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Thread: aero or no aero

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    aero or no aero

    Hi everyone,

    About a year ago I bought my first bike, a 2012 Cannondale CAADX 6 with Tiagra. I upgraded it with lighter road wheels and that's what I've been riding since then. Now I feel like it's time to get a true road bike and I am torn between an aero frame vs. a non-aero frame. I've narrowed it down to the Scott Foil 20 with Ultegra (about $3,100) and the Wilier Gran Turismo with Ultegra (about $2,800). I usually ride alone, or 2-3 people maximum. Most of my rides are 20-30 miles, sometimes 40.

    Thanks

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petermk View Post
    Hi everyone,

    About a year ago I bought my first bike, a 2012 Cannondale CAADX 6 with Tiagra. I upgraded it with lighter road wheels and that's what I've been riding since then. Now I feel like it's time to get a true road bike and I am torn between an aero frame vs. a non-aero frame. I've narrowed it down to the Scott Foil 20 with Ultegra (about $3,100) and the Wilier Gran Turismo with Ultegra (about $2,800). I usually ride alone, or 2-3 people maximum. Most of my rides are 20-30 miles, sometimes 40.

    Thanks
    If you're mostly riding alone, just get the bike that fits best.

    Aero definitely makes a difference, but if you aren't trying to hang on to a fast group or race, what's the point? Especially since aero can mean some comprimises in comfort.
    Telemachus has, indeed, sneezed.

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    Senior Member cerealkilla's Avatar
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    Get the one which looks and feels the coolest, to you.

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    Senior Member cerealkilla's Avatar
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    I had a Foil 15 and its an amazing bike. You cannot go too wrong with it!

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    token triathlete Bah Humbug's Avatar
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    The Foil is, by all accounts, a great bike. Do you really care if you're done with your ride a minute or so faster? If not, the aero aspect is irrelevant. Just pick the one you like best.
    #giantsfansforgarrett

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    Seems to me one should acquire an aero bike after all the personal aero improvements have been made. What is the point of an aero frame if you are sitting up with your hands on the tops most of the time instead of riding aero bars in full stretched out position, or if you don't shave your legs, or if you wear a regular not special aero helmet, or if you just wear a regular clothing kit instead of a super slick Olympic style full length tights and jersey. See my point? The compromises in comfort of a aero bike don't make much sense if you are not 100% dedicated to aero riding. Not to me anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
    The Foil is, by all accounts, a great bike. Do you really care if you're done with your ride a minute or so faster? If not, the aero aspect is irrelevant. Just pick the one you like best.
    The Wilier is a beautiful bike but I do strive to improve my Strava times every time I ride. Will my back kill me if I do a century on the Foil? Like I said, I do ride mostly 20-30 miles, just because I don't have more time, but do wanna try longer rides one day. Thanks.

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    Hairy legs are more aero kind of like dimples in zipp wheels

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    Aero benefits don't show themselves until you're riding in the mid-20 mph range. OTOH, the downside of aero bikes (noticeably worse ride characteristics than standard bikes), from what I've read, are there all the time. I'd go with the Wilier.
    Regards,
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    Senior Member c_mack9's Avatar
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    Wow so much wrong information in this thread. First off the Foil is not really an aero road frame. It's a standard road frame with a few little aero benefits added to it, much like all these other new "aero" frames like the Madone. I love the Foil and I considered one myself, they're light, stiff and fast, but compared to a true aero road frame such as a Felt AR or Cervelo S5 (I say that because these 2 are monsters in the wind tunnel) it may as well be a round tube steel bike. Second, where on earth did the myth of aero bikes being uncomfortable come from? Read any review on the Felt AR series bikes and everyone raves about how comfortable it is. I rode one for 2 years and I agree with them. I rode MANY long rides and 2 centuries on mine and comfort was always outstanding. If you like the idea, looks, and benefits from the aero road bikes and would like to get one go for it. Just make sure you get it properly fitted and it will be just as comfortable as any other bike. When I decided to buy my AR5 I was like you, I mostly rode solo, considered triathlons in my future, and was more concerned about carrying a higher average speed over the distance of the ride. That bike was excellent for that. What it wasn't good at was quick stabs at accelerations, and being super lightweight. You can shave all you want, sit on the tops all you want, wear a regular kit all you want, and you will still get the aero benefits from the FRAME. If you were to aero up all that crap dude up there listed, that still wouldn't add any aero benefits to the frame so forget that noise.
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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    An aero road frame might save you 90 seconds on a 24 mile (40k) TT @ 30mph. Which, at that speed, will take you about 48 minutes.

    When you're riding on ordinary streets, you'll lose more time at stop lights than you'll ever save with an aero frame.

