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  1. #1
    Senior Member sherbornpeddler's Avatar
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    aerodynamic touring bags

    Did I miss this in search? Are there bags made specifically to reduce aerodynamic drag? How about a large round front bag? My recumbent has a huge windshield but I don't have anything on my diamond frame touring bike. Riding a centruy I average 17+ mph and wind is a factor. Touring I am down at 14 or 15mph and wonder the trade-off on added windshield versus weight.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

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    There are bags called Tailwind, that are still made, and apparently sold by/for recumbent users. They were originally developed, as far as I can tell, for diamond frames. At the time, the Kool-aid hot set-up like todays, LHT, Tubus, and Otlieb, etc... was a bike with a Zzipper fairings, Tailwind bags front and back on Blackburn racks, maybe a Canondale touring bike. Made the review column of Outside when it was a more serious kind of rag. It was said at the time that the aero was better than a bike without fairing and bags, though some scoffed. I still think they are a pretty cool rig. They are pretty smooth, rounded to the front and flat to the rear.

    At the time gear was simpler and a real effort was made to keep it light. Low windage bags were simple in shape, but what came to dominate where a lot of pockets, and straps, and doo dahs.

    Where this probably needs to go is monolythic hard shell cases. Aero, integral rack, and waterproof. While something like this has been tried, I have yet to see anything grab much of the market.

    http://www.angletechcycles.com/accessories/techwind.htm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7289267...72890/sizes/o/

    There actually have been a few threads here about making aero panniers. Making your own Otliebs, or super pocket tech bags is tough, but making one's own aero ones would seem doable.
    Last edited by NoReg; 06-26-09 at 11:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sherbornpeddler View Post
    Did I miss this in search? Are there bags made specifically to reduce aerodynamic drag? How about a large round front bag? My recumbent has a huge windshield but I don't have anything on my diamond frame touring bike. Riding a centruy I average 17+ mph and wind is a factor. Touring I am down at 14 or 15mph and wonder the trade-off on added windshield versus weight.
    A large saddlebag (ie, Carradice Nelson Longflap or Camper Longflap) sits mostly behind the thighs while pedaling. I have no idea how to measure drag, but I would think because a Carradice saddle bag sits behind the thighs, it would create less drag than a similar sized pannier (which, at best, is only partially shielded from wind by the calf muscle).
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    Small low riders on the front reduce the drag on the spokes and legs.

  5. #5
    Senior Member sherbornpeddler's Avatar
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    Great info! BF at it's best. Thank you all.
    Seems like an aero shaped, rigid handlebar bag might smooth air flow around the biggest obstacle, my torso. True, my stomach muscle already has an aero shape.

    I've avoided low, front panniers out of concern for mass degrading steering but it does seem the bike would be better balanced than stuffing more weight in a Nelson. The Nelson approach seems the most aerodynamic of rear bags but may bounce a bit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sherbornpeddler View Post
    Great info! BF at it's best. Thank you all.
    Seems like an aero shaped, rigid handlebar bag might smooth air flow around the biggest obstacle, my torso. True, my stomach muscle already has an aero shape.

    I've avoided low, front panniers out of concern for mass degrading steering but it does seem the bike would be better balanced than stuffing more weight in a Nelson. The Nelson approach seems the most aerodynamic of rear bags but may bounce a bit.

    mass down low on the front doesn't degrade steering, it just makes it slower. In my opinion overloading a bike on the rear degrades steering by making it too light. Rear panniers have that potential. But for fast riding (down hill where the issue is irrelvant to effort) I can feel greater aerodynamic resistance with full lowriders. When Specialized (I think) marketed Tailwind panniers it was popular for a bit but the facts are that once you start putting on a panniers load worth of stuff uphill speed drops off enough to make any increased efficiency at high speeds with aerodynamics kind of moot. In hilly country if a person wants to maintain a high average pace they have to maintain it UPHILL. Down hill is pretty easy.

    As much as I entertain the idea of aero front panniers that are basically 6" diameter dry bags it won't make any difference if I can't maintain 15mph+ speeds. In hilly country that just isn't happening. When I was in my 20's and weighed 145lbs it made more of a difference if my touring gear weighed 15lbs than if it was an aerodynamic configuration,,but conveniently that small of a load can be. Now that I'm 200lbs I can still maintain a decent flat land average, albeit not much above 15 average, but when the hills hit I SLOW DOWN. Some of which is age but most of it is fat.

    Which is why touring isn't about speed, anyone can tour.

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    Unfortunately, I can't remember the name, but there is custom bag manufacturer who makes frame, handlebar and seat bags mainly in the context of off-road mountain bike touring. These would all line up with the bike and the rider and so one might expect less aerodrag than regular panniers. Plus, there might be less weight since there are no racks involved. Space is limited, however.

    Maybe someone will remember the name of the manufacturer. I know he supplied last year's Great Divide Race winner.

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    Senior Member sherbornpeddler's Avatar
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    Ever hear of a long distance tourer using a windshield?
    Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

  9. #9
    40 yrs bike touring
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  10. #10
    40 yrs bike touring
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    <<Ever hear of a long distance tourer using a windshield?>>

    Years ago I tried a ZZipp Fairing on our Santana Tandem. There was a 7 to 10 % speed gain but the reduced airflow for cooling made for overheating of the captain in all but the coolest conditions.

