Cycle Size – 3D Body Scanning & Cycling

In a few week’s time our TVs will be jammed with cyclists. You will see Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas wizzing up mountains at the Tour de France, Britain’s best Downhill Mountain bike riders at the British National Championships at Llangynogs, and track superstars such as Laura Trott and Ed Clancy going for gold at the Rio Olympics. You will undoubtedly notice the medals, the shiny engineered gear, the broken world records, and  the highly toned and sculptured figures of the cyclists. A cyclists body shape indicate physical attributes that can provide a competitive advantage.

Identifying and monitoring these physical attributes, both those genetically inherited and acquired through training, can help us to understand a cyclist’s performance, to quantify their response to training, and to identify future champions. Although optimal body dimensions are not the only components necessary for a cyclist to excel in sport, many believe they are vital prerequisites for success.

However, recent literature has suggested that complex body measures, such as area and volume, can identify changes in body size and shape that are not detectable with traditional body measures of lengths, breadths and girths. However, using manual techniques (tape measures and calipers) to take these more complex measures is often unsuitable. Three dimensional (3D) surface imaging systems, also known as body scanners, are quick and accurate alternatives to manual techniques. They create 3D images of the external geometry of the body, from which a wide array of body measures, both traditional and complex, can be exported.

3D Body Scanning Analysis in KinAnthroScan

At Sheffield Hallam’s Centre of Sports Engineering Research we are exploring if complex body measures can help us understand cycling performance any better than traditional body measures. Using both a  high precision commercially available 3D surface imaging system (3dMD) and a novel low cost system based on consumer depth cameras, we hope to collect body measures from high level recreational / semi-professional / elite male cyclists aged 18 – 45 years with a sprint (road/track), hill climb, endurance (road/track), BMX or mountain specialism.


3D Body Scanning Systems at CSER @SHU

We have two studies open for recruitment at the moment:

  • Study 1 (30 minutes): This study aims to create detailed body size and shape profiles. 3D body scanners, will be used to collect 3D images of the lower body. From these images we will extract a wide array of body measures. These measures will then be pooled with all the participants to produce an ‘average’ representation of the population group.


  • Study 2 (1 hour 30 minutes): To measure how your cycling performance relates to body shape and size we will conduct a series of assessments:

1) Digital 3D body measurement (using 3D body scanner)

2) Body composition (using bioelectrical impedance)

3) Peak power assessment (x4 6 second sprints against randomly assigned loads)

These studies will be collecting data at Sheffield Hallam University’s Collegiate Campus until August 2016. Participation is free and each cyclist would get a copy of their data to use as they wish. Participation is a simple and easy way to understand more about your cycling physique and will be contributing toward the scientific advancement of cycling performance research.

If you, or anyone you know might be interested or require further information please contact Alice Bullas (07536044310/, or complete the booking / interest form ( from which you can select the best time to come in to the lab and tell us a little more about your cycling background – it should only take a couple of minutes.