Aero is everything
With aerodynamics now at the forefront of road bike technology and driving the market forwards with perpetual advancement, it’s time to take a look at the many ways we can take advantage. Forget pedal power, aero is everything.
The bike itself
We have been putting a wide range of products through our aptly named in-house ‘Win Tunnel’, from complete bikes to aero-inclined racing gloves, all emblazoned with variations on the big red ‘S’. The Win Tunnel and its findings have supported Specialized sponsored teams, Quick-Step Floors, Bora-Hansgrohe and Boels-Dolmans in their quest for podiums, leaving nothing to chance. Together, they have a combined total of 60 top-level race victories (at the time of writing) so far this year – a stat unrivalled by any other manufacturer.
Many of these victories, particularly the most recent ones in the Giro d’Italia, have come aboard the speedy S-Works Venge ViAS, a bike with every trailing edge and tube sharpened – literally and figuratively – for optimum aerodynamic efficiency. Many hours in the Win Tunnel later and out came the new ViAS interface complete with Aerofly bars – the new cockpit is a significant improvement on the older variant. Cutting through the air like a hot knife through butter, the Venge has powered the likes of Elia Viviani and Sam Bennett to a handful of Giro stage wins over recent weeks.
The S-Works Tarmac, a more versatile road machine designed with the mountains in mind, makes no compromise in aero efficiency either. In the Win Tunnel, three key areas were identified on the old Tarmac model that could be improved, including a new fork shape, dropped seatstays with aero tubes and a D-shaped seatpost. The bike now travels 45 seconds faster over 40km than other lightweight bikes in the same category.
For the time trial events, where hundredths of a second can make the difference between victory and defeat, the Shiv TT boasts a glittering palmarès that includes five UCI World Championship titles and a handful of Grand Tour stage wins. The carbon fork features a new design for 2018, a full monocoque construction that greatly reduces aerodynamic drag, combined with a ridiculously stiff chassis to ensure the rider can turn every watt of power into pure speed.
While the majority of the aerodynamic focus may fall on the bike itself, it still only solves half of the issues surrounding aerodynamic drag. The rider and their clothing also contribute a significant surface area that can impede air flow. Redesigning human parts is a difficult task – barring weight loss or weight training – but the next best thing is clothing.
One of the largest contributing factors to aerodynamic drag is poor fitting cycling attire with any loose material acting like a parachute as the rider attempts to punch a hole through the air. Skinsuits set the ball rolling for aero clothing, but it was discovered that seams and bunching of material at the shoulders and sleeves could have significant aerodynamic implications.
The S-Works Evade GC Skinsuit eliminates these problems using a Dimplex fabric construction to funnel air efficiently around the rider while also entirely removing shoulder seams. With this new design, Win Tunnel testing proved that it’s faster by a monstrous 96 seconds over 40km when compared to other aero road attire like the SL Pro jersey and bib shorts.
While the majority of aero enhancements and upgrades require sometimes considerable investment, there are a few free options that anyone can consider in order to reduce aerodynamic drag.
To some, shaving your legs may be more of an initiation ceremony than an actual aerodynamic improvement, however, Win Tunnel testing has shown that shaved legs can actually go up to 80 seconds faster over 40km than their hairy opposition.
Position on the bike is almost as important as the clothes on your back and the bike between your legs. According to a study from Engineering Sport, a dropped and tucked position can reduce drag by as much as 7.8%. While an improved position can be achieved for free simply by tucking in your elbows and flattening your back, bringing your chin closer to the handlebars, nothing can rival an expert bike fit. The Retül fit experience helps everyone from amateurs to World Tour pros to fine-tune their positions for increased aerodynamic efficiency, as well as superior comfort.
The Win Tunnel has identified the key areas for aero improvements, it’s now up to you to adopt them and complete your quest for unrivalled speed and cycling efficiency.
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