April 27, 2006 – Thomas Vanderham hammers out some suspension testing in the Canary Islands! Here are some high tech insights courtesy of Thomas “The Kid” Vanderham of the Rocky Mountain Business Objects Freeride Team:
“As a professional rider Im always looking for ways to improve. I do most of my learning through practice and experience but on a recent on a trip to Spain I had a chance to learn something about my riding through a very unexpected medium. We were there to do a story on data recording and the forces applied to bike and body while riding. My bike was covered in wires and my riding displayed on a computer screen by hundreds of squiggly lines. This type of technology is typically used on the F1 and Moto GP circuits to compile very important information that is vital to gaining those 10ths of seconds that decide victory in these sprots. It had never been used on a mountain bike so we were bound to learn something.
After 2 days of scouting and one blown car engine, we were ready to record some data. Our objective was to build a variety of stunts and see the different forces applied to body and bike. We had dug a gap about 10 feet tall by 20 distance, a 10 foot vertical drop, and a short downhill course. When I was done riding all of these our data pro simply plugged the computer straight into my bike and could tell me information right there on the hill. What we learned was amazing and a little confusing; here are the basics. The forces on your body and your bike are close to the same if your doing a vertical drop. This is because there is less a rider can do to place the bike into the landing and you just have to take the force of the landing, first with your bike, then with your arms and legs. When you’ re jumping more of a step down though, the forces on your bike are much higher than your body. Forward momentum is your friend and allows a rider to place the bike more accurately. The g forces we reached were as high as 4.9 on the bike and 4 on the body. I also learned that your front suspension is your strongest weapon. Most of your body weight sits over your rear suspension so its function is more to take whatever comes at it. You do most of your pumping, popping and cornering with your front suspension, so think of it as your weapon. Lastly you are usually faster when you’r not trying to be. When you ride smoother and round out your corners rather than trying to roost every one you have less force working on you and therefore ride faster.
What I learned has helped my riding and will help Rocky Mountain further develop our bikes. It was fun to be a part of, thanks to all at Mountain Bike Germany.”