been in the media black hole for sometime now. Thank you for the linking story to the University of Ghent study on damping characteristics. That was pretty interesting (it would have been nice to include a study of a Calfee bamboo bike in there as well) and I'm looking for more from the Eurobike conf.

    Early last year, I saw this bicycle and wrote about its properties and manufacturing scheme. I believed then that we've entered the age of the Bio-Composite bike. I believe Museeuw started this small revolution in the industry.

    I'll link to those posts of mine for you and readers :

    Bio-Composite Bicycle : Part 1

    Bio-Composite Bicycle : Part 2

    Marketing The Flax Bike In The U.S


  3. Anonymous August 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm -  Reply

    The Frame Forum article writes :

    "Those vibrations have two significant parameters : amplitude and frequency. The amplitude part is how hard the shock is, while the frequency is how long that shock lasts before it is dissipated. Amplitude is measured in parts of a second, frequency in Hertz, or length of cycle. If you think of it in terms of a bell, the amplitude is the note and the frequency is how long the bell holds that note before fading away."

    Frequency is length of note? Seems like the authors need a discourse in elementary physics. Frequency is how often the wave cycles in a second, and is the reciprocal of time period. If I shake the author of the article 3 times in one second, the frequency is 3 Hz. Each shaking will endure for 0.3 seconds.

  4. Anonymous August 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm -  Reply

    Frequency determines pitch or how loud sound is. Length is determined by wavelength.

  5. lou August 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm -  Reply

    Article OP linked to is a pseudo scientific article with a lot of pseudo tech bla bla and a lot of embarrassing errors. TOUR magazine tested a Museeuw frameset some time ago. It was ridiculously expensive, no notable difference in comfort but very well finished. That's it.

  6. Daflex August 24, 2009 at 10:24 am -  Reply

    Hi guys,

    I'm actually the person who performed these tests and I have to say that the original article on Frameforum dropped the ball on a couple of points. I prepared a technical presentation for the Museeuw Bikes press launch, which I also presented and could thus explain in more detail. A copy of this presentation somehow made it to the guys at Frameforum who picked it up without the proper technical explanations. I will attend Eurobike, so if any of you have any questions please come by the Museeuw bikes booth and I will gladly answer all questions.

    For those of you that will not be able to make it to Eurobike next week, let me explain below what the graphs show and how I got to make the assumptions…

    (continued below)

  7. Daflex August 24, 2009 at 10:25 am -  Reply

    In measuring comfort, there is no straigthforward way to do so. Putting the frame on a shaker might give some indication but you will never get an actual real-life simulation on a shaker table. Also, riding behaviour and road conditions greatly influences how loads are introduced into the frame not to mention tire pressures, rim height and so on… The only way to get some trend/indication on vibration damping was to get the same rider do the exact same route (long enough to determine a visual trend in the results and possibly filter out any variations) and strategically position accelerometers to get good and reliable datasets. On cobblestones every frame will transfer the vibration and it is not these vibrations which were of interest to us. Low frequency vibrations already cause significant energy loss and these can already be felt on concrete road or badly maintained roads. I therefore took a very basic route with some good and some bad road conditions and avoiding extreme conditions.

    The general idea was: if I could find a way to correctly measure and determine the difference between the loads that were introduced into the frame and the loads that the rider would experience, I could find out how "comfortable" a bicycle frame is quantitatively. Therefore, placing one accelerometer on the rearstay, near the rear wheel hub would get me the loads coming into the frame and an accelerometer positioned just below the saddle would get me the loads before the rider experiences them. The reason why I used 5 accelerometers was to gain insight on the effect of the design of each specific frame structure (ISP/no ISP, curved vs. straight rearstay,…). In the future I will try to analyse this data as well but for now I only focused the rear stay and seatpost data to get the broader picture.

