In the world of Time Trialling every second counts. More than once already this season I’ve lost out on a higher placing by less than five seconds!
Frustrating. But imagine my excitement when after a morning with FHS x aerobyeq I found a saving of 62 seconds over 10 miles. That’s almost 42 watts.
And all by simply tweaking my existing equipment.
There’s no amount of cash you can throw at a fancy set of wheels that will give you that kind of saving. It’s no surprise then that aero testing is high on the wish list of many amateur riders. But with a few hours in the wind tunnel costing almost as much as a decent bike it’s beyond reach for most. Aerobyeq want to change that. Their vision is to make aero testing affordable for everyone.
Rather than spending time in an expensive wind tunnel on a stationary bike, this morning I found myself at UCLAN Sports Arena in Preston. Where Richard from Fastest Highest Strongest, and Dave from Aerobyeq would test the aerodynamic properties of my equipment. Outside, in real weather conditions, on a closed racing circuit. The weather was almost perfect for testing. We were treated to a still, sunny day. The spring air crisp, but not too cold.
I spent the entire morning with Richard and Dave. With an aim to improve my position and speed during time trials. The environment at the track was friendly and relaxed but extremely professional. Before beginning the tests we took the combined weight of myself and the bike. Then it was just a case of learning how I was required to ride to make sure the results were as fair as possible. We had private use of the race track so no passing traffic or other riders to skew data. Meaning tests would be extremely accurate providing I rode as instructed.
I was asked to use the same equipment and position as I normally would to set a base line before the real testing could begin. By the time I was ready to do a few practice laps X’s had been marked on the route for me to follow. These would make sure I took the same line throughout the day. A great idea which allowed me to focus entirely on my position, rather than where I was riding.
The protocol used for testing is simple
- Don’t brake
- Don’t move out of position
- Try to keep pedalling at all times
- Follow the X’s
Setting a baseline
The first run was done on my bike in its current position. Exactly how I’ve been riding it all season. I set out with Dave shadowing me and started the test. I focussed on holding position while they assessed how I looked and quickly it became obvious where we’d be able to make improvements.
With the first lap done it was time to ramp up the effort to do a quicker lap. I spun the legs a little faster, winding up to my natural cadence. My focus remained on holding a good position and following the X’s marked out for me.
The final lap went just as smoothly and before I knew it the baseline had been set. I made my way back to the van where Richard waited with a laptop to download the Garmin files and review the data.
Testing and tweaking
We did a few more tests where I held the same position, changing one piece of equipment at a time. First we moved the arm rests in on my aero bars. A great starting point as this simple adjustment saved me 10 watts over 10 miles!
We then tried a different helmet, this time however even with the narrower placement of the arm rests the saving was only 4 watts. So luckily for my wallet buying a new helmet wasn’t going to make me go any faster.
Our third test was such a subtle change it highlights precisely why testing is so important. When my arm rests were wide before we started testing, in order to bring my arms closer together I had to hook my little fingers over the gear shifters and rest my forearms on the inner most part of the pad. It was uncomfortable and unstable. But it allowed me to close my frontal area. However, with the arm rests now set closer together I was able to try different hand positions when holding the extensions. So in the third test I gripped the extensions with my thumb on top, aligned in a straight line from its tip to my inner elbow. My wrists turned inwards slightly.
This tiny change in position saved 17 watts over 10 miles. Or to put it another way, almost half a minute! All from essentially a slight turning of the wrist.
For the final test we tried something that we all thought would make the biggest difference of the day. Getting my chin as low as possible. Even though we knew this would help, everyone was blown away by just how much time and energy this would save over a 10 mile TT.
With the combination of my new arm and wrist position, tucking my chin – or Turtling as it’s known – would save me 42 watts. Or just over a minute! That’s incredible. And all using my existing bike and equipment. It’s hard to believe what a different a few centimetres here and there can make.
If you’re serious about improving your Time Trialling you need to do aero testing. And these are the guys to talk to
Forget a fancy new bike. Forget spending thousands on new wheels (for now at least!). Speak to the guys at FHS x aerobyeq and see what you can achieve with your current set up. They also have a van full of their own equipment available for testing. So you can try a different helmet or wheel to see what kind of difference it makes to you.
On top of that, they couldn’t be more helpful. We ran into a number of issues during the day but Rich and Dave were only too happy to fix any problem that we encountered. Some rounded bolts on my aero bars spring to mind here! Sorry about that guys. They’ll absolutely go out of their way to make this a worthwhile experience for you. And I can’t recommend them highly enough.
How accurate the absolute values are I don’t know. But compared relatively to each other it’s obvious what’s faster, and that’s what really matters!
I had an amazing day and walked away potentially a minute quicker over ten miles. Over 25 that’s just over two and a half minutes. I’ve said recently I need to find somewhere close to three minutes to be ‘up there’ with the fast lads in the SPOCO time trial league. And with the help I got today, I might just be there next race. I can’t wait to find out.