• Mercedes Brings F1 Know-How to Support Paralysed Racing Cyclist

Applied Science steps up to support paralysed racing cyclist in his aim of winning the Cybathlon 2020

Some of the expert engineers at the Mercedes F1 Team’s Applied Science division have provided support to a paralysed FES racing cyclist, to help give him the best chance of winning his race at the Cybathlon 2020.

Johnny Beer, aka Bionic Beer, is paralysed from the chest down following a trampolining accident in 2011 at the age of 16. He will be competing in the virtual 1,200m Cybathlon 2020 FES Bike Race on a BerkelBike, which has been fine-tuned by the Mercedes team.

FES stands for Functional Electrical Stimulation, which allows paralysed muscles to move again and is how Johnny will be powering his bike to fire his leg muscles to cycle. Because he can’t use his hands, he’ll control the bike and the level of electrical stimulation through moving his chin.

In the Cybathlon 2020, he will race 1,200 metres stationary with his bike connected to a roller trainer that will track his time and distance. While Johnny’s aim is to win at Cybathlon 2020, his main motivation is to use this event to shine a light on the sheer potential for electrical stimulation to help others with a spinal cord injury regain movement and independence.  

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A chance meeting with Eric Blandin, Chief Aerodynamicist at the Mercedes F1 Team, when Johnny was touring the Brackley factory kick-started the project for Applied Science.

“Eric was immediately interested and supportive,” Johnny explains. “Within days, he had spoken to the team’s Applied Science division and assembled an interested group of amazing engineers to build carbon fibre boots, a heightened axle for larger wheels with custom made hubs, ceramic bearings and optional Camber adjustment.

“The team’s Applied Science engineers were always just an email away and I couldn’t have wished for a better team in my corner.”

Graham Miller, Director of Applied Science at Mercedes F1 said: “We are delighted and very proud to have been able to help Johnny on his route to success in the Cybathlon 2020. Our Applied Science Division was set up earlier this year to use our vast engineering knowledge and resources to help deliver innovative technical solutions to businesses and individuals.

“Working with Johnny has been both rewarding and a real technical challenge for our team, applying their F1 knowledge to new areas. His spirit, commitment and dedication to helping others are fantastic, and everyone at Mercedes F1 hopes Johnny has a great race.”

Johnny’s race will be broadcast on Friday 13th November at 5pm GMT and can be viewed here. And to support Johnny’s quest to speed the progress of Spinal Stimulation Research Programme, click here.