Derek Covill

Promoting Sports Engineering at the Bespoked Bristol Bicycle Event

This Engaging Sports Engineering Grant supported our exhibition stand at the Bespoked Bristol Bicycle Show in May 2019. Bespoked is Europe’s biggest event relating to custom bicycles and their makers, with typically more than 6000 visitors from all around the world. It is the place for the public, industry and press to meet the independent makers and designers of the bicycle world. Our exhibition stand included members of the International Bicycle Engineering Group (IBERG: Dr Derek Covill (University of Brighton) and Dr Andres Velázquez, and Dr Velázquez also had his team on hand from the Escuela Técnica de la Bicicleta, Madrid, Spain.

At the show, we also tried to maximise our exposure by delivering a headline presentation on the Friday evening at the event to the general public and to representatives from the industry. For this presentation we were joined by our IBERG colleague Prof. Jean-Marc Drouet from the VÉLUS Laboratory at the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada, who presented with us over skype. Our presentation introduced Sports Engineering and the ISEA, and discussed a range of Bicycle related Sports Engineering research topics and was also a great platform for us to launch our new research project: The Steel Bicycle Project. This project aims to bring the benefits of sports engineering research to industry by raising awareness of engineering principles that relate to bicycle design and to support frame builders in designing and fabricating better and safer products.

In the lead-up to the show we were featured in the show’s newsletter, and an article was written about the project on the cycling industry news website (

Over the course of the long weekend we were able to discuss Sports Engineering and Bicycle related projects to a nice wide audience. Memorable conversations were had with keen cyclists, parents of cyclists, academics, frame builders, equipment manufacturers, tube manufacturers, bicycle designers, aerospace engineers, automotive engineers, mechanical engineers, nuclear submarine welding experts, helicopter rotor blade stress engineers, and many more! We found it to be a highly engaging experience, and we did a small survey to assess the impact of our work there. We found that 88% of those surveyed believed that what we are doing is valuable for consumers, while 85% felt they had a better understanding of what sports engineering (and also bicycle engineering) is as a result of our work, and finally 85% of those surveyed believed that what we are doing is valuable for the industry (85%).

The funding from the Engaging Sports Engineering Grant was used to pay for the event itself, including the exhibition stand and peripheries (e.g. power), printing pop-up banners and onsite parking. It was also used to pay for a desktop rig (including frame materials, measurement equipment, electronics) which could used to demonstrate some fundamental mechanical properties of bicycle frames and the methods used to join them together. As part of the show, we also started doing a survey of professionals bicycle frame builders and manufacturers, to gauge their wants and needs to help inform the direction of our the project from here. Following this and some initial experiments we’ve been carrying out in recent months, we are aiming to present our work at the 2020 ISEA conference in Tokyo. For us this is just the start, we’re hoping to grow this project to work with a wide range of frame builders and tube manufacturers in particular, to help generate new knowledge in the field and bring the benefits of sports engineering research to industry. We thank the ISEA for giving us the opportunity to promote Sports Engineering at such a high profile and popular event, and for enabling us to kickstart our project in style!