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-   -   The Etiquette of Drafting (https://www.bikeforums.net/general-cycling-discussion/1243149-etiquette-drafting.html)

Koyote 12-03-21 08:02 AM


Originally Posted by 10 Wheels (Post 22327306)
The Front Rider gains 1 or 2 Mph when another tags on behind.
Enjoy The Boost


Originally Posted by GhostRider62 (Post 22327462)
3-4% less drag for the lead rider in a tight paceline depending which study you want to believe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PevpVXelq8A

https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...67610518306755

The video is not a "study", and I'm not sure why the second "rider" is standing up with a kids' bike between his legs; so I wouldn't take it seriously.

The cited article (and some cited pieces in its lit review) does suggest a <3% drag reduction for the leading rider in a two-person paceline, under very ideal conditions. (i.e., a drafting distance of a few inches.) I didn't see any numbers as high as 4%.

And at any rate, neither of these sources supports the conclusion of a 1-2 mph increase for a leading rider in a two-person paceline. Drag and speed are two different things, and we'd need someone who remembers more about their college physics to sort that out.

10 Wheels 12-03-21 08:10 AM


Originally Posted by Koyote (Post 22327494)
The video is not a "study", and I'm not sure why the second "rider" is standing up with a kids' bike between his legs; so I wouldn't take it seriously.

The cited article (and some cited pieces in its lit review) does suggest a <3% drag reduction for the leading rider in a two-person paceline, under very ideal conditions. (i.e., a drafting distance of a few inches.) I didn't see any numbers as high as 4%.

And at any rate, neither of these sources supports the conclusion of a 1-2 mph increase for a leading rider in a two-person paceline. Drag and speed are two different things, and we'd need someone who remembers more about their college physics to sort that out.

I need No Study. I was There many Times.

JohnDThompson 12-03-21 08:21 AM


Originally Posted by 10 Wheels (Post 22327306)
The Front Rider gains 1 or 2 Mph when another tags on behind.

Only if both riders share the work. Otherwise, no benefit, but no loss either; just a feeling of being exploited.

BobbyG 12-03-21 08:39 AM


Originally Posted by Cramic (Post 22327286)
...I had a feeling he attached himself to my wheel and when I came to turn off a few kilometres later it was confirmed.

I realize some cyclists tend to focus on their riding and tune out their surroundings; but as a long-time bike commuter whose glasses-mounted mirror provides a constant view of what's behind me, your not being aware of another "vehicle" so close behind me for "a few kilometers" gave me the heebie-jeebies.

I realize you were riding on a path and not in traffic, but my overly-neurotic need for constant situational awareness can't get past this.

On the other hand, American Negro League baseball legend Satchel Paige was famous for his motto, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

Paige is a legend...I am not...so there you go.

wolfchild 12-03-21 09:18 AM

Drafting is dumb. Just don`t do it.

Iride01 12-03-21 09:26 AM

I don't think there is any one accepted or correct etiquette. As you can see the opinions are very far apart.

As for me, I don't mind if someone attaches themselves to my wheel. I'd most certainly prefer that they tell me they are there and not sneak back up on me. However it can offer a chance for conversation and meeting someone that I wouldn't have met otherwise.

So it largely depends on the situation and the people you encounter on any particular day.

Cramic 12-03-21 09:26 AM


Originally Posted by BobbyG (Post 22327531)
I realize some cyclists tend to focus on their riding and tune out their surroundings; but as a long-time bike commuter whose glasses-mounted mirror provides a constant view of what's behind me, your not being aware of another "vehicle" so close behind me for "a few kilometers" gave me the heebie-jeebies.

I realize you were riding on a path and not in traffic, but my overly-neurotic need for constant situational awareness can't get past this.

On the other hand, American Negro League baseball legend Satchel Paige was famous for his motto, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

Paige is a legend...I am not...so there you go.

