Aerodynamic benefits are real, but the questions we all need to ask before making a purchase are ‘For whom?’ and ‘To what extent?’ Brands often present a product’s aero savings in an ‘X watts saved at 40 to 50km/h’ format. That’s really fast. To understand why brands use those speeds and not numbers more relevant to the average riders among us, I asked some of the leading industry experts in aerodynamics research to explain.
Perhaps the most obvious reason brands test at those speeds is because aero equipment is primarily designed to aid the pro racers who can ride that fast. “[Racing] was and is a main driving force behind aerodynamics research and development,” says Cannondale engineer Damon Rinard. Cervélo’s engineering manager Scott Roy concurs: “50 kilometers per hour was the typical speed achieved by professional athletes, in a time-trial configuration. From the very beginning, our aero development was focused on making top riders faster.” This isn’t to say slower riders don’t benefit from aero equipment – after all, if you’re moving, you’re fighting air resistance. It just means that brands are more interested in measuring a product’s aerodynamic drag at pro speeds.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WHAT WE CARRY IS WHO WE ARE
A PHOTOGRAPHER DOCUMENTS LONG-DISTANCE BIKE RIDERS-AND ALL THE MEANING THINGS THEY TRAVEL
The Year That Wasn't But We Made It Happen Anyway
How did that happen? Will our grandchildren believe us? Filter out the almost overwhelming doom and gloom from the most miserable year in recent memory, and there’s actually quite a lot to be cheerful about – if you ride a bike.
David Knee’s stripped-down single speed Niner SIR9.
Build A Better Home Workshop
With bike ridership soaring, and shops backed up with repairs, now’s a great time to set up or improve your home workshop. Here’s some practical advice from Shannon Leigh, who teaches bike maintenance through her company, Radiant Wrench, and also breaks down common repairs regularly on Bicycling US’s YouTube channel.
I'm A Fat Cyclist – And I Don't Need To ‘Fix' My Body
My weight doesn’t need to change. But the bike world’s attitude towards me does.
What Happens When Two Strangers Trust The Rides Of Their Lives To The Magic Of The Universe?
Once upon a road in Kazakhstan, two men converge in the desert. Strangers born an ocean apart, riding bicycles burdened like camels, they emerge from either horizon, slowly approaching a common point. Day by day, hour after hour, they make their way through the land as flat and featureless as a page without words. Thousands of kilometers spool out behind them. Thousands more lie ahead.
14 Fun Tour De France Facts You Can Use To Impress Your Friends
How do riders pee on the bike? Why is there no women's tour? Why is the leader’s jersey yellow? We’ve got the answers.
Alan Hatherly’s 2021 Specialized S-Works Epic
The Way Home
Home was not a place I wanted to be. My dad had an unpredictable rage that often exploded at my older brother. Anytime he got hit, I felt it too. I was terrified, never knowing when the grenade might blow. I escaped by exploring the woods and creating imaginary worlds down by a slow-flowing stream. Inside, I felt treated differently as the only girl, made to clear supper dishes while my brothers played video games. Outside, I could be anything. Nature is a level playing field.
The last time I got better on a bike was when I decided I would never get any better at riding anymore, that my best days as a cyclist were behind me.