Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Illusion of "aero" bike frames

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Illusion of "aero" bike frames

Old 09-29-19, 10:34 PM
  #1  
fuji_owner
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 186

Bikes: 2012 Seven Axiom SL; Surly Cross Check

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 73 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 10 Posts
Illusion of "aero" bike frames

Why do so many people get bought in on the "aero" frame scam?

No matter how aero a frame is built, the rider's leg movements generate such a huge turbulence, that all the aero effects are gone. For any real aero effects, air flow all around the bike frame needs to be laminar, not turbulent.

And no matter how low you get on the bike, you're still the biggest non-aero component of the bike+human system. You just being on the bike makes it fundamentally non-aero anyways.

You can more likely gain the touted effects of aero frames more by making the drive train and chain stays stiffer for more power transfer, and choosing tires with lower rolling resistance.
fuji_owner is offline  
Old 09-29-19, 10:40 PM
  #2  
Unca_Sam
The dropped
 
Unca_Sam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 2,317

Bikes: Pake C'Mute Touring/Commuter Build, 1989 Kona Cinder Cone, 1995 Trek 5200, 1973 Raleigh Super Course FG, 1960/61 Montgomery Ward Hawthorne "thrift" 3 speed, by Hercules : 1966 Schwinn Deluxe Racer (sold)

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1673 Post(s)
Liked 942 Times in 646 Posts
So lets assume that each rider decreases the aero on their bike equally. How can one save a few watts?
Unca_Sam is offline  
Old 09-29-19, 10:43 PM
  #3  
spdntrxi
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: East Bay Area ,CA
Posts: 1,719

Bikes: Parlee,BMC,Specialized and Trek

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 64 Times in 42 Posts
last time I looked there was a number of items on the bike in front of my legs that hit the wind first. Bike is roughly 20% of the overall aero number... small but there.
spdntrxi is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 12:01 AM
  #4  
Dean V
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2,853
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1067 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 257 Times in 153 Posts
Plenty of data showing the gains from an aero frame.
Show me something which proves stiffer chain stays are more efficient at transferring power?
Dean V is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 05:19 AM
  #5  
shelbyfv
Expired Member
 
shelbyfv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: TN
Posts: 10,164
Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3031 Post(s)
Liked 3,998 Times in 2,019 Posts
Reinforces why engineers and physicists have to go to school and the importance of the scientific method. "Sounds good to me" can quickly lead one astray
shelbyfv is offline  
Likes For shelbyfv:
Old 09-30-19, 05:45 AM
  #6  
mcours2006
Senior Member
 
mcours2006's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 6,158

Bikes: ...a few.

Mentioned: 47 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1982 Post(s)
Liked 383 Times in 216 Posts
Surprising that they haven't gone to using dimples on the frame like they do with golf balls...or maybe they have.🤷
mcours2006 is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 06:51 AM
  #7  
Lemond1985
Sophomore Member
 
Lemond1985's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 2,690
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1627 Post(s)
Liked 1,053 Times in 628 Posts
Riders with a lot of cellulite should benefit from this advantage, in theory.
Lemond1985 is offline  
Likes For Lemond1985:
Old 09-30-19, 06:53 AM
  #8  
topflightpro
Senior Member
 
topflightpro's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,519
Mentioned: 54 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1831 Post(s)
Liked 651 Times in 411 Posts
Wow OP, that's such an amazing insight.

I guess all those guys on TT bikes are wasting their time too. They don't need those aero bikes or wheels or bars. They should just pedal faster on stiffer frames and their TT times will go down. Right?
topflightpro is offline  
Likes For topflightpro:
Old 09-30-19, 06:53 AM
  #9  
firebird854
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 535

Bikes: 2016 Specialized Tarmac Expert

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 246 Post(s)
Liked 69 Times in 43 Posts
I will agree aero frames have a very small tangible benefit over regular frames, but to brazenly claim everyone who has bought this is "scammed" and to make assertions about "leg turbulence" without any sources, expertise etc? wow.

