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Improving the human-bike interaction

Improving the human-bike interaction

12th Jan 2024

That’s the mantra that Ken Ballhause took when he set up Adaptive HP back in 2014. Fast forward to 2018 and the launch of Sync Ergonomics. The mantra stays the same, but the end product looks quite different.

This is how Adaptive HP, a bike fit focussed business, gradually formed into Sync Ergonomics. A ten year journey which birthed some of the best time-trial products on the market. Products that are now used at the top of the World Tour and by a Tour de France champion.

Image by: @sprintcycling

Ken Ballhause and his wife, Evelyn Parr, are the founders and brains behind Sync Ergonomics. A Sports Scientist who applies his trade in the area of bike fitting, Ken has a passion for all things fast and efficient. He was openly inspired by Sir Bradley Wiggins’ and the Team Sky dominance of the 2012 Tour de France.

“I would say I still am inspired. The way that they took control of every Grand Tour and stage race and strategically executed a race strategy around a single objective. It was briliant and it made me look at road cycling from a whole different perspective, as I could see so many principles I was learning at university at the time, playing out on the screen infront of me.”
— Ken Ballhause

It was around this time (2014) that Ken made the decision to start Adaptive HP, using his background in Sports Science, combined with modern-day biomechanical analysis techniques and technology, maximising athlete performance through equipment choice and position optimisation.

Sync Ergonomics was launched with the Project 0.2 ecosystem - a new approach to equipment that could be used to optimise an athlete's time trial position. This was 2018, but the story starts long before.

Where did Sync come From?

While studying for a Health Science degree, Ken was a keen road cyclist and eager to dip his toes in the world of performance cycling. Ken was fortunate to get experience as a therapist, working for a prominent Australian road cycling team. This exposed him to a range of issues and injuries experienced by the athletes and gave him a chance to apply the theory-based learning that an undergraduate degree is great for.

This experience shaped the way Ken viewed the necessity of position optimisation as a whole and critically, it motivated him to return to university. Fresh off his four year degree, he went straight to study Exercise and Sports Science. Seeing the issues faced by an athlete group made me appreciate the biomechanical demands of cycling with a whole new perspective, and understand what was missing for so many athletes in professional cycling.

“I left uni at the end of a Health Science degree with knowledge of musculoskeletal conditions, assessment and diagnosis and the clear view of what was missing in the market - The biomechanical considerations in performance-orieted cycling. I knew that I had to go back and learn more applied biomechanics.”
— Ken Ballhause

Professional cycling is steeped in tradition, mystery and old wives tales. There are often nonsensical reasons for pro-riders fits. You only have to look at the slammed stem craze to see that. Adaptive HP was launched in 2014 around improving the human-bike interaction. While in 2023 the number of bike fits being performed is at an all-time low, with Sync taking priority, the passion for a considered approach to position optimisation remains the same

“The timeline of me getting on the bike parallels the timeline of Sync Ergonomics and I have seen Ken apply his passion for bike fitting, to the cockpits of time trial and triathlon bikes. The Sync products that have now littered Pro Tri ranks and the World Tour, it’s no surprise given Ken’s attention to detail, obsession with perfection and general meticulous ways. I have really enjoyed watching the Sync products being used by the worlds finest athletes in triathlon and the World Tour racing and can’t wait to see what is next from this little Melbourne brand.”
— Jimmy Whelan

The Launch of Sync Ergonomics

In January 2016, Bridie O’Donnell set a new Women's Hour Record. In the months leading up to this Ken was involved in the process of position and equipment optimisation. This gave an enhanced knowledge of how things could be done better and, ultimately, is where the philosophy that still runs deep in Sync Ergonomics was derived. This Hour Record is what sparked the ideas of simply "bike fitting", to time trial cockpit optimisation.

“At this time there were no cockpit components like there are today. With Bridie’s setup and in so many TT fits that followed, I remember saying to customers, if only we had this component, we would do it like this…. And that is where Sync really started and those ideas turned into our first products. ”
— Jimmy Whelan

Image by: @timbardsleysmith

The launch of Sync took time to evolve. Figuring out designs, componentry, manufacturing and everything else that comes with launching a niche business in the cycling world.

“As the saying goes, if you want to do something well, sometimes you just have to do it yourself. On our honeymoon, I said to my wife ‘fuck it, let’s just do this ourselves.’ That’s exactly what we did with zero knowledge of what it actually meant.”
— Ken Ballhause

With a loose idea of where componentary might be manufactured, Ken reached out to a factory in Taiwan via a generic sales email. To his amazement, within 24hrs he had a response that would set the wheels in motion.


