Thursday, April 10, 2008

6 Harmonic Dampers for A Handlebar

Now we know how Stuart O'Grady had the edge at last year's Roubaix.

His handlebar took performance enhancing.....

..... dampers.

Spotted at Gent Wevelgem. Stuey's handlebars were again tricked out with this gizmo. I'm very amused. I've never seen something like this.

The Bontrager 'Bzzzkill' Dampers apply the principle behind what is called a 'tuned mass damper'. Its fairly simple to understand and I'll let you read an entry describing it on Wikipedia.

I just learned today that this is applied in bows and even in tennis racquet handles as this patent has it. The reduction of vibration has also been sought after in the impact tool industry and ofcourse dampers are everywhere from bridges to skyscrapers. Here's an excellent site showing their application in a tower.

So the question is, why not apply this to bicycles?

I think its a brilliant little idea but its hard to believe that such a tiny thing at the end of a hollow section will effectively toss out vibration. But hey, if its working for Stuey...

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  1. Anonymous12:46 AM

    I talked to a few ultra riders at Texas Hellweek a couple years ago and they said they really made a difference. I was considering putting them on my bike for RAAM but didn't get any in time. At some point I still think I'll give them a try.

  2. Seems like a clever idea and it certainly makes sense to apply to bicycles. I would love to try these and see if I can notice a difference on an average ride.

  3. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Specialized uses dampers in their frames to smooth out ride quality. They call them Zertz inserts. My S-Works Tarmac has them although it's hard to tell whether they have a material benefit to the rider.

    Harmonic damping is a pretty well studied field, both in theory and in practice, particularly after the effects of resonant vibration tore apart the Tacoma Narrows Brige.

  4. Anonymous2:41 PM

    The dampers don't have to remove all vibration. Equipment that gives incremental improvements, especially when relatively easy and inexpensive to gain, make sense.

    Plus, on pave' any vibration dampening gives an advantage.

  5. Pros ride what their sponsors throw at them. Thats part of their work in the office.

    Since its only 10 or so dollars, its probably okay to try one out on cobbles. But on the road, please...

    I feel there is more dampening to be offered just by manipulating your upper body, including arms and shoulders. Far too many riders have this deathgrip on the handlebars due to poor bike fit and are more prone to fatigue.

    Thanks for the comments.

  6. Actually, since Stuey rides for CSC and the Bzzkill is a Bontrager product; I'd be more inclined to think that Stuey searched those out on his own - probably after seeing them on team Disco bikes last year. Bontrager is not a CSC sponsor.

    I have a pair (which, honestly, were given to me by Trek) and have used them on my steel road race bike and aluminum 'cross bike and have noticed a difference. A small difference - but one nonetheless. I'm sure anything can help on the cobbles...


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