Easy Aero Improvements


Posted by Coach Allen Stanfield

In triathlon it seems like everyone's biggest equipment focus is on aerodynamics and rightfully so.  Aero is (almost) everything! We often forget about friction and rolling resistance, and I will talk about those in my next Coach's Corner.  Each of these things can be easily improved with minor, relatively inexpensive additions or changes that can make a huge difference in performance.


The Obvious

When it comes to aerodynamics, a set of deep dish wheels and an aero helmet are the most notable additions, and they do create big improvements. (Also they make you look cool!) The variable combinations of wheels and aero helmet choices are dependent on the day, the conditions, and the individual. The many options for every budget and race could be a book on its own. The great thing is, there are simpler (and relatively inexpensive) things to do to elicit the same gains as well.


Clean up your bike

Keep your bike as close to the way it was engineered. It is crazy to see a "superbike" with 10 gels taped to the top tube. While the need for the nutrition is understandable, the investment in the bike is completely negated when you do that. There are more aero solutions, such as wearing a jersey with pockets that fits your needs, tucking gels into legs of tri shorts or utilizing one of the many products out there to help provide an integrated aero solution. You just have to make sure they work with your bike and don't defeat the design's purpose.

Don't do this ^^

Remove any bottle cages not being utilized for the race distance you're doing.  If you are looking for an aero advantage, your first mounted bottle should be between the aero bars.  There are many options for this, but zip ties and a cage work well on a budget. For your second and third bottles, mounting them behind the seat will be faster than the downtube.  If you don’t have a seat mounted cage, using a jersey pocket will again be more aero than the downtube.


Clean up your clothing

Sleeved tops and longer shorts provide additional aero benefits over bare skin, but you lose that benefit and create additional drag with a loose fit and wrinkles in the fabric.  Be sure you get a tight fit and ensure clothing that doesn't bunch up.

Another product making its way into triathlon is shoe covers designed to be pulled over after you've mounted the bike. These smooth the air traveling over straps and buckles claiming significant time benefits. If you feel uncomfortable getting them set up after mounting, adding toe covers that don't affect mounting and dismounting will still provide an aero benefit by smoothing the front lines of the shoe.


While these all seem like small items, adding them together can create nearly unbelievable gains.  Becoming as aero as possible provides an edge on your competition and the confidence to know you are not giving up “free” speed. Stay tuned for a discussion on friction and rolling resistance, and head to the starting line with your fastest bike ever!

There is an abundance of information on these topics that can be overwhelming.  It’s difficult to sift through true data and “opinions” to come to accurate conclusions. If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Allen@teammpi.com


~ Coach Allen Stanfield


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