Bicycles

Brake-buzzing tech may keep cyclists from hitting the skids

BluBrake is due to be launched in early 2017
BluBrake is due to be launched in early 2017
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BluBrake is due to be launched in early 2017
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BluBrake is due to be launched in early 2017

When bicycle racers are tearing down descents or taking sharp corners, braking can be a bit tricky – they want to brake hard enough to stay in control, yet not so hard that they lock up the wheels and fly over the handlebars. That's why an Italian startup has joined forces with Pinarello to develop the BluBrake system. It's not quite antilock braking, but it's close.

Although we're still waiting to hear back from BluBrake S.r.l. regarding exactly how the technology works, here's the basic idea …

The system will be integrated into the frame of the bike, and consists of an inertial measurement unit (an accelerometer/gyroscope combo), wheel speed sensors, an artificial intelligence control unit/battery pack, haptic actuators in the brake levers, and a handlebar-mounted remote.

Riders start by using the remote to input the type of riding they'll be doing (touring, racing, or an app-configurable custom setting), and to indicate whether the road is wet or dry.

Once they get going, the AI unit continuously analyzes readings from the various sensors. If the brakes are applied and it determines that a lock-up is imminent, it warns the rider by buzzing the actuator in the relevant brake lever.

Unlike the case with a true antilock system, it won't physically stop the brake from locking. Instead, the idea is that the rider will voluntarily ease up as soon as the buzzing starts, avoiding the lock-up themselves.

According to a report in Cycling News, the system has been in development at the Polytechnic University of Milan since 2013. With the recent backing from Pinarello, it is hoped that BluBrake will begin appearing on bikes starting early next year.

Source: BluBrake via Cycling News

2 comments
Bob Stuart
The problem is NOT locking up - it is doing somersaults while still rolling. Experienced riders just use a touch of braking on the rear, so that it WILL skid to warn them when it is getting too light.
MD
Effective braking will mean that the front is doing nearly all of the work (under very heavy braking, if the weight distribution is wrong the rear wheel will become completely unloaded), all braking needs to use both front and rear brakes, the rear brake even if not effective in slowing increases the straight line stability of the system. But the danger is in dusty or wet conditions where the front will wash out with less than expected brake force applied, the rider then "high-sides" (some think it is a summersault) due to an uncoordinated release of the brake force (after "locking up) and traction being suddenly regained while the riders CoG is outside the "centre of precession", oops. From this system to ABS only requires a small cam actuated brake force moderator, but under most (non emergency) circumstances braking distances will be increased (the key word in all ABS debates is "correctly calibrated, and that needs to take into account all surfaces, and needs some sort of real time direct - not estimated - negative feedback related to total surface friction coefficients, not currently employed in cars let alone bikes) leading to criticism that ABS is useless and renders the cyclists finely honed control skills ineffective, horses for courses. lol.
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