Aerotesting

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During the track cycling at the Rio Olympics we have seen how aerodynamic optimisation can have a huge impact on performance. Aerodynamic drag accounts for between 80 and 90% of the total drag acting against a cyclist at normal racing speeds, so it is crucial to reduce this drag as much as possible. We have a state of the art aerodynamic Alphamantis testing system that we use at the Derby Arena track that provides accurate real-time drag data. Using this data along with our experience and knowledge, enables us to make quick evidence-based decisions to help you identify the fastest stainable position and to select the best equipment for your event. Our validated performance prediction models allow us to determine the time savings over a given race distance or scenario for each change to position or equipment. In terms of increasing performance for a given cost, this service is by far the most cost effective.

What is Aerotesting?

This is a process by which we use real-time Coefficient of Drag Area (CdA) data to optimise your cycling position, equipment, clothing, riding style, or combinations of all three to increase your speed. During a testing session we will establish baseline measures for your current position before testing the effects of any intervention. Because you are actually riding and producing the power output that you produce during racing, we can make changes that are meaningful and valid for actual riding. We test on the Derby Arena indoor track where the conditions are highly consistent, which means we are able to identify small, but significant changes in CdA.

When travelling at 30mph up to 80% of your effort just goes into pushing you through the air. By measuring and optimising your position we can help make you more efficient  and go faster for the same effort. Our Alphamantis Technology is the same system used by Team Sky and a number of other professional teams. It allows us to calculate real-time Drag (CdA) data and allows us to compare different cycling positions, equipment, and clothing to find the combination that works best for you.

Why Test?

It is impossible to quantify your aerodynamic drag, or know how equipment or positional changes affect it without testing it in an accurate and controlled manner. Because the drag forces acting against us while cycling due to air are so proportionately large, for most cyclists the simplest and quickest way to improve performance is to decrease drag. In order to make the correct decisions on position and equipment you need to measure it. Through the use of our technology we get realtime drag, power and velocity data every second so we can see how stable and consistent the drag is during each lap and test run. By knowing not only what the value is but also it's variability, we can establish whether that position or set up is sustainable, and therefore worthwhile.

I would definitely recommend this as a practical ‘real world’ approach to aerotesting.
— Ben Bright, Head Coach, British Triathlon.

The testing process

We receive real-time data during each lap to help determine the best solutions to reduce drag.

We receive real-time data during each lap to help determine the best solutions to reduce drag.

The testing session will consist of a number ‘runs’, depending upon which type of session you select. We start by measuring your normal position - your baseline, and then test different ‘interventions’ (i.e. position, equipment, clothing) in each run. Each run normally consists of between 8 and 12 laps of the track depending upon how consistently you can hold both your position on the bike, and the black line. You may have your own things that you want to try, but most people use our knowledge and experience to guide them to identify the most suitable solutions. We will sometimes check an intervention more than once to ensure that it was consistent. At the end of the session, after trying different interventions and making alterations to your position or bike, we will have identified the most meaningful methods to reduce your CdA which you can then use in racing and training.

Is Aerotesting for me?

Drag forces due to aerodynamic resistive forces increase rapidly with speed, therefore if we can decrease our aerodynamic drag we can travel faster for the same physiological input. For example for a cyclist in a reasonable aerodynamic TT position (CdA of 0.24) that generates an external power output of 300 W (with combined bike and rider mass of 82 kg) will travel at approximately 42 km/h (depending upon the exact environmental conditions, road surface, wheel bearings, tyres etc). If all the inputs remain the same but the position or equipment are changed to reduce the CdA to 0.22, the speed increases to 43.5 km/h. Over a 25 mile TT course that’s a 1 minute 55 second improvement in time from 57:23 to 55:28. In this scenario for every 0.1 decrease in CdA the time improves by approximately 1 minute.  To achieve this same performance increase by increasing external power output alone would require in the region of a 25 W increase in power to 325 W that would need to be sustained over the 25 mile course. For someone new to cycling without much training history a 25, 50 or even 75 W improvement may be possible with correct and consistent training, but for those athletes who are already highly trained and nearing the limits of their physiological capacities, or purely limited in training time, improvements of this magnitude would be almost impossible to achieve. Ideally we would make both improvements in our physiological ability and reductions in aerodynamic drag. However, it is the reductions in aerodynamic drag that are impossible to quantify unless they are measured in a controlled and accurate way.

Working with Veloptima at the Derby velodrome gave us a great opportunity to test position changes and equipment in a dynamic environment and allowed us to make significant savings over a set up which I have developed already over a number of years - including testing sessions in wind tunnels.
— Edmund Bradbury, NFTO

Aerotesting and Bikefitting

The ability to sustain and hold position on the bike is important. If you can’t hold the position then you’ll shift around on the saddle and the more you move, the more drag is created. There are two aspects to making the most of your position – a good bike fit will ensure you’re comfortable, and efficient and powerful; while aerotesting will allow us to make the adjustments needed to ensure you’re as aero as possible within those parameters. We’re in a unique position to help on both these fronts, as we are experienced bike fitters and cycling aerodynamacists.  We would certainly recommend coming to us for an aerodynamic specific bike fit first. This will enable us to use our experience and knowledge of aerodynamic testing to get you in a very good aerodynamic position before we get on the track. It will also enable us to know what positions you are possible to hold in relation to your own function and flexibility, and know what configurations can be made to your bike, while keeping within any regulations that are required for your specific events.  For those cyclists that come to us for a bikefit first, our aerotesting session can be far more productive and time efficient.

Technology

We partner and work with Alphamantis to create a technology solution to provide highly accurate real-time data. Using this data with Veloptima's own performance prediction models we can understand how changes to drag affect real world performances. This means that time on the track can be highly efficient, and we can quickly make changes to your position and equipment and understand how the changes affect performance.

 

We offer the following aerotesting services:

Aerotest

This is for someone who has not had an aerotest with us before. We discuss the testing with you over the phone in advance of the testing to make sure that we are as time efficient as possible on the day.  The testing consists of an initial assessment on a turbo trainer, 2 hours of exclusive track time to identify position options to reduce drag, with a full debrief afterwards. A report is provided afterwards to ensure that key information is not forgotten. 

Two-Rider Aerotest

This follows the same process as per a single-rider Aerotest, except that it consists of 3 hours of exclusive track time split between 2 people. This session make effective use of the track time, in that one rider is on the track testing while the other is evaluating results and making changes to equipment or position prior to carrying out another test run. In order to book a two-rider Aerotest, you must find a fellow cyclist and make one booking and payment. The lead rider is therefore responsible for paying for both cyclists.

Repeat Aerotest 

For returning customers it is possible to book a one-hour Aerotesting session, which is a great option for fine tuning positions or measuring differences between skinsuits, helmets and wheel for specific up-coming events. This session consists of 1 hour of exclusive track time, a debrief and report.

Note that we can test road bikes and track bikes.