Fair enough! I presumed he was there. It doesn’t seem too unusual here in Perth to draft, so was expecting it, and could hear something “different” when we went past concrete walls.

It didn’t much alter how I rode/would ride.

Hiro11 12-03-21 09:28 AM

A twist on this: ebikes.

I live in an area with a huge, well developed network of crushed limestone rail trail paths. On warmer days, these paths are teeming with cyclists and runners. I typically ride at a significantly faster pace than most cyclists on these paths.

Recently, I've noticed a huge increase in the prevalence of ebikes. Most commonly these are not the super-expensive Specialized Creo-type ebikes, these are Chinese/Amazon specials with throttles, apparently unregulated speed and lots of power. These cyclists are clearly not very experienced and often going far faster than they would otherwise be going on a regular bike. Several times this summer I had ebike riders latch on to my wheel at fairly high speeds or otherwise ride dangerously on these narrow paths.

Example 1: I had one kid in basketball shorts, no helmet and riding an efatbike ride my wheel for a couple of miles at 22ish mph, running up on my wheel closely when I slowed to negotiate a corner or pass people. I stopped and told him to cut it out.

Example 2: about a month ago, a guy on an ebike with large motorcycle-style bar mirrors was in front of me on the trail. I was catching up to him riding about 18 mph and I saw him notice me in his mirrors when I was probably 200-300 yards behind him. He accelerated away at probably 23 mph in an effort to prevent me from passing. In doing so, he completely missed a sharp turn in the path, went into to trees on the side of the path and crashed. I turned off that trail before I caught up to him.

eBike riders of the world: don't do this.

msu2001la 12-03-21 09:35 AM

I'm always intrigued by the variety of responses to this topic whenever it comes up on BF.
I never hop on someone else's wheel unless there's a clear invite to do so. Conversely, it rarely bothers me when someone hops on my wheel without a clear invitation to do so.

Situations where I would be bothered by this:
  • I really just want to be alone - seeking solitude. - no problem, I'll just slow down and signal for them to pass and let 'em go - or if I'm feeling spicy I'll see if I can drop them.
  • The other rider is doing something annoying, or dangerous. Examples would be: playing music from a bluetooth speaker, or doing a lot of talking, or doing dumb stuff at stoplights, etc. I have no problem just telling these people I'm on a solo ride and to give me space.
  • Obviously inexperienced and/or riding beyond their comfort level just to try to "keep up" or "race" - I usually just tell these people to knock it off and/or slow way down to force a pass. If I'm feeling spicy I'll bring the watts on a re-pass.
  • Situations where group riding/drafting are inappropriate - a busy MUP, an urban street bike lane, etc. I usually just slow and force a pass in these situations.
As a habit, if a rider catches me from a distance, I'll slow down a little as they approach so they can pass quickly and move up the road. Conversely, if I catch another rider, I'll accelerate a bit as I pass (and for a minute or two after) to create a gap. In either case, if the other rider wants to ride on my wheel it's almost always fine with me. They would need to adjust their speed intentionally to make this happen, and usually there would be some kind of wave or "hello" or whatever and I'll start signaling road hazards, etc.
​​​

Broctoon 12-03-21 09:38 AM


Originally Posted by 10 Wheels (Post 22327306)
The Front Rider gains 1 or 2 Mph when another tags on behind.

The chart I've seen shows about 10.9 Watts, or 4.4% boost if your trailer is right on your wheel and you're doing 45 kph. It drops off rapidly as drafting distance increases, and certainly would be much lower at the speeds that most of us can sustain.

GhostRider62 12-03-21 09:44 AM


Originally Posted by Koyote (Post 22327494)
The video is not a "study", and I'm not sure why the second "rider" is standing up with a kids' bike between his legs; so I wouldn't take it seriously.

The cited article (and some cited pieces in its lit review) does suggest a <3% drag reduction for the leading rider in a two-person paceline, under very ideal conditions. (i.e., a drafting distance of a few inches.) I didn't see any numbers as high as 4%.

