Energy cost and mechanical efficiency of riding a human-powered recumbent bicycle

Carlo Capelli, Luca Paolo Ardigò, Federico Schena, Paola Zamparo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

When dealing with human-powered vehicles, it is important to quantify the capability of converting metabolic energy in useful mechanical work by measuring mechanical efficiency. In this study, net mechanical efficiency (η) of riding a recumbent bicycle on flat terrain and at constant speeds (v, 5.1-10.0 m/s) was calculated dividing mechanical work (w, J/m) by the corresponding energy cost (Cc, J/m). w and Cc increased linearly with the speed squared: w = 9.41 + 0.156 · v2; Cc = 39.40 + 0.563 · v2. η was equal to 0.257 ± 0.0245, i.e. identical to that of concentric muscular contraction. Hence, i) η seems unaffected by the biomechanical arrangement of the human-vehicle system; ii) the efficiency of transmission seems to be close to 100%, suggesting that the particular biomechanical arrangement does not impair the transformation of metabolic energy in mechanical work. When dealing with human-powered vehicles, it is important to quantify mechanical efficiency (η) of locomotion. η of riding a recumbent bicycle was calculated dividing the mechanical work to the corresponding energy cost of locomotion; it was practically identical to that of concentric muscular contraction (0.257 ± 0.0245), suggesting that the power transmission from muscles to pedals is unaffected by the biomechanical arrangement of the vehicle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1565-1575
Number of pages11
JournalErgonomics
Volume51
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Fingerprint

Bicycles
bicycle
energy
Costs and Cost Analysis
efficiency
Locomotion
Muscle Contraction
costs
Costs
Power transmission
Muscle
Foot
Muscles

Keywords

  • Drag coefficient
  • Energy cost of locomotion
  • Mechanical efficiency
  • Mechanical work
  • Recumbent human-powered vehicle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this

Energy cost and mechanical efficiency of riding a human-powered recumbent bicycle. / Capelli, Carlo; Ardigò, Luca Paolo; Schena, Federico; Zamparo, Paola.

In: Ergonomics, Vol. 51, No. 10, 2008, p. 1565-1575.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Capelli, Carlo ; Ardigò, Luca Paolo ; Schena, Federico ; Zamparo, Paola. / Energy cost and mechanical efficiency of riding a human-powered recumbent bicycle. In: Ergonomics. 2008 ; Vol. 51, No. 10. pp. 1565-1575.
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