Keep in mind "aero" frames normally do more than have aerodynamic tube shapes, they often put you, the rider, in a more aggressive aero position, this is especially true with TT or Tri specific frames.
firebird854 is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 06:55 AM
  #10  
Unca_Sam
The dropped
 
Unca_Sam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 2,317

Bikes: Pake C'Mute Touring/Commuter Build, 1989 Kona Cinder Cone, 1995 Trek 5200, 1973 Raleigh Super Course FG, 1960/61 Montgomery Ward Hawthorne "thrift" 3 speed, by Hercules : 1966 Schwinn Deluxe Racer (sold)

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1673 Post(s)
Liked 942 Times in 646 Posts
Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Riders with a lot of cellulite should benefit from this advantage, in theory.
Interesting point.

If riders are... squishier... could we then move the extra around for a tail, for aero? Its not covered in the UCI rules.
Unca_Sam is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 06:58 AM
  #11  
DrIsotope
Non omnino gravis
 
DrIsotope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: SoCal, USA!
Posts: 8,553

Bikes: Nekobasu, Pandicorn, Lakitu

Mentioned: 119 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4904 Post(s)
Liked 1,728 Times in 956 Posts
The aero frame is an open embrace of marginal gains. Say the aero frame and fork combine to save you a whole watt. Then you do ten other things that each save you a whole watt. See where this is going?
__________________
DrIsotope is offline  
Likes For DrIsotope:
Old 09-30-19, 07:08 AM
  #12  
MoAlpha
• —
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Land of Pleasant Living
Posts: 10,688

Bikes: Shmikes

Mentioned: 56 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8826 Post(s)
Liked 4,778 Times in 2,546 Posts
Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
See where this is going?
Yeah, to > 7 pages.
MoAlpha is online now  
Old 09-30-19, 07:09 AM
  #13  
DrIsotope
Non omnino gravis
 
DrIsotope's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: SoCal, USA!
Posts: 8,553

Bikes: Nekobasu, Pandicorn, Lakitu

Mentioned: 119 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4904 Post(s)
Liked 1,728 Times in 956 Posts
Well, winter is right around the corner.
__________________
DrIsotope is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 07:13 AM
  #14  
Rides4Beer
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: VA
Posts: 1,437

Bikes: SuperSix Evo | Revolt

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 732 Post(s)
Liked 812 Times in 412 Posts
The most important factors when it comes to aero are position and kit, those make the biggest difference.

Frame and wheels also contribute, but to a much smaller degree, that's when you start talking about taking seconds off your time. Altho, a true aero position usually only comes on an aero frame, so they usually go hand in hand. Don't see anyone putting a TT cockpit on their climbing bike, so that data comparison probably doesn't exist. lol

Manufacturer's will continue to market "aero" and "race/climbing" bikes, but the lines are definitely getting a little blurry. The SL6 Tarmac is almost as aero as the Venge, some say that simply putting more aero handlebars on the Tarmac will make up the difference.

Last edited by Rides4Beer; 09-30-19 at 08:06 AM.
Rides4Beer is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 07:39 AM
  #15  
tagaproject6
Senior Member
 
tagaproject6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 8,552

Bikes: Wilier Izoard XP (Record);Cinelli Xperience (Force);Specialized Allez (Rival);Bianchi Via Nirone 7 (Centaur); Colnago AC-R Disc;Colnago V1r Limited Edition;De Rosa King 3 Limited(Force 22);DeRosa Merak(Red):Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Hydro(Di2)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 550 Post(s)
Liked 276 Times in 144 Posts
Originally Posted by fuji_owner View Post
Why do so many people get bought in on the "aero" frame scam?
Just to annoy people like you.
tagaproject6 is offline  
Likes For tagaproject6:
Old 09-30-19, 07:42 AM
  #16  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 36,009
Mentioned: 204 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16566 Post(s)
Liked 11,498 Times in 5,548 Posts
Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Well, winter is right around the corner.
'Posed to be 90 here in Philly on Wednesday.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 08:13 AM
  #17  
wphamilton
Senior Member
 
wphamilton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Alpharetta, GA
Posts: 15,280

Bikes: Nashbar Road

Mentioned: 71 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2934 Post(s)
Liked 340 Times in 227 Posts
Well he does have a point in that certain elements of the frame can be shaped to produce an aerodynamic benefit, while the shape of other portions are apparently mainly cosmetic.

