If you believe race wheels only benefit the fastest athletes, think again. Whether you win the race or finish dead last, the laws of physics still apply.
Aerodynamic drag is one of the leading forces robbing you of speed while riding your bike, and learning how to minimize it will get you to the finish line faster.
What Is Drag?
If you have ever stuck your hand out of the window of a moving car, you are well on your way to understanding aerodynamic drag. The force you feel pushing on your hand is aerodynamic drag.
Drag Doesn't Stop Existing When You Go Slower
Because water is denser than air, you feel more drag when in water. For this reason, I'm going to use water to help you understand that drag doesn't go away when you slow down.
The next time you're at your local pool, try to both run and walk through waist deep water. When running, you'll feel a lot of drag from the water on your legs. When you switch to walking, you experience less drag, but, it's still there.
These same rules apply when you ride your bike through the air. Slower riders don't feel as much drag as faster riders, but it's still slowing them down.
Why Are Aero Wheels Faster?
The shape of an object plays a significant role in how much drag it creates. We see examples of this in nature. Animals like fish and dolphins which have evolved to live in water, have very streamlined body shapes to help them reduce drag while swimming.
Like aquatic species, aero wheels are shaped to reduce the drag they create when traveling through air. When you ride a bike with well-designed aero wheels, you reduce your overall drag and as a result, go faster.
If Slower Riders Feel Less Drag, Why Do They Save More Time?
The fastest Ironman athletes spend about 4 hours on their bike, while the slowest athletes take over 8 hours to complete the same course. Slower athletes benefit from aero wheels for a longer duration, and as a result, save more time overall.
How Much Time Will I Save?
The table below shows how much time a front FLO 60 CC will save you over an Ironman course at various speeds when compared to a Mavic Open Pro. Please keep in mind that this table is only analyzing a single wheel and not a full bike and rider.
Also, since our articles are never short on nerdy math equations, here is a link to an article explaining the math behind these numbers.
|Speed In MPH||Time Saved In Min:Sec|