Episode 25 - Raoul Luescher

  

  

Raoul Luescher, Director of Luescher Teknik, joins us in this episode to talk all about carbon fiber bikes industry. His extensive experience in quality control of composites, manufacturing and design has led him to design and build many composite items, including items used in the Olympic games and the Malvern Star range of carbon bicycles which won many awards.

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In this episode we cover: 

  • Raoul’s journey from rowing to cycling and a peek at his interesting work history.
  • His extensive background on working with carbon fiber bikes.
  • The problems or faults with carbon fiber bikes.
  • The progress of the CT Scanning technology in the bike industry.
  • Fatigue tests done on bikes.
  • When and why carbon fiber bikes are scanned and repaired.
  • Future for the cycling industry..

Links


    Transcript:

    FELICITY:

    This is episode 25. Welcome to the All Torque podcast, where each episode we interview an inspiring person to share their story with you. I'm your host, Felicity Dales, managing director of Body Torque.

    I have here today Raoul Luescher, the Director of Luescher Teknik, and has extensive experience in quality control of composites, manufacturing and design, along with a long history in elite sport and sports engineering. He has competed at international level in rowing, as well as national level in a range of other sports, including cycling, cross country skiing, multi-sport and running since retiring from rowing, so he knows the demands of competition. Your background started as a technical officer with Aerospace Technologies Australia for three years, and then Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures doing R and D in advanced composites, develop repair methods and fire survivability for naval platforms for nearly two years.

    Then, as an aerospace technician with Boeing Hawker De Haviland on quality and NDT procedures for six years, followed by a position as a senior technical officer at the Australian Institute of Sport, the AIS, for close to four years, a senior technical officer with CRC Advanced Composite Structures for 18 months, and then you started Luescher Teknik in specialist sports technology, which you've done for over 10 years now. Your mission is to provide quality innovative solutions to maximise your performance potential. Welcome, Raoul.

    RAOUL:

    Thank you.

    FELICITY:

    You've built many composite items, including ones in the Olympic games, the Malvern Star range of carbon bicycles which won an Australian design mark and the groundbreaking BC Composites Tamar mountain bike and duro rim, and you've also worked with national, Olympic and professional athletes, both as a technology and equipment advisor role, as you're passionate about sports performance. Tell us about your journey, Raoul. We'd love to hear, how did you progress from rowing to cycling and doing what you're doing now?

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, that's a long story, actually. Yeah, I mean, I've always been into my bikes. Ever since I was a little kid I was riding my bikes. I built my first bike when I was 11 years old from getting pieces from hard rubbish collections and just putting it all together and going out and riding it. I was always riding my bike, and then I grew up in Sydney, so at high school they had a rowing program and I ended up getting into that, sort of around year 10. Rowing is one of those sports which it's sort of an all or nothing sort of sport. You know? You can't just go for a little bit of a row because it's so technical and so involved. You're in a crew of people, and so you've got that commitment. Rowing then becomes all absorbing.

    Then after school I decided, "I'm going to have a real go at the sport," and ended up winning an Australian title and then getting selected in national teams and end up going to three world championships. Then I had injuries. I was plagued by injuries a little bit. So, in 1992 I was probably in the best shape I had ever been, and then I had stress fractures in my ribs near my spine, so then I couldn't row for a while. I ended up taking that 18 months out of rowing, which was actually quite devastating because at that point in my life, everything revolved around the speed of the boat. We used to have a saying: "The quality of life is directly proportional to the speed of the boat."

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    All of a sudden I couldn't do that, so it came out, "Well, I can't just lie around feeling sorry for myself. I better go get a job." So, I saw a job come up at Aerospace Technologies of Australia, which was doing advanced carbon fibre aircraft components, and it's now owned by Boeing. Yeah, I saw a role there, I thought, "That looks really interesting." Up until that time, we did a lot of cycling as part of rowing training as well, and I was sort of looking at building some bikes for myself to train on. I thought, "This carbon fibre stuff sounds really interesting. I could probably make a really nice bike out of that." So, I was looking at learning more, then this job came up and I got the job. All of a sudden, I'm sort of immersed in aircraft carbon fibre. It's just a whole other level to the sporting industry, carbon fibre.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    It was a huge learning curve and very interesting. Then I started building my own carbon fibre bikes. I built my first carbon fibre bike in 1992.

