Saturday, May 19, 2007

Frontal Area and Aerodynamics of Bicycles

Lots of folks like to debate endlessly about the speed of bicycles and how much aerodynamics, tires, drive-train losses, etc. effect speed. I've decided that there are things more interesting to me than this particular debate, so I'll leave those discussions for others. However, I did find this picture in this thread over on the Bent Rider Online message board here:

I think this is a very cool picture so I'm posting it here. From left to right you have:
  • A rider on with his hands on the flat section of a bike with a conventional drop handlebar
  • A rider with his hands on the brake hoods
  • A rider with his hands on the drops
  • A rider using aerobars
  • A rider on a recumbent "high racer"
  • A rider on a recumbent "low racer"
I will say that back in the day, I had a very fun, very fast little low racer built by John Williams. I did get tired of being at about the tailpipe height of a Miata in traffic, however. Modern low-racers are even lower.

But it was a damn fast bike. Of course, I did have my most spectacular crash on that bike and it was such a chick magnet (really, women thought it was the cutest damn bike ever!) that Christine was really happy when I got rid of that bike.


Dr. Logan said...

What became of the van and it's driver?

Kent Peterson said...

I think he got a ticket for the U-turn. His insurance wound up paying for the ER trip.

Jill Homer said...

That is a cool picture. Have you ever seen those streamlined recumbants? I can't remember their exact name. has posted pics of them before. They look like something you'd see out on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Very cool indeed.

Vik said...

That picture is from the Volae website with a lowracer photoshopped in.

If only the whole world was flats and downhills then recumbents would be king!...=-)

Anonymous said...

A four person recumbent team did win RAO (Race Across Oregon) a couple of yeas ago beating all the uprights. Last year reacumbents placed 2nd and 3rd in the 4 person, and I think they placed 2nd in the 2 person as well. RAO is the hardest RAAM qualifier in the country with the most climbing. As with any bike, they can climb given the right engine.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere:
"If you want to go fast you should not be on a bicyle"
I can personally vouch for the fact that the smaller the frontal area of a bicycle (I can't vouch for recumbants), the more uncomfortable they become.