Sep 04, 2017
You can only buy so much speed!
Speed. It is the number one worry for many athletes on the bike and “aero is everything” to so many cyclists and triathletes. Aero helmets, aero bicycles, aero handlebars, aero wheels, aero shoe covers, aero bottles, aero gel packaging… Okay, so the last one is a stretch, but you heard it here first if it comes out! You get the point though. Aerodynamics has been taken into consideration for every aspect of cycling.
Why you might ask? Well, not only does it look cool, but it does have a benefit. Aerodynamics is the study of the air’s interaction with objects -- in this case, you and all your gear. When looking at aerodynamics, we must consider the science of the coefficient of drag. In this equation, velocity (speed) is squared, which means as speed increases, drag is drastically impacted. By streamlining yourself on a bike, with wheels, a helmet, or some other gadget, you can instantly notice the change in speed and this becomes addictive.
You’ve seen so many aero products at varying price points, but what is the best bang for your buck?
Retul Bike Fit:
Not to poke fun, but you are the biggest thing on the bike. Optimizing your position to suit your needs will be the best way to increase your ability to maintain position, reduce fatigue and increase aerodynamics (assuming that is your goal). This is by far your biggest bang for your buck when it comes to aerodynamics.
Estimated cost - $;6000+
Over the past several years, there has been great emphasis on aero road bike frames. These super bikes are not only sleek, but sexy and are often the envy of many riders. Do they make a big difference? You bet they do! You can shave nearly 1 minute off of a 40km time with one of these. That is a lot of “free watts.” They are not all equal in their benefits, so if you want to find the bike that will make you fastest go here.
Estimated Cost - $2000
These are the next best thing in time saving benefits. Aero Wheels are a great addition to your arsenal when it comes to bike related speed. There are three key factors that you should consider:
What type of riding are you doing? A century rider, criterium racer, road racer and triathlete do not necessarily need to ride the same wheel. Each of these types of riding have different demands and, because of that, a wheel might need more aerodynamics, better braking power, lighter weight or increased stiffness.
Is Aerodynamics or weight and stiffness more important? As illuded to in the last question, you will need to understand what is more important for you. Aerodynamics will relate more to straight line speed and is important for a triathlete, time trialist or a road racer. A criterium racer and even a road racer can benefit from a more laterally stiff wheel. The more aerodynamic the wheel becomes, the more it weighs and the less laterally stiff it becomes.
What is the length of your event? For the Ironman athlete, if one wheelset is in the budget, you should pick something slightly less aerodynamic but more versatile for changing conditions. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of your ride, winds kick up and your disc wheel gets swept out from under you. Not to mention, the amount of fatigue a set of deep section aero wheels can create in a strong cross wind!
What are your needs?
Ventilation meets pure speed. Aerodynamics is key, but, if you get overheated due to poor cooling and DNF, it doesn’t matter how streamlined you are.
This is a great option to decrease drag. For time trial or Ironman athletes, remember that your ears are, by design and function, probably one of the least aerodynamic things on your body so a helmet that covers them can drastically reduce drag. If you struggle to hold head position, aerodynamics becomes less important as the tail of the helmet will create even greater drag sticking straight up in the air.
Find an aero road helmet to fit your speed addiction
It is the consistency of snot, but packaged in a streamlined pouch made from nanoparticles sourced from the earth’s core.
Clearly your best bang for your buck! Right? Be sure to pre-order today! ;-)
Coaching & Power:
Cost: Power meter: $400-$1800
Coaching: $150/month +
Let’s be honest. All of these aerodynamic things will improve your speed, one time, if you can already ride a bike consistently at over 17-18mph. Whether you see a benefit or not from these kinds of products, focusing on training properly with accurate data could provide you as much as a 10% improvement in threshold power year after year. You won’t see that from the equipment alone! Combine coaching with a Science of Speed expert coach and even one of these items and you could be an unstoppable force!