Aero on a Budget Part 2
Save Time and Money by Getting Aero on a Budget
Are you looking for every possible way to shave seconds off your time trial? Want take that sprint or attack up a notch? Don’t want to break the bank on expensive aero frames and wheels? You could always train more or use these wind cheating tips to get aero on a budget.
In Part 1 of Aero on a Budget, we looked at how to save time and money with a skinsuit, aerobars, and an aero helmet. In Part 2, we will look at the benefits of perfecting your position and some cheap and small changes and additions that can shave even more time off.
The biggest source of drag on a bike is the rider. The rider accounts for 70-80% of drag when riding. No matter how much money you sink into a new frame, deep dish wheels, and the latest clothing, you will not get the same bang-for-buck improvement as you can by getting your position dialed. So if you are seriously looking to get aero on a budget, put in a little work to find the best aero position for you.
Dialing in your position to get as aero as possible is all about reducing frontal area and smoothing out surfaces. One excellent way to reduce your frontal area and get aero on a budget is to lose some weight. Shedding a couple pounds will also help you in other areas of your riding.
When getting your position right, there are a couple things to think about. First, the flatter your torso, the better. Getting your torso parallel with the top tube will reduce your frontal area significantly. Second, bring your head down to shelter your torso. An aero helmet does a much better job at cutting through the wind than your chest and will push much of the air around your body reducing drag.
Depending on your size, you can experiment with different arm positions to find what works best for you. For smaller riders, set up your aero bars and pads close together so that your arms divert air around your body. If you are a bigger rider, set your bar and pads up so that your arms mirror your thighs and directs air through your chest cavity.
In order to determine which position will work best for you, you need to do some experiments. You could always rent a wind tunnel and get experts in aerodynamics and bike fitting to get you dialed in but that is not cheap. That will probably cost your around $1000 unfortunately. And since this is about getting aero on a budget, you are going to have to do it yourself.
Find a couple positions that are aero but still allow you to produce power and remain comfortable for those long time trial. Then test them out on the road over a set course. Try out each position and compare your results. Ideally you would do this on the same day, in similar weather conditions but you can do it over a couple weeks as part of your time trial training.
Since the rider accounts for the majority of drag on a bike, getting your position right can offer up huge savings in terms of power. Some tests have shown a savings of 30 to 40 watts between a road bike ridden in the drops and the addition of aero bars. These savings increase to 60-70 watts when you switch to a time trial bike. So getting your position right will save you both time and money, making it a way to really get aero on a budget.
If you have followed all of my tips so far for getting aero on a budget and you still want to shave off a couple more seconds here are some small changes you can.
Shoe covers are an inexpensive way to save 30 seconds over 40km. For around $30, shoe covers smooth out the surface of your shoes reducing drag.
A disc cover is a cheap way to get some of the benefits of a disc wheel. Costing around $100, a disc cover is just a plastic jacket you put on your rear wheel that functions like a much more expensive disc wheel. A real disc wheel can save about 29 seconds over 40km but don’t expect the same results with a cover. Bonus: looks super pro.
One of the hottest debated subjects in cycling is shaving. Ask a cyclist why they shave and you could get one of 7 responses, including aerodynamics. A long questioned reason, it seems that Specialized has finally provided evidence for the aerodynamic benefits of shaving. In their test, cyclists saved 70 seconds on average by shaving their legs. That was an average so you could save more or less by shaving your legs. They also showed that you could save some time by shaving your arms, about 19 seconds to be exact. So for the cost of a razor you could save almost a minute and half. Now that is really getting aero on a budget.
In the race against the clock every second counts. So if you are looking to get aero on a budget, I hope you will find these tips helpful. If you have any of your own tips or tricks for saving even more time while saving money, post them in the comments.
Aero on a Budget: Part 1 and Part 2