    FELICITY:

    Wow.

    RAOUL:

    Parts and wheels and a whole bunch of things like that. Then I still couldn't row due to my injury, but I could ride the bike, so that didn't put much strain on my back. I started racing on the bike and I was in good shape aerobically, was winning races domestically and stuff like that and having a good time, but at the time, I really wanted to get back into rowing again. So, when I could row again, so back in late '93 I started rowing again and got into the national team for '94 world championships. But then we were overseas at the Commonwealth Regatta in Canada and I hurt my back again. That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. That's when I thought, "Okay, I need to do something else now. That time of my life is over. I'll do something else."

    Focused then sort of more on my career. Then did all these other sports, like I got into cross country skiing and running and rock climbing, all sorts, just multi sports, Mount Buller to Melbourne race and things like that. Just wanted to challenge myself. I still had good aerobic condition and really enjoyed training, but I just had to be..

    FELICITY:

    Manage it.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, had to manage what I could do. The good thing about doing a range of different sports is you're not battering one aspect of your body constantly. When you're rowing, that's all you're doing. The intensity on the body just can break the body down.

    FELICITY:

    Yes.

    RAOUL:

    You know? So, that diversity, I really enjoyed that diversity. Yeah. Then I was working in some different roles. When I went to the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures ... so, we were doing R and D for defence, science and technology, so we were doing a lot of repair methods. We did a repair manual for the Navy mine hunters, which are a fibreglass hull. We came up with repair methods for that. We had to test all these methods, and that was quite interesting in that we'd make sample panels and then we'd take them out to this special range. The Navy experts would come in with explosives and blow these things up, and then we'd have to see how they survived. These little bits like 10 grams of high explosive and the ground would shake, and this water plume would go up 30 feet in the air.  

    FELICITY:

    Wow, quite incredible.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, it was incredible. We were doing also ballistic protection for vehicles and again, you'd go to a facility and they put these panels, and then they'd get machine guns and shoot them and all these sorts of stuff.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    So, it was a lot of sort of interesting sorts of things good on. Then..

    FELICITY:

    So, it would be the impact of what was happening, you'd sort of see the ... is that the purpose of that?

    RAOUL:

    That's right. It was real world. That's the thing about the aircraft and defence sort of work, is that you can't just try something and hope it works.

    FELICITY:

    No.

    RAOUL:

    It has to work. You have to test it, and you've got to make sure everything, all these possible scenarios are..

    FELICITY:

    Are created to kind of..

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, to replicate what the environment is going to be. With aircraft panels for bird strike protection, they actually have a cannon which fires chickens into the panel to replicate a bird strike.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    You can do all this computer modelling and you can do all these calculations, but until it actually passes the real test of a bird being launched at it 200 miles an hour, then it's not going to go on the aircraft. So, all those sorts of things. You okay, you get exposed to a lot of interesting things. Then after that I went back to what was then now the Boeing Hawker De Haviland. A new program had started there with the F18 Fighter, and so we developed all the quality testing procedures for that program, which was a very involved program. We're doing all the production quality control on that and other programs as well, but that was sort of a real key program.

    FELICITY:

    So, you've had an amazing foundation then for working with carbon fibre bikes, haven't you? You know, you've actually really had the pinnacle, I would have imagined, of training in that area.

    RAOUL:

    Well, that's right. That's right. It's sort of coming to it from the upper end as opposed to ... typically, people ... composite bike engineers will do a degree in mechanical engineering or sometimes aerospace engineering and then go into the bike industry, but they haven't typically got that high-end manufacturing background and experience. A lot of the stuff, particularly with the Boeing company, is it's all proprietary information. So, it's not something you can learn at a university.

    FELICITY:

    No.

    RAOUL:

    You know? It's all done in house.

    FELICITY:

    Yeah.

    RAOUL:

    All the training that I've had there, that was all proprietary training. You can't just get that anywhere.

    FELICITY:

    No, no. It can't be replicated.

