Recumbent vs. upright bicycles: 3D trajectory of body centre of mass, limb mechanical work, and operative range of propulsive muscles

Riccardo Telli, Elena Seminati, Gaspare Pavei, Alberto Enrico Minetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
162 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Recumbent bicycles (RB) are high performance, human-powered vehicles. In comparison to normal/upright bicycles (NB) the RB may allow individuals to reach higher speeds due to aerodynamic advantages. The purpose of this investigation was to compare the non-aerodynamic factors that may potentially influence the performance of the two bicycles. 3D body centre of mass (BCoM) trajectory, its symmetries, and the components of the total mechanical work necessary to sustain cycling were assessed through 3D kinematics and computer simulations. Data collected at 50, 70, 90 110 rpm during stationary cycling were used to drive musculoskeletal modelling simulation and estimate muscle-tendon length. Results demonstrated that BCoM trajectory, confined in a 15-mm side cube, changed its orientation, maintaining a similar pattern across all cadences in both bicycles. RB displayed a reduced additional mechanical external power (16.1 ± 9.7 W on RB vs. 20.3 ± 8.8 W on NB), a greater symmetry on the progression axis, and no differences in the internal mechanical power compared to NB. Simulated muscle activity revealed small significant differences for only selected muscles. On the RB, quadriceps and gluteus demonstrated greater shortening, while biceps femoris, iliacus, and psoas exhibited greater stretch; however, aerodynamics still remains the principal benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-499
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Volume35
Issue number5
Early online date22 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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