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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So,

My eyes been itching and my hands have been twitch to get a new bike. Albeit, my current custom lugged carbon frame is barely a year old, I can't help the urge :thumbsup:

Anyways, I was looking at a few of the following bikes (prices vary): Cervelo S2, Ridley Noah, Colnago C50, Look 585, Giant TCR Advance SL (with Ultegra SL groupo) and a Parlee. Everywhere I go, every shop I stop at, they seem to give different reason why their bike would be best (of course, this is a still a business after all). But most have to admit to one thing: "The engineering that goes into a Cervelo is superior."

But....Looking over the pro bikes, I have noted that only a few brands have started to used aero frame technology in their road bikes (i.e. Felt AR, Ridley) where some, like Cervelo, have sworn by it in their Soloist line.


So my question is: How important or effective is an aero frame on a road bike when your position is different than a TT bike? Yes, yes, there have been studies showing the special paint on the Noah helps air flow better.....But from your experiences, should aero be a significant factor in the decision process when so many winners of the tour, crits, etc. have won on non aero looking frames?



Thanks in advance!

A.
 

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In my opinion, no it's not important in the real world of the typical amateur bike racer.

You'll find plenty of wind tunnel data, marketing stuff etc to show otherwise. If you have a powermeter you can run your own analysis of how much faster you'd be in a given scenario with an aero bike vs say a Cannondale.

I know a local 40+ racer, extremely fast time trialist, rides one of those Ridley's. He can't sprint worth a dang so he likes to solo. You'd be advised to not let him go b/c you won't see him again. But, is that because of his Ridley, or because he's a friggin animal?
 

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Personally, unless I was a pro trying to shave seconds off my time trial time and had exhausted every other option, I wouldnt worry how 'aero' my frame is. Time trial bikes not included, the increased aero dynamic effeciency of an 'aero' bike versus a bike not marketed as an 'aero' bike is very very small. You could probably increases you aero dynamic effeceincy more by wearing a more aero helmet, bending over a millimeter more, tucking your shirt in more tightly, etc.

First and foremost I would worry about the fit of the bike, frame quality, component quality, etc. If it comes down to choosing between two bikes that fit the same, are the same price, frame quality, component quality, etc. and one is aero and one isn't get the aero one. Until you reach that deadlock, go for the bike that fits the best and is the best quality regardless of whether or not its marketed as an 'aero' bike.

P.S. I must admit the new Felt AR1's etc. do look cool and I do not believe for a second that the engineering that goes into a Cervelo is superior to the the engineering that goes into a Colnago, Look, Giant, or Parlee.
 

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How important? Not very; hardly at all. For the simple and unavoidable reason that the frame of the bicycle will always cause only a very small percentage of the total drag. The rider's body is a vastly larger source of drag. That's why so much of the effort in time-trial preparation goes into body position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I definitely agree. I have always wondered about my buddies who pride themselves on how aero their road bikes are....Also, I have encountered a number of shops whose marketing strategy is the aero dynamics in their road bikes (namely those who Cervelos). I see long time famed frame makers like Serotta (with their Meivici AE) now incorporating aero tech into their road bikes and I question if it is not just another attempt grab a pie of the cycling market? Perhaps, aero frames on a road bike will be the next "carbon fiber" in the industry, where every manufacturer will jump on the band wagon because it is the next "big movement"...


Thanks for the advice! I completely agree that fit is by far the most important factor, that's partially why I have loved lugged technology for so long.


A.
 

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Look at a head-on picture of a bike and rider.

Consider:

- The total frontal area of bike, rider, wheels.

- The single-digit percentage of that which is bike tubes.

- The minor precentage of that single-digit percentage that can be meaningfully given an aero treatment without getting in the way of function or breaking cycling's rules (if you should care about rules.)

- The fractional percentage of the minor percentage of that single-digit percentage that is gained by giving a tube an aero treatment.

- The net adds to drag that occur when an 'aero' tube gets an off-axis airflow and becomes a wing. BTW, most riding is done in off-axis apparent wind conditions.

- the extent to which because of the angles involved, 'round' tubes are really fairly efficient ellipses with respect to the wind.

In summary, it's critically important - to the marketing department.

Real-world gains are inside of the accuracy of available measuring systems, and are so condition dependant that saying one is categorically better than the other (either way) is completely impossible.

//I have seen wind tunnel testing the conclusively 'proves' that the airflow effects of external shift wires (they serve as an aerodynamic 'tripwire' that does some interesting things to airflow around a tube) can be lower drag than an aero tube with internal routing. (with specific conditions, speeds, incantations, wand-waving etc.)
 

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yet again, danl1 saved me some thought and writing time. Both of which he probably does better than I.

well said.
 

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cable routing

Some of those aero frames route the cables inside the frame. That has led to complaints of excess cable friction and poor shifting performance, in some cases. Another 'black mark' ...
 

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I'd say much less important than comfort and weight unless you're always in the realm of 20+mph and can make yourself as aero as the bike.
 

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The overall aerodynamics of the frame may not be too important to most riders but the fork will make a difference. I can tell the difference in the feel of the Oval Concepts Jetstream fork - the same one that Ridley licenses from Oval. The effect is felt in crosswinds where the Oval fork reduces the feeling when a gust of wind wants to move you across the road.
 

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Even in Time Trials

Aero rider, important, aero wheels, important, aero frame, not so much.

Anything other than a full TT tuck, an aero frame will do basically nothing, the rider disrupts the air so much that the leading edge of the bike is irrelevant.
 

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Only if you ride in the drops all the time and average 23mph on your solo rides.

Aero bike + riding the hoods + 18mph = sillyness.
 

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You can spend thousands of dollars on seconds, but it sure does not make sense to a guy like me who loses by minutes.
 

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all that stuff above is abosultely true and I bought the new Ridley Noah. I do feel it works pertty well though when I throw the aero bars on and ride a TT. thats really the beauty of the bike, for me anyways. It is a solid road bike that is as stiff as they come. It responds so unbelievably well when you put the power down whether on a climb or a sprint. But I can throw the aero bars on there and do a TT and still get some of the benefits a true TT bike offers.
 

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I disagree with most here, and think aero frames serve a very good function: to look cool. Other than that, that's about it!
 

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aerodynamics are real. regardless of what you all seem to think. besides, it isnt like an "aero frame" is thousands of dollars MORE than any other high end bike. and as far as weight goes, they're all close to the same. so go on and get that aero bike, make yourself happy.
 

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Dan's post pretty much nailed it. Something like 80% of the aerodynamic drag is the rider, not the bike, and it's not like any aero bike can completely or mostly eliminate the remaining 20%, especially when crosswinds are taken into account.

I'd say the dirty little secret of expensive aero bikes is that the rider's position matters much more aerodynamically than any aero improvements on the bike. Maybe once your own aero position is completely dialed in AND you have thousands of dollars to spend, it might be worth sweating the aero details of the bike, but it seems like a pretty poor benefit-to-cost ratio, unless you're racing seriously.

And, of course, a super-aero rider position isn't much good if it cuts your power output, so there's that balance to keep in mind too.
 

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Yeah I am with the group that says "How aerodynamic are you?" Because at 6'6" 250+lbs you can puts the slickest bike in the world under me and my aerodynamics suck.
 
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