Easy ways to gain aerodynamics for free

Road 19/02/24 07:03 Migue A.

Taking care of aerodynamics is one of the easiest ways to improve performance on the bike. Many of these improvements can be achieved without investing a single euro, simply by working on small details that are often overlooked. Discover the best ways to save watts.

Extra speed at no extra cost

Improving cycling performance is the great desire of most of those who love to pedal. Pedaling with less effort allows us to take on longer rides or ride faster and, in general, makes us enjoy cycling more.

Improving performance is obviously associated with training hard and taking care of oneself. However, we also have to take into account other types of details that, if we work on them, allow us to improve our performance with very little compensation. One of the most relevant is aerodynamics, that is, trying to reduce the effect of the main element that opposes the cyclist's progress, especially when the speed increases.

When we talk about improving aerodynamics, many people think of wind tunnel studies, aerodynamic bikes or profile wheels. However, we can achieve significant improvements in a much simpler way.

80% of wind resistance comes from the rider, so this is the first place to work on, positioning the rider on the bike in such a way as to provide the least frontal surface area for the air to pass through.

Therefore, the first step will be to find a position on the bike that reduces the frontal area, which roughly consists of being as horizontal as possible and becoming narrower. The first part is usually achieved by lowering the position of the rider, something we can achieve by eliminating handlebar spacers. Here the limiting factor is the flexion capacity of our hips, since an excess of flexion reduces the capacity to generate force in the first part of the pedal stroke.

One option is to play with the position and height of the saddle to find more aggressive positions, although this requires a good physical tone to make them sustainable.

Often the average cyclist does not work muscles other than those of the legs in any way, and has great deficiencies in the stabilizing muscles and upper body. A complementary workout, such as pilates, will allow us to have the flexibility and tone necessary to be able to pedal in an aggressive position for a long time.

Another point to control in the position of the bike is the grip on the handlebars. Here the ideal is that arm and forearm form an angle of 90º with which we reduce to the maximum the surface of the same ones that opposes to the wind. This is why it is often more aerodynamic to hold on to the handlebars at the top than in the curve of the handlebars.

On the grip aspect we can also influence the width factor. If you look at the bikes of the pros, many choose to rotate the levers inward, which allows a narrower grip, which will reduce our frontal area and therefore improve aerodynamics.

However, it will be of little use to have a good position on the bike if we wear loose-fitting clothes that flap in the wind. This is another basic aspect to take care of. The clothes we wear must be tight, nothing to wear a jersey two sizes bigger as we often see on the roads. Haven't you tried a one-piece road jumpsuit? besides being very comfortable, they also add a certain aerodynamic improvement. All this is extensible to the use of a vest or rain jacket. Fortunately the current designs think about it and their cuts are tight even if they make it difficult to put them on and take them off while riding.

It is important in the aerodynamic aspect to avoid unzipping your jersey, as many do when the heat gets too intense. If we are climbing a pass at 10 km / h we can obviously do it because at that speed the influence of aerodynamics is residual, but not on a climb of 5% where we are riding at more than 20 km / h and where an open jersey will force us to provide many extra watts.

Another aspect to take care of are the surfaces over which the air circulates, so that the flow passing over them is affected as little as possible. Here we would enter the field of marginal gains, but everything adds up.

As far as the cyclist is concerned, we can take care of it with something as simple as having well shaved legs. If we extend it to the forearms, another area that usually accumulates hair, then we have won. In the case of the bike what we will take care of is that it is clean. On many occasions, the down tubes accumulate all kinds of dirt that to a greater or lesser extent will influence the passage of air flow.

More details that we can take care of is the placement of the cycling computer in a completely horizontal way to offer less resistance. If we carry only one water bottle, it is more aerodynamic to place it in the bottle cage of the seat tube than in the down tube or, when carrying the tool and spare parts, choose a saddle bag as minimalist as possible or, even better, carry it in the jersey, especially avoiding placing the pump on the frame.

These are small details that on their own offer minimal improvements but that together allow us to save a few watts that are always welcome, especially when we ride at full throttle and it is those few watts that make the difference.



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