Aeroroad bikes

by londonplayer   March 30, 2013  

What's your view on aeroroad bikes? High end technology or meaningless sales pitch?

Road bikes are pretty aerodynamic to start with so was just wondering what everyone's thoughts are.

16 user comments

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There are a few key advantages to having an aero road bike. The way the frames are designed is different to a standard road bike and they tend to take more properties from TT bikes where fractions of a second over a set distance make a big difference to the results table.. A lot of the designers put their frames through extensive wind tunnel testing (Boardman Air series for example) and as a result, can produce an extremely efficient distribution of airflow over the bike whilst riding. Even the way the air flows directly along each side the bike as opposed to into it helps keep the bike more stable at high speeds.

The main benefit of aero designs is that if you have less air resistance working against you, you'll be able to maintain your speed with less effort, accelerate quicker and therefore, put in noticeably less effort overall. It's exactly the same when it comes to lightweight bikes (A heavy bike will also use up a lot more of your energy to get going than a featherweight carbon machine).

The difference in the amount of energy you use is always proportionate to how drag friendly or how heavy your bike is. Aerodynamic differences will be on a much smaller scale than weight differences but the advantage is still present (just less obvious). Even clothing manufacturers are having a go at making their products more aerodynamic so that says something in itself.

Look at tech such as bladed spokes, SRAM's new Red 2013 Front brake and dimpled rim surfaces that replicate that of a golf ball (Zipp) etc. and you can see that some aero elements are already present in a lot of high end road bikes. Even standard frame designs are starting to borrow more aerodynamic elements than ever before so I wouldn't be too surprised to see a lot of the frame tech start to trickle down to the wider market over the next 4-5 years..

Overall I can't find a reason to fault them as the benefits are clear cut and simple. Use less energy to get up to and maintain the same speed you already do on your current bike. You'll be able to ride faster and for longer too as a result.

SpeshRider7287's picture

posted by SpeshRider7287 [75 posts]
30th March 2013 - 22:09

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SpeshRider7287 wrote:
Look at tech such as bladed spokes, SRAM's new Red 2013 Front brake and dimpled rim surfaces that replicate that of a golf ball (Zipp) etc. and you can see that some aero elements are already present in a lot of high end road bikes.

Not everyone agrees that those things are guaranteed to work to your benefit? Other wheel makers don't share Zipp's love of dimples and I even saw a discussion about whether bladed spokes really help. Manufacturers will sell you the latest, bestest, lightest but it means naff-all when the bike (including wheels) contributes a max of 20% of total drag in the first place.

Each brand claims their frame is wind tunnel tested as being/among the most aerodynamic (and stiffest BB etc) but all have different protocols for testing them. The 30 seconds you sit up to stretch, unzip your gilet or grab a drink cancels out the gain of an aero frame. And that's before you consider your clothing. Are you going to ride everywhere in a skinsuit and aero helmet?

SpeshRider7287 wrote:
I can't find a reason to fault them as the benefits are clear cut and simple.

If you take the marketing hype at face value.

By all means buy one if it's what you want. However, it won't make anywhere near as much difference, if any, to you and me as it might to Cavendish or Greipel. And unless you're racing then what's the point?

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1948 posts]
30th March 2013 - 23:01

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http://sheldonbrown.com/rinard/aero/aerodynamics.htm

Very informative article here that should be of some interest to you.

SpeshRider7287's picture

posted by SpeshRider7287 [75 posts]
30th March 2013 - 23:12

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And for the record, I wasn't saying get one. It goes without saying that the benefits are only noticeably present at the elite level of the spectrum but there are advantages to be had. Less effort required meaning you can sustain a higher speed for longer being the main one. It's simple physics.

SpeshRider7287's picture

posted by SpeshRider7287 [75 posts]
30th March 2013 - 23:19

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Ride an Aero bike.

Because I bet you haven't.

Then come back and tell me how amazing it was.

(You're talking to a full on S1 rider - ie. Aero works, OK)

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
31st March 2013 - 0:44

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Aero wins.. Cool

SpeshRider7287's picture

posted by SpeshRider7287 [75 posts]
31st March 2013 - 1:12

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I've thought about getting one myself but with the exception of the Scott Foil you always have to compromise with either less stiffness or more weight.

If I could justify spending the money then sure I'd get one to add to my stable but I'd always keep a top all round bike as my main steed.

Sq

Squiggle's picture

posted by Squiggle [414 posts]
31st March 2013 - 2:26

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Just from a surface area standpoint, I'm pretty sure my body far exceeds my bike..

[custom] '12 Cannondale CAAD10 - Rival

badkneestom's picture

posted by badkneestom [128 posts]
31st March 2013 - 6:14

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badkneestom wrote:
Just from a surface area standpoint, I'm pretty sure my body far exceeds my bike..

That's irrelevant. The bike still makes a difference - if we assume your body is a fixed constant, other variables can be changed and I don't see why you wouldn't change them?

Its like the idiots who say 'there is no point in making your bike lighter because you can loose weight off your body for free'

.. well there is a point since the bike will be nicer to ride.

.. similarly there is a point to making your bike more aerodynamic because it does make a difference to the ride.

posted by ALIHISGREAT [110 posts]
31st March 2013 - 10:09

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This is why riders use the aero position.. You have to remember that even though the human body isn't renowned for being the most aerodynamic of shapes, you're still in that position on a "standard" bike but you'll get more resistance overall as the air will slow you and the bike. With aero bikes the air only causes resistance to you and not the bike therefore there is a saving in energy.

