The Ultimate Guide to Cycling Aerodynamics
For pro cyclists, aerodynamics is the cheat code to winning races. Aero bikes, wheels, helmets, and even aero bike computers have all been invented to help pro-cyclists.
Does this aero cheat code work? Does aerodynamics affect the speed of a bike? These are some of the questions many people ask, and this piece will help you understand the basics of aerodynamics.
What is Aerodynamics?
When riding a bike, you try to pierce through the air, but the air is putting up a fight. This is what is called air resistance. It is the force a cyclist fights against to achieve the desired speed.
As cyclists reach over 30 mph, they fight to overcome the resistance and, in the process, encounter a drag which is known as the aerodynamic drag.
Aerodynamics, therefore, is the study of the properties of moving air and the interaction with solid objects pushing through it.
As cyclists ride the bike, the body interacts with two types of drags as it moves through the air.
Types of drags
There are two types of drugs that you may face. They include:
- Pressure Drag
This happens when your body pushes through particles of air, forcing them to compress as they try to space out and flow over your body. This is what creates a drag force.
- Skin Friction Drag
As the air particles move over your body, it causes friction with your body and the air around your body. This friction between air particles and your body causes a drag.
With all this in mind, there is truth in saying that aero-equipment increases the speed of a cyclist. The shapes of the aerodynamic equipment reduce the drag caused by air resistance. Aerodynamic shapes reduce the pressure drag by minimizing the difference in pressure which allows smooth flow of air over the front of your body and lowers the pressure drag behind your body.