    If you need (or just want) a new bike, get a new bike. If a specific frame works for you, it works for you. If your goal is to beat a Strava time, I wouldn't rely on a piece of equipment to do it for you.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c_mack9 View Post
    Wow so much wrong information in this thread. First off the Foil is not really an aero road frame.
    Yeah, it is. Velonews had it only 43 grams of drag behind the Cervelo S5. (IIRC the S5 is around 200g of drag saved vs round-tube bikes.)


    Second, where on earth did the myth of aero bikes being uncomfortable come from?
    I'd guess it's from the Cervelo S1. And the S5. And the Venge. And the FOIL. I'm sure I could find other reviews that characterize most aero bikes as "harsh."


    You can shave all you want, sit on the tops all you want, wear a regular kit all you want, and you will still get the aero benefits from the FRAME.
    Sure, but again: The advantages of a highly aerodynamic frame (like the S5) will be drowned out by noise when riding on the streets. (Nor do we know whether aero advantages are relevant to the OP; all we know so far is he wants to beat his Strava times.)


    If you were to aero up all that crap dude up there listed, that still wouldn't add any aero benefits to the frame so forget that noise.
    Why? Is there something special and magical about a frame?

    Aero wheels, aero helmet, skinsuit, shoe covers -- it all does the same thing, namely reduce drag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by c_mack9 View Post
    Wow so much wrong information in this thread. First off the Foil is not really an aero road frame. It's a standard road frame with a few little aero benefits added to it, much like all these other new "aero" frames like the Madone. I love the Foil and I considered one myself, they're light, stiff and fast, but compared to a true aero road frame such as a Felt AR or Cervelo S5 (I say that because these 2 are monsters in the wind tunnel) it may as well be a round tube steel bike. Second, where on earth did the myth of aero bikes being uncomfortable come from? Read any review on the Felt AR series bikes and everyone raves about how comfortable it is. I rode one for 2 years and I agree with them. I rode MANY long rides and 2 centuries on mine and comfort was always outstanding. If you like the idea, looks, and benefits from the aero road bikes and would like to get one go for it. Just make sure you get it properly fitted and it will be just as comfortable as any other bike. When I decided to buy my AR5 I was like you, I mostly rode solo, considered triathlons in my future, and was more concerned about carrying a higher average speed over the distance of the ride. That bike was excellent for that. What it wasn't good at was quick stabs at accelerations, and being super lightweight. You can shave all you want, sit on the tops all you want, wear a regular kit all you want, and you will still get the aero benefits from the FRAME. If you were to aero up all that crap dude up there listed, that still wouldn't add any aero benefits to the frame so forget that noise.
    All you say is true, and much of it is to the point. The problem is what is the use of having an aero frame if you squander the gained time to drag from other sources. No, employing a wide variety of aero techniques won't make the frame better, but it will complement it. If you are gong to throw away the time you could save due to aero by wearing an open jacket flapping in the wind, IMO having the aero bike is foolish. If aero bikes were so comfortable and light and just as good to ride as non-aero under all conditions, why wouldn't all frames be aero. After all it is just design characteristics that are difference, not construction material or methods. Since the aero bike isn't so perfect for general riding, it stands to reason one should avoid it unless one expects to need and use to the fullest extent all of its benefits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Sure, but again: The advantages of a highly aerodynamic frame (like the S5) will be drowned out by noise when riding on the streets. (Nor do we know whether aero advantages are relevant to the OP; all we know so far is he wants to beat his Strava times.)
    I don't really ride on the streets. Well, I do just to get to the long roads where I can go for miles without encountering any traffic lights.

    One reason why I am considering aero is that I mostly ride alone, so I can't really get behind someone to reduce drag.

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    Are they both from the same shop? If so ride both and take home the one which put the biggest smile on ya face :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I'd guess it's from the Cervelo S1. And the S5. And the Venge. And the FOIL. I'm sure I could find other reviews that characterize most aero bikes as "harsh."
    Unless you have had a chance to actually ride one of these bikes, perhaps you should suspend your judgement about harshness. I cannot speak to the S1, the Venge or the Foil, but the S5 is not a harsh ride at all. I had concerns about the fact that it only takes 23mm tires (25 will not fit), but after about a month and a half of riding, I have no comfort complaints at all. It is not as compliant as the R3, but then again I am not taking my S5 on Paris-Roubaix type rides. On tarmac, even with rough sections, the S5 is perfectly comfortable - perhaps surprisingly comfortable.

