FLO Cycling – Aero vs. Weight – Follow Up

 
We wrote a blog article at the end of January titled “The Great Debate – Aero vs. Weight.”  To write the article, we partnered with Ryan Cooper – the brains behind Best Bike Split – to simulate the effects of wheel aerodynamics vs. weight on some very popular bike courses.  The goal was to determine what saved more time, aerodynamics or weight.  With the exception of climbing the Alpe d’Huez, a heavy aerodynamic wheel set was faster than an extremely lightweight but non-aero wheel set on every course.  
 
After posting that article, we had some questions asked that I wanted to try and answer.  Here they are:
 
1.  What would happen if you reduced the weight of the 90/DISC combo?
2.  How would the FLO 30 do on the extreme courses?
 
Since I have explained the testing protocol in the previous article, I will not repeat it here.  If you have any questions about how we got the results, please read the first article “The Great Debate – Aero vs. Weight.

Part 3 is now live featuring our 2016 model wheels!

 
Disclaimer: The Light FLO 90/DISC listed below is purely hypothetical.  The Light FLO 90/DISC has the exact same aerodynamic properties of our standard FLO 90/DISC.  This means you cannot simply compare our FLO 90/DISC to any lighter deep front/disc wheelset and expect to get the same results listed below.  If the wheelset you are comparing is not as aerodynamic as our FLO 90/DISC, then the time savings will be decreased.  Please keep this in mind when reading the article and do not assume that deep and light equals the same results as the Light FLO 90/DISC.
 
Let’s review the courses, the updated wheelsets, and the rider details.  

 

The Ironman Courses

We selected a course that was flat, one that had rolling hills, and one that had a long, steady climb.  Weight becomes more important on hilly courses so we wanted to include hilly courses to give weight the biggest advantage possible.  Here are the Ironman Courses we selected.  
 
The Flat Course – Ironman Florida
Distance: 112 miles
Total Gain: 991 feet
 
The Rolling Course – Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Distance: 112 miles
Total Gain: 4,804 feet
 
The Long Climb Course – Ironman Lake Placid
Distance: 112 miles
Total Gain: 4,612 feet
The Extreme Courses

Because we so firmly believe that aerodynamics are more important, we also selected two courses known for being some of the hilliest courses you will find.  Here they are.  
 
SavageMan 70
Distance: 55.7 miles
Total Gain: 6,717 feet
 
Alpe d’Huez
Distance: 8.2 miles
Total Gain: 3,514 feet
Average Grade: 8.1%
 

 

The Wheel Sets

 

 

 

The Aero Wheels

 

FLO 30/30: 1,624 grams
FLO 90/DISC: 2,259 grams
Light FLO 90/DISC: 1,670 grams (based on a realistic potential weight)
 
The Un-Aero Wheels
We created two hypothetical non-aero wheel sets that varied only in weight.  The aerodynamic properties given to this wheel were that of a common training wheel like a Mavic Open Pro.  
 
Light Training Wheel: 1,100 grams
Heavy Training Wheel: 2,259 grams
 
The Rider

We simulated a rider that we felt resembled a good majority of male age group athletes.  This allowed us to keep things realistic and useful for our largest group of readers.  Here is the athlete profile.  
 
Rider Weight – 170lbs
Rider FTP – 250 watts
Bike 1 – Cervelo P2
Bike 2 – Cervelo S5 (used only on the Alpe d’Huez simulation)
 
We will assume that this rider will ride all of the courses at 75% of his FTP with the exception of the Alpe d’Huez.  On the Alpe d’Huez the rider will exert a 100% FTP effort.
The Results
The Ironman Courses

 

A baseline time has been set for each Ironman course below.  The time for the heavy training wheel to complete the course was used as the baseline time.  We then compared all other wheel sets to the baseline to see whether improving aerodynamics or decreasing weight had a bigger influence on the time saved.   
 
Ironman Florida
Ironman Florida Bike Course Elevation
 
Baseline Time
Training Wheel (Heavy Version 2,259 grams) : Time on Course : 5 hr 21 min 44 sec
 
Time Saved by Improving Only Weight
Training Wheel (Light Version 1,100 grams) : Time on Course : 5 hr 21 min 42 sec
Time Saved = 2 sec

 

 

 

Time Saved by Improving Only Aerodynamics

 

FLO 90/DISC (2,259 grams): Time on Course : 5 hr 12 min 55 sec
Time Saved = 529 sec = 8 min 49 sec

 

 
Time Saved by Improving Aerodynamics and Weight

 

Light FLO 90/DISC (1,670 grams): Time on Course : 5 hr 12 min 39 sec
Time Saved = 545 sec = 9 min 5 sec
 
 
Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Ironman Coeur d’Alene Bike Course Elevation
 
Baseline Time
Training Wheel (Heavy Version 2,259 grams) : Time on Course : 6 hr 01 min 36 sec
 
Time Saved by Improving Only Weight
Training Wheel (Light Version 1,100 grams) : Time on Course : 5 hr 59 min 54 sec
Time Saved = 102 sec = 1 min 42 sec

 

 

 

Time Saved by Improving Only Aerodynamics

 

FLO 90/DISC (2,259 grams) : Time on Course : 5 hr 55 min 46 sec
Time Saved = 350 sec = 5 min 50 sec

 

 
Time Saved by Improving Aerodynamics and Weight

 

Light FLO 90/DISC (1,670 grams): Time on Course : 5 hr 54 min 57 sec
Time Saved = 399 sec = 6 min 39 sec
Ironman Lake Placid
Ironman Lake Placid Bike Course Elevation
 
Baseline Time
Training Wheel (Heavy Version 2,259 grams) : Time on Course : 6 hr 00 min 11 sec
 
Time Saved by Improving Only Weight
Training Wheel (Light Version 1,100 grams) : Time on Course : 5 hr 58 min 39 sec
Time Saved = 92 sec = 1 min 32 sec
 
Time Saved by Improving Only Aerodynamics
FLO 90/DISC (2,259 grams) : Time on Course : 5 hr 51 min 45 sec
Time Saved = 506 sec = 8 min 26 sec

 

 
Time Saved by Improving Aerodynamics and Weight

 

Light FLO 90/DISC (1,670 grams): Time on Course : 5 hr 51 min 00 sec
Time Saved = 551 sec = 9 min 11 sec
The Extreme Courses
As I mentioned above, we added the FLO 30/30 wheelset to the test run to see how it fared on some of hilliest courses in the world.  Take a look below to see how it compared to the other wheels. 
 
SavageMan
This is one of the hilliest Half Ironman courses in the world.  If you were to turn this course into an full Ironman, you would net 13,434 feet of climbing.  That is nearly three times hillier than Ironman Lake Placid!
 
SavageMan 70 Bike Course Elevation
 
The Un-Aero Wheels
Light Training Wheels (1,100 grams) : 3 hr 20 min 43 sec
The Aero Wheels
FLO 90/DISC (2,259 grams) : 3 hr 19 min 39 sec
 
The FLO 30s
FLO 30/30 (1,624 grams) : 3 hr 19 min 42 sec
 
The FLO 90/DISC wheelset is still the winner but by only three seconds over the FLO 30/30 wheelset.  We feel those are pretty impressive results for a 30mm wheel.
Alpe d’Huez
In the last article you learned that the Alpe d’Huez was the breaking point for weight vs. aerodynamics.  That said, it took the Alpe d’Huez to make that happen.  For those of you who don’t know,

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