And at any rate, neither of these sources supports the conclusion of a 1-2 mph increase for a leading rider in a two-person paceline. Drag and speed are two different things, and we'd need someone who remembers more about their college physics to sort that out.

Chester Kyle and Edmund Burke did the original studies for the 1985 Olympics. They were more favorable. I do not have that reference anymore.

You are correct. I could have done the math in foggy old head. The speed effect is exaggerated. Certainly under 1/2 mph or more like a 1/4 mph depending on speed. I tend to like wheelsucking in position 3 or 4, little experience at the pointy end. LOL

msu2001la 12-03-21 09:57 AM


Originally Posted by Hiro11 (Post 22327580)
A twist on this: ebikes.

I live in an area with a huge, well developed network of crushed limestone rail trail paths. On warmer days, these paths are teeming with cyclists and runners. I typically ride at a significantly faster pace than most cyclists on these paths.

Recently, I've noticed a huge increase in the prevalence of ebikes. Most commonly these are not the super-expensive Specialized Creo-type ebikes, these are Chinese/Amazon specials with throttles, apparently unregulated speed and lots of power. These cyclists are clearly not very experienced and often going far faster than they would otherwise be going on a regular bike. Several times this summer I had ebike riders latch on to my wheel at fairly high speeds or otherwise ride dangerously on these narrow paths.

Example 1: I had one kid in basketball shorts, no helmet and riding an efatbike ride my wheel for a couple of miles at 22ish mph, running up on my wheel closely when I slowed to negotiate a corner or pass people. I stopped and told him to cut it out.

Example 2: about a month ago, a guy on an ebike with large motorcycle-style bar mirrors was in front of me on the trail. I was catching up to him riding about 18 mph and I saw him notice me in his mirrors when I was probably 200-300 yards behind him. He accelerated away at probably 23 mph in an effort to prevent me from passing. In doing so, he completely missed a sharp turn in the path, went into to trees on the side of the path and crashed. I turned off that trail before I caught up to him.

eBike riders of the world: don't do this.

Examples of things I would never do, regardless of eBikes:
  • Ride at 22mph on a narrow and busy limestone path teeming with runners and slower cyclists - especially true if someone was trying to draft me.
  • Witness someone crashing into trees at 23mph and then just turning off the trail without going to check on them.

Koyote 12-03-21 10:12 AM


Originally Posted by Broctoon (Post 22327595)
The chart I've seen shows about 10.9 Watts, or 4.4% boost if your trailer is right on your wheel and you're doing 45 kph. It drops off rapidly as drafting distance increases, and certainly would be much lower at the speeds that most of us can sustain.

So, 28mph with the drafting rider a couple inches off the leading rider's wheel...As you suggest, not very realistic for most of us. At any rate, I plugged some numbers into an online calculator, and it looks like that would get you about .36 mph in extra speed at 28mph. If we're talking about some numbers that are realistic outside of the pro tour, the gains would be much smaller.


Originally Posted by GhostRider62 (Post 22327600)
You are correct. I could have done the math in foggy old head. The speed effect is exaggerated. Certainly under 1/2 mph or more like a 1/4 mph depending on speed. I tend to like wheelsucking in position 3 or 4, little experience at the pointy end. LOL

Seems about right.

10 Wheels is relying on his perception and memory - the worst sort of anecdotal conclusion, which is why it is so faulty. He might be riding faster when someone drafts, but it's not because of physics.

63rickert 12-03-21 10:26 AM

You do not own the road.

You do not own the road behind your bicycle.

You do not own the air behind your bicycle.

You do not control everything around you.

Problems arise when one or both parties involved are klutzes. There is no shortage of those. That the rider in front might just do something real dumb is an excellent reason for the rider behind to not draft closely. Somehow all the fear comes from the riders in front. What do they imagine happening? I ride in places where there are lots of bikes. I have been hit from the rear a few times and have been sideswiped or side slammed too many times. Not dead yet.

