Aero - don't believe the hype?

bernithebiker
bernithebiker Posts: 4,148
edited March 2013 in Road general
Was curious to canvas some opinions out there regarding the latest greatest thing in cycling - aero.

Whereas it used to be all about the weight and gram shaving, seems now it's gone all aero.

Obviously the ads are full of '30W savings' and 'slice through the air like never before' and magazines talk of 'being able to hold 40km/h much easier than before'.

So is there anything in it? Or is it just another angle to sell us new frames, wheels, (even pedals! (Look Keo Blade Aero)) ?

As an example, take a Specialized SL4 with normal wheels, compared to a Specialized Venge with Zipp 404's (or similar). Both have the same geometry, both riders are in the same position.

What kind of gain (if any) would you say the Venge will give you, when riding at a steady 35km/h on the flat?
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Comments

  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,391
    Obviously the faster you go, the bigger the impact as it becomes ?exponentially harder to push air out of the way... I think it's generally accepted that for the vast majority of riders (unless you doing a TT and just trying to improve your own times) it's actually pretty irrelevant...then you have added complications of riding along or in a group (turbulent/lamina flow). Certainly you re almost always better putting the choc bar down or spending more time on the Turbo Trainer

    A horribly unscientific, but nevertheless telling viewpoint, is to look at how often the Garmin Cervelo riders use their R series or S series bikes. A lot of the time they choose the less aero option...
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,391
    They do look very sexy though, I would buy one (justifying it with the living in Holland Spiel.... ;) )
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • saprkzz
    saprkzz Posts: 592
    ddraver wrote:
    Obviously the faster you go, the bigger the impact as it becomes ?exponentially harder to push air out of the way... I think it's generally accepted that for the vast majority of riders (unless you doing a TT and just trying to improve your own times) it's actually pretty irrelevant...then you have added complications of riding along or in a group (turbulent/lamina flow). Certainly you re almost always better putting the choc bar down or spending more time on the Turbo Trainer

    A horribly unscientific, but nevertheless telling viewpoint, is to look at how often the Garmin Cervelo riders use their R series or S series bikes. A lot of the time they choose the less aero option...

    I was about to use exaclty the same point in my comment, glad I didnt just skim read your reply! :)
  • The honourable gent above has it...

    "Aero" design represents performance enhancements that could make a significant difference (in some cases distinctly moreso than others!) but it's also an aesthetic: "aero road bikes" are becoming extremely popular. The benefits aren't going to be noticeable to fat knackers or people that aren't very powerful and doing long races (during which the small wattage savings might actually make a difference). If nothing else, if your posture on the bike is lacking then it isn't going to matter much what bike you have, just as for most people it makes very little difference how heavy their bike is.

    The manufacturers know only too well that there are a good many extremely gullible people with money. Calling it 'aero' is much the same as making it out of carbon and boasting about the weight. (even if it's 10g lighter than the alternative that costs half the price)
  • My take on this is that the racing bicycle frame has been slowly refined over the last 30 or so years to provide the best combination of strength/weight/stiffness/comfort, and the result is the frame shape that we see today in bikes like the SL4, Supersix, Madone, etc.

    By introducing an aero element to the frame, you are then, by definition, compromising one or more of the above qualities. Put simply, you can't have your cake and eat it.

    So you had better be pretty certain that the x watts you may save with the aero frame are worth it, because somewhere, you left something on the table. (It may be that it IS worth it, if you are spending hours and hours at 35km/h+)

    I feel that the gain from an aero frame would be too small to be noticeable to any rider, especially when you bolt a couple of water bottles on. Wheels - maybe; here I think it may be worth investing in deep rims if you are a speed merchant.
  • left the forum March 2023
  • giant_man
    giant_man Posts: 6,878
    my personal take on this is that it's marketing bs, designed to sell more bicycles. The aero advantage of certain frames / wheels is probably miniscule, and doesn't offer an increase in speed. Soon empties your wallet, though!
  • ShutUpLegs
    ShutUpLegs Posts: 3,522
    "

  • That's not really a very good comparison though is it? Roubaix is a very different race now than it was then. For example, the 1965 race only had 22km of pave compared to last year's race which had 51.5km.
  • iPete
    iPete Posts: 6,076
    It is the latest marketing for mamils, unless you are at the sharp end of the peleton it probably won't make any difference.

