Pinkbike's Ross Bell was in the pits at Maribor with Dave Garland and Team Canyon lead mechanic Nigel Reeve to talk about Garland's Stendec data acquisition system and its potential benefits for rank-and-file racers who pay their own way to the venues. Data acquisition has found its way into just about every key player in World Cup downhill pits, and the Canyon Team has been using the Stendec system since January. Garland says that, after four years of development, Stendec is finally ready for market.
The price? Garland says he's sussing that out, but it won't be cheap. The kit includes software and an array of pressure, speed and acceleration sensors used to assess the usual suspension action, but also includes functions for braking, ride height, and
weight distribution - features that help paint a more accurate picture of what is going on during practice runs.
The goal is to provide enough useful information to allow mechanics to make deliberate and positive adjustments so the knowledge gained can be applied and verified before race runs begin. Garland says that the last two years of Stendec's development were spent simplifying the displays and the way information was communicated to the user. "I'm not a great mathematician, nor a computer man," says Garland. "So if I can do it, anyone can." That doesn't mean the task was easy. The number crunching that the system does in order to simplify the data is "colossal" and Garland admits that he has put a fortune into the project to get it right.
Canyon has only been using the Stendec Data system since the beginning of 2019, and Reeve says the team has shaved off three to five seconds from practice runs on a two-minute track using what they've learned. That's massive considering that the top five men in Maribor were within two seconds in timed training. Reeve says that the first race the team used Stendec officially was the European Cup last week - which they used as a warm-up to get sorted before the first World Cup here.
When asked if the athletes would be using their "data bikes" for their qualifying or race runs, Reeve said it depended upon weather conditions: "If they do all their practice on Friday [in dry conditions] and they can get two runs in wet conditions Saturday to work stuff out, having information from the data system is going to be pretty crucial, I think."
According to Garland, Canyon bought the Stendec Data system on the advice of Fabien Barel, and that both racers and mechanics needed very little shepherding to get up to speed with it. Garland dodged the question about the retail price of the system, but was quite confident that it would be well worth its cost when the actual number was revealed:
The question left to us is will privateers who do have the spending cash to pony up for a Stendec data system be able to take advantage of the benefits on race day? Garland answers that with confidence:
"In the first instance, for me, it was always about getting the best performance out of the bike and the rider together. That's how the system works. It measures both parameters and makes sure the all of that is as tidy as possible - that's what it does. It shows you where your errors are in terms of riding and bike setup, and targets that with some clever maths in the background. If you are a little unclear of which way to go, there are a number of scenarios where you can click a button and it will suggest where to make adjustments - and as soon as your mind starts to think more laterally about all of that, you'll be amazed at how clearly your mind works in terms of getting a bike and rider to work properly together."