A new handlebar design helping Tasmanian Institute of Sport cyclists

Way ahead: Tasmanian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Zack Gilmore, head cycling coach Matthew Gilmore and Australian Maritime College engineering graduate Chi Ngo inspect the new handlebars.
Way ahead: Tasmanian Institute of Sport scholarship holder Zack Gilmore, head cycling coach Matthew Gilmore and Australian Maritime College engineering graduate Chi Ngo inspect the new handlebars.

A new handlebar design that helps cyclists achieve a more aerodynamic position could be the key to Tasmanian Institute of Sport athletes improving their performance on the track.

Chi Ngo, a graduate of the Australian Maritime College's co-operative engineering program, worked closely with TIS head cycling coach Matthew Gilmore on a customised design to help cyclists go faster by eliminating turbulent air-flow between the handlebar and the forearm.

A prototype has been tested with successful results and it is hoped the new design will be rolled out across the TIS cycling team to replace their L-shaped handlebars.

“We can measure the difference between the old set of handlebars and the new by doing trial runs,” Gilmore said.

“We used the handlebars last year and actually broke the state’s record in the team pursuit, so it’s something we’re particularly proud of as an institute, but also just being able to validate the design that the Australian Maritime College has put together for us.

“The end product has been absolutely fantastic and it looks great, it certainly turns lots of heads, people are very intrigued by the design.”

Ngo undertook the design project as part of his Bachelor of Engineering and graduated in 2016. He said while studying the design of vessels and subsea structures may seem a world apart from track cycling, the underpinning engineering theory can be applied to any field.

“The aim of this project was to optimise the shape of the handlebars to achieve the best performance for the cyclists. I redesigned the handgrips so they were more ergonomic, and adjusted the rise from the starting point to the handgrips so it was more supportive and comfortable,”  Ngo said.

“As well as improving its shape, the structure of the handlebars needed to be robust enough to carry the body weight of the cyclists. By applying structural analysis on the prototype, I was able to optimise the shape, weight and how much material was needed for the design.”

A model of the best prototype was created and printed using AMC’s design software and 3D printer, with the end result being used as a mould to build the first set of handlebars out of carbon fibre.

Gilmore, whose son Zack used the new bars at the recent track national championships, said the design allowed Tasmanian cyclists to compete using contemporary equipment and technology.

“Our aim is to roll out as many of the new handlebars as we can for our TIS scholarship athletes,” he said.

“We've also loved being able to work with the Australian Maritime College here in Tasmania to give Tasmanian athletes an advantage on a national platform.”