A sports vehicle, but also an extension of the athlete's gesture, the bicycle cannot do without a design that includes man. We talked about it with the designer Romolo Stanco

An apparently simple object, the bicycle is made of eight tubes, a chain transmission, a frame made up of two triangles in accordance with UCI regulations and its engine is an athlete with physical and performance that cannot be 'supercharged' as in motorsport.

The human variable in bicycle design is a substantial element and represents a fascinating challenge for a project staff extended from design to engineering to production.

This work of great refinement on the details is what Romolo Stanco is passionate about, a designer who has also been working in the 'bikes' sector since 2015.

After studying physics, Romolo Stanco graduated with honors in architecture.

This duplicity has characterized all of his practice, in which the bicycle has become symbolic over time of an approach that pays primary attention to the performance of the cyclist and not to the industrial rules of the market.

Romolo Stanco: "There is no school that teaches you how to design a bicycle", says Romolo Stanco. “You can learn to design components, but the challenge lies in understanding in which direction you want to push the design and which needs you want to respond to.”

Unlike a cross-use product, or a car, each bicycle is used by an athlete, of any level, who is also its engine.

The design of the bicycle therefore leads to a design that includes man, because the feeling, the good sensations, the comfort and the feeling good in the saddle are essential for establishing a symbiotic relationship with it and expressing the own potential to the fullest.

"The bicycle is indeed a sporting instrument", continues the designer, "but it is also an extension of the gesture: the leg, for example, becomes the connecting rod of the engine that moves the bike."

The designer finds himself facing a first major crossroads when he begins to think about the type of performance expected from the bicycle he is working on.

Evidently it is different to design a bike for an Olympic champion willing to do anything to earn cents or for an enthusiast </ strong> who wants to enjoy his passion perhaps for many kilometres.

The starting needs are different, the designer has the task of finding the technical solutions to help the cyclist to satisfy them.

Dynamic 3D scanning and aerodynamic simulations make it possible to carry out tests that identify the starting points of the frame and component design.

The origin of everything is adaptive design, a way of thinking about the bicycle according to who will ride it. Each bicycle is designed starting from individual needs that cannot be standardized.

Adaptive design means designing the vehicle according to the athlete, his position and physical characteristics.

This model, very distant from the industrial logic and mass production, responds to the need to exalt the intersection between the characteristics of the cyclist and the bicycle.

“It is not easy”, explains Stanco, “in the case of racing bikes on the track, we design vehicles for world-class athletes that exceed 70 km/h, if we design the bike of an enthusiast it is possible that, certainly at a faster bland, the cyclist is in the saddle for many hours.

It is a search for the balance between various aspects: comfort, performance, optimization of energy expenditure, search for the comfort zone, driveability, aerodynamics imply a simultaneous work on geometries, shapes and materials.

Ashaa is the first handlebar designed for the track with the aim of benefiting the athlete's aerodynamic position by reducing the 'drag', or rather his air resistance. The shape is designed to take on different positions. Trusted by World and Olympic Champions such as Elia Viviani, Michael Morkov, Aaron Gate and many other professionals

As regards materials, the industry has mainly chosen to focus on composite materials which allow good productivity on standard bikes.

On the other hand, to allow maximum flexibility for each project of a new bike, the decision to use isotropic materials such as aerospace-derived metals for the frames, allows greater control in the design and construction phases also thanks to additive technologies.

Depending on what you want to achieve, you have to design the shapes, geometries and sizing in a different way.

A professional athlete will want a very stiff bike, while an avid amateur will seek more comfort for long distances.

The first examples of Ashaa were made of carbon fiber from 3D printed Peek molds to allow a very rapid transition from design to race and allow changes in the shapes that have brought to the final specimen.

Titanium and aluminum-scandium alloys have very high mechanical performance, they can be drawn, welded and 3D printed to obtain different shapes, geometries and stiffnesses according to the project.

Composites make it possible to obtain great lightness with high stiffness and are ideal for making components such as handlebars, forks, wheels or parts in which it is easy to estimate the stresses to which they are subjected.

The variable that affects the geometry of the frame is the athlete's position of greatest dynamic comfort aimed at the best balance between muscle performance and aerodynamics.

The first enemy of the cyclist is the air. The faster you go, the more the impact of aerodynamics increases. Every minimal aerodynamic advantage is relevant to the overall performance.

Designed and developed on the position of the Argentine athlete Facundo Lezica, it has allowed him to win numerous races and obtain excellent international results. It is made of Scalmalloy®, an Airbus / AP Works proprietary alloy with many parts 3D printed using SLM technology.

Facundo Lezica led the Argentine national team to the 2021 Track World Championships 10 years after his country last participated with this bike.

Speaking of his future projects, Romolo Stanco says: "In mid-2022 we signed a partnership agreement with the University of Pavia and the CompMech directed by Prof Ferdinando Auricchio and Prof. Gianluca Alaimo with the goal of developing additive manufacturing processes and advanced materials to make 'Thefalcon', the bike built for the Roubaix 2021 World Track Championship, even more performing.

We are building some prototypes that we will present to the UCI with the aim of creating a 'disruptive' bike designed to enhance the performance of the Argentine national team athletes at the next track world championships scheduled for August 2023 in Glasgow, and available, with the adaptive personalization process, for athletes and federations around the world in the run-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.