Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Aero hype vs reality...

I rediscovered this decent summary page while monkeying around-- there are others that are much more detailed but this wraps it all up nicely--
Max savings of 5-7 minutes for an Ironman for wheels-- a trispoke up front and disc in back vs 32 spokes. Everything else is in between-- and the difference between reduced spoke count and 30+mm deep rims is closer to the fast end. The others, Zipps, etc, are already close to discs, under a minute over an Ironman.
Wheel weight doesn't matter all that much according to a great number of studies. It's all about how much time you spend accelerating vs rolling along. And the reality is that you spend little time truly accelerating hard enough to make a significant difference by wheel weight. I have a friend in SD who does this stuff for a living and he's run the numbers for some ProTour riders, so I'm confident he's right... he holds patents for things that rely on aerodynamics (golf related).
Frame weight matters even less. 480 grams roughly equals one pound. That's a water bottle or a tool in your bag, or those extra bon bons we had at Christmas...
An aero frame saves maybe half what the wheels might save.
SO the most aero wheels and frame over an Ironman MIGHT save you 10 minutes. Under laboratory conditions.
BUT... you will get 30+ minutes saved for body position over an Ironman distance.
You can go to a tunnel for about $500 these days.
New wheels cost upwards of $1K for the 'good ones'...
You wanna go faster or look good?
We're looking for the low-cost, high payoff things since we have limited budgets-- the details matter a lot on the high end, world class (aka I get stuff free) riders, but they shave seconds or less in the real world. That's a slow transition difference to us. Or a potty stop on the run. Or a dropped Gu that has to be picked up.
It's in the noise as the scientists would say...
OBTW-- I can't tell you how many riders I see on 'fast' (aka EXPENSIVE) bikes that have obviously horrible positions, really upright, very uncomfortable, and unquestionably slower than they could be. The extra 30-40 lbs of weight didn't help much either. You guys are obviously NOT in that category.


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