Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Further Explorations In Aeroness : What They Won't Tell You

It has come to my attention that some evil corporate elements in wind tunnels have withheld several additional information from us poor riders that could highly benefit us in efficiently slicing through the wind.

We cannot call ourselves students of cycling if we don't explore what they didn't tell us. Let us discuss this appendix to what we already know about on-the-bike aerodynamics, with some new case studies done by our team :


What we know so far from the aero gurus is that you cut through the wind best when the cone of your aero helmet faces south. Really?

One of our athletic subjects was so hungover from Saturday night that he rode into the wind tunnel with his helmet worn in reverse and a stupid pizza box in his hand. He may have looked like a complete fool. But we, sitting in the back control room, didn't notice this until we saw the alarming efficiency with which he was cutting through the airflow on our computer system.

Air skims over the cone and towards the back. Our wind tunnel tests show that slightly nodding the head gently flicks away the air currents and creates an infinitesimally small vacuum into which head and bike are sucked forward (read free speed). Constant nodding of the head will create more vaccum to aid in forward motion.


Another one of our top riders doesn't prescribe to this modern notion of wearing helmets. He thinks all helmet proponents are biased towards the brain. In direct opposition, he says he's biased towards rationality.

In 4 tests on him, we studied the effect of his pink cycling cap on incoming wind.

A. Cap Worn Decently : Great airflow. The wind seems receptive to decency. Subject's stash was oriented very well to air flow as well.

B. Cap Turned Up : This position did not register well on our computers.The incoherent flow caused a net drag that slowed the rider by 2%. The flow line across the stash was also disappointed and showed sharper variations than case A.

C. Cap Worn Backwards : This style, very common among automechanics, had strange behaviors with our air flow. Notice the top flow line unaffected, but the lower flow line skimmed the stash, hit the cap, reflected back, and went right through the subject's earring. The result was a net drag and considerable earring vibration. Subject also remarked that he had a sensation of 'Church Bells' going off in his ear drum.

D. Cap turned backwards up : An automechanic turns his backward cap up when he gets a raise. This style was the worst of the 4. The effect was so great that the two flow lines collided with each other, causing a shock wave some 2 cm rearward of the subject's head. When the sharp boom happened, he jumped and almost got knocked off his bike.


A study was done on one of our clients from the Lipsmakers Professional Women's Cycling Team. Had we known how much electricity we would waste doing a wind tunnel test on her, we would not have initiated this study in the first place.

Airflow completely reverses on seeing subject


The last and final case study did not happen in our wind tunnel. We were almost broke paying for the above 3 studies.

Our colleague Tom from UK studied facial and emotional expressions on wind flow. The following is what he came up with :

A. The 'GASP' : Two hotspots under the nose and lower lip caused Tom adverse reactions on the skin. He had to use a cold cream for healing effect.

B. The FISHFACE : Inspite of the restriction to inhalation for sustaining himself, Tom found good airflow characteristics for the fishface. Very aero. Potentially dangerous.

C. The 'BEAN FACE' : Due to the recessed lips, Tom found a considerable improvement of airflow around the mouth. Hence, this facial position was found to be a better aero proposition. The side effects were extensive cramps in the face that hurt for days.

D. The 'DREAD FACE' : Tom tried invoking the famous Judge Dredd look. It turns out that the comic character was born with drag fighting genes. This comico-mimicry was the most aerodynamic of all. Why don't you guys try it, sitting in your seats?

E. Tom had to bitterly end his wind tunnel session when his better half started nagging him for wasting time instead of helping with chores. Annoyed at her, he showed her this facial expression behind her back. Later in his analytic study, he found all the wind vectors going great over this face in a side wind loading scenario. He concluded that the accidental discovery was terrific for cornering aerodynamics.

Now take a break, and enjoy the Arab Money song...

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Phil said...

Wow, where do you get your ideas for posts. Awesome!

jimmythefly said...

Sweet pizza box splitter. Isn't Zipp coming out with a carbon version that integrates with their TT bar extensions? I saw it in some Flickr Interbike photos, swear!

Anonymous said...

wHAT CRACked me up was the fat mannn haaha what will be his effect in the wind tunnnel?!!!

Ron said...

Anon : The fat man is not one of our clients. Nevertheless the capital expenditure we've put down on our wind tunnels are huge. We do not wish to destroy our equipment.

Anonymous said...

This is just too funny!