Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
3x Ironman Champion/ 1x 70.3 Champion

Second Session with Jim/ERO

I had the opportunity to get into the velodrome again this year to do some aerodynamic testing. I did this last year (Full Report Here) and had a great experience. I learned a ton from Jim w/ ERO in my 2015 visit. I made it a point to make time for a return trip early in the year this season. I like to do this the same week as Oceanside to hit 2 birds with one stone so to speak. The riding that you do in the velodrome is actually quite tough, and if I was treating Oceanside as a high priority race, this wouldn’t be the best idea. But, as it stood, I was able to get the aero testing done and get some more race experience with just one flight. Win/win.

DSC_0057My bike did not change from last year, I am still riding the QR PRsix (although the Qbox is a new addition on the 2016 model). However, I have made a few changes to my front end set-up so I was in a slightly different position than when I tested last year. I also wanted to test out a few subtle changes with my position. After dialing in my position, I wanted to test a few kit options, hydration options, and finally a few different helmet scenarios.


Baseline Test Average CdA: .2509
Final Race Set-up Average CdA: .2326

DSC_0018Position Testing
This year, I am using the Zipp Vuka Aero Bar system. I came into testing riding the Zipp ski bend extensions, but really wanted to test out the new Zipp Vuka Alumina Evo 110 extensions. This would bring my hand position a little higher and should be a little more comfortable. My baseline run (with the ski bend extensions) had lower drag than my baseline last year, despite being about 15mm higher in the front end. This was definitely encouraging because last year I was having trouble at the end of the season staying aero due to some low back pain. I was in a super aero position, but if I couldn’t hold it for the entire race, clearly I was losing any benefit. So I decided to pop up the front in just a bit and am much more comfortable. To find out that my new starting position was more aero was a definite plus. (Possible that the addition of the Qbox and using Zipp wheels with ceramic bearings was enough to affect these numbers being as I did not have them for the baseline test last year.)

DSC_0042My second run was with the Vuka EVO 110 extensions. I am running the new SRAM Etap shifters this year, and it made changing these extensions about a 5 minute process rather than a 30 minute change. I paid for 3 hours with Jim, so being able to change them out quickly meant I had more things that I was able to test. Huge, huge benefit. The first few laps with the 110 extensions were a bit weird, but I quickly settled in. After a good bit of riding, we started the test and found that this position was nearly 12 watts faster than my previous position. I finished the run to find big smiles on Coach David’s and Jim’s faces. I knew right away that this was going to be my new position.

DSC_0032Kit Testing-

Last year, I did all of my testing in the Kiwami Spider LD. I raced in that suit all year and absolutely loved it. It is a fantastic suit. In October, they developed a 1/4 sleeve version of the same suit. I definitely wanted to test this suit out. MOST people will be faster in a sleeved suit. However, it comes down to a few things: mainly the fit of the suit as it relates to YOUR body shape, arm position, and aero posture. If the shoulders are really wrinkled, it most likely will not be faster. My days as a wrestler left my shoulders fairly forward (borderline kyphotic). This makes it so most non-custom suits will have a great deal of extra fabric in the front and so prone to wrinkles. Still, the new Kiwami suit has tested very fast so I definitely wanted to give it a try. The testing resulted in the addition of 1-2 watts of drag for me. Jim was fairly surprised with this result as everyone else he had tested in this suit had tested faster. This is obviously very marginal, but a bunch of marginal things can add up. So, I will be racing in the sleeveless spider this year.

DSC_0070Hydration Options

Since we got my position dialed in in essentially 1 run, this year I had a lot more time to test hydration options. Last year, I figured out that running a one bottle behind the seat (correctly placed) and that the TorHans VR series aero bottle on the frame, and the TorHans Bento were the fastest option for me. However, I did not have the opportunity to spend a lot of time testing BTA options. I ordered every BTA system that I could think of through so I had a ton of options. Many of the systems have tested well for others but had a bit more drag than I was willing to settle with. The best system for me ended up being the TorHans AeroZ. It actually tested as net zero change in CdA. It did not make me faster, but was the only BTA system that I tested that had no drag cost.

I am really happy to be working with Kask Helmets this year. The Kask Bambino Pro has shown to test extremely well on nearly every riding position. Thankfully, this was the same with me. I started testing with the Bambino Pro and the shield. My second run was the Bambino Pro and the new Kask glasses (which are coming to the US market later this month!!!). I was surprised to find that the glasses tested a little faster (approximately 1 watt). I have raced in Bambino Pro in Panama, New Zealand, and Cozumel. While using it with the visor allowed for plenty of air flow to cool yourself during a hot race, I am happy the glasses will be faster for me. Any additional airflow is a benefit…the fact that adding air flow makes you faster is awesome! It is important to point out that Kask developed the glasses that tested faster with THEIR helmet. You can’t assume that every pair of glasses will be faster with this helmet. I also tested out the Kask Infinity, which has shown to be the fastest road helmet currently on the market time and again. In the aero position, the Infinity cost about 4 watts. Personally, I think the Bambino Pro with glasses option has plenty of air flow, even in the hottest environments so that will be how I race.

DSC_0078Biggest Surprise

I had actually planned on riding the sram 1×11 this year for most of my races, so I was really excited to test this out in the velodrome. I certainly figured that taking the small chain ring and the front derailleur off the frame would yield less drag. Coach David, Jim and I were a bit surprised to find out that we were wrong, it actually increased drag on the Quintana Roo PRsix by 4 watts. I don’t think this will be the same way on every frame, however. The QR PR series have what they call shift technology. They are designed to shift more of the air flow to the left, or non-drive side of the bike. I would venture to guess that most bikes where the air flow is more evenly distributed would be affected more by the FD. Second, bike manufacturers design their TT bikes to have a FD and a small chain ring. So they optimize airflow around these. It is certainly possible that air flow is negatively affected without them. The 1×11 is a relatively new development by SRAM and I look forward to seeing more and more testing on this. As it gains in popularity, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few bike manufacturers start to create a bike with that in mind.


I am VERY happy with how the day went as well as the final drag numbers that I have in the position I can comfortably sustain and with the equipment I am racing with for 2016. A few final thoughts. Order of testing here was really important. If I would have tested the Vuka 110 extensions last, all of the data from the BTA bottles on the ski bends would have been of no use since my arm position changed. The opportunity to test gives you the option of finding out what is fast for you. Retailers can put out wind tunnel numbers and even some independent testing numbers, but there is still individual differences.

Also, any time we got numbers that looked a little off, or really surprised us, we did a follow up baseline test. When I did each test with the same baseline equipment, I was replicating the original numbers to the fourth integer!!! This gives us a ton of confidence that the numbers that we were getting were accurate.

Testing gave me the confidence in knowing that the products that I am using are making me as fast as possible. I have the equipment all sorted for the year, now I can worry about fine tuning the engine.


One Comment

  1. Doug Hall

    April 12, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Going to imtx in five weeks. You’ve enjoyed considerable success there. Tips on battling the heat and humidity?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *