To me, the San Diego wind tunnel is
the gold standard among the U.S.
tunnels. Some wind tunnels can be so
controlled that they don’t accurately
simulate real-world conditions. One way
to make up for that is to rely on repeatability to get good numbers, but in the
end, it’s all based on personal judgment.
RBA: What sort of things are you
looking for in a wind-tunnel test?
Steve: The thing about a bike and
rider in the tunnel is that there are so
many data points to consider, you have
to make sure that you’re getting the
correct information. Using tufts (pieces
of thread) is a good way to duplicate
outside conditions in yaw. A rider can’t
just “feel” aero; it all comes down to
quantifiable measurements. The one
thing we discovered over the years was
that it’s only when you get sidewinds
that you get tangible information.
Wheels are really a hot topic in the
tunnel, but then what tire you use is also
another form of manipulation.
RBA: What about riders in
Steve: Over the years I have worked
with hundreds of cyclists in the tunnel.
They come in all shapes and sizes, and
it’s been interesting to see how each
rider reacts to the experience. To me,
Lars Teutenberg was the perfect rider to
use because he doesn’t move. Cervelo
used to use a dummy to help standard-
ize the numbers. Alberto Contador is not
the ideal TT rider like Levi Leipheimer.
We got Alberto in the tunnel and didn’t
change his position, but taught him how
to sit and when to keep his head up. It’s
funny to see how road guys want to get
more aero, but then they’re too worried
to raise their seatpost to make it work.
RBA: What has the evolution of
the aero position been?
Steve: The old-school approach was
to ride with a flat back with your head
above your shoulders. That was the
position that gave rise to the old style of
long TT helmets. Now, more riders are
using a higher back with the head
dropped below the shoulders, which is
where the move to the shorter TT helmet
came from. It’s more like a road-riding
position with a curved back, which is
better. People need to realize that
finding the proper fit is so much more
important than what you can do with the
frame. Road bike aero is different from
tri bike aero where you manipulate the
body to get aero.
RBA: James Kramer from the
Faster tunnel made the point that
too many people worry about the
weight of the bike when being aero
would have a bigger impact on
Steve: He’s absolutely correct.
We’ve been fighting the weight geeks
on this for years. Unless you’re a tri
geek, the obsession with weight is so
strong. Still, where do most people
lose a race? It’s on the climbs, but
aero is important on climbs as well.
But to the average guy, what makes
bike riding not fun is the climbing. For
most of us, it’s hard to lose your
friends on a group ride on a descent or
on the flats!
RBA: So what’s the golden rule
for being aero?
Steve: Comfort, position and training, but most important of all, fun first.
I understand that the bike industry has
to promote new products to keep people interested in riding, but I can ride
any bike and be happy—that’s what
the industry needs to embrace. From
what we’ve found, there are some aero
bikes out there that can actually make
you slower, but the placebo effect can
have as much value as going fast. ■
/ Hardened Ergal 7075 / CNC machined sprockets / Very light –
154 gr (11/25, 11spd) / Exceptional shifting / Fully compatible
with all drivetrains / Individual sprockets ensuring the perfect
custom cassette for your needs using the Miche sprocket system
/ Exceptional performance/appearance / Hard
treatment forged alloy – CNC machined / Titanium
pivots / Double coil spring system / Light and stiff
– only 284gr / Lightweight orbital pads / Perfected
/ Latest hollow carbon system technology / Optimized
stiffness / Range of CNC machined 110bcd rings (compact
to standard) including crono option / Exceptionally smooth
and quick shifting / Compatible with all 10spd & 11spd
groupsets / Integrated BB system / BB30 compatible
SWR CARBON CRANKSET NEW
MADE IN ITALY
PASSION, TECHNOLOGY AND QUALITY. SINCE 1919.