What. On Earth. Is this? We’ve seen some unconventional bikes, equipment and clothing intended to improve aerodynamic performance but we’ve never seen anything as bizarre as this design included in a just-published patent application. Essentially, it’s aero clothing with a tail that’s hooked to an adjustable subframe that’s fitted to your bike. And yes, it’s, um, unorthodox. To say the least.
> Have you ever seen a crazier time trial helmet than this?
There’s a whole lot going on in this patent application filed by a chap called Ara Ohanian – loads, in fact – all of it designed to achieve “higher speed at the same propelling force” by reducing drag.
First, you have the subframe that fixes to your bike. It’s telescopic so the amount of rearward extension can be adjusted. Straightforward enough.
Then things start getting weird. The clothing itself features a tail that extends backwards and hooks to the subframe “to obtain an adjustable aerodynamic posture.”
Clothing can clearly have a big effect on aerodynamics, that's no secret, but this is something else altogether.
Not only that, the patent application describes a hood – or a “hoodie member”, as it's described – that’s designed “to create a sharp edge between the head and shoulders of [the] rider for making the shoulders of the rider aerodynamic by streamlining”.
“The hoodie member overcomes the problems of streamline in helmets which do not streamline the shoulders of chin/throat area,” says that patent application. “The hoodie member may prevent the air from hitting directly onto the shoulders and reduces the air from passing between the arms.”
There’s a “supporting element” inside the clothing – it could be a string or foam – that “extends diagonally between the head and the shoulders of the rider” to shape the clothing and thereby improve the overall aero performance.
It's a strong look.
You want more?
The clothing can also include “shield” sections at the shoulders that extend down the rider’s arms and feature finger holes.
“The shield portion is held by the fingers of the rider to provide an aerodynamic profile between the shoulder and hand of the rider for guiding airflow,” says the patent application.
“The shield portion may be an arm fairing that may be utilised for the purpose of diverting the air around the rider like a wind shield.”
All of this clothing may be stretchable and it could include sections for the lower body, but you get the gist, right?
Would the design work in terms of reducing drag? No wind tunnel statistics are provided in the patent application; there's no obligation to provide evidence that it would be successful.
We've seen loads of bizarre aero concepts over the years, from Graeme Obree's ski-tuck and Superman positions to Specialized's aero snood, and many of them have proved to be effective. This one could be the strangest of the lot, though. We're getting hazmat suit vibes with a hint of Minion thrown in.
The likelihood of this ever being available on the market? Okay, there are a few issues here. The UCI (cycle sport’s world governing body) throws its weight around on sock length so adjustable subframes and arm fairings? You've got to be kidding. The UCI is going to insist on an approved helmet too.
Triathlon? Same deal there, and no one is going to get out of the water and get all that clobber on in transition.
Recreational users, then? Well, would you go out for a ride dressed like that? It's not going to happen.
It's a 'no' from the road.cc jury. We have a feeling this will be the first and last time we see this extraordinary setup, but who are we to judge? What do you think?
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