Saving Watts and Seconds: Can Clothing Make You Faster?
April 3rd, 2017
April 3rd, 2017
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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Ryder Hesjedal won the 2012 Giro d’Italia after 91 hours, 39 minutes and 2 seconds of riding. The difference to second place, Joaquim Rodriguez, was 16 seconds, which if averaged across the 3,476 kilometers of the race, represents 0.005 seconds per kilometer. Averaged across the 21 stages means a winning margin of around 0.76 seconds per stage. "In road cycling the margins of victory are small and every second is valuable", say POC Sport, "So for our Raceday kit we were curious to see what we could achieve in terms of aerodynamic performance". Being able to affect 80% of your aero-dynamic efficiency is a challenge POC have taken very seriously and has given them the drive to find new ways to improve performance in something a 'simple' as a piece of clothing. With aerodynamic specialists from their own WATTS Lab, POC have studied the specific performance needs in road cycling and have come up with some really interesting numbers:
|**EQUIPMENT**||**FROM**||**TO**||**DRAG DIFFERENCE (G)**||**TIME SAVED IN 40KM TT (SEC)**||**APPROX. COST**||**COST PER SECOND SAVED**|
|SKIN SUIT||REGULAR JERSEY/KNICKS||SKIN SUIT||-289||134||$250+||$1.86|
|AEROBARS||UPRIGHT WITH NO AEROBARS||TUCK WITH AEROBARS||-262||122||$200+||$1.64|
|AERO HELMET||REGULAR ROAD HELMET||AERO TT HELMET||-144||67||$200+||$2.98|
|BODY POSITION WITH WINDTUNNEL||TUCK WITH AEROBARS||TUNED TUCK||-121||56||> $3.000||$26.79|
|FRONT WHEEL (10 DEG YAW)||3-5 SPOKE||DEEP RIM 12 SPOKE||-90||42||$700+||16.67|
|SHOE COVERS||NO SHOE COVERS||WITH SHOE COVERS||-65||30||$50||$1.67|
|REAR WHEELS (0DEG YAW)||ANY FULL DISC||3 SPOKE||-63||29||$1.000+||$30.48|
|FRONT WHEELS (0 DEG YAW)||24 SPOKE BOXSECTION RIM||5 SPOKE||-50||23||$700||$30.43|
|AERO FRAME||STANDARD TUBING TT FRAME||AERO TUBING TT FRAME||-36||17||$3000+||$176.47|
It's compelling stuff really, to think that Joaquim Rodriguez could have won the Giro d’Italia had he have worn a skinsuit and a more aerodynamic helmet. And perhaps those roadies who weigh their shoes and helmet and insist on aero over-shoes, even in the Summer, are not as over-the-top as we may have thought. Every little counts, right? What's more interesting is to see the "cost per second" in this table. Listed in order of seconds gained the skin suit comes out on top for the biggest difference in comparison to a regular jersey and shorts, and yet its one of the best value per seconds gained, alongside aero over-shoes. We all know that wheels make a big difference, you may have changed yours and felt the difference, but to know that this was the most expensive change per second gained, aside from biking a new bike frame, puts a new perspective on the next thing I buy for my Summer's road racing."The small margins of victory are well known in competitive road cycling" say POC, "Back in 1989 Greg Lemond won the Tour de France by 8 seconds and more recently in 2012, Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia by 16 seconds after more than 90 hours of riding. Taken across each day of racing the margins of victory represent little more than an average pedal revolution and both Lemond’s and Hesjedal’s wins illustrate that tiny margins matter". Aerodynamics obviously has to play a fundamental role in both those victories and have a measurable effect on performance in road cycling. Studies show that up to 90% of a cyclists effort goes into travelling through the air. Significantly, 80% of this air resistance comes from the cyclist’s own body, as well as their position on the bike.
About Raceday Clothing
POC has a history of developing equipment used by Olympic medalists in ski racing, X Games winners and the current world record holder in speed skiing. For Raceday POC have taken this experience and applied it to road cycling clothing. "Raceday is built on the competence of POC’s product development team and developed in close collaboration with Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team, Volvo Car Group and the aerodynamic specialists in WATTS Lab" says POC, "Our research and testing have given us a deeper understanding of the main forces slowing you down". POC put their Raceday clothing through its paces on CFD simulations and extensive wind tunnel testing together with analysis at the WATTS Lab. At this level, it's not just a piece of clothing, it is scrutinised as harshly as a frame or set of aero handlebars. "In road cycling there are a lot of crucial areas affecting your performance that have to be considered. Aerodynamics, comfort, breathability and freedom of movement all play an important role and are just a few examples of what needs to be addressed" says POC, "This holistic approach to performance guided us throughout the development and led to the creation of Raceday".
In third place was the helmet. Something we see commonly on time trial riders, and rightly so according to this research. "We have utilized our knowledge, experience and technology gained from developing groundbreaking ski and mountain bike helmets, which we have further refined to meet the specific demands of road cycling" say POC, "With the strategic use of EPS, POC’s unique unibody construction and new approaches to aerodynamics and ventilation, we have been able to develop a range of helmets with improved protection and performance thanks to the specialists in WATTS Lab".
What's the WATTS Lab?
Ok, I've said it twice now, but what is it? The WATTS Lab is a highly specialized department whose objective is to optimize performance and aerodynamics in POC products. Their sole purpose it to make a cyclist go faster while using less energy. WATTS Lab brings together knowledge and experience from Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling team, aerodynamic specialists and experts in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and even on occasion aerodynamic specialists from Volvo Car Group.