Danny Hart's Permanent Data Acquisition System 9

Dave Garland, Danny's mechanic, has helped create an incredibly detailed data acquisition system that will gather data on every run, all year, including Danny's race runs. Oh, it weighs only 250g.

Danny Hart's Permanent Data Acquisition System

When you look at Danny Hart's Saracen downhill bike, you see a dialed factory machine, but unless you look closely, you may not notice the most technical advancement on the bike; a permanent data acquisition system. Every run Danny takes on the bike this year, including his World Cup race runs, will be recorded on the system for analysis. And the system only weighs an extra 250 grams.

Data acquisition is not new to downhill and it's been gaining popularity and accessibility recently, but the systems are fairly big, complicated and are used in training and maybe qualifying, but rarely (or never?) a World Cup downhill race run. To capture data from race runs will bring a new level to bike set up and race preparation. The riding levels achieved by the world's fastest during race runs can't be duplicated, so being able to record the performance may bring untold gains in results when tenths, hundredths and even thousandths of a second are on the line.

@maddogboris sat down with Dave Garland, Danny's mechanic, to discuss the system and and how it works.

There are a handful of key components that make the system work.

  • Data recorder/logger in downtube with batteries in toptube.
  • Upper and lower sensors on the fork to read rider input and bump force. These two sensors "talk" to each other.
  • Central sensor to measure lateral movement, lean angle and vertical movement.
  • Rear sensor that tracks speed, wheel lock-up and rear axle movement.

The sensors provide all the data to see if ride height is correct, the pitch of the bike is optimal, if Danny's unnecessarily braking which impacts suspension etc. Garland says this data allows them to set up a very balanced bike.  He continues that if the bike is properly balanced, the rider will not move around as much.

Peter Trevor is the man behind the hardware. He comes from the motorsports world creating sensors for data acquisition. Dave determined what forces and movements should be measured and Peter created the components and system to capture and export the data into something meaningful for the team. The dynamics of the bikes and forces were unfamiliar to Peter and they're continuing to discover new ways to make the data collection most efficient.

Dave says that Danny is fairly accurate with what he's felt on the bike, but there are refinements and adjustments that can always be made. They had come to a point where the bike felt good, but with the new data, they were able to make bike set-up for specific tracks more quickly and more easily than before. And as we all know, efficiency is a key element to winning races.

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