If you're riding at the back of a group in single file, you can spin the same output at the same rpm for longer than if you were to ride the same output and rpm solo. The shape of the group distributes the air evenly down either side meaning that everybody behind the first rider can reduce their efforts slightly as there's no resistance working against them. By designing a frame with this principle in mind, they're reducing the total drag that both yourself and the bike are producing as a whole. Yes the effect is smaller but it's noticeable.

Take a ping pong bat, swing it once with the largest surface area showing, now do the same but with the bat sideways so it cuts through the air. You still have the drag of your arm there but you can tell which takes more effort to do.

Going back to one of my original comments, this is why clothing manufacturers are doing similar things (smoother fabrics, seamless jerseys, tights etc.) all these things are scientifically proven to contribute to the reduction in drag. The result means that less kinetic energy is required to gain and keep momentum.

Any aero bike riders care to have their say? From the aero bikes I've ridden, I can say conclusively that I feel better having done 40 miles on an aero than the same 40 miles on my regular bike. Would have one in a heartbeat if I could.

SpeshRider7287's picture

posted by SpeshRider7287 [75 posts]
31st March 2013 - 10:19

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Exactly.

Example case:

Rider + bike = 100 kg (15kg +85kg)

Reduce the bike by 5kg and the combined weight miraculously drops by 5kg too..

This means that rider + bike now require less kinetic energy to get moving than they did before resulting in a happier rider with happier legs.

Exactly the same is true when talking aerodynamics as rider + bike cut through the air easier than they did before.

SpeshRider7287's picture

posted by SpeshRider7287 [75 posts]
31st March 2013 - 10:37

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ALIHISGREAT wrote:
badkneestom wrote:
Just from a surface area standpoint, I'm pretty sure my body far exceeds my bike..

That's irrelevant. The bike still makes a difference - if we assume your body is a fixed constant, other variables can be changed and I don't see why you wouldn't change them?

.. well there is a point since the bike will be nicer to ride.

.. similarly there is a point to making your bike more aerodynamic because it does make a difference to the ride.

No one is questioning the benefits of aero frames and wheels but of course IT IS largely irrelevant for... vast majority of (often overweight) cyclists who typically cruise at 15-18mph with hands on their hoods.
Rider's body is still responsible for most of air drag and other components may matter during a race or a TT but won't be noticeable in most of situations.

I think you're overestimating the potential gains and take the whole thing too seriously. Wink

P.S. Calling people idiots isn't helping to get your point across.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [180 posts]
31st March 2013 - 11:43

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Quadruple quoting is probably enough now.

If you have the money and motivation buy what you want, 'marginal gains' works for team GB/SKY. I remember going from a mountain bike to a road bike, then to a carbon frame, and each time the improvement in acceleration was an encouragement to me which I reciprocated with extra effort. The next upgrade would be to a more aero frame and I can't imagine going back from carbon (unless of course no roads get fixed for the next five years as seems likely.)

As an amateur it really is easier to spend your way to a better performance than get it out of your body. That would be the difference between amateur and professional where a professional should already have all the best kit and needs to work on their body more.


Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1263 posts]
31st March 2013 - 14:07

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BBB wrote:

No one is questioning the benefits of aero frames and wheels but of course IT IS largely irrelevant for... vast majority of (often overweight) cyclists who typically cruise at 15-18mph with hands on their hoods.
Rider's body is still responsible for most of air drag and other components may matter during a race or a TT but won't be noticeable in most of situations.

I think you're overestimating the potential gains and take the whole thing too seriously. Wink

P.S. Calling people idiots isn't helping to get your point across.


Agree! Unless of course someone's a top cyclist.

I'm not arguing the science, its all there be it fractional increments or hours saved. I'm pointing out I don't generally travel in windtunnels. Want to go much faster? Don't get stuck at a redlight, hit that worn patch of asphalt, or lug that giant ego along on your rides.

Thanks for catching the quad quote (below), huge quote box was unintended

[custom] '12 Cannondale CAAD10 - Rival

badkneestom's picture

posted by badkneestom [128 posts]
31st March 2013 - 15:39

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For me, I won't go out of my way to get one as they don't usually suit my body and the way I ride.

Generally, aero bikes are stiff, long and low race bikes.

I have long legs for my hight so need a shorter bike with a longer head tube. I also don't race and look for comfort over the longer distances that I ride. I also have rough roads where I live, so I'm not interested in being beaten up, and the wind is often blowing, so aero anything is not my idea of a good bike.

Choose the bike that suits your needs.

posted by Shred [13 posts]
2nd April 2013 - 10:10

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I've dropped my body weight from 75 to 71kg, and my bike weight by about 530 (mostly rotating) grams. I feel noticeably quicker. However, I thought I would notice it more from the bike, simply because it was an overnight decrease, as opposed to the gradual (over about 3 months) body weight loss. However, the opposite is true. My strava results bear this out as well.

As for aero, well I ride in Derbyshire and the Peak district, so for 'aero' think 'crosswind blowing my deep-section wheels across the road' and 'do I have to lug the extra weight up this hill?' It would be fun increasing the run home into Manchester from 27mph to 29mph or whatever in the chaingang, but we're already drafting off each other at that point anyway, so the benefit of one aero bike in a mass of bodies and other bikes will be negligible.

I think some aero kit looks cool (I'd love to try a Cervelo S5 on, say, Zip 404s) but I can't say that it would be right for me.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3123 posts]
2nd April 2013 - 11:22

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