Massey University sport and exercise scientist Dr Matt Miller and his supervisor Dr Phil Fink spent years researching the importance that braking has on mountain bike race performance and rider fatigue.

Their subsequent invention, the Brake Power Meter (BPM), which automatically measures braking power and time spent braking while you ride, has become a world first and is eliciting international interest from bike riders from the United Arab Emirates to the United States.

“We first showed the BPM in September 2016. Pretty quickly every major industry publication caught wind and featured the device in some way online and in print,” says Miller.

The invention allows cyclists to accurately quantify braking, analyse their braking patterns, and use the data to train their braking style to shave minutes off their lap times, so it’s no wonder professional cyclists are keen to get hold of it for a competitive edge.

New Zealand bike manufacturers and suppliers are also interested in the product and Miller has been working with a Danish company to refine the Brake Power Meter, which is patent protected.

In 2017 Miller was awarded $20,000 from the Emerging Innovator Fund from KiwiNet, which allowed him to travel to trade shows to explore other applications for the technology.
The importance of tertiary research Professor Giselle Byrnes, assistant vice-chancellor research, academic and enterprise at Massey University, says tertiary research is extremely important because it can be inquiry driven, as well as industry linked.

“University researchers use the knowledge and skills to feed into their teaching [and vice versa],” says Byrnes.

“Most universities also provide very efficient research in terms of public funding; that’s an important consideration given that we are public institutions.”

C-Dax Pasture Robot

Another tertiary research project gaining international interest is the C-Dax Pasture Robot, developed in conjunction with mechatronic students and a range of staff at Massey University. It helps precisely measure pasture autonomously, saving both labour costs and the over-fertilisation of land.

Byrnes is excited by the ‘real world’ impact the research is having on people’s lives and their communities, as well as the value that pure research has alongside more applied research.

“There is room for both. Given that the research that universities undertake is publicly funded, it needs to have a clear impact in terms of the benefits of our work,” says Byrnes.

“But universities are also places where research is conducted for its own sake: for the purposes of discovery and creativity. No other institutions in our society have this responsibility or capacity.”

For the Brake Power Meter, the boost from tertiary research is game-changing for the cycling world and Miller predicts a time when metered-out bikes will be the norm.

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