    RAOUL:

    That's right. So, it puts me in a very unique position. Yeah, then later on I got to the point where there weren't any new programs coming through at the time, and I wanted some more challenges. I've always been interested in elite sport, and a position came up at the AIS in Canberra for a technical position. You're sort of developing equipment for the athletes to be used at Olympics and those sorts of things, and having been in that sphere in my rowing career, so trying for Olympic selection, really being absolutely driven by performance and ultimate performance. Yeah, that was something..

    FELICITY:

    You know that every second counts, so basically.

    RAOUL:

    Well, that's right. That's right. Every tenth of a second, every hundredth of a second counts. It was a perfect storm, really. This position came up just when I was looking for something, some new challenges, so then that was a great role, and we created lots of stuff for the Athens Olympics. I was working with rowing and cycling and then did some things with archery as well out of fibre. Then testing procedures, so, yeah..

    FELICITY:

    It varied.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. I mean, it developed the odometers for the cyclists.

    FELICITY:

    Ah, yes.

    RAOUL:

    The test odometers, and maintained all the power meter cranks, the SRM cranks, a whole range of stuff. Yeah. It was really satisfying then seeing some of the work that we did, go on and be utilised at the Olympics in Athens and in Beijing, and people winning medals.

    FELICITY:

    Absolutely, yeah.

    RAOUL:

    ... with stuff that we've had a direct input in. That was..

    FELICITY:

    Exciting.

    RAOUL:

    ... it was a lot of fun, and it was a really good team of people there. It's quite sad at the moment how the whole AIS is being scaled down and the old people have left and the core group has sort of all moved on, but it was really some great times there.

    FELICITY:

    You had great results, so I don't really understand it, but anyway.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, I know. That's politics, isn't it?

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    Then due to family reasons ... my daughter was born in Canberra, but for family reasons we wanted to come back to Melbourne.

    FELICITY:

    You've based yourself there.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. So, I came back to Melbourne and I went back to the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composites with a sports composites role, which was, we created with the AIS. I was really focusing in on using these materials and methods for sporting applications. That sort of carried over to the end of the Beijing Olympics. At that point, I decided, "Yeah, I'm ready to strike out on my own in the big wide world and see how I go."

    FELICITY:

    Fantastic.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, there was a lot of opportunities and a lot of good things. Malvern Star approached me. They were one of the first consulting jobs where they approached me about they wanted to have an Australian designed carbon frame. So, they approached me if I'd be interested in undertaking that project. I said, "Yeah, absolutely. That's almost a dream." Everyone had a Malvern Star when I was a kid, and that was the sort of bike brand. Yeah. Here I am, I'm right into carbon and bikes and they've asked me to design a bike for them.

    FELICITY:

    Dream job.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, it was fantastic. It was a really good team. We had Phil Anderson as well..

    FELICITY:

    Oh, fantastic.

    RAOUL:

    ... involved. Yeah. It was a really good team. We designed what became the OPi carbon bike.

    FELICITY:

    Yes.

    RAOUL:

    At the time, it was very different to other bikes in the market. We had some aero features to it. Through the AIS involvement, we did a lot of work in the Monash wind tunnel leading into the Beijing Olympics for the time trialists and feudists and things.

    FELICITY:

    Oh, yes.

    RAOUL:

    So, we had a lot of wind tail knowledge and we could sort of start applying some of those things to this bike, which at the time, there wasn't really an aero road sort of category, which is now commonplace. Everyone's got the aero road bike, but at the time, road bikes weren't aero. Only time trial bikes had aero features in it.

    FELICITY:

    Oh, okay.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, so we sort of brought a bit of new ground, and kudos to Malvern Star, they supported that. It would have been very easy to say, "No, this is a little bit too different to other bikes. Yeah, let's just sort of stay with what everyone else is doing," but they..

    FELICITY:

    They had the courage to launch it.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. It was a very successful program, and then the Genesis team raced on it domestically. It was one of the things, the brand had a bit of a stigma of being a supermarket chain brand and not a performance brand, and everyone, "Yeah, it's a nice looking bike, but it's not a race bike." Then the Genesis team went out and won every single race in the country for two years straight.

    FELICITY:

    Wow, reinvigorated the brand.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. "It's an okay race bike, but it's not a Crit bike." Then they win the Crit National Championships and it's just like.

    FELICITY:

    Well, you can't argue with that.

    RAOUL:

    That's right. The bike is only one piece of the puzzle in terms of performance, but still, it's..

    FELICITY:

    A big component, though.

    RAOUL:

    That's right, you know? It still needs to do the job, and it did the job well. So, that was a really good project, and we won an Australian design mark for that. So, that was..

    FELICITY:

    And cutting edge at the time, because as you say, we just take for granted now that everything's aero now, pretty much.

    RAOUL:

    That's right. That's right. There's a reason for doing certain things. One of the sayings I use, people say, "There's only a small gain, it's not worth chasing." But it's like, if somebody came up to you in the street and gave you five dollars, you wouldn't tell them, "No, I only accept hundreds."

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    You know? You take any advantage that you can get. You should take it.

    FELICITY:

    Absolutely. That extra one percent each time adds up.

    RAOUL:

    That's right. A little bit here, a little bit there, and all of a sudden you've got something tangible. The Sky team have really with their marginal gains sort of philosophy, and they've really popularised that, but elite athletes have been doing that forever.

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    It's nothing new, it's just been marketed, I think, by Team Sky.

    FELICITY:

    Yeah, differently.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah.

    FELICITY:

    It's all those small increments, they do add up and make a difference.

    RAOUL:

    That's it, that's it.

    FELICITY:

    In today, what would you ascertain as the main problems or faults with carbon fibre bikes, Raoul?

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. Well, when we ultrasound scan carbon bikes, we often find voids or air bubbles within the layers of material. This is a manufacturing flaw, and depending on the location of these flaws, it can be serious and can lead to a catastrophic failure. Carbon has had a bit of a reputation for that in the bike industry.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    It's often because it hasn't been made very well.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    Coming from aerospace where everything is made to the..

    FELICITY:

    Meticulously.

    RAOUL:

    ...absolute best of man’s knowledge, the best materials and processes, and then everything is 100% inspected after that because they don't know until they test it. Coming from that industry and then finding all these flaws. Other flaws that we get are fibre wrinkles where the fibre has got a kink in it.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    Similar to a knot in a piece of wood.

    FELICITY:

    Ah, yes.

    RAOUL:

    That means it can't take the load as it's designed. So, like a piece of rope, a rope can only take a load once it's straight. If it's got a bend in it, that bend will straighten out before it can take the load. So, that's what we mean by a wrinkle. Other things like excessive sanding, so when they're preparing for paint, they actually sand through some of the layers of carbon, particularly on the corners.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    Then again, it's too thin and then it can't take the load. They're some of the problems that we find within the parts, then you've got sort of design perspective. Some shapes are very difficult to produce without these sort of manufacturing flaws, so then they have more problems. Typically, more complex the shape is, the more difficult it is to manufacture. Then the more likelihood of problems.

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    So, just because you can draw it on a CAD screen, it doesn't mean you can make it reliably and repeatably. That's one of the design things. Then from a rider’s perspective, impact tolerance is always seen as a problem with carbon. The bikes are perceived to be very fragile, and often they are, but that's more often a function of the design and the chasing of lightweight. As I've found, with all the research we did in defence with all the ballistic protection and also with the BC Tamar rim when we did a lot of impact testing on that. These composite structures can be incredibly damage tolerant when they're designed for that type of thing. When you're blowing up panels representing a ship hull, or shooting machine guns at panels and they survive these things, yeah. It's often a matter of chasing weight.

    One of the things we did with the OPi was for the sake of another 100 grams of weight in the frame, additional weight, we made that frame 100% reliable and not have any of these problems. The bike would still be at 6.8 kilo UCI legal raceway. So, I don't understand the point of making a frame that's 700 grams and then you have to add ... it's just dead weight in ballasts to the bike to bring it up to weight that you can legally race it.

    Yeah, that's right. You might as well have it as structured to make the bike more reliable.

    FELICITY:

    Absolutely.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. So, that's sort of some of the most common things that we find, yeah.

    FELICITY:

    Yeah. With your background in NDT, non-destructive technologies in the aerospace industry as you mentioned, they use CT scanning, has the bike industry progressed to using that technology now?

    RAOUL:

    The bike industry very slowly implement these sort of methods into production. Often they're saying it would make the cost too high, which, I mean, the thing is, composite quality assurance is totally different to metal quality assurance.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    I don't think that it's fully understood in the bicycle manufacturing environment which has been dominated by metals for a very long time. With a metal bike, you buy a tube set, a pre-made tube set, and that's had all the quality assurance already done on it. You know? So, that's all done at the foundry. When you buy the tubes that you know what properties you're going to get in it, you know all the factors around that tube set. With a composite bike, you've got to layer each individual layer of material down into a mould, and there could be, depending on locations and things, there could be 20 different layers.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    How you layer each of those plies down into the mould has an end effect on the structural properties of the bike. It's very important that that step is done correctly. The only way to validate that is with non-destructive testing methods, and that's why it's so used extensively in the aircraft industry, and has been for a very long time. I mean, I started there in '92 and it wasn't new then. It was established, they'd been using those methods for 20 years prior to that.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    It's not new. I mean, the methods improve, and sensitivities improve and these sorts of things, and speed etcetera, but the principles aren't new.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    Then you've got a brand Canyon out of Germany, and they say that they CT scan all their forks and handlebars for quality assurance. Yet, they're not the most expensive brand in the market, so I don't know how the other brands can say it's too expensive to do, when one brand, which isn't a super high-end expensive brand, is doing it.

    FELICITY:

    Unless it's offset by volume, I don't know, but that could be another option.

    RAOUL:

    Well, yeah. I think it's more a factor of self-regulation in the industry. Yeah.

    FELICITY:

    So, part of their values.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. It's like, in aerospace everything's regulated. In automotive, everything is regulated.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    You just..

    FELICITY:

    You have to do it, whereas..

    RAOUL:

    That's right, that's right.

    FELICITY:

    Yeah, I see what you mean.

    RAOUL:

    If you want to sell a car in Australia, it needs to pass all these Australian design rules otherwise you can't..

    FELICITY:

    It's a bit like a helmet..

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, exactly.

    FELICITY:

    A helmet's quite regulated.

    RAOUL:

    That's right, which is sort of a bit back to front. You know? We're regulating helmets, but we're not regulating the possible mechanism ... if a bike fails, you're going to need your helmet.

    FELICITY:

    That's right, yeah.

    RAOUL:

    So, let's make sure that the bike doesn't fail in the first place. It's like in the aircraft industry, nobody would accept the sort of attitude of, "Look, planes just fall out of the sky. It's part of flying." It's just like, "That's the risk you take." You know? Or in the car industry, it's okay, "Wheels just fall off cars every now and again. They've got problems and they just.."

    FELICITY:

    It just happens.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, that's right. Nobody would accept that, but in the bike industry people seem to accept it.

    FELICITY:

    It's interesting.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, I think that probably needs to change.

    FELICITY:

    What sort of fatigue tests are done?

    RAOUL:

    When you design a bike, to get the EN certification, it has a baseline fatigue test done from a design state. That sort of validates if there's any major problems with the design. However, with composites, composites are highly fatigue resistant unless they've got these internal flaws. These tests are more suited to metal parts, particularly aluminum is very fatigue prone. That's why it's being replaced in the aircraft industry by carbon fibre, just to increase the service life of these aircrafts.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    So, aluminum in particular is very prone to fatigue failures. So, these tests are valid for metal bikes, but they're not actually that relevant for a carbon composite bike. Fatigue tests, it's not a good indicator of the quality of each individual part.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    That's where the NDT comes in.

    FELICITY:

    Right.

    RAOUL:

    You need to identify each individual part has got the properties that you expect it to have.

    FELICITY:

    Okay. Well, you have a carbon bike repair service, don't you, Raoul?

    RAOUL:

    Yep.

    FELICITY:

    That involves getting it scanned using the ultrasonic inspection methods, as used in the aerospace industry. That's generally done after a cyclist has had an accident, or do insurance companies request this to ascertain as well if it's a write off post accident?

    RAOUL:

    We scan lots of bikes for lots of different reasons. Yeah, I think we've scanned probably close to 5,000 bikes so far.

    FELICITY:

    Oh, wow.

    RAOUL:

    We've got a lot of data. Everything goes into a database, so we can track what we find, manufacturing faults, impact damage, baggage handler damage, roof racks, all these sorts of things. One of the things that is quite common is people have had a crash and they're not sure if their bike is damaged or not. Because the damage is often within the layers and not visible to the eye, scans are the only really reliable way that we can find damage.

    FELICITY:

    To pick it up.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, that a bike shop can't find by looking at it visually. With a metal bike, you can look and you can see a crack. A crack will propagate through the metal, and you can see that crack on the surface most of the time. But with carbon bikes, the primary mode of failure is the delamination where the layers separate. Visually, you can't identify that. That's where you need the scan.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    So, other reasons that people have scans is they've previously had a manufacturing fault and their bike has failed, so when they buy a new bike, they get it sent straight here before it's even built and look for any possible manufacturing faults because they don't want to go through another accident that's avoidable with better quality procedures. Then we do get insurance companies, and insurance companies, they use us because we're not aligned to a brand, and we're totally independent, so we provide independent report, and we don't have any agendas trying to sell a new bike to a customer or anything like that.

    FELICITY:

    No.

    RAOUL:

    We just report what we find and make a recommendation on, "Yes, this is reparable and it'll be 100% safe if repaired," or, "No, we'd recommend replacement." But we get a lot of things, too, people say, "You can't repair carbon." It's just like, "Well, actually you can." Aerospace has been doing it for a very, very long time. They started repairing this stuff in the late 60's. I mean, I've signed off on so many repairs. I can tell you pretty much every single aircraft, commercial airliner flying in the sky has got a carbon repair on it somewhere.

    FELICITY:

    Right, yep. No doubt, with the impact and the force I can imagine, because obviously they're flying all the time.

    RAOUL:

    That's it. You don't automatically, if you get a little bit damaged on your 747, they don't just automatically give you a new one. You know?

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    With the bike industry, there's a bit of expectation that if you crash your bike and you've got insurance, you just automatically get a new one. Right? No other industry operates like ... the car industry doesn't.

    FELICITY:

    No, that's true.

    RAOUL:

    You know? So, it's sort of a bit of a..

    FELICITY:

    Just have to get it checked, and yeah.

    RAOUL:

    That's right. You get it checked and then if there's damage, well then you rectify the damage if it's rectifiable, and if it's not, then you look at other options for replacement. Yeah, yeah.

    FELICITY:

    Do you do this for people purchasing second hand bikes as well, Raoul?

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, for sure. It's sort of like when you buy a used car or you're buying a house, you go in and get it checked. Yeah, often people come in and say, "Yeah, I'm buying this bike. Can you check it out before I buy it?" Often we also get sellers, people going, "I want to sell this bike, and I want to provide a report to potential buyers." So, they can provide my report with a clean bill of health, so to speak, sort of outlining if there's any issues with the bike. We have seen some unscrupulous sellers over the years where they're selling frames which have had backyard repairs and it's just been painted over.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    But that shows up on the scan, so then you can say, "Well, hang on a sec. This has had a repair here," then they go, "Oh, they didn't tell me about that." It's just like, "Well ..." and it's not a very good quality repair.

    FELICITY:

    No.

    RAOUL:

    "I recommend that you not touch this bike."

    FELICITY:

    Well, it's good to have an objective report and know upfront, isn't it? Especially that they usually are a few thousand dollars, so it's good to know before you hand over that money.

    RAOUL:

    Well, that's right. As you would buying a car or a house, you get an expert specialist to check this stuff out for you if you don't know.

    FELICITY:

    Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything that you're developing or working on now, Raoul?

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, there's always lots of developments going on. Yeah, otherwise we'd still be living in caves, wouldn't we? Oh, look, life is all about constantly challenging yourself. Yeah. There's lots of things going on. There's nothing I can really..

    FELICITY:

    Really share.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, too openly about at this point, but..

    FELICITY:

    I might have to get you on again and then you can tell us.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. Well, that's it, that's it. Yeah.

    FELICITY:

    So, where do you see the future heading?

    RAOUL:

    That's difficult to answer. I mean, an example I use, my grandmother was born before the Wright brothers first flight.

    FELICITY:

    Oh, yes.

    RAOUL:

    And then saw man walk on the moon.

    FELICITY:

    Radical.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. I don't think anybody would have predicted that.

    FELICITY:

    No.

    RAOUL:

    In such a short period of time. Where things are going to go, I don't know. I'm always looking at what material developments are coming out, and there was some really interesting stuff I just saw a few days ago where they can align carbon atoms within the fibres to actually create a battery. You could have a carbon bike which is a battery as well.

    FELICITY:

    Okay.

    RAOUL:

    Then it can operate lights or electronic shifting.

    FELICITY:

    Wow.

    RAOUL:

    Or all sorts of stuff. So, it's all that sort of integration, which is really interesting.

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    One of the things, when the electronic shifting first came out and people were saying, "What's the point? Mechanical shifting works fine." Mechanical shifting does work fine, but the system integration that you can get with electronics takes it to a whole other level. It's like on an aircraft or a car, you don't have cable actuator throttles and things like that anymore. It's all electronic.

    FELICITY:

    Yes, I love my Di2 Dura-Ace, so I'm very happy.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. It's like, once you go to this technology, it's very difficult going back to mechanical.

    FELICITY:

    It is.

    RAOUL:

    You know you can have an extra set of buttons on the handle bar for climbing buttons, or you can have sequential shifting. You could have integration with a power meter, so you could have basically a fully automatic gearbox. For an iron man type situation, all you actually have to do is pedal as hard as you can pedal for that time, and it automatically puts you in the gear that's optimum for that situation. It's something less to think about, which then saves you energy. Every time you think, that requires energy. You're the sole power supply, so every little bit of energy has to come from within you.

    FELICITY:

    That's interesting.

    RAOUL:

    So, if energy's going into fueling your brain to thinking about things, then that's energy which cannot be used later down the track to..

    FELICITY:

    Power the bike.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, exactly. Getting efficiencies in some of those aspects, that's what I see some of the integration and..

    FELICITY:

    Moving forward.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, and sensors. Even back at the AIS we were working on a lot of sensors, on modelling performances and tracking performances and all these sorts of things. The electronics have come a long, long way. I mean, that was over 10 years ago. Some of the things that we were working on back then which were absolutely state of the art are now commonplace.

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    I mean, even something really basic that in 2006 I went to Beijing with the triathlon team to map out the Olympic triathlon course, to do it. So, we could generate a 3D profile of the course and recreate a similar course back in the training bases in Australia. The run and the bike leg would have the same amount of climbing and these sorts of things, and descending and stuff like that, and single sort of parameters, and it involved all this equipment, the GPSs, altimeters, power meters, video camera. I took about $20,000 worth of equipment over to do this. By 2008, you could just log onto Google Earth and there it was.

    FELICITY:

    Yeah.

    RAOUL:

    So, things can move pretty quick.

    FELICITY:

    That's right.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah, so how that all integrates is what's fascinating. But there'll be some material advances. Carbon at the moment is probably the premier material for building lightweight bicycles. I don't know what's going to happen in the future. Time will tell.

    FELICITY:

    Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you, Raoul, for joining me today. Our listeners can find you on Instagram at, we’ll have all these details in our show notes, but it’s Luescher_Teknik and on YouTube as well as Luescher Teknik and your website is www.luescherteknik.com.au so people can find you and follow you and listen and learn more about what your new projects are upcoming, as well. So, yeah, I’d really like to thank you for joining us today. It’s been fascinating.

    RAOUL:

    Yeah. Thank you very much, Felicity.

    FELICITY:

    You’re welcome.

    Thanks for listening to the All Torque podcast. We'd love it if you would leave us a rating and review on iTunes. This helps us to deliver content you want to hear about. Please take a moment to share it with your friends and family on Instagram and Facebook. I'm Felicity Dales, see you next episode for another story of inspiration and motivation on the All Torque podcast.

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