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Applied Sciences








Featured Application: The work described here aims to design and characterize a more efficient bicycle braking system. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 329,000 Americans were injured in cycling-related incidents. Since the first bicycle brake in 1817, there has been an individual brake lever for decelerating each wheel, while on cars, there has been a single control lever for decelerating multiple wheels since 1921. To perform an emergency stop on a bicycle, the rider must proportion hand pressure on each brake lever and simultaneously vary hand pressure throughout the duration of the maneuver to match the variations of normal force on each tire. Only highly skilled riders, with years of training and practice, can correctly proportion brake pressure to maximize available traction and thus minimize stopping distances. The objective of this study is to simulate and prototype a hydraulic, single-lever bicycle brake system, integrating front and rear brake proportioning, which minimizes stopping distance compared to dual-lever simulations. A design is developed to address the brake proportioning issue. Based on the simulations and physical model, the prototype proportioning valve decreased simulated stopping distances up to 18%. Exploring a range of bike types and scenarios, stopping distances were decreased between 13% and 26%. Simulating an ideal proportioning valve, stopping distances were further decreased between 4% and 40%. These results show that there can be an advantage to brake proportioning technologies in bicycles.


bicycle, brake proportioning, braking


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Mechanical Engineering