Understanding and mastering handling quality is a critical concern for bicycle designers, as it directly impacts safety, comfort, and performance. However, this aspect has received limited attention to date. Existing literature offers experimental handling quality indicators based on bicycle kinematics, but their validity has yet to be established. This study aims to assess the predictive power of these indicators using experimental data derived from subjective assessments of handling quality. These data, obtained from a protocol involving 20 participants and 2 bicycles, enabled testing 39 experimental indicators. The results indicate that certain vehicle kinematic quantities are indeed correlated with the perception of handling quality but with low predictive power. Indicators based on handlebar movement are the most effective in explaining the sensation of handling quality. These indicators perform particularly well at low speeds, where physical and cognitive workload are associated with the quantity of control actions on the handlebars.
The results of this study indicate that the SST evaluation does not provide a validated objective indicator for handling quality on a large sample of the population. As of yet, such indicator remains to be identified.
The sudden resurgence in bicycle popularity is pushing their design towards new features. However, the link between the design variables of a bicycle and its handling quality is poorly established. This experimental study illustrates that the perception of handling quality is affected by a lack of stability at low speeds and by poor manoeuvrability at higher speeds.