On a simple contact from the rear if anything at all happens the rider in back gets the worst of it. The contact messes up their steering. The back wheel that gets hit is planted solid. If you have decided in advance that any noticeable contact is reason to panic probably you will.

Why would anyone ever ride as if no if no one is drafting? You do not know what is behind you. If you have a mirror you still have blind spots. If you turn and look every few seconds you still don't know. There could be an ebike back there that just caught you. Or an e-skateboard. A dog off the leash. You saw the car back there. Is the driver texting? Drinking? Snorting coke? Having a medical emergency? You just don’t know. In every case you will be safer if you ride a straight line and behave in a predictable manner. You are after all on a public roadway and should behave predictably.

Someone upthread wants 20 feet of personal space. Getting closer than that amounts to drafting. How would that wish be honored? Do you expect passing riders will cross all the way over to the opposite curb? Are passing riders to go in front of oncoming traffic because that will make you feel better?

What is is it that everyone is so afraid of? Why should everyone else on the road share in your fear? If you are terrified of everything every time you venture out on the public roads maybe you should buy and own your own road.

10 Wheels 12-03-21 10:32 AM


Originally Posted by Koyote (Post 22327630)
So, 28mph with the drafting rider a couple inches off the leading rider's wheel...As you suggest, not very realistic for most of us. At any rate, I plugged some numbers into an online calculator, and it looks like that would get you about .36 mph in extra speed at 28mph. If we're talking about some numbers that are realistic outside of the pro tour, the gains would be much smaller.



Seems about right.

10 Wheels is relying on his perception and memory - the worst sort of anecdotal conclusion, which is why it is so faulty. He might be riding faster when someone drafts, but it's not because of physics.

NOT True.

livedarklions 12-03-21 10:53 AM


Originally Posted by 63rickert (Post 22327647)
You just don’t know. In every case you will be safer if you ride a straight line and behave in a predictable manner. You are after all on a public roadway and should behave predictably.


If someone pops out of the side of the road/path without warning directly ahead of me, I will have to slam on the brakes or veer in order to avoid colliding with them. If there is an unexpected pothole/obstacle/critter/whatever that I can't see until I'm very close directly in my path, going in a straight line is not a good idea. 20 foot spacing may be absurd, but basic rules of any vehicular traffic require following vehicles to maintain a reasonably safe distance behind the vehicle in the lead. You do not have a right to wheel suck, especially if you haven't notified the person and/or they've told you to knock it off.

Frankly, in just about any other context, following someone this closely would be considered negligent at best and possibly (criminally) threatening behavior. Just because you're on a bicycle doesn't make you immune from basic legal norms.

There's a very logical reason I fear being struck from behind--I don't have eyes in the back of my head, and my ability to know what's going on back there is less even if I have mirrors. It's why in car crashes, if you rear end someone, you're presumptively at fault.

livedarklions 12-03-21 11:00 AM


Originally Posted by Iride01 (Post 22327576)
I don't think there is any one accepted or correct etiquette. As you can see the opinions are very far apart.

As for me, I don't mind if someone attaches themselves to my wheel. I'd most certainly prefer that they tell me they are there and not sneak back up on me. However it can offer a chance for conversation and meeting someone that I wouldn't have met otherwise.

So it largely depends on the situation and the people you encounter on any particular day.

TBH, I'm shocked that there would be any difference of opinion on whether you need to tell a person you're going to draft on them. What possible justification could there be for not announcing this? Keeping silent endangers the both of you.

79pmooney 12-03-21 11:01 AM


Originally Posted by rsbob (Post 22327339)
Now there are bicycle laws? Did I fall into an alternate reality?

Bicycles in Oregon fall under motor vehicle law when operated on the road except where specifically noted. I believe that is true of the other states I've lived in,

GhostRider62 12-03-21 11:04 AM


Originally Posted by 63rickert (Post 22327647)
You do not own the road.

