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Thirty per cent faster! We go wind tunnel testing

Planet X recently completed some aero testing at the National Wind Tunnel Facility at Glasgow University. We invited Cycling Weekly, as an impartial member of the cycling media, to witness the testing, verify the results and help spread the benefits of going aero to the cycling public which they’ve done in a series of videos on their website. 

The technical facts for the wind tunnel setup: Tested by rider Ben Hetherington, Planet X-Northside, Wind speed, 47kph, Yaw, 0 degrees.

 

The headwind enemy

Any cyclist who has ridden into even the most delicate of headwinds will testify to the frustration this additional resistance can cause. In fact, you’re probably not as dedicated as you think if you haven’t found yourself screaming at the unrelenting force of nature as it breaks down your soul (and your legs).

As part of our commitment to providing products that offer tangible performance gains and value for money we regularly put products through wind tunnel testing.

 

Such a drag!

Wind is such a drag that at any time when cycling on flat roads, 70-80% of your energy is being used to overcome these its effects. Scientifically drag is defined as a force acting opposite to the relative motion of any object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid, but basically for a cyclist this means - as you exert energy in an effort to move forwards, drag is an opposing force trying to slow you down.

There is a whole host of technical equations that calculate the effects different kinds of drag can have, but the important fact that cyclists need to understand is that drag is not your friend, it’s your enemy and must be avoided!


In your defence, our range of technologically advanced, scientifically proven products are waging war against drag and its adverse effects on your Time Trial PBs, Strava Segments, Road Race performance and general bike riding pleasure.

A typical testing day at the tunnel starts out with a reference check, this is a baseline and a test for us to measure all following tests from. For this day of testing we set the test subject (Ben) up to ride a Planet X RT-80 road bike, wearing club fit clothing and a Planet X vented helmet.

Once this test has been performed, changes can be made to clothing and equipment to reduce the drag the rider is producing. The results from the reference check were as good as we could have hoped for, but as always with the wind tunnel there were some surprise results.

 

Design and test team happy

During the first test Ben was riding a standard RT-80 road bike wearing comfortable Planet X cycling kit and riding a typical club rider position. The first changes were made by Drew Wilson (of www.visualbikefit.com), who performed a quick visual bike fit to achieve a more aero position. The saving made from Drew’s fit and a switch to a race position was over 100 Watts @ 30mph.

The next change to the cyclist was to change the Planet X 365 Helmet for the Planet X Aero Road Helmet. The simulation was run again and the total saving was 18 watts. A result welcomed by the Planet X design team and a significant advantage for any rider wanting to go faster.

After the Aero Road Helmet test we asked Ben to change from comfort club-fit clothing to race-fit clothing. Removing the excess flapping and resistance rewarded Ben with another 19 Watt saving. He then changed from the race fit jersey and bib shorts to the Planet X Skin Suit and gained and additional 13 watts. Finally our Aero over socks (currently in development) were added to the mix saving another 18 Watts.

After the rider equipment tests had been completed we set up to test the resistance provided by the Planet X RT-80 Road Bike, The Planet X EC-130E Aero Road Bike and the Planet X Exocet Time Trial bike. The results were as we hoped and expected with each bike providing a reduction in aerodynamic drag based on their application.

The EC-130E saved 8 Watts when compared to the RT-80 and the Exocet Time Trial bike saved a significant 24 watts when compared to the EC-130E. This final comparison really outlined the importance of aerodynamics when racing Time Trials and attempting to beat the clock.

 
The Exocet 2 frameset offers an optimum belnd of strength, durability and good handling characteristics.

What does all this mean?

The total saving from the adaptations made to the rider when using the Planet X Aero kit added up to give him an extra 68 Watts.

When switching to the Aero Road Bike the total saving was 76 Watts.

And when riding the Exocet Time Trial Bike the total saving was an impressive 100 Watts above and beyond a typical bike fit might provide.

These gains equate to around 30% improvement for an average rider’s ability. Now that is really something to think about, 30% faster…!

15 June 2016