    The rider is 80% of the drag and I can imagine buying a skin suit/pointy helmet will make a greater aero saving than buying a new frame or wheels.

    If those few seconds really matter, by all means but value for money would come from a better bike fit. But at the end of the day a new set of wheels looks better than wearing a skin tight outfit and is easier to sell for mega bucks.
  • Was curious to canvas some opinions out there regarding the latest greatest thing in cycling - aero.

    Latest? Check out this Gitane from 1981!

    Don-Lofter's-1981TT.jpg
  • No sh*T! In even has internal cables!

    Chain looks a bit slack though.....

  • That's not really a very good comparison though is it? Roubaix is a very different race now than it was then. For example, the 1965 race only had 22km of pave compared to last year's race which had 51.5km.

    I was under the impression the course has barely changed over the years... not that it matters, it is just bizarre than someone in 1948 was keeping the same speed as they do these days... puts all the cycling "innovations" in perspective. Bear in mind the remaining 200 Km of tarmac are a lot better now than they were in 1948... :wink:
    left the forum March 2023
  • I was under the impression the course has barely changed over the years... not that it matters, it is just bizarre than someone in 1948 was keeping the same speed as they do these days... puts all the cycling "innovations" in perspective. Bear in mind the remaining 200 Km of tarmac are a lot better now than they were in 1948... :wink:

    Dunno to much about the 1948 race, but Post's win in 1964 was done with a very strong tailwind. Remember the course goes pretty much in one direction. I don't think you can draw too many conclusions from it.

  • So is there anything in it? Or is it just another angle to sell us new frames, wheels, (even pedals! (Look Keo Blade Aero)) ?

    The frames and bikes are more aero & I have no doubt to question their numbers as generated in wind tunnels or via computer modelling. But as we also also told by the same experts the rider creates circa 80% of the drag on the bike it does make me wonder if the advantages are real world.

    Jury is out for me :|
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • I was under the impression the course has barely changed over the years... not that it matters, it is just bizarre than someone in 1948 was keeping the same speed as they do these days... puts all the cycling "innovations" in perspective. Bear in mind the remaining 200 Km of tarmac are a lot better now than they were in 1948... :wink:

    Dunno to much about the 1948 race, but Post's win in 1964 was done with a very strong tailwind. Remember the course goes pretty much in one direction. I don't think you can draw too many conclusions from it.

    Of course not, but surely it is not the only edition with tail wind. My point is ... it's a fast race, it's a race with no teams, it's a man against a man... it seems that modern equipment doesn't make it any easier or any faster
    left the forum March 2023
  • meesterbond
    meesterbond Posts: 1,240
    Marginal gains innit!

    Given that the biggest obstacle you have to overcome on a bike is wind resistance, then there must be an advantage to making everything as aero as possible. Manufacturers, in the main, have a UCI weight limit to work with, so as a 6.8kg bike isn't tough to make, you might as well invest some of that excess weight in more aero tubes, wheels, components etc etc.

    Unfortunately the lump sitting on the bike is the least aerodynamic thing about the package, so once you've put him in the most effective position, any other improvements are going to be small potatoes. Although worth having once you've done everything else.

    If the pros do it, then the MAMIL will follow and thus it sells bikes. Expensive, shiny bikes.

    So for us mere mortals, I have no doubt there's an aerodynamic advantage to be had from a Venge over an SL4, but only when the wind is blowing in the right direction and there are probably a shopping list of other improvements you could make which would have more of an impact.

    They do look cool though and frankly, that's the main thing.
  • So for us mere mortals....

    Speak for yourself, I look like a Greek God... 8)
    left the forum March 2023
  • Of course not, but surely it is not the only edition with tail wind. My point is ... it's a fast race, it's a race with no teams, it's a man against a man... it seems that modern equipment doesn't make it any easier or any faster

    No teams? Wasn't Van Steenbergen riding for Mercier-Hutchinson in 1948? And Peter Post for Flandria-Romeo in 1964?
  • Being not as mercilessly cynical as some of the above posters i think miisterbond has an interesting point.

    6.8kg is easy to get to, there is no point in producing a frame that builds up to 6 kg with srm etc. as it's too light and weight needs to be added. You can either make the frame stiffer or more aero, essentially it used to be light and stiff, but with material improvements 6.8kg and as stiff as you'd like was easily obtainable.

