For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
The new frontier of personal aerodynamic measurement could bring the wind tunnel to your home.
You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: Roughly 80 percent of the power you expend on your bike is spent pushing through the air. If you want to go fast, the best way to do it is to nd a comfortable, sustainable, and aerodynamic bike position. Different equipment can make you more aerodynamic too, but every manufacturer claims to be the fastest, so whom do you trust? Cycling aerodynamics tend to be highly personal and wind tunnel testing isn’t practical for most, creating a conundrum for athletes looking to save every second.
Soon however, it seems that aero testing will be available to the masses. Several companies are developing a new wave of ‘aero meters’ that let you collect aerodynamic data anywhere you can ride your bike. Aero meters use a pitot tube to measure air pressure (a proven method of determining air speed) as well as a host of other sensors to measure environmental conditions and bicycle dynamics. Aero meters require a power meter but can connect to other devices as well. With the power and air data combined, aero meters are able to quantify the rider’s aerodynamic and rolling resistance in real time and can provide a comprehensive set of data for post-ride analysis. Rider position should be the rst thing athletes will want to experiment with. Bike fit is a delicate thing however, so riders should use caution when making changes to their position in pursuit of speed. Dave Ripley, bike fit extraordinaire at 51 Speedshop in Boulder, Colo., warns that “altering your position on the bike to chase a low CdA should never be done at the compromise of rested and sustainable comfort or certainly your ability to safely control the bike.” To this end, aero meter maker Notio is only initially selling through coaches and bike fitters.
Beyond bike position, athletes can test different wheels, tires, helmets, or skinsuits to see which tests fastest for them. For instance, the AeroLab system categorizes a rider’s equipment over a series of rides to help predict the fastest possible combination for a future session. Kelly Swarych, AeroLab’s CEO, believes this is what sets their tech apart: direct information on how fast a rider can expect to go on race day, and how important their equipment selection is on race-day performance.
While some details have not been finalized, and all of these products are still currently under development, this new wave of technology has the potential to impact the way athletes prepare for events and buy equipment. Get psyched to see some of this tech on the market by the end of 2018.
Expect the first versions of these devices to cost between about $900 and $2,500.
Garmin wouldn’t discuss their ‘Aero Stick’ project. We do know that Garmin acquired Alphamantis Technologies in the summer of 2017—prior to the acquisition, Alphamantis had been working on an on-board aero sensor. Garmin.com
AeroLab has had a working engineering version of their sensor for at least five years and is trickling down the technology to a coaching version. Aerolab.tech
Notio may be the first to market and are hoping to sell their device, the Notio Konect, soon. The Konect will connect to a family of sensors including muscle oxygenation and rider position for a great deal of post-ride analysis. Notiokonect.com
Swiss Side has a team of engineers from the F1 industry working to develop their Aero Pod which debuted in Kona last fall. When it’s available, the Aero Pod will be sold direct to consumers. Swissside.com