Mountain biking has become increasingly popular over the past three decades. To date, this extreme sport has brought athletes to compete on Mount Everest and tackle demanding races through the Rockies. Mountain bikers ride over rough terrain; therefore, the user needs proper equipment to ride successfully and remain safe. One focus is the position of the seat. The rider benefits from a higher seat when ascending in order to achieve maximum power but needs a lower seat when descending to increase maneuverability. Currently, most mountain bikes are equipped with manual seat adjustment systems in the form of a quick-release seat collar. The seat collar requires the user to dismount their bicycle to make a height adjustment, which is a tedious task on varying terrain. Mountain bikes with remotely adjustable seat posts, which do not require the user to dismount, are already available and are typically comprised of a hydraulic system, a pneumatic system or a spring-pin system. However, all three designs have several limitations. For example, the user needs to place a downwards force on the seat to adjust the height, which may result in a loss of a balance and increased safety risk. There is a need in today’s competitive mountain bike industry for an ergonomically-designed remotely adjustable seat post.
A design team of mechanical engineering students, Derek Golub, Michael Sullivan, Ryan Blommers, and Tseng-Mau Yang, decided to focus their capstone project on the design of a better alternative for a seat post adjustment system under the supervision of Professors Oscar Nespoli and John Medley.
Typical mountain bike design with a seat collar
The expected learning outcomes of this case study are for students to gain a more in-depth understanding of the design process and to be able to apply the elements of the design process to a real life situation.