Since they burst onto the scene in 2017, the team has employed innovative techniques to unlock incremental improvements on performance. This has earned it wins at two World Cups, Commonwealth Games medals and national titles.
In 2021, four HUUB-Wattbike riders travel to South America, where it is hoped the reduction in air density from high altitude will deliver another marginal gain, so they can break the 4 km Team Pursuit world record, 4 km Individual Pursuit world record and UCI Hour Record.
Founder, rider and engineer, Dan Bigham, says: “Our aim has always been to ride fast and enjoy it. We employ a pragmatic approach to performance; creating and optimising the systems around us within the bounds of our strict financial and competitive constraints.”
In November 2019, a sudden change in UCI regulations meant Bigham needed to quickly redesign the state-of-the-art interface plate that connects the bicycle stem and handlebars. To be ready in time for the December World Cup event in Brisbane, the parts had to be machined in under two weeks from aerospace-grade aluminium.
“One of our team partners, Meggitt, is a Tier 2 member of the AMRC,” Bigham explains. “When we reached out to Meggitt with this project, they went straight to the AMRC, knowing just how capable they are at executing unique manufacturing projects to a tight timescale.”
Research director at the AMRC, Ben Morgan, takes up the story: “In the past, the component had a fairly prismatic design and Dan had turned it into an extremely aerodynamically-efficient design. It was full 5-axis machining of the part, pulling together materials and programming exceptionally quickly, all to make this small, incremental difference in aerodynamics.”
Bigham reveals those marginal gains were central to the team’s huge achievements at the National Track Championships in January 2020, where the quartet of himself, John Archibald, Jonathan Wale and Will Perrett set a new championship record.
“We had our most successful National Championships yet and the new part machined by the AMRC definitely contributed to that success. The team took the top five spots in the individual pursuit, the top three places in the kilometre time trial and dominated the team pursuit.
“Details matter and having everything as optimised as possible is a big boost. From an equipment performance perspective and a mental perspective, knowing you have every piece of equipment as dialled-in as possible is incredibly powerful.
“The next goal on our journey is to break the 4 km Team Pursuit world record, 4 km Individual Pursuit world record and UCI Hour Record. We will have the best chance of achieving it in Bolivia and had planned on travelling there in October, but that has now had to be delayed until next year due to Covid-19.
“I'm planning an assault on Bradley Wiggin's sea-level hour record - which is also the British record - as a bit of fun in the meantime.”
The interface plate project could be the start of a long relationship with the AMRC, he adds: “We have a few ideas in the pipeline. The AMRC has such great facilities and the engineers there are leading the way on additive manufacturing research, so we hope to take advantage of that with a few Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) components in the coming months.”