What You Can Learn From the Wind Tunnel

In addition, the FASTER wind tunel 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 to 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 at 15 degrees equals 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. Her rim profile is minimal so her side profile is minimized. Cheryl was on shallow wheels because they were the wheels she planned on using for her next event. She can handle deeper wheels but utilizes wind-course terrain data to optimize wheel selection.

We outfitted Eric 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.

More: 6 Easy Ways to Get More Aero

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.

Top wind tunnels 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.

More: 5 Things I Learned in the Wind Tunnel

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About the Author


Optimize your biomechanics, power, and aerodynamics in the FASTER fit lab and wind tunnel. For more information on the FASTER wind tunnel, visit: ride-faster.com.

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