In terms of drag caused by a bicycle rider, the biggest loss is caused by the rider themselves followed by the wheels and frame.
The drag caused by wheels is significant because of two fundamental reasons. The first is they hit the air first as they are the most forward part of the bike and second because they are rotating. The effective air speed at the top of a wheel/tyre is double the indicated speed of the bike.
In the bike industry, wheel aerodynamic testing has generally been conducted by two groups of people - Wheel manufacturers and journalists. Wheel manufacturers will usually adjust tests to make their particular wheels look more favourable than their competitors in testing. This is usually achieved by a combination of adjusting speeds and angles. The reality is this type of test is not impartial.
Journalists on the other hand tend to visit their local university and ask some clever boffin to conduct their testing for them and give them the
Those of you who are avid viewers of a number of Internet forums will have noted that some results from my bike wheel wind tunnel testing have been contested and criticized. The ultimate result was I ended up getting banned from weightweenies for a week for calling Tom Anhalt of bike blather a spec of shite on the anus of humanity and a letter went from Flo Cycling to my HR department to ask for me to get the sack.
One of the advantages to not being in the bike industry full time is I don't really give two hoots about brand perception and I'm more than happy to tell someone where to poke it when they are talking from their rear end.
This story starts off with an innocent enough beginning. One of my colleagues was doing an IronMan race and needed the fastest wheels. So some testing was performed. The difference was as a group of aerospace engineers, we probably have a better understanding of airflow than bike companies whose primary aim is to