No different to being exposed to the issues and injuries of athletes before jumping into his second degree, Sync was built by understanding the limitations of what is already out there. In aerodynamics, the biggest limitation is often the stock cockpit that comes with a bike.

In 2018 Sync launched with Project 0.2, aptly named after the basic components that were developed around getting their test subject (still test subject) to a CdA value under 0.2. This ecosystem of components allows for the conversion of a standard cockpit, to a properly supported, high-hands time trial position.

In 2019 the EVO ecosystem was released, a more complex set of products that further enhance an athlete's TT position. The EVO has seen many updates and additions and remains one of the most popular products in the Sync lineup.

Developing the EVO PRO

The evolution of the Sync brand and product lineup has been a natural and organic process, driven by first-principle knowledge of biomechanics, first-hand experience and always striving for the best results with the athletes under the Sync and Adaptive HP umbrella. Working with a young, up-and-comer called Luke Plapp gave new development opportunities.

He might be a multiple Aussie Champion and a top World Tour rider these days, but back in 2020, “Plappy” was relatively unheard of. Sync embarked on a new development project, the EVO PRO TI extensions.

“Every year that Luke raced Nationals, we worked with him on position and equipment, and each year he won the title. Every year the equipment evolved one step forward. Luke works bloody hard and for the 2021 National Camps we wanted to complement that with the best we could deliver and where we could see the Sync brand going.”
— Ken Ballhause

Working off forearm scans, the extensions were designed to push the boundaries of the UCI rules and perfectly complement Luke’s position.

“When he told me that he wasn’t going to race the U23 and that he was racing Elite, I knew this the opportunity for him to make has mark. He put 43 second into Durbo and not even a penalty could stop him from getting the win. It was an unbelievable ride and I’m stoked we could be a part of that.”
— Ken Ballhause

Throughout 2021 and 2022, Sync continued to design and have manufactured, the EVO PRO TI extensions, a development project to learn more about the optimal extension design. But the goal was to streamline design and production to more commercially viable product.

Image by: @koruptvision

The Move to the World Tour

In part, thanks to Plappy’s storming riding the 2021 AUS National Champs, there was attention on the new bars. 2022 was a huge year for Sync, with the association with GreenEdge Cycling and the various athletes they work with.

The move of GreenEdge onto Giant Bikes took a few people by surprise and given the association that Sync has with Giant, they were happy to oblige with extension solutions to meet the needs of various athletes on the Giant-sponsored team.

“That year we had two Giro d’Italia stage wins with Simon Yates and Matteo Sobrerro. Grace Brown won our National Champs, rode to a Silver Medal at Worlds, and Gold at the Commonwealth Games. Our relationships with athletes and with a World Tour team gave us new learnings and opportunities for what was coming next.”
— Ken Ballhause

Image by: @GettySport

When Pogačar comes knocking…

In the winter of 2022, Colnago reached out to Sync, seeking an extension solution for their Colnago TT1. 2023 held in store some big equipment changes, from groupsets to wheels and Colnago needed a more production-ready aerobar solution than they were otherwise able to source.

With the UCI rules around positions being relaxed and allowing greater flexibility for individual riders, the EVO PRO setup was needed. The design of this product wasn’t without last-minute amendments, thanks to some UCI rule changes that “almost” no one was privy to, demanding a complete design change to the extension geometry. However, 2023 positions have benefited hugely from the relaxing of the position regulations and the geometry that has been achieved with the EVO PRO handlebars.

“TWe are seeing equivalent power gains in the order of 10-20 Watts with the new rules and the new bars. The faster speeds and faster times we are seeing in competition today are a testament to the evolution of time trial positions and we are proud to be at the forefront of that, with some of the best athletes in the world.”
— Ken Ballhause

Image by: @sprintcycling

What’s Next?

The Olympics are less than a year away, and with the AUS Cycling Team needing a technical partner for their aerobar solutions, Sync has been working on solutions in the background. While it hasn’t broken cover just yet, keep a close eye on Glasgow this August for something new…


Images by @SprintCycling, @StefHansonProductions, @TimBardsleySmith and @KoruptVision

About the author

Joe Laverick’s cycling introduction was via the British time-trial scene, since starting the sport, he has been all about speed. He’s a freelance writer and privateer racer who mixes road, time trial and gravel racing. To this day, he remains one of the only riders on the planet to have beat Remco Evenepoel in a time trial.