The Design and Development of an Experimental Bicycle Testing Facility

  • James Price

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMPhil


The Moulton Bicycle company, MBC, has been manufacturing its unique design of bicycle since 1962. The company was bought out in 2008 and integrated into the Pashley Cycles group which has been benefiting from the recent surge in the popularity of cycling. In 2010 with the ambition to develop in-house technical skills, improve manufacturing output and grow the business, MBC engaged in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Bath and two concurrent projects.The key objective for one of the KTP projects, and which this report is based upon, was to establish design and test facilities so that products could be tested to confirm compliance with the recently introduced European bicycle safety standards. The self certifying standard includes a series of fatigue and impact tests which must be completed without product failure in order todemonstrate product safety.An investigation was carried out in order to determine the capabilities of the existing in-house test equipment as well as the full requirements of a testing facility that could fulfill the CEN test standards. This investigation included visiting the specialist test house, Bureau Veritas, as well as observing the systems created by other companies within the bicycle manufacturing industry.It was found that the existing test system was not capable of achieving the cyclic application of force with the accuracy and repeatability required by the testing standards. It also found that the time taken to set up each test was long and usually involved the manufacture of bespoke parts in order to adequately mount the test specimen and testing equipment.The design and manufacture of a clamp based system which could be reconfigured to accommodate a wide range of bicycle geometries and all of the CEN standards was undertaken and delivered. Additionally the design and development of a control system which enabled accurate and repeatable cyclic application of forces onto a test part was carried out. The programmable logic controller (PLC) based system featured closed loop feedback in order toachieve the CEN required accuracy of ± 5%. Further, the system enabled safety parameter checking such that if a failure occurred, of a test part or testing equipment, the test routine would stop and return to a safe state. The bicycle testing equipment was developed and installed alongside a comprehensive set of test procedures which would allow full transfer of knowledge to the company.
Date of Award1 Mar 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorNigel Johnston (Supervisor) & Jos Darling (Supervisor)

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