Bicycle aerodynamics: history, state-of-the-art and future perspectives

Fabio Malizia (Corresponding author), Bert Blocken

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Abstract

The importance of aerodynamics in cycling is not a recent discovery. Already in the late 1800s it was recognized as a main source of resistance in cycling. This knowledge was only rediscovered in the late 1970s and 1980s, when aerodynamic concepts were applied to bicycle equipment and cyclist positions, leading to new world hour records and Olympic medals. The renewed interest for cycling aerodynamics is significantly growing with the production of a vast literature, focused on increasing the comprehension of cycling aerodynamics and on improving the aerodynamics of bicycle equipment. Finding the connection between the different subfields of cycling aerodynamics and linking new research with past discoveries is crucial to efficiently drive future studies. Therefore, the present paper provides a comprehensive review of the history and the state-of-the-art in cycling aerodynamics, focusing on one of its main aspects: the bicycle. First, a short history of the bicycle is presented. Next, some cycling power models are outlined and assessment methods for aerodynamic drag are discussed, along with their main advantages and disadvantages. The core of this review paper addresses the components constituting the bicycle: frame and tubes, wheels, handlebar and other equipment. Finally, some future perspectives on bicycle aerodynamics are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104134
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
Volume200
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • CFD
  • Cycling aerodynamics
  • Cyclist
  • Historical overview
  • Sports review
  • Wind tunnel test

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