You do not own the road behind your bicycle.

You do not own the air behind your bicycle.

You do not control everything around you.

Problems arise when one or both parties involved are klutzes. There is no shortage of those. That the rider in front might just do something real dumb is an excellent reason for the rider behind to not draft closely. Somehow all the fear comes from the riders in front. What do they imagine happening? I ride in places where there are lots of bikes. I have been hit from the rear a few times and have been sideswiped or side slammed too many times. Not dead yet.

On a simple contact from the rear if anything at all happens the rider in back gets the worst of it. The contact messes up their steering. The back wheel that gets hit is planted solid. If you have decided in advance that any noticeable contact is reason to panic probably you will.

Why would anyone ever ride as if no if no one is drafting? You do not know what is behind you. If you have a mirror you still have blind spots. If you turn and look every few seconds you still don't know. There could be an ebike back there that just caught you. Or an e-skateboard. A dog off the leash. You saw the car back there. Is the driver texting? Drinking? Snorting coke? Having a medical emergency? You just don’t know. In every case you will be safer if you ride a straight line and behave in a predictable manner. You are after all on a public roadway and should behave predictably.

Someone upthread wants 20 feet of personal space. Getting closer than that amounts to drafting. How would that wish be honored? Do you expect passing riders will cross all the way over to the opposite curb? Are passing riders to go in front of oncoming traffic because that will make you feel better?

What is is it that everyone is so afraid of? Why should everyone else on the road share in your fear? If you are terrified of everything every time you venture out on the public roads maybe you should buy and own your own road.

1. Untrue. I can see completely behind me with my helmet mirror and if I wish to rely upon my Varia, I have that too. I cannot remember the last time I was surprised by someone or something sneaking up behind me.

2. Broken bones, road rash, etc..

There is no legal right to tailgate another vehicle. A trailing vehicle causing the vehicle ahead to crash is de facto negligent where I live. I had crash recently at a terrifying speed of 15.4 mph. The medical bills are almost $150,000 thus far. How would you feel owning that piece of road? Nobody is talking about riding 20 feet behind or passing. The question at hand is how to deal with some random wheelsucker attached to your rear wheel for mile upon mile upon mile. Yes, the trailing bicycle is more likely to crash but that is not a given.

Iride01 12-03-21 11:33 AM


The question at hand is how to deal with some random wheelsucker attached to your rear wheel for mile upon mile upon mile. Yes, the trailing bicycle is more likely to crash but that is not a given.
And the question in that comment brings up how close do you have to be to be a wheel sucker? Some seem to think someone two or three, maybe even 10 bike lengths back is a wheel sucker.

As for avoidance and safety, from riding with my son and others, I can say that even when they are in front and have to slow down suddenly that even when I'm less than half a wheel from their wheel, I can easily adjust for such. And even if I do touch wheels, then its worse for the wheel sucker than it is for the person in front. The person if front will probably continue with little bother. It's the one trailing that risks a bad crash.

livedarklions 12-03-21 11:37 AM


Originally Posted by GhostRider62 (Post 22327681)
1. Untrue. I can see completely behind me with my helmet mirror and if I wish to rely upon my Varia, I have that too. I cannot remember the last time I was surprised by someone or something sneaking up behind me.

2. Broken bones, road rash, etc..

There is no legal right to tailgate another vehicle. A trailing vehicle causing the vehicle ahead to crash is de facto negligent where I live. I had crash recently at a terrifying speed of 15.4 mph. The medical bills are almost $150,000 thus far. How would you feel owning that piece of road? Nobody is talking about riding 20 feet behind or passing. The question at hand is how to deal with some random wheelsucker attached to your rear wheel for mile upon mile upon mile. Yes, the trailing bicycle is more likely to crash but that is not a given.