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    >Carousel Design Works http://www.carouseldesignworks.com/index.html

    Also http://www.epicdesignsalaska.com/
    I'm in the process of ordering a frame bag from him. I hadn't really thought about the "aero" aspect - it would only hold enough for pretty lightweight touring anyway.
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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopperja View Post
    A large saddlebag (ie, Carradice Nelson Longflap or Camper Longflap) sits mostly behind the thighs while pedaling. I have no idea how to measure drag, but I would think because a Carradice saddle bag sits behind the thighs, it would create less drag than a similar sized pannier (which, at best, is only partially shielded from wind by the calf muscle).
    For common vehicles, drag is normally measured relative to frontal area, but is not the same as frontal area. So there's really no way to predict exactly what the drag is going to be without testing it.

    For example, using a "tailbox" (I think that's the term) on a recumbent can significantly reduce drag without affecting frontal area. Similarly with the time-trial helmets.
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    OK, what about a lightweight waterproof semi-rigid plastic cover that would be made to wrap around both front panniers?

    front pannier baffle.jpg

  14. #14
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Speed for the average touring cyclist makes this pointless for the most part. Now if you could average 20 instead of 12-14 maybe a little(very little). As speed increases the drag of anything will increase. My point is that at 12-14 your benefit will be hard to even measure unless your riding into a 20 mph headwind. Being in the drops or out of the drops I'm guessing would have more effect of front drag in this case and speed.
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    For touring a baffle would cut a headwind and protect non-waterproof panniers. I already go faster than I should downhill.

    Anybody got a wind tunnel?

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    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    This case http://www.otivia.com/cargocache.html is very aero, it fits well behind the rider and does not increase the frontal area of the bike. It may be possible to mount it on a front rack, providing enough volume for light touring and balancing the load.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arctos View Post
    Yes. That's it. Thanks for jogging the memory.

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    "OK, what about a lightweight waterproof semi-rigid plastic cover"

    Like it, though it might fall prey to the same concern as solid front wheels, unstable in the wind.

    Another thought is fairing wheels, that can reduce drag a lot. I would like to get those covers for at least the rear wheel. Or try the aerospoke carbon wheel.

    I checked with the tailwind guys, and they don't seem to make the front bags any more. The angle on the face of the bag was for heel clearance in the rear. A bag like that on the front is a little odd.

  19. #19
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Not to take this subject in a different direction but.... do you think pulling a Bob trailer would be more aerodynamic than front and rear panniers?? In my mind's eye, it would seem so but would the trailer lose the war of efficiency if the extra friction of another wheel on ground vs. the less air drag.

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    sorry if already mentioned above, but gotta say:

    "Slow down, smell the roses, feel the sun/rain, breath...!" that's what touring is for me.

    do the cranking, road-criterion, racing stuff with your other al/tt/comp bike after!

    (just my thoughts!)

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I'm with kya, unless you're credit card touring there isn't much need to worry about either speed or aerodynamics. It's not like you're going to put a pair of Zipp 404's on your Trek 520.

    I might add that the bags are only part of the equation. Even unloaded, a typical touring bike will be much slower on the flats than a recumbent.

    On a separate note, aerodynamic properties are not as predictable as you might think. I wouldn't buy into most claims about an "aero pannier" unless someone ponied up for a wind tunnel session.

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    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Most panniers look like parachutes to me.

    What's wrong with reducing the penalty?

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  23. #23
    Senior Member sherbornpeddler's Avatar
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    Rose smell isn't much different at 12 mph than 14 and 14 gets me home 6 days earlier. The best explaination I can give you is someone once said, "middle age is when I have a choice between two temptations and I choose the one that gets me home earlier."

    A 64 year old friend wants to ride Mount Ventoux (again) before he is too old. We each like the challenge or we'd wouldn't go. On SP scale I am a 5 on comfort, weight, friction and 3 on time from home. Another friend rates 7 on everything except time where he is crossing the US in 80 days. He has a tent, more clothes, sleeping pad, using camp grounds, an occassional motel and is riding 5 hours a day.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

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    "home is where the heart is" (heard that somewhere...)
    "live for the moment" is another...so be where you are.

    i don't want to get too deep, but touring by bicycle (to me) means slowing down, not 65mph, a step beside...embracing the time i have been given to embrace the time.

    a tour 2010 is shaping up, 3500 miles, 55 days, self contained, x-USA, Southern tier, w/e is coming down. i will be age 50, partner age 79! Time is of the essence, but still secondary to tour!

    this gumgo's for you!!

    if in major hurry, have you also looked into MOTOR-cycling your route?

    tomg

  25. #25
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    OK, what about a lightweight waterproof semi-rigid plastic cover that would be made to wrap around both front panniers?

    front pannier baffle.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    "OK, what about a lightweight waterproof semi-rigid plastic cover"

    Like it, though it might fall prey to the same concern as solid front wheels, unstable in the wind.
    A few years ago I pondered building a teardrop camper to tow with my small car. I was thinking of using canvas or ceconite stretched over a framework to keep the weight down. That dream is not dead! Ceconite is used for aircraft and is tough. My buddy's 1946 Champ relies on fabric & wood wings...similar to this one

    If you're good at fabricating, a painted canvas or ceconite lightweight shell similar to motorcycle lowers could help reduce frontal pannier drag.

    And some of the strongest and lightest sea kayaks made still use the "skin on frame" technique...very strong, durable painted canvas over wood...another old hobby

    However, like others have mentioned, the weight penalty would probably offset the aero benefit...but it sure could look cool

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