Getting more aero doesn’t mean you have to lose power. How can you have both?
Contrary to popular bike fit myths, it is possible to achieve an aerodynamic bike setup without riding in an uncomfortably scrunched position. Bike fit specialist Aaron Ross shares advice straight from the Faster wind tunnel and fit studio in Scottsdale, Ariz., on how to save drag without compromising fit.
Key 1: Start with a solid foundation.
What we have found from testing many athletes is that a solid foundation from a good bike fit can make you more aero than new equipment—80 percent of your aerodynamic drag comes from you! But slamming your bars into the lowest possible position isn’t effective. You’ll find yourself unable to produce power and, more than likely, will be forced out of the aerobars, completely defeating any gains from the original position. Finding an aero position you can maintain begins with a bike fit. Once you find a position you can sustain for the length of your season’s “A” race, use these lessons learned from the wind tunnel to lose drag and save time.
Key 2: Pay attention to accessories.
Testing in a wind tunnel is the definitive way to pick the equipment that works best with your body. When we do aerodynamic testing, we look at helmet options, clothes, and nutrition and hydration placement. Buying a top-level frame can reduce drag, but the cost per second saved is much higher than tuning accessories. Although testing an individual in the wind tunnel is the best way to find the ideal combination, some general trends apply to many athletes. Tight clothing is crucial, and in many cases two-piece suits are as fast or faster than one-pieces. Locating water bottles high behind or in a horizontal bottle cage between the forearms is another way to save drag.
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Key 3: Focus on posture.
For some triathletes, flattening the back and turtling the head downward can make a big difference. This change frequently saves athletes drag equivalent to as much as 90 seconds in an Olympic-distance race. These tweaks can make a position more demanding, so try them on the road and see if your hips feel impinged or breathing constricted. Practice this posture during every ride. After a month of acclimation, it might become your secret weapon.
Aaron Ross is a biomechanic and aerodynamic fit specialist at Faster (Ride-faster.com)
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