Aerodynamics has been the big buzz word in cycling for a few years now, trumping the obsession with weight that had been on cyclists’ minds for generations before.
And for good reason. Our own testing, and that of others, has shown that bikes with more aerodynamic frames and wheels have out-performed bikes with normal-shaped frames and tubes in the velodrome, finding that an aero bike is significantly faster in flat terrain.
Now we’re taking things out into the real world to test three aero bikes on proper roads, putting them up against a seven kilometre course including a descent to test handling, a flat section to test aero dynamics, and a climb to see if any gains on the flat will be done away with in the hills.
All three of our aero bikes were heavier than the lightweight climbing bike that they were up against, with each of the Orro Venturi, Scott Foil, and Giant Propel conceding weight.
The bikes were ridden at different wattages at the test, and we found that while with an average power of 210 watts there was little difference between the aero bike and the climbing bike, at higher wattages the benefits of improved aerodynamics became clear, with the Giant Propel, ridden at 275 watts being more than 30 seconds faster over the short seven kilometre course.
In fact, at higher wattages the aero bike was even quicker on the two kilometre climb that was included in the course, showing that even when climbing improve aerodynamics can be more important than low weight.
What’s more, with all three of our test bike having disc brakes instead of rim brakes, our testers were able to go faster down the descent, even in damp conditions on wet roads.