    From my POV, aero road bikes are slightly more heavy, perhaps a bit more stiff (vs compliant) than an endurance bike that is more comfort oriented, and a bit more expensive (when one buys a bike one pays for R and D as well as materials, wind tunnel time costs money). All of these differences are pretty modest, so at the end of the day, I would go for the one that puts the biggest smile on your face during a test ride.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by petermk View Post
    I don't really ride on the streets. Well, I do just to get to the long roads where I can go for miles without encountering any traffic lights.

    One reason why I am considering aero is that I mostly ride alone, so I can't really get behind someone to reduce drag.
    Do you have any possibility to try a Foil? I have a Foil and was recommended the S5, just talking faster bike. I think that if aero is really what it is you wonder about, why not check out a full aero instead of Foil or Venge? I will not ride Foil anymore myself. I did a long check up regarding frames and i do believe S5 is a good aero bike. But for me, i notice that if comfort is not good, it is more tough to ride for hours and hours. The small issues i had, grew larger as i did get more and more time in the saddle. I know a few using both S5 and R5 and they swear the S5 is the faster, but the R5 is more rider friendly. I have decided to go for a round tubed hybrid material bike. Titanium and carbon (Paduano racing Gladio). I have no clue or fact based answer, if this will make me slower or if i can keep my pace. I can tell you from the start i was dead-on that aero was the only bikes i was thinking of. But now i am in the belief that if i get best possible fit and comfort, i can push myself harder and feel better at the same time. Posture, technique, training etc is probably more important than blind belief of aero benefits.
    Last edited by Avispa; 08-25-13 at 03:54 AM.

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    I had a R3 and now have a S5 they both ride nice (great).

    The S5 is notability faster on one group ride I walkaway from the pack on the end of ride free for all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by petermk View Post
    I don't really ride on the streets....
    9W it is, then.

    Allow me to rephrase: If you like the ride feel, and cost is not an issue, then there is no downside to an aero frame. Just don't be surprised if the results are hard to detect in Strava.

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    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
    Seems to me one should acquire an aero bike after all the personal aero improvements have been made. What is the point of an aero frame if you are sitting up with your hands on the tops most of the time instead of riding aero bars in full stretched out position, or if you don't shave your legs, or if you wear a regular not special aero helmet, or if you just wear a regular clothing kit instead of a super slick Olympic style full length tights and jersey. See my point? The compromises in comfort of a aero bike don't make much sense if you are not 100% dedicated to aero riding. Not to me anyway.
    I agree with this. Although I think that aerodynamics are the next big focus in cycling, the average weekend warrior likely won't see much benefit.
    I read someplace that the bicycle itself accounts for 20% of aero drag...other 80% being the rider. Translation? Rider position is key on the bike if you want to optimize speed. TT bikes teach us this...or riding with aerobars on a regular road bike is probably a better example of how important getting the chest cavity out of the wind is which is basically a sail. So I would say the 1 percent improvement of changing frameset tube shapes is almost meaningless to the average cyclist as the speeds we ride which is mostly below 25mph.

    PS: Cervelo has taken the new R5 on an aero path and looks to be maybe a great compromise for an overall race bike without the hard edge of the the S5.
    I also love the minimalist look of the new R5..but believe the frameset alone will be $5K so not for those of modest means.
    Last edited by Campag4life; 08-25-13 at 06:18 AM.

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    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
    I agree with this. Although I think that aerodynamics are the next big focus in cycling, the average weekend warrior likely won't see much benefit.
    I read someplace that the bicycle itself accounts for 20% of aero drag...other 80% being the rider. Translation? Rider position is key on the bike if you want to optimize speed. TT bikes teach us this...or riding with aerobars on a regular road bike is probably a better example of how important getting the chest cavity out of the wind is which is basically a sail. So I would say the 1 percent improvement of changing frameset tube shapes is almost meaningless to the average cyclist as the speeds we ride which is mostly below 25mph.

    PS: Cervelo has taken the new R5 on an aero path and looks to be maybe a great compromise for an overall race bike without the hard edge of the the S5.
    I also love the minimalist look of the new R5..but believe the frameset alone will be $5K so not for those of modest means.
    Its the new R5 for 2014. It might cost twice as much as a Scott Foil. If you go to Las Vegas Interbike, it (R5) would most likely be there.

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    The comments that its not worth getting an aero bike unless you are going to wear a funny hat and a skin suit on every ride are nonsense. If you want all out speed you would be looking at a TT bike. Nothing wrong with getting a road bike with a few more aero features to it, but they are still rather far from full blown TT bike and an aero frame saves a couple of watts all the time whether you hammer at 30mpg or sit upright and cruise at 10mph.

