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Frame design

Erasmus LLP Intensive Programme 2011 2012 - 2013

Kalevi Vesterinen


Vehicle frames

Tasks of the vehicle frame Main properties of the frame Calculations/Measurements

Position of the centre of gravity Strength Stiffness


Arrangement of the wheels

With three wheels you have to decide how to arrange the wheels Possibilities

One wheel front Delta Two wheel front Tadpole


Because only one wheel on the front steering system is easy to realise Front wheel produces the main part of the braking force Driver CG is high and near rear axle


Two wheels on front offers more braking force Complicated steering system Driveline construction is easier

Location of the CG

There is an optimum place for the CG

Tasks of the Frame

Carries the driver and possible load Connects different components (component positions) Transfers forces between different components

between driveline components between wheels steering components

Frame evaluation

One way to evaluate the frame of the vehicle is to evaluate the stiffness and strength properties of the frame

Stiffness is measure how much the frame deflects under load Strength measures how the frame withstand the load

Frame stiffness

Bending stiffness Torsion stiffness



Static bending moment and shear force diagrams calculated from the positions and masses of the components and load

Load cases

During different driving situations the loads on frame are different To handle that the designer defines load cases which describes different driving situations and calculates the loads which affect the vehicle For example: Road bump Braking Cornering Crash


Road bump

Loads comes from road through wheels The level of the forces depends on the road condition and speed and how the suspension is arranged



Dynamical axle loads induce bending moment to the frame From brakes comes torque to the frame


Dynamical Wheel Loads in Braking

During braking weight transfers from the rear axle to the front axle The amount of the weight transfer depends of the height of the CG and the wheel base


In cornering side forces affects the wheels This force loads the frame whit the moment witch tries to turn the wheels around the vehicle longitudinal axle In tadpole design this means that the axle fork witch supports the lonely wheel has to manage torsion loads


Dynamical Wheel Loads in Cornering

During cornering weight transfers from the inner wheel to the outer wheel The amount of the weight transfer depends of the height of the CG and the track width

Driveline loads

It is an inner for witch tries to deform the frame If the frame is very flexible some energy of the driver is lost when the frame bends The pedal support and rear wheel fork should be designed stiff enough to avoid this



Whit those moment diagrams and load case forces designer can define the strength and stiffness needed and roughly define the measures of the frame members When using 3D-modelling the analyse can be easily done whit FEM calculations

Properties of the frame

Wheelbase Track Mass Material



Small wheelbase means smaller turning radius Seat angle is steep and so the CG of the driver is higher This means that the dynamical wheel load changes are bigger


Longer wheelbase allows the driver to lie down so the frontal area is smaller and the height of the CG is lower The frame weights more and it is not so stiff

Track width

Track width affects the stability of the vehicle Wider track stabilises the vehicle but also means that the vehicle needs wider road In tadpole design narrow wheelbase can reduce the wheel steer angle