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Front Basket/Panniers Aerodynamics

Old 12-27-14, 03:12 PM
  #1  
Aznman
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Front Basket/Panniers Aerodynamics

Some people say that having basket/panniers in the front is usually better aerodynamically speaking than having these containers anywhere in the back.

How true is this position? Are there any experiments with clear results?
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Old 12-27-14, 03:22 PM
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I never thought of panniers as aerodynamic.

FYI: I had mine on the back of the bike when I was a bike commuter.
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Old 12-27-14, 03:32 PM
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I'm pretty cynical about claims like that. I think that it depends on who is selling the basket or panniers.

For recumbent bicycles there are commercially produced tail boxes that are claimed to give an aerodynamic benefit.
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Old 12-27-14, 04:08 PM
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Zzipper fairing , basket of your choice, Behind it . Title..

once the air resistance goes around you the tail shape like a Fish will smooth out turbulence,
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Old 12-27-14, 10:16 PM
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There have been front panniers with a rounded front profile that were claimed to improve aerodynamics. However, in practice, bikes loaded for touring are seldom ridden at speeds where cheating the wind is a big deal
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Old 12-27-14, 10:37 PM
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You have to be riding at least in the 15-20 mph range to get any benefit from an aero advantage.

Can't imagine a front basket being helpful in this regard.
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Old 12-28-14, 06:26 AM
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Maybe the OP is onto something. Don't see many front baskets in the Tour. I'm thinking they'd be a LOT more convenient for the guys who have to drop back to the team car to do bottle runs.
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Old 12-28-14, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Maybe the OP is onto something. Don't see many front baskets in the Tour. I'm thinking they'd be a LOT more convenient for the guys who have to drop back to the team car to do bottle runs.
Any UCI rules around front baskets?
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Old 12-28-14, 02:04 PM
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Always fun to be the first to contribute a substantive response:

From this page: 'BentRider Online» Blog Archive » Angletech Techwind Panniers

Zzipper primarily made fairings. Their first offerings were small polycarbonate units for upright bikes but it wasn’t long before they were making larger versions for recumbents. Brown was obsessed with aerodynamics and after awhile, he turned his focus to panniers. It didn’t take an aerodynamicist with a Ph.D. to figure out that big, bulky, squared off bike panniers probably slow you down a little bit when the wind hits them. Brown rented some time in a wind tunnel and went to work.
The result was the Tailwind pannier system. It was named as such because the company felt like riding with these panniers versus a standard pannier system felt like the difference between riding with a tailwind and a headwind. In fact, some tests showed that riding with the panniers attached was actually faster than riding without any at all. Zzipper’s new panniers showed as much as a 7% increase in speed over a naked bike. They created quite a stir in the early ’80’s. Specialized, a true cycling juggernaut, was helping fund the company (and even produced their own version of the panniers for awhile) and Blackburn redesigned their racks to accommodate the new bags.

Last edited by Trakhak; 12-28-14 at 02:07 PM.
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Old 12-28-14, 02:46 PM
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Perhaps the Turbulence of the top of the wheel spokes rotating Forward was lessened by the Pannier On the Wheel .

Laminar flow is better than turbulent air.



I Own a set of The Racks and Tailwind Bags From Back Then stiffner a Polycarbonate Coroplast, outer face is LDPE
fabric: 1000 denier Cordura..

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-28-14 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 12-28-14, 03:33 PM
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At one time Back Then I used a set of smallish front Tailwind panniers on a lowrider rack for commuting. Those bags were not any special aero shape.
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Old 12-28-14, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
You have to be riding at least in the 15-20 mph range to get any benefit from an aero advantage.

Can't imagine a front basket being helpful in this regard.
Baskets are actually quite aerodynamically efficient... when they're empty.
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Old 12-28-14, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
Always fun to be the first to contribute a substantive response:

From this page: 'BentRider Online» Blog Archive » Angletech Techwind Panniers

Zzipper primarily made fairings. Their first offerings were small polycarbonate units for upright bikes but it wasn’t long before they were making larger versions for recumbents. Brown was obsessed with aerodynamics and after awhile, he turned his focus to panniers. It didn’t take an aerodynamicist with a Ph.D. to figure out that big, bulky, squared off bike panniers probably slow you down a little bit when the wind hits them. Brown rented some time in a wind tunnel and went to work.
The result was the Tailwind pannier system. It was named as such because the company felt like riding with these panniers versus a standard pannier system felt like the difference between riding with a tailwind and a headwind. In fact, some tests showed that riding with the panniers attached was actually faster than riding without any at all. Zzipper’s new panniers showed as much as a 7% increase in speed over a naked bike. They created quite a stir in the early ’80’s. Specialized, a true cycling juggernaut, was helping fund the company (and even produced their own version of the panniers for awhile) and Blackburn redesigned their racks to accommodate the new bags.
Awesome.
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Old 12-28-14, 04:30 PM
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Aerodynamics sure is a funny old business. Overall drag is a function of frontal area and Cd (drag coefficient), but it's seldom as simple as that. Also, drag increases by the square of the speed, not just the speed, so it's unlikely that the speed you'll be going at with a front basket, saddlebag, or front and/or rear panniers will be fast enough for the basket or bags to make much difference.

Still, here's a link to a blog post by Jan Heine on aerodynamics which might give you the answer:

Aerodynamics of Real-World Bicycles | Off The Beaten Path

"Perhaps more surprising to many, front bags were more aerodynamic than rear ones. A handlebar bag was more aerodynamic than a Carradice saddlebag that extended just slightly beyond the hips of the rider. Front panniers (on low-rider racks) were more aerodynamic than rear panniers."

The thing is, as JanMM suggested, whether that would be relevant at the kind of speeds we travel at laden with baskets, racks and panniers is questionable. Then again, riding into a strong headwind is equivalent to riding at a far higher speed, I think, so there's always that to consider...

Something else concerning aerodynamics: There was an article in Auto Express in the UK years ago where they put a VW Golf in a wind tunnel and kitted it out with various accoutrements such as roof racks, etc. It was a turbodiesel, and by itself, at a calculated 70mph, its fuel economy was 60 miles per gallon. With a rear-mounted cycle carrier with two bikes attached, the economy fell (well, plummeted, actually) to 18mpg! Shocking, huh?! Mind you, that was at 70mph; around town the fuel consumption wouldn't have been affected so much, and at transportational cycling speeds, hardly at all.
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Old 12-29-14, 08:08 AM
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@kylecycler thanks for the serious post addressing the OP's question.

it's amazing that, despite about 100 years of aerodynamic study and development, and the nearly limitless access to information afforded by the internet, that so many cling to the most gross, and often wrong, understandings of how aerodynamics work.

Hopefuly posts like yours help disabuse people of those notions and allow us to have more sophisticated and interesting, conversations. Thanks!
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Old 12-29-14, 08:17 AM
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I run the following setup on a couple of my bikes, with a pannier mounted perpendicular to the bike centerline, behind my legs. I've no idea what it really does aero-wise, but it seems to be much more effective at mitigating headwinds than a classic rear rack setup.

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Old 12-29-14, 08:47 AM
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A trunk pack behind the rider would be far more aero than a basket in front.
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Old 12-29-14, 09:45 AM
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You'd have to be tucked down right behind the front basket for it to have any gain, the same as could be said for for a fairing. The bag on the rear has little or no drag unless it's wider than the rider's hips.
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