APEX July Blog – LEOMO: Obsession in Motion

Using LEOMO to Analyze and Improve Performance – A Case Study

The LEOMO Type-R is one of the first tools that allow athletes and coaches to analyze their motion in real-time. The Type-R is also a full-function cycling head unit with all standard features including GPS tracking, pairing to ANT+ devices like heart rate monitors, power meters, cadence sensors, etc. The combination of motion data presented in real-time with cycling output measures is a huge leap forward in cycling & motion analysis technology.

APEX Coaching is partnering with LEOMO to provide guidance in the practical application of the benefits of using the Type-R for cyclists and their coaches. We are performing analysis and evaluation, as well as recommendations for features that will be available in the future.

Here is an example of how the data from the Type-R was used to change equipment choice and bike position to improve performance in a master’s cyclist. This athlete was competing in a 3-stage race in Colorado that started with a climbing time-trial (which I like to call a climb-trial), a flat time trial, and finished with a road race. The athlete rode a different bike in each race – and the athlete in question is me – Neal Henderson. Information regarding the bike, race distance, average power, etc. for each stage is below:

                                    Climb Trial                              Time Trial                               Road Race   

Bike                              Aero-Road w/ clip-on TT         Full Aero TT                                Road Bike

Distance                      12.0 km                                        15.1km                                           26.5km

Time                             26:33                                            21:25                                             1:09:18

Elevation Gain           337M                                            104M                                             878M

Avg Power                   274W                                           247W                                             249W

Avg Cadence               84 RPM                                       89 RPM                                         87 RPM

Avg Heart Rate           164 BPM                                     165 BPM                                       149 BPM

Start Elevation           2560M                                         1530M                                           1612M

As you can see, the first race – the climb trial – was contested at very high altitude. The bike used was an aero road bike with clip on aerobars. The race course had an out and back section with just a 1-2% grade, followed by a finishing climb of 6% for 4.0km. Normally, a rider would drop about 2% power for every 300M of elevation above 1500M, and with this course being approprimately 1000M higher than the other two races, you would expect a 6-7% decrease in power production from the TT and RR power outputs for a similar duration.

The time trial course was only slightly uphill/downhill with only 100M of elevation change over 15.1km. The athlete rode an aggressive aero position TT bike with full aero set-up. Interestingly, the power is more than 10% lower than the climb trial…while being 1000M lower in elevation and nearly 20% shorter in duration. The average heart rate for the TT versus the climb trial are nearly equal, indicating a similar physiological strain for the effort. Normally, we would expect the power to be 6-7% higher than the climb trial based on the altitude as well as another 1-3% higher based on the shorter duration.

Finally, the road race course started with a long climb and then finished with rolling roads on a standard road bike. The battery unfortunately died after the first 69-minutes of the race, which took a total of 2 hours to complete. The data though for the first 69-minutes is still useful. The average power for the road race is slightly higher than the TT, though being more than three times longer in duration. Also, the average heart rate for the road race was 16 beats/minute lower than the TT effort indicating a reduced overall physiological strain.

                                                                             Climb Trial                           Time Trial                           Road Race

Based on this information, we could make a few guesses and assumptions regarding the motion and performance. Maybe the TT was just a bad day…but it was preceded and followed by better relative efforts. The differences might be related to the fit/position on the TT bike. All 3 bikes used 172.5mm cranks and round chainrings, though with the same shoes, pedals & cleats.

Fortunately, the LEOMO Type-R movement data allows for in depth motion analysis and comparison of the three races from an entirely new perspective. Below is movement data from the LEOMO Type-R for the averages of each race.

                                                                          Climb Trial                                             Time Trial                                          Road Race

In reviewing the movement data, there are a couple of interesting findings. The first thing that sticks out is that there is a significant difference in DSS in the left leg in the TT compared to the two other races (2.1 Left DSS, versus 0.4 and 0.2 DSS in the climb trial and RR, respectively).

The second major difference in the Pelvic Tilt average angle, with the TT coming in at 36.1 degrees, versus 50.0 and 54.6 degrees for the climb trial and road race. Since the climb trial had about 8km of riding in the clip-on TT aerobars I compared the pelvic tilt of that portion of the race, compared to the final 4km of climbing. On the 8km flatter out and back section, the Pelvic Tilt average was 42.1 degrees at an average of 259 watts (12 watts higher than the TT average power, but at 1000 meters greater elevation) and the 4km of climbing was at 56.8 degrees at 283 watts average.

Based on the 6-degree difference in pelvic tilt average angle between the climb trial aerobar position and TT position, I decided to evaluate the effects of decreasing the crank length on the TT bike – going from 172.5mm down to 170mm to hopefully improve DSS on the left leg and to increase the height of the aerobars pads on the TT bike by adding a 1cm spacer.  To compare the effects, I first looked at power production and heart rate without the LEOMO Type-R motion sensors to see if there were any changes in power production. I first rode my old TT position with 172.5mm cranks and lower aerobar pads on a local climb – Old Stage road in Boulder. The climb is 2.6km long at 6% grade and I rode 258 watts at an average heart rate of 150 beats/min for 10 minutes and 21 seconds (my PR is 8 minutes and 40 seconds at 281 watts, and 2nd best time of 8:44 at 298 watts).

Then I switched to the new TT set-up (170mm cranks, +1cm aerobar pads) and rode another similar climb – the NCAR climb at 2.7km long and also 6% grade. I rode my 2nd fastest ever time up that climb in 9 minutes and 11 seconds at an average of 322 watts and average heart rate of 158 beats/minute (also note, it was 18 degrees Celsius when I rode up the Old Stage climb versus close to 28 degrees Celsius when I rode up the NCAR climb…so that would explain some difference in heart rate – in addition to the massive increase in power produced). It’s clear from a pure power perspective that the new TT position (shorter cranks, +1cm aerobar pad height) allowed me to do much more work. The files for the two efforts are on Strava at: Old Stage and NCAR.

Finally, I put the LEOMO Type-R for two flat TT intervals in the new TT position to compare the effects of the changes on my motion and power output. The file is viewable here:

First, the power output during the two intervals in the new TT position indicate that the ability to produce power is increased considerably: 288 and 296 watts average, respectively for 6:27 and 5:03 (compared to the 248 watts from the TT). The average heart rate for the two efforts were 148 and 155 beats/minute, with 94 and 96 RPM average cadence. The motion analysis provided by the Type-R show that average pelvic tilt was 41.4 and 40.5 degrees, and DSS on left/right were 0.2/0.2 and 0.5/0.2 which is considerably less than the TT race left/right DSS of 2.1/0.4.

Two intervals averages from the new TT position (170mm cranks & +1cm aerobar pad height):

Based on the motion analysis data collected from the LEOMO Type-R during the stage race, there was a marked difference in both output and motion on the TT bike. Making changes to the TT bike crank length and aerobar pads resulted in measurable improvements in power production, and improved motion specifically with respect to reduced DSS with increased pelvic tilt.


About the Author – Coach Neal:

Author Neal Henderson is the founder of APEX Coaching & Consulting and an elite USA Cycling and USA Triathlon certified coach. He has serves as a coaching staff member for Team USA at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and was awarded the Doc Counsilman Coach of the Year award for the use of sport science in coaching by United States Olympic Committee in 2011.