And what kind of reasoning is "their unsafe behavior is going to hurt them worse than you so don't worry about it" anyway?79pmooney really did a clumsy job of burden shifting here. As far as I'm aware, all vehicle codes, etc. are premised on the basis that the operator's primary attention should be focused on the road and vehicles ahead of him, and that it's the trailing operator's responsibility to maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of them. This notion that I just assume the risk that someone will violate that every time I go out on a road and should therefore, I guess, just lump it is crazy. And if they do hit me or pretty much anybody from behind, they can expect to be sued successfully.

WhyFi 12-03-21 11:40 AM


Originally Posted by 10 Wheels (Post 22327654)
NOT True.

You've got all of the data to back this up? Speed, power, conditions, etc?

indyfabz 12-03-21 11:59 AM


Originally Posted by Iride01 (Post 22327705)
And the question in that comment brings up how close do you have to be to be a wheel sucker? Some seem to think someone two or three, maybe even 10 bike lengths back is a wheel sucker.

This guy was determined to not let me draft him even though I never had any intention of doing so. I was catching up with him while riding a moderate pace a couple of days before a century. When he detected my presence he started turning up the pace. I matched every acceleration but kept my distance and stayed a bit to the left of him. (That section of train was empty except for us.), He kept turning up the pace trying to shake me, but it never happened. Finally had to turn back for home.

Fred Tried to Shake Me on the MUP - Bike Forums

Reflector Guy 12-03-21 12:01 PM


Originally Posted by 63rickert (Post 22327647)
You do not own the road.

You do not own the road behind your bicycle.

You do not own the air behind your bicycle.

You do not control everything around you.

Does the same apply when we're driving cars? I sometimes might want to tailgate the guy in front of me.... After all, he doesn't own the road behind him. Probably would save me a couple miles per gallon.

Maelochs 12-03-21 12:03 PM


Originally Posted by 63rickert (Post 22327647)
On a simple contact from the rear if anything at all happens the rider in back gets the worst of it. The contact messes up their steering. The back wheel that gets hit is planted solid. If you have decided in advance that any noticeable contact is reason to panic probably you will. <edit> What is is it that everyone is so afraid of? Why should everyone else on the road share in your fear? If you are terrified of everything every time you venture out on the public roads maybe you should buy and own your own road.

Okay, this is stupid. Sorry , but it just is.

You are claiming that if someone rams me from behind I will not crash but the other person will? Cool .... . go out and test that at speed and show me the videos once you heal.

Fact is, getting his from behind by a person traveling faster than you is NOT safe .... and if you cannot see this, we live in different physical realities. Bicycles are always balancing (the wheel in not "planted") and any input from behind is almost certainly going to cause some lateral deflection .... even if it is tire-to-tire impact, and in fact, more often the back bike hits slightly off-center.

Look at any of the endless crashed which take place in pro cycling---funny, in the case where a rider moving faster hits a rider who slowed in front, usually there is extreme carnage, as there is in almost every bicycle crash .... maybe if you don't ride over three mph you are fine, but even I go faster than that.

If the person up front doesn't know you are there, that person is not afraid .... and if you hit that person and that person goes down .... what was it? panic from a different ride delivered through a time warp? WTF?

You are saying, "Russian Roulette is exceedingly safe----it is your own panic which is the problem. I know, I just played five times." I advise you to keep playing.

Sorry to have to enter on a negative note but the idea that getting rammed by another cyclist is perfectly safe if you are hit from behind, and only fear causes the problems .... that is absurd even for BF.


The answer is simple: ANNOUNCE.

I don't care if you are selfish, simple, socially awkward, whatever. if you are going to pull up close to another cyclist announce your presence. That way the other cyclist can make a choice. Otherwise, if said cyclist sits up to take a drink, eat some food, catch a breath or just take a rest ….. you don’t become a projectile.



If this doesn’t make sense to some folks ….. well, I am not much surprised.

Post script----your series of two dozen high-speed bike crashes will undoubtedly make you a YouTube star and maybe get you your own TV show---so set up that camera and start filming. You have nothing to fear---go do it.


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