Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
4x Ironman Champion/ 2x 70.3 Champion

Aerodynamic Testing in the Velodrome

20150323_083220_resizedAs part of my race prep for the 2015 season, I have been working with a number of people to try to ensure I am making all the marginal gains possible in terms of aerodynamics and efficiency on the bike. This process started in November when I started talking with the good people at Quintana Roo. I sought them out for a number of reasons. First, I had previously been on a QR and had great experiences in all of my exchanges with them in the past. They also have a great presence and are at many of the major races around the US so if something were to come up race week, I know that there will be someone there to help me out. Most importantly, QR has the frame geometry that I was looking for in a race bike. The stack and reach for the PRsix was exactly what I was looking for to allow me to get into the ideal position in terms of both comfort and aerodynamics.

MattHanson FitWhile down in Texas for a training camp, Coach David Tilbury-Davis of Physfarm helped me find a reputable Retul Fitter. Brian at Bicycle Speed Shop in Houston helped me find a comfortable position that was long and low. So often, people try to find the most aerodynamic position but forget about comfort and the ability to produce power in that position. Brian worked hard to help me find the position that would be the best blend of comfort, aerodynamics, and power production. After training and gaining confidence for this position for a few months, I headed to the Velodrome in Carson, California to work with Jim at ERO Sports to see if we could make a few adjustments to find ways of further decreasing drag.


Coach David and Jim w/ ERO dropping TriRig extensions below Alpha Base Bar.

We started with a few runs on the track with a stripped down bike to get a baseline and for me to familiarise myself with riding in a velodrome and then we went from there. The first round of testing was to find the optimal position on the bike. I built up my PRsix with a full TriRig front end because it has a great deal of adjustability in the positions you can ride. We ended up dropping the aerobars BELOW the base bar and bolted the pads right on top. This position put me just a tad lower in the front end than I had been before. The initial runs actually showed this increased drag, however Jim encouraged me to continue trying out this position. Since I wasn’t used the position right off the bat and I wasn’t handling the bike as well. He could tell that as the laps ticked off, I was getting better and better as I settled into this position and the numbers reflected this. After the third run, I had become accustomed to the position and reduced my drag quite significantly. This is where the Velodrome trumps the wind tunnel in my opinion. The wind tunnel cannot take into account your ability to handle your bike since you are stationary. Every time you wobble or swerve, not only are you traveling a bit farther, you are also increasing your drag.


Crazy how much the correct bottle placement behind the seat can REDUCE drag!

Once we were happy with my final position, we started testing different placements for hydration bottles and flat storage. I am using TorHans gear this year, again due to the great test results they have shown. I am happy to say that I was no anomaly. With the AeroZ between my arms, an Aero Bento box pushed forward as close to the stem as possible, the VR bottle on the down tube, and a TorHans cage mounted behind the seat, I was actually able to REDUCE my overall drag further compared to baseline. This did take a number of tests, a few which failed miserably (just an FYI…mounting the AeroZ backwards significantly increased drag!!!).

Finally, I tested some clothing out. Kiwami recently released their long sleeve Kona Wings top recently. I really wanted to test out if this would be faster or not. Clothing is just as important as bottle position in terms of the amount of drag they cause. They are also very specific to the individual. In order for sleeves to be faster, they have to fit very smooth and have no wrinkles. Due to my past life as a wrestler, I have very forward shoulders (tight pec minors). This caused the Kona Wings to wrinkle a bit at the shoulders. I won’t be racing in the Kona Wings this year, but am looking forward to seeing how the 1/4 sleeve suit that Kiwami is releasing late spring fits on me. I was really surprised to find that while the helmet I am using tested great, it was actually more aero to use my Maui Jim Switchback sunglasses than the visor it came with.


Photo Credit: Jim w/ERO

Overall, this was a great experience. I had a lot of fun, learned a ton, and am confident that I’ll be even faster with the changes we made. Overall, we were able to squeeze in around 15 runs which were approximately 5 minutes each. I’m looking forward to seeing how the changes we made are expressed as speed at Ironman 70.3 California in Oceanside this weekend! A HUGE thank you to First Endurance for their support in making this experience possible



One Comment

  1. Jake C

    May 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Where did you get that rear storage hardware that attaches to the bottle cage. Looks like a clean and simple piece of hardware!

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