By Matt Hawkins
Motcross bikes take a beating. Every jump, hard landing and spill takes a toll on bikes and riders. That means long hours in the shop tweaking settings and repairing damage. It’s a challenge for veterans, much less younger riders, to fine-tune and fix bikes.
Bradley mechanical engineering major Ryan Treanor ‘18, of Dunlap, Ill., a 22-year competitive circuit veteran, realized he could assist newer riders with bike issues. He developed a mobile app, SmartLap, as a diagnostic tool to help them make the right adjustments to optimize their rides. Treanor teamed with classmate Nicole Warnstedt ‘19, of Lake Geneva, Wisc., to develop the product for the Turner School of Entrepreneurship & Innovation’s first Big Idea competition. The competition combined startup business basics with a sales pitch contest.
“You’re tinkering with complex, expensive things that may make the bike dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing,” said Treanor. “What if I give my knowledge to someone riding six months? That will save time and money.”
SmartLap monitors bike and rider performance through a network of Bluetooth sensors. The virtual mechanic develops a profile of the biker’s riding style and compares that with ideal settings. It then generates a list of adjustments needed to enhance bike performance. SmartLap does in a few hours what riders and mechanics may take hundreds of hours fixings. The more the rider uses the app, the more the app customizes user settings.
“You have to make sure you’re in sync with the bike,” Treanor said. “SmartLap’s technology learns how you ride and tells you how to make the bike work for you. It makes it safer, and hopefully faster.”
Smart sensor technology drew Warnstedt to the project. Sensors can be used in almost any machine to provide performance data. They’re slowly making their way into autos and industrial manufacturing, and industry insiders have contacted the Bradley team.
“I liked how big the idea was when I first saw it,” Warnstedt said. “I didn’t know anything about Motocross, but I saw how sensors could be used on almost anything. People we’ve talked to validated the big-picture possibilities for this.”
Treanor and Warnstedt will continue product development on campus next year. As winners of special recognition honors, they will have space and professional resources available to bring the prototype closer to reality.
“It’s the best internship we ever had,” said Treanor. “We’re the type of people who want to be using our creativity to create things, not sit behind desks all day. This allowed us to experience that.”