[NOTE: This is an excerpt from the book, Free Speed. The explanation below follows on from previous chapters that really simplify your braking metrics. BrakeAce is made to be easy. This is an in-depth explanation]
The FlowScore is the best thing to come out of BrakeAce yet. It’s the one MTB braking score to rule them all. It’s the score that lets me compare myself to you, and you to compare yourself to Loic Bruni. Loic’s FlowScore would probably be lower than yours. He simply brakes more efficiently than you. You better believe he brakes damn hard, but he does this in an incredibly short time. You on the other hand, respectfully, probably brake more lightly and for longer – at a lower speed. The FlowScore is that one number that finally lets us get a nice picture of the difference between us and Loic Bruni (or between Loic Bruni and other pros) at a glance.
During our initial brake power meter work, this single score was the holy grail of our attempts to make a useful brake analysis tool. Until this point, other metrics were relatively weak at giving a snapshot of braking performance that could be compared across riders. And since no attempt to understand braking had ever been made before, determining this metric took a very long time - we had to try everything! I literally had hundreds of equations and statistical analyses to test and work through!
The graph below offers a nice representation of some of the early work. Some of the traditional metrics such as brake time, brake power (W/kg) and brake work [energy] (J/kg) simply didn’t cut the mustard through our many levels of testing. Particularly in this graph, we were looking at [I believe] 10 riders with 3 runs on the same trail in different conditions. And the FlowScore was the best time and again at “predicting” downhill run time - the higher the r2, the better.
You notice in the graph that a lower FlowScore coincides with a lower time. Lower FlowScore = less braking.
Think of the FlowScore as something that grows any time you brake. Every time you touch a brake, the score gets bigger. A Light brake event will make the Flowscore grow less than a Heavy event will, for example. If your FlowScore is 0, it means you didn’t brake at all. In the first 40 minutes of a triathlon you might not brake at all until you need to slow down for the turnaround point. If you ride a double black diamond downhill, your FlowScore might be 200 - you may need to brake almost the whole time.
The goal with the FlowScore isn’t ever to get to zero, because as we just explained above, we need to brake. Once you do brake – whether Long or Short, Heavy or Light, Modulated or Even – the event will start contributing to an increasing FlowScore.
As you improve your lines, braking points, body positioning, bike setup, and generally improve your riding ability, you will see your FlowScore drop on any given trail. Use your overall FlowScore to understand your overall braking on a given section of trail. Once you improve your riding in your Key Opportunities, you’ll see a lower FlowScore and faster trail time.
BrakeAce even gives you a FlowScore for each event and each Key Opportunity so you can track your progress through the sections you practice and the types of terrain or obstacles you train to improve.
The FlowScore is a combination of Intensity, Duration and Modulation – the longer, heavier and more Modulated an event is, the greater that event’s FlowScore will be.