    The more you ride, the more you will find that all of the things discussed here are blown way out of proportion. The Foil is more aero and will be a bit quicker but you will likely feel next to zero difference out on the road, you will see a bit of difference in your overall ride time. Don't get me wrong, bikes have different feels and different attributes, but for the vast majority, the differences are subtle. Reading reports online though makes it seem like you are going to be blown away with the differences.

    The point here is: just buy the bike you like the most. I am a firm believer that the fastest bike for any amateur rider is the bike they are the most in love with and the one that when they see leaning against the wall makes them want to get out and go ride. Miles in the legs will make you XXX times faster than any marketing hype ever will. Ride a bike you are in love with, period.

  23. #23
    Senior Member c_mack9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Yeah, it is. Velonews had it only 43 grams of drag behind the Cervelo S5. (IIRC the S5 is around 200g of drag saved vs round-tube bikes.)



    I'd guess it's from the Cervelo S1. And the S5. And the Venge. And the FOIL. I'm sure I could find other reviews that characterize most aero bikes as "harsh."


    Find any racing bike that isn't considered "harsh." If OP needed a Roubiax he would have been asking abou endurance luxury cruiser bikes. Stiffness and efficiency is often slightly sacrificed for comfort. If not we would all be on aero shaped incredibly stiff soft riding roubiaxs.

    Sure, but again: The advantages of a highly aerodynamic frame (like the S5) will be drowned out by noise when riding on the streets. (Nor do we know whether aero advantages are relevant to the OP; all we know so far is he wants to beat his Strava times.)

    Agreed.


    Why? Is there something special and magical about a frame?

    Aero wheels, aero helmet, skinsuit, shoe covers -- it all does the same thing, namely reduce drag.
    Yes there is. None of the thngs you listed make the frame more aerodynamic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    9W it is, then.

    Allow me to rephrase: If you like the ride feel, and cost is not an issue, then there is no downside to an aero frame. Just don't be surprised if the results are hard to detect in Strava.
    Agreed.
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    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TDRILL View Post
    The comments that its not worth getting an aero bike unless you are going to wear a funny hat and a skin suit on every ride are nonsense. If you want all out speed you would be looking at a TT bike. Nothing wrong with getting a road bike with a few more aero features to it, but they are still rather far from full blown TT bike and an aero frame saves a couple of watts all the time whether you hammer at 30mpg or sit upright and cruise at 10mph.

    The more you ride, the more you will find that all of the things discussed here are blown way out of proportion. The Foil is more aero and will be a bit quicker but you will likely feel next to zero difference out on the road, you will see a bit of difference in your overall ride time. Don't get me wrong, bikes have different feels and different attributes, but for the vast majority, the differences are subtle. Reading reports online though makes it seem like you are going to be blown away with the differences.

    The point here is: just buy the bike you like the most. I am a firm believer that the fastest bike for any amateur rider is the bike they are the most in love with and the one that when they see leaning against the wall makes them want to get out and go ride. Miles in the legs will make you XXX times faster than any marketing hype ever will. Ride a bike you are in love with, period.
    Actually you counterdict yourself with your last comment. Ever ride a S5? Its STIFF. Venge? Slighty more forgiving but still STIFF. Why are there so many Venges on ebay? Because they ride like a cattle truck and most don't want to live with them day in an day out for 6W save over speeds of 25mph where most don't ride that don't ride bikes for living. There are tradeoffs with aero bikes as Robert pointed out. Drag really doesn't start to matter much above 20mph and its most dominated by riding position and not frame shape. As Roberts stated there is a reason why ALL frames aren't made with aero intent. Same applies to road wheels for example...Deep V wheels are radially STIFF. So you can spend a whole lot more for an uber stiff bike will questionable return...and most of that return will be a bone jarring ride.
    PS: I would say 95% on this forum don't know why an aero frame is vertically less compliant or weighs more than a comparable non aero racing frame e.g. Venge versus Tarmac.
    Last edited by Campag4life; 08-25-13 at 07:07 AM.

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    Too many factors not given to really render a good opinion and/or suggestion.
    Why do you want or think you need an aero or non aero frame?
    What benefits do you hope to reap with such a frame?
    What are your average speeds for these rides...especially rides that are started to achieve the fastest time, etc.
    Do you have the kit that is also aero?
    Is your position on the bike optimal for the benefits of an aero frame?
    Is your fitness level up to the benefits of an aero frame?

    If you're going to use it as a standard road riding bike you are never going to achieve the benefits of such a frame but you will have a nice frame...not a problem there if you want a nice frame that is aero.
    Improving aerodynamics is not achieved just by using a more aero frame. There is much more involved.
    If you just want an aero frame for its' own sake then buy the one that you think is the best of the bunch and enjoy it for what it is.

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