Company: AC Sport/PROrace
AC Sport is a French company offering a full line of high performance composite materials and accessories for professional car racing.
The company's line of products successfully meets the needs of the professional car racing market through a combination of quality, interactive customer service and a knowledgeable sales staff.
AC Sport plans to diversify its market by entering the bicycle segment with a new product: an innovative and revolutionary pedal and gear mechanism called PROrace.
Project: PROrace™, an innovative crankset to bicycle
PROrace is an innovative bicycle crankset that reduces the effort needed while pedalling by automatically adjusting the length of leverage during the pedalling cycle to optimize effort.
Compared to classical pedalling systems on standard bicycle frames PROrace reduces the effort needed by about 12%. On specially built bicycle frames the crankset could result in a reduction of up to 50% in the amount of effort required.
Several prototypes of PROrace have been produced and tried out on over 10 000 km of streets and cross-country pathways to validate the concept.
Measurements have confirmed that PROrace reduces the effort needed and no significant problem with wear has been identified.
The PROrace crankset has been tested by 50 cyclists, including four champion cyclists. Of these, 42 were extremely positive and said they would like to use PROrace once it becomes available.
The inventor of PROrace, Eric Valat, who has filed a patent application for the crankset, plans to establish a start-up company dedicated to developing and marketing PROrace in collaboration with AC Sport.
Valat and AC Sport envisage penetrating the European bicycle market with PROrace within two to three years. The main targets will be France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. In a second step, the long-term plan is to market PROrace worldwide.
From space to industry
In his search for new technologies and materials to improve his invention Eric Valat contacted ESA in 2007. He wanted to find new materials and production methods to lighten the crankset and he believed that the light-weight materials designed and developed for space structures, including materials and processes such as carbon, pitch carbon and pre-impregnated carbon fibre molding, could be used to improve the PROrace crankset.
ESA Business Incubation
Eric Valat foresees great benefits from working and refining his PROrace crankset at the ESA Business Incubator in ESTEC. With support from ESA specialists, it will be easier to identify and evaluate materials developed by the space industry for ESA programmes that could be used to improve PROrace. Access to several laboratories in ESTEC will also help in testing and evaluating the different materials.
The Business Incubator will also provide support in a number of business areas such as refining the initial market study and extending it to the most promising European countries, finalising the business plan and defining criteria for future partners. The networks of ESA's Technology Transfer Programme Office will also prove useful in finding potential business partners and venture capital if needed.
Incubation period and location
PROrace is being hosted at the ESA Business Incubation centre at ESTEC from December 2007 to June 2009.
Eric Valat, inventor and Research and Development Manager of PROrace.
Florence Rey, Executive Manager and Patrick Pinettes, Project Supervisor.
Florence Rey. Executive Manager
Email: Florence.rey @ pro-race.eu
AC SPORT IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Office
320 rue Georges Auric
Tel: +33 467 651 314
Fax: +33 467 073 382
Mob: +33 661 180 771
AC SPORT R&D (research & development) Office
European Space Research and Technology Centre
ESTEC - TEC/ST
P.O.Box 299, Keplerlaan 1
NL-2201 AZ Noordwijk
Fax: +31 71 565 6635
Last update: 24 October 2008