1975 sporthochschule Koln- 455 watts

In Ed Burke's (ed) 1996 book ( may he RIP), High-Tech cycling, ISBN 0-87322-535-X, Human Kinetics, author Chester R. Kyle writes in the first chapter on "Selecting Cycling Equipment", on page 2, under the heading "Human Power" :

In 1975 at a Sporthochschule in Cologne, Germany, professional cyclist Eddy Merckx produced over 0.6 horsepower for 1hr (455 Watts) on a cycling ergometer

Over the years, every now and then, I have tried to find out more about that outstanding pre-EPO-HGH,etc performance. Without any success.

So, I would like to know if somebody knows any details.

As far as wikipedia knows, Merckx weighed 73 kg in his prime.

That means 6,23 watts/kg for 1hr. in the most dismal conditions : how do you keep reasonably cool at such effort level on a stationnery bike? Did he have a jet engine blowing cool air over him? You can only guess that he could have produced considerably more power if kept reasonably cool.

As it is, 455 watts is approximately what a 73 kg cyclist needs to produce to get himself , his 7kg bike and shoes, cloth, etc to the top of Ventoux in 60 minutes or so. And without cooling yet?

So, I would like to learn more about that outstanding performance, Eddy Merckx never replied to my letter.

BTW : he presumably did it, that hour of torture, only in the interest of science, there was no reward to be obtained.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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Le breton said:
In Ed Burke's (ed) 1996 book ( may he RIP), High-Tech cycling, ISBN 0-87322-535-X, Human Kinetics, author Chester R. Kyle writes in the first chapter on "Selecting Cycling Equipment", on page 2, under the heading "Human Power" :

In 1975 at a Sporthochschule in Cologne, Germany, professional cyclist Eddy Merckx produced over 0.6 horsepower for 1hr (455 Watts) on a cycling ergometer

Over the years, every now and then, I have tried to find out more about that outstanding pre-EPO-HGH,etc performance. Without any success.

So, I would like to know if somebody knows any details.

As far as wikipedia knows, Merckx weighed 73 kg in his prime.

That means 6,23 watts/kg for 1hr. in the most dismal conditions : how do you keep reasonably cool at such effort level on a stationnery bike? Did he have a jet engine blowing cool air over him? You can only guess that he could have produced considerably more power if kept reasonably cool.

As it is, 455 watts is approximately what a 73 kg cyclist needs to produce to get himself , his 7kg bike and shoes, cloth, etc to the top of Ventoux in 60 minutes or so. And without cooling yet?

So, I would like to learn more about that outstanding performance, Eddy Merckx never replied to my letter.

BTW : he presumably did it, that hour of torture, only in the interest of science, there was no reward to be obtained.
Ed Burke was a cool guy. I was luckily enough to have lunch with him about a month before he died.

I seem to remember that there was a fan for that test. I also think that some riders can produce more watts while climbing for an hour then seated on a stationary bike.
 
Ed Burke

Race Radio said:
Ed Burke was a cool guy. I was luckily enough to have lunch with him about a month before he died.

I seem to remember that there was a fan for that test. I also think that some riders can produce more watts while climbing for an hour then seated on a stationary bike.
I was visiting in the US in 1997 and entered the Mount Evans hillclimb, saw that Ed Burke was among the racers, so I tried to spot him, but he was hiding not to be pestered by the likes of myself as he later admitted when I got in touch with him.

I would expect that most racers could produce more watts climbing in the open air than indoors on a stationary bike, the effort on those ergometers seems so unnatural.

If Merckx was producing 455 watts mechanical, he was also exuding 1400 watts of heat!!! You need a BIG fan to remove that kind of heat.

A note in passing : it was not until about 10 years ago that they discovered that very popular models of the Monark brand were miscalibrated and underestimated the real power by up to 10%(!) depending on the rpm if I remember correctly (I won't swear to this in front of the US Congress though).

Anyway, I have now put it to rest, but I trusted my Powertap more than those ergocycles, since I could calibrate it myself 2 ways, in the garage with known weights and riding with it outdoors on nearby mountains.
 
May 20, 2010
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speaking of fans

When you hear as we did this week that Contador has spent several hours in a wind tunnel, I presume that means pedaling, on a setup with rollers, submerged so that the wheels would be level with the floor. And that the fans would take care of cooling in a way stationary cycling usually just can't.

Does that make sense as a guess? I think to be worthwhile his legs would have to be in motion as they are when he's riding. Even cadence would have aerodynamic impacts that would be worth comparing. And if they're testing his position on a new bike, as I believe they were, he's got to be riding that bike.
 
Apr 8, 2009
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Le breton said:
In 1975 at a Sporthochschule in Cologne, Germany, professional cyclist Eddy Merckx produced over 0.6 horsepower for 1hr (455 Watts) on a cycling ergometer

That means 6,23 watts/kg for 1hr.
Thanks for that. It is the only time I have seen measured data for Merckx. Interestingly (or maybe predictably) it fits nicely into the figure that I have always thought to be about the limit of achievable output, ie 6-6.2W/Kg.
 
merckx and his 455 watts

davidg said:
Thanks for that. It is the only time I have seen measured data for Merckx. Interestingly (or maybe predictably) it fits nicely into the figure that I have always thought to be about the limit of achievable output, ie 6-6.2W/Kg.
Besides the book by Ed Burke, that figure, 455 watts, has been mentioned before on forums
http://twist.future.net.uk/showthread.php?t=3320&page=8
also in a publication concerned with ihpv : HUMAN POWER

and elsewhere.

Sometimes I find mistakes about it : people seem to confuse that lab test in Cologne ( 1975) with his 1hr record in Mexico (1972). Of course, producing 455 watts at 2300m a.s.l. would be astonishing, to say the least, as the power reduction due to altitude is about 10%.

I can't believe that details about such an outstanding performance as those 455 watts indoors on an ergometer are not known by cycling fans.

It seems most likely that anybody able to produce x watts indoors for 1hr can produce substantially more in outdoor racing conditions.
 

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