But I have wondered since I started cycling, and still do, if it's all that helpful then why are there no lightweight facades over all of the small diameter tubes on our steel frame bikes? It would be cheap, weigh hardly anything, and give you almost the same the aero edge as the CF superbike frames. Other than rider position of course.
wphamilton is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 08:15 AM
  #18  
seypat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 7,903
Mentioned: 67 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2752 Post(s)
Liked 1,926 Times in 1,202 Posts
I have heard people say that aero frames/bikes can be magical!
seypat is online now  
Old 09-30-19, 08:19 AM
  #19  
mcours2006
Senior Member
 
mcours2006's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 6,158

Bikes: ...a few.

Mentioned: 47 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1982 Post(s)
Liked 383 Times in 216 Posts
S'not a scam. They look cool, and fast, and if it looks cool and fast then it's worth the extra $.
mcours2006 is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 08:30 AM
  #20  
sheddle
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Seattle
Posts: 1,438

Bikes: my precious steel boys

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 438 Post(s)
Liked 600 Times in 358 Posts
They probably provide aerodynamic benefit but they're also really ugly so I support the OP.
sheddle is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 08:38 AM
  #21  
Cypress
Globo Gym lifetime member
 
Cypress's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Salem, Oregon
Posts: 5,204

Bikes: Fast ones

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 410 Post(s)
Liked 612 Times in 305 Posts
Originally Posted by fuji_owner View Post
Why do so many people get bought in on the "aero" frame scam?

No matter how aero a frame is built, the rider's leg movements generate such a huge turbulence, that all the aero effects are gone. For any real aero effects, air flow all around the bike frame needs to be laminar, not turbulent.

And no matter how low you get on the bike, you're still the biggest non-aero component of the bike+human system. You just being on the bike makes it fundamentally non-aero anyways.

You can more likely gain the touted effects of aero frames more by making the drive train and chain stays stiffer for more power transfer, and choosing tires with lower rolling resistance.

So all of that pesky scientific data is just bunk, yeah? I'd love to see your data, as it seems to contradict literally decades of testing and retesting.
Cypress is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 08:42 AM
  #22  
nomadmax 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 2,161
Mentioned: 93 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 990 Post(s)
Liked 1,480 Times in 713 Posts
Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Riders with a lot of cellulite should benefit from this advantage, in theory.
Please mail me four replacement paper towels that I used for cleaning coffee off my screen

As to the original topic. OP, when you get to cycling heaven, ask Laurent Fignon if he thinks the "aero thing" is a scam. (note the aero frame)


Last edited by nomadmax; 09-30-19 at 08:57 AM.
nomadmax is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 08:47 AM
  #23  
seypat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 7,903
Mentioned: 67 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2752 Post(s)
Liked 1,926 Times in 1,202 Posts
Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Please mail me four replacement paper towels that I used for cleaning coffee off my screen
It's no myth. At least that's my excuse.

seypat is online now  
Likes For seypat:
Old 09-30-19, 08:54 AM
  #24  
sheddle
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Seattle
Posts: 1,438

Bikes: my precious steel boys

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 438 Post(s)
Liked 600 Times in 358 Posts
Originally Posted by seypat View Post
It's no myth. At least that's my excuse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4Te-wrCQsM
If anyone asks, just say that with your aerodynamic frame and body shape, you can't lose weight cycling because going fast becomes effortless
sheddle is offline  
Old 09-30-19, 09:00 AM
  #25  
tagaproject6
Senior Member
 
tagaproject6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 8,552

Bikes: Wilier Izoard XP (Record);Cinelli Xperience (Force);Specialized Allez (Rival);Bianchi Via Nirone 7 (Centaur); Colnago AC-R Disc;Colnago V1r Limited Edition;De Rosa King 3 Limited(Force 22);DeRosa Merak(Red):Pinarello Dogma 65.1 Hydro(Di2)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 550 Post(s)
Liked 276 Times in 144 Posts
Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
Yeah, to > 7 pages.
Wait until you see the Illusion of Drop Bars
tagaproject6 is offline  
Likes For tagaproject6:

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.