Exposure

This Is Where the World’s Fastest Road Bikers Go to Learn the Secrets of Speed

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Photo: Sam Wiebe

The secret to speed can be found in a nondescript building just north of San Diego off I-5. For the past 69 years, companies have tested the aerodynamics of their planes and missiles in the city’s wind tunnel. Now cyclists use the facility, too, with the goal of finding the ideal equation that maximizes speed while minimizing power output. Earlier this year, U.S. pro bike team Rally Cycling visited the wind tunnel with three of its top time-trialists—Rob Britton, Adam de Vos, and Evan Huffman—to dial in their body positions before the season’s big races, including this week’s Tour of California. The team spent a day in the tunnel under the guidance of HED Cycling aerodynamics guru Dino Edin, who adjusted each riders’ ergonomics and cockpit mechanics. Here’s an inside look at that process.

Photo: Wind tunnel testing is a science of millimeters. It involves incremental adjustments to a rider’s position and the bike components.

Photo: Sam Wiebe
The San Diego Wind Tunnel first began testing aircraft in 1947. General Dynamics ran the facility from 1961 until a privately held company purchased it in 1994. Nine years later, it started working on bikes. Today, it has logged over 100,000 hours of testing.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
After years testing airplanes and missiles, the San Diego Wind Tunnel has applied its expertise in aerodynamics to making athletes and equipment go as fast as possible.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Rally Cycling mechanic Erik Maresjo makes adjustments to the armrests on Rob Britton’s Hed Corsair aerobars.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
One of the team’s top general classification riders, Britton looks to improve his time-trialing in the hopes of challenging for the overall title in May’s Amgen Tour of California.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Every angle of the testing process is recorded to allow evaluation of the rider’s position. The camera mounted above the rider shows how changes in position affect airflow over the rider’s back.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Britton fights the wind as the techs in the control room monitor the data. The two most important metrics are drag coefficient and power output, measured in watts. Low drag and high watts equates to speed.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Adam De Vos demonstrates the ideal position for cheating the wind.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Stephen Ryle outlines the rider’s profile on the live feed.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Rally Cycling’s Adam De Vos tests one of the team’s Lazer aero helmets.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
The team records every change to the rider’s position or equipment and how it affects drag. The data goes on a white board for easy reference.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Evan Huffman puts on his Borah Teamwear OTW skinsuit. Everything from the rider’s clothing, helmets, and pedals are designed to reduce drag—and save seconds.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
The San Diego Wind Tunnel has a long history of improving the position of the fastest riders in the world.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Aerodynamics guru Dino Edin of HED Cycling accompanied the team to the tunnel. He has worked with some of the world's top cyclists on time-trial positioning.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
Edin and Huffman review the white board.
Photo: Sam Wiebe
The men behind the curtain. Erik Maresjo, Tom Russell, Michael Seiber, Stephen Ryle, and Christopher “Dino” Edin.

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