What is known as bicycle aerodynamics is the study and practice of trying to make both the rider and the bicycle itself as aerodynamically able as possible to lower wind resistance and drag during riding. As with other vehicles, aerodynamics is essentially the study of how air moves over an object, and bicycle aerodynamics focus on making air move more flowingly past a rider while he or she is traversing at high speeds.
Any drag, which is created by air passing over the rider will slow the rider down, and can make all the difference between winning and losing in a race. Clothing such as a men’s cycling jersey, helmets, and the bicycles themselves are nowadays often designed and manufactured with aerodynamics in mind.
Engineering Bicycle Parts
A number of the parts of a bicycle can be designed in such a way that reduces much of the drag. This aspect of bicycle aerodynamics is maybe the most important and costly practice, due to the bicycle frame itself being frequently modified or designed in such a way that drag is reduced. Carbon fibre frames, for instance, can be made in such a way that the frame tubing aids to steer air around the bike and the rider instead of it colliding with any broad surfaces and thus helping to slow the rider down.
The wheels are also something which can be modified or even designed to reduce aerodynamic drag; the spokes of the wheels can be what is known as “bladed”, which means they are flat on either side. This further means that when the narrow sides of the spokes head into a wind, the drag is then reduced, as the air will be able to can quickly move past the spokes instead of heading into them.
Clothing and Accessories
Other components that have an effect on bicycle aerodynamics includes things such as cycling clothing, accessories, and the person riding. Most good quality helmets are usually designed with bicycle aerodynamics in mind, and there are even some helmets that are designed specifically for particular cycling events, such as time trials, where the rider will need to go as fast as is possible for a short period of time. The helmet design is naturally smooth, and it will highlight a wing or beak design that extends backward in line with the rider’s spine to help air move more efficiently over and past the rider’s head.
The cyclist himself or herself will normally be sitting in a position to help cut back on any drag. The rider can sit with arms and shoulders tucked as much inwards as possible to prohibit air from being caught in the arms or the chest. The rider will usually hunches forward with the head lowered in order to allow air to hit the shoulders and roll smoothly off the back, instead of having the air hit the chest.
Bicycling has certainly come a long way and hasn’t stopped yet!