    Hence going for aero, essentially they have the weight to spare.
  • Of course not, but surely it is not the only edition with tail wind. My point is ... it's a fast race, it's a race with no teams, it's a man against a man... it seems that modern equipment doesn't make it any easier or any faster

    No teams? Wasn't Van Steenbergen riding for Mercier-Hutchinson in 1948? And Peter Post for Flandria-Romeo in 1964?

    You know what I mean... teams have pretty much no relevance in that race, at least in the second half
    left the forum March 2023
  • Being not as mercilessly cynical as some of the above posters i think miisterbond has an interesting point.

    6.8kg is easy to get to, there is no point in producing a frame that builds up to 6 kg with srm etc. as it's too light and weight needs to be added. You can either make the frame stiffer or more aero, essentially it used to be light and stiff, but with material improvements 6.8kg and as stiff as you'd like was easily obtainable.

    Hence going for aero, essentially they have the weight to spare.

    I find aero equipment horrible to ride outside textbook conditions. In no wind, flat straight roads, it's great, anything else it's bonkers.
    I remember coming down the Cat and Fiddle pass on a windy day with a set of 35 mm rims (not talking 50-60 here)... it was frightening... :(
    left the forum March 2023
  • Being not as mercilessly cynical as some of the above posters i think miisterbond has an interesting point.

    6.8kg is easy to get to, there is no point in producing a frame that builds up to 6 kg with srm etc. as it's too light and weight needs to be added. You can either make the frame stiffer or more aero, essentially it used to be light and stiff, but with material improvements 6.8kg and as stiff as you'd like was easily obtainable.

    Hence going for aero, essentially they have the weight to spare.

    The 6.8kg weight limit is daft and seriously outdated.

    It's easy to make a 6.8kg bike so i can understand the argument of 'let's make our 6kg bike an aero 6.8kg bike', but very few of us are racing to this standard, so which is better, the 6kg bike or the 6.8kg aero one?
  • You know what I mean... teams have pretty much no relevance in that race, at least in the second half

    Oh sorry, I didn't. But I don't agree with you. It is a race where teams can have alot of relevance. You only have to look how Mapei, Domo or Quickstep have ridden it in recent years.
  • My Boardman Pro is affected by sidewinds far more than my non aero bikes.
  • ...so which is better, the 6kg bike or the 6.8kg aero one?

    Doesn't that depend on where your riding?
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,391
    ...so which is better, the 6kg bike or the 6.8kg aero one?

    The one that allows you to ride the fastest...
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • It's a funny old arena this cycling one.

    On one hand you've got no end of wannabe wiggins with more money than sense- a manufacturer's dream! :D On the other you've got people telling you that most of these finest offering wont make you any faster, or better.

    So, who are we trying to convince? Are the answers really just an attempt to self justify your purchases? Does it really just boil down to a "status symbol"?
    B'TWIN Triban 5A
    Ridgeback MX6
  • My personal take on it is that surely - by now - any advantages aerodynamics due to manufacturing/performance are negligible and incremental compared to improvements in technology/aerodynamics previously?

    Think of it like this.

    A top-end TT bike from 1990 was 'better' (however you want to define it) than a top-end TT bike from 1980. And equally, 2000 to 1990. But presumably the amount that bikes 'improve' has slowed down (because it has to) and so the difference in a bike today compared to - say - last year, is virtually nothing.

    In other words, the same rider on a 2010 bike might go 10% faster than the same rider on a 2000 bike. But the same rider on a 2013 bike might only go 1% faster than on a 2010 bike.

    Except - in practice - the gains are likely to be 0.0005% or similiar by now?
  • So, who are we trying to convince? Are the answers really just an attempt to self justify your purchases? Does it really just boil down to a "status symbol"?

    And ultimately... why do you want to go faster? Any particular reason to be home earlier? I have given up any desire to go faster ages ago... there are a number of challenges I still want to tackle, but none involves being faster than I currently am.
    I'd like to do the Raid Pyrenees again... but slower, rather than faster... I realise now I have very few memories of it and very confused, we were just going too fast to pay any attention to what was around... can't remember the name of a single village or town I have zipped through...
    left the forum March 2023