    (continued below)

  8. Daflex August 24, 2009 at 10:25 am -  Reply

    Every testframe (Museeuw MF5, Pinarello Prince, Wilier Cento Uno and Cervelo R3SL) was tested 4 times: 2 clincher type rims (high and low profile) and 2 tubular (high and low). If my idea was correct, I should not see too much difference between different wheelsets since I was looking at the frame properties (between rearstay and saddle). Final results showed a margin of difference less than 5%. The measurements were done using independent accelerometers at a measuring rate of 50 Hz. The accelerometers were synchronized before the test. This enabled me to obtain a frequency spectrum of 0 to 25 Hz at any given time after putting the datasets through a Fast Fourier Transformation. The test method is comparable to how construction workers are monitored for whole-body-vibrations during their work.

    For every 27-second interval I used an FFT-algorithm to get a 2D frequency spectrum, i.e. "frequency vs. load" graph. By using the 27-second interval I could avoid any response delay of the frame when impacted. By comparing each individual 27-second frequency spectrum of the rearstay and seatpost at the same interval I was able to construct the nice 3D graphs (appr. 300 graphs put next to eachother) that were shown on Frameforum. I have to apologize for naming my axes, especially the y-axis since it actually shows how much of the original load is being absorbed. "0,8" actually means that 80 percent of the original load is being absorbed/dampened somewhere between rearstay and seatpost and NOT 0,8 percent. So the MF-5 dampens around 70 percent of the original load as where the Pinarello Prince absorbs only 45 percent of the original load measured at the rear stay.

    A new website for Museeuw Bikes will be launched shortly after Eurobike and it will contain an R&D section where you will be able to find all data and facts on these tests with a more elaborate explanation and also a short explanation on the activities we are planning with Ghent University to further expand the Flax technology in bicycles.

    Thanks for your interest!

  9. Stan S. August 24, 2009 at 11:22 am -  Reply

    @ Daflex : Could you identify yourself? Your constant using of "we" with relation to Museeuw suggests you're not on the faculty of U of Ghent. Either way, we suggest you write an appropriate and detailed engineering report when all this is over, so we can critique and discuss the flaws of the methodology. From one little graph that was extremely confusing, nothing can be validated. On top of all this, the author of Frame Forum article conveniently takes in upon his own shoulders to approve and validate the study with little information and understanding of subject matter, saying :

    "When the four are stacked up together, its clear from the graphs how well the Museeuw flax-based frame stood up against the competition. In short, the subjective claims of the many happy Museeuw owners (and those fortunate to have ridden one in tests) are now backed-up with an objective set of results confirming what they've known all along; the Museeuw is undoubtedly one of the finest – if not the finest – performance composite frame available today."

    This is a clever attempt at marketing, not objective presentation of material.

  10. neil August 24, 2009 at 12:19 pm -  Reply

    The piece on Frameforum was not intended as a full scientific study or technical brief, but as a preview of the study being presented by Museeuw bikes at Eurobike. I made that much clear in the penultimate paragraph:

    "Come Eurobike, there'll be a whole new range of Museeuw bikes on display, plus Frameforum will be able to share the full set of test data for those who like the science bits."

    @Stan S. The full 'bells and whistles' findings of the study have yet to be made public, as stated in the above quote. A full report will be available to the press and trade at Eurobike.
    That is my understanding based on info from Museeuw Bikes.

  11. Stan S. August 24, 2009 at 3:55 pm -  Reply

    @ Neil — The issue is not about your website providing a brief preview or not. The issue is about you stamping your voice of validation on the bike without understanding anything about vibration, all based on a graph you and many of us do not even understand. It baffled me. Your article is very weak.

  12. neil August 25, 2009 at 9:26 am -  Reply

    " Stan S. Hate to point this out again, but it looks like I'm going to have to…

    "Come Eurobike, there'll be a whole new range of Museeuw bikes on display, plus Frameforum will be able to share the full set of test data for those who like the science bits".

    Eurobike opens on the 2nd of September. Everything comes to those who wait….

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