Lonnie Morse – Aero Wing components

Aero Wing components take the aerodynamics of recumbent riding to the next level of performance. Though body position is enough for many riders – more and more riders are taking the next step with the aid of fairings – front, rear or both. A fairing is the most influential “bang for the buck” component a rider can install on any human-powered vehicle. Yes – fairings are expensive but so are carbon fiber disc wheels that cost more but give back less in performance comparitively.

We cyclist have been cultured into the “graming game” way of thinking. We believe removing weight seems to be the only way for improvement in quest of performance. That may be true for the up-right bike community. The United Cycling Union unfortunately boxed the upright rider into specific dimensions years ago.

They also banned the recumbent bicycle in 1934 because of  winning most races. So – why does a recumbent have the aerodynamic edge? Notice the recumbent rider body is more horizonal compared to the upright rider. Remember – the smaller the hole that is punched out of the atmosphere – lesser the drag of aerodynamic friction.

Picture at the top and on right says it all.

The flip side is the Recumbent bike “bent” has no restrictions to have to abide by regarding continuous on going design improvements.  Yes, bents are classed by category but by aero dynamics, not bike chassis construction. http://www.ohpv.org/HPC/page3/page24/page24.html

Note: – I’m not saying weight isn’t an important factor for any human-powered vehicle – however, many times the added weight of a fairing generally returns dividends big-time to off set the added weight.

  • Notice how cars are changing shape, especially the Hybrid cars.
  • Could a bird fly efficiently if it wasn’t shaped the way it is?
  • Is the human body considered aerodynamic?
  • Why are modern semi trucks faired?

While you are pondering these four questions – think about the “aero efficiency” of the questions.  Yes – Engineers have proven they can make a brick fly – only at a huge loss of efficiency.  Put a fairing on that brick – the coefficient drag aero “Cda” changes dramatically IE. modern faired trucks.

The intent of this blog is to help with the understanding of beneficial  aero dynamics when used with human-power vehicles. The standard upright bicycle has been noted as a platform of efficiency from scientist – however – the usually more aerodynamic recumbent bicycle is rapidly becoming the fastest growing category for the bicycle industry. Examples like touring, comfort, commuting, and Human Powered World Speed Record Racing hold an edge compared to the antiquated up-right bike.  It is unfortunate that most civic bike infrastructures are designed for “just” the up-right bike.

A new category is taking hold – I am speaking of the recumbent sport trike and faired velomobile.  Why? Interviews have discovered that it is the “high fun factor” these vehicles provide that is cause for the sudden public interest. One has to acknowledge there is a great deal of practicality with the added “trike” stability.

The use of aerodynamics can suddenly change a docile trike into a speedy cruise missle called a Velomobile “Velo”.  This recent addition to the newest catagories of human-powered vehicles “HPV” is probably the most practicle utilitarian HPV to date.

I urge one to use practicality as a guide when determining expected aerodynamic benefits.  Don’t know? ? ? Then this Blog should provide quidelines to help with the process of making your Human Powered Vehicle as efficient as possible. We will not be getting techie here. The examples provided within will be understandable fundamentals for the layman. The reviewed users have already tested the concepts. Be assured, riders certainly would not endure the weight penalty of the aero components if there were not a significant pay back in performance.

Lastly – we are going to assume that every one is of equal physical fitness regarding claims in this Blog. In laymen terms – everybody has the same motor/wattage out put etc.  Yes – everybody is a Tour de’France rider – “yea rite” LOL.

It has been pointed out to me by an engineer/builder of a Bonneville Land Speed Racer that aero dynamics work at any speed – it is just not noticed at slow speeds.

Here is link for comparitive data of aerodynamics concerning human powered land vehicles. Well written so the layman can easily understand. http://www.zzipper.com/documents/HPV_Paper.pdf

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About Lonnie Morse

Long time recumbent bike rider - former general aviation pilot - always looking for an adventure to experience - aero dynamics fastenates me.
This entry was posted in recumbent bicycle aerodynamics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lonnie Morse – Aero Wing components

  1. Lonnie Morse says:

    Thanks e.c.

    I have heard many riders mention they feel a significant increase in their speed “front fairing” at 15 mph. It is probable this is where the squaring of the Cda is noticeable regarding velocity. Another example – when a rider is riding into an 8 mph head/cross wind at a modest ground speed of 10 mph – the actual air speed resistance would be 18 mph. So riding into the 15 mph zone is quite real for the average rider of recreational majority. I rarely ride with out cross winds here in the Great NW. Growing up in OK, the winds of the plains regions can be brutal.

  2. tmikeporter says:

    and as a second to the post above, the power required to maintain the new speed is related to the cube of the speed increase. Or, when the speed doubles and the drag goes up 4 times, then the power required goes up 8 fold! This should give us all an appreciation for what it takes to ride fast and how important it is to reduce the effort. Like Lonnie says, weight is really most dominant at low speeds as when climbing. At speed, it’s all about aero efficiency.
    Oh, and then there’s the rider who’s carrying that extra 15 lbs or so in the gut and works to “gram out” the bike. Yeh, that really makes sense! 🙂

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