Faster Aero Positions from FASTER

Sat, 11/10/2012 - 1:34am by admin

The FASTER wind tunnel in Scottsdale Arizona approached us to contribute content. We requested that it not be an 'advertorial' but informative in its own right. This first installment, by tunnel engineer Jay White, deals with how different physiques demand different approaches to aero positioning.

Aerodynamics for cycling ‘the scientific application of body position to reduce drag forces’

by Jay White © 2012 FASTER

Frontal area, surface contour, laminar attachment and differential air pressure! Feed those elements into your frontal lobe and calculate the drag on a cyclist! My head is aching already. Don’t forget air density and turbulent flow. Aerodynamic optimization is personal. One position may be slippery for one athlete and an air-brake for another. Check out the following side profiles from the FASTER wind tunnel in Scottsdale, AZ.

These are precise and to scale, all shot from our 120-frame-per-second tunnel view camera centered perfectly on the platform. These show from left to right drag grams saving of 15, 555 and 204 respectively over the baseline position for each athlete. Cheryl, far right, has an open more upright base position. Eric, center image, is muscular and his best position is chest tilted slightly up and arms wider on bars. Glenn, far left image, has a tucked chest with arms close together on his bars. Each position is entirely unique due to the multi-faceted effect of presented area, surface contour and airflow. Leading edges are critical, but so are edges on trailing elements and surface contours and texture. Sophisticated computer flow analysis would take many hours to analyze each position.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

* Each position was the best aero position from a multiple shred* session. So that position was in fact most aero. (*A shred is an aero session with equipment or athlete. A FASTER shred will typically go from zero to 30 degrees of wind angle positions by 5 or 10 degree increments. Each SHRED returns to starting position and configuration to assure that instruments are recording the entire session with fidelity.)

* Each rider went through full biomechanical FIT optimization and was aero optimized from that most powerful, comfortable, and sustainable position. Zephyr* strap and Computrainer was used in the wind tunnel to monitor biometrics and assure the aero position did not reduce pedal power. (*Zephyr strap = super sophisticated chest strap that monitors heart-rate, skin conductivity and temperature, breathing rate and torso angle with multi axis accelerometer. Data is passed 50 times per second [50 Hz] by Bluetooth wireless connectivity and self-data stores for several hours of activity.

* THIS was their faster aero position because of their physiques, one cannot compromise physiques it is what it is…

The FASTER wind tunnel in Scottsdale, AZ provides a great venue to explore your own, unique, and fastest position. In addition, we can rotate the platform 350 degrees to any wind angle to duplicate a specific range you may expect during your next outing on the road. Analysis is dynamic [presented in graphic format in real time on our Speed Lab control room computers] and results and data are available right after your session is complete.

As you will see in the above images, an athlete’s side profile has a HUGE effect on control forces that need to be generated by the rider. Present more side area, and winds hitting from angles as slight as 15 degrees, can easily mount up 7 to 9 kilograms [16 to 20 pounds] of side force! Translation: side forces have a component of drag that not only pushes you sideways, but also SLOWS you down!!! Calculate 7 Kg of side force at 15 degrees of wind angle and you get 1.81 Kg drag force [15.4 pounds of side force @ 15 degrees = 3.9 pounds of drag force]. That’s a lot of engineer talk to simply say that you need to look at more than your frontal profile to consider all aspects of aerodynamics and how they affect whatever type of events you are participating in.

So keep wheels in mind and side profile of the bike and accessories in mind. Look at Cheryl in the far right image: rim profile = minimal so side profile is minimized. Cheryl was on shallow wheels because they were the wheels she planned on using for next event. She can handle deeper wheels but utilizes wind – course terrain data to optimize wheel selection.

We outfitted Eric [center image] with a rear disc and front tri-spoke, and then outfitted him with a set of 92mm deep rims as shown, and the 92mm wheels reduced his drag by 555 grams! Just because you THINK something is aero fast does not make it so… Deep rim wheels have significant drag from the side area presented at wind angles from 5 degrees and up. That means deep rim wheels can be SLOWER due to increased aero drag depending on the average wind angle the event.

Every athlete is unique in size, build, flexibility and strength. That means predicting your aerodynamic drag is almost like predicting someone’s intelligence by looking at their photo!!! Sometimes accurate, but also very possible to be way off!

Lastly, holding an aerodynamic position and making sure your body is not compromised in its power delivery is critical. If your cardiovascular efficiency is inhibited by a contorted aero position, you may not be able to sustain power to your pedals. At FASTER, we utilize wireless biometrics so that heart rate and breathing rate are monitored while your aerodynamic drag is measured so you finish totally optimized at the intersection of greatest power, lowest drag, and most efficient respiration. This assures (unlike other wind tunnels) that you can go out and have your best performance ever (barring training, nutrition, and personal factors) without having to experiment with what you just learned in a wind tunnel session.

The best and most cost efficient way to get at superior aerodynamics is to make a visit to the FASTER wind tunnel and get blown away!

-Jay White

Jay White is the FASTER wind tunnel engineer, a triathlete and a mountaineer who has climbed Everest. Jay specializes in electronic analysis of complex shapes and rapid movements for tailored product designs. For more information on the FASTER wind tunnel, visit: ride-faster.com.


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Kliky balls
By: Kliky Balls
Thu, 02/12/2015 - 9:01am

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hey there
By: giant man
Thu, 02/05/2015 - 8:11am

Aerodynamics are actually an important fact when it comes to any sport. Even while you run, if your running position cuts through air quickly, then you can have a better speed. That goes fro cycling as well. Electronic Medical Record

By: Mathieu Rubber Hood
Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:49am

Triathletes have to read this blog and they will be learning something new about their sports. I will suggest this post to my well known triathletes.https://www.change.org/organizations/walk_in_showers

By: Senne Bartape
Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:29pm


Wealthy Fred triathletes will
By: Froid Randis
Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:58pm

Wealthy Fred triathletes will all flock to Scottsdale this winter. Be sure to stop at Pita Jungle (yumm).

Not that much
By: Wally Pipp
Thu, 11/15/2012 - 4:04am

Dearest Louis Post - zipps ain't that "pricey" for us 1 percenter Cat 5 riders, who ride slow, but look expensive doing it. Ah, ta ta. Now, all you jealous haters, speak up. Baa haa haa.

The guy in the middle
By: Cosimo Axle
Tue, 11/13/2012 - 11:06pm

saved 555 grams of drag? Really I would love to see the before picture. What was he doing......riding with a parachute?

Wheel Inefficiency at +5 degrees
By: Quentin Cable
Tue, 11/13/2012 - 8:59pm

Everything on the Hed website and (and every other wheel site that has been in a wind tunnel) would dispute this claim.
Can we have some more backup here before we make a blanket industry-changing statement?

By: Tom Nipple
Tue, 11/13/2012 - 6:31pm

at first I thought this was a joke... a parody of the SlowFist tri site...

Very interesting
By: Louis Post
Tue, 11/13/2012 - 6:14pm

One of the salient points is that deep dish aero rims (like those pricey Zipps we all want) will make you faster only in an almost perfect headwind or tailwind. OTOH, wind angles from 5 degrees and up will actually make you SLOWER and being realistic, when can you assure yourself that wind angles will always be less then 5 degrees in a race.

By: Axel O-Ring
Tue, 11/13/2012 - 4:18pm


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  • schmalz's log 2010 part 5 -

    On cannot ride on water and mightiness alone, and as I age, I find that I have to pay more attention to my nutritional needs, lest I become an empty husk of veiny gristle.

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