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Gadget Offers Cyclists Real-Time Performance Metrics

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Copyright 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)

 

A drone hovers, filming the action. Cyclists race past, rocketing around a giant track. It's a Thursday night in Los Angeles, and I've been invited to witness a product purported to be substantial for the future of the sport.

The venue is the VELO Sports Center and its 250-meter indoor wood racing track. The company is LEOMO Inc., an upstart selling what it calls the "next frontier of wearable technology."

LEOMO believes the next step in athlete data is something called motion analysis. At a high level, this term refers to the assessment of body movements to build and display data for improving efficiency during sport.

The company's debut device, called the TYPE-R, is a multipart package with a handlebar-mounted touch screen and five small sensors. Gyroscopes and accelerometers measure a wearer's motion and form, giving real-time feedback on foot position, leg angle, pedaling "dead spots," and pelvic tilt on a bike seat.

At the racetrack, after a demonstration, I configured the kit to go for a ride. Like little tiles with LEDs in the corners, the sensors affix to your shoes, each knee and the lower back. Bluetooth syncs the sensors wirelessly to the handlebar-mounted main unit. Readouts roll across the display in real time.

Multiple fields and swipe-able screens provide data in percentages and degrees. Ostensibly, a rider can gauge performance with a glance at the handlebar-mounted unit, adjusting for efficiency as he or she rides.

All metrics are saved. You download it later, spotting issues in form, discerning trends in your motion, good and bad. LEOMO believes the data on motion - heretofore unavailable beyond lab settings and complex mechanisms - will change how cyclists refine technique, improve fitness and prevent injury.

Early adopters will be tasked to decipher motion data somewhat on their own. This is a new field. Unlike heart rate, watts and other physical metrics, there is scant research or consensus on optimal pelvic tilt, "leg angular range," and other data points the LEOMO units offer.

The company is working to demystify the output. Indeed, the product announcement coincided with an ancillary launch of a research body called the Institute of Motion Analysis.

LEOMO plans to sell its first units to coaches who work with elite and professional riders. The TYPE-R will cost $399 for this crowd.

In the end, LEOMO is making a big bet. But the company is well-funded, and it has hired top cycling coaches and has a multitude of coders and engineers on staff.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

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