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TECH NEWS

Prepare yourself for the most extreme aero design you’ve ever seen

Ask yourself this question: how badly would you like to ride faster? This wind-cheating setup is absolutely bizarre

What. On Earth. Is this? We’ve seen some unconventional bikes, equipment and clothing intended to improve aerodynamic performance but we’ve never seen anything as bizarre as this design included in a just-published patent application. Essentially, it’s aero clothing with a tail that’s hooked to an adjustable subframe that’s fitted to your bike. And yes, it’s, um, unorthodox. To say the least.

> Have you ever seen a crazier time trial helmet than this? 

There’s a whole lot going on in this patent application filed by a chap called Ara Ohanian – loads, in fact – all of it designed to achieve “higher speed at the same propelling force” by reducing drag.  

Patent- aero clothing - 1 (1)

First, you have the subframe that fixes to your bike. It’s telescopic so the amount of rearward extension can be adjusted. Straightforward enough.

Then things start getting weird. The clothing itself features a tail that extends backwards and hooks to the subframe “to obtain an adjustable aerodynamic posture.”

Okay.

Clothing can clearly have a big effect on aerodynamics, that's no secret, but this is something else altogether. 

Patent- aero clothing - 1

Not only that, the patent application describes a hood – or a “hoodie member”, as it's described –  that’s designed “to create a sharp edge between the head and shoulders of [the] rider for making the shoulders of the rider aerodynamic by streamlining”.

“The hoodie member overcomes the problems of streamline in helmets which do not streamline the shoulders of chin/throat area,” says that patent application. “The hoodie member may prevent the air from hitting directly onto the shoulders and reduces the air from passing between the arms.”

Patent- aero clothing - 2

There’s a “supporting element” inside the clothing – it could be a string or foam – that “extends diagonally between the head and the shoulders of the rider” to shape the clothing and thereby improve the overall aero performance.

It's a strong look.

You want more?

The clothing can also include “shield” sections at the shoulders that extend down the rider’s arms and feature finger holes.

“The shield portion is held by the fingers of the rider to provide an aerodynamic profile between the shoulder and hand of the rider for guiding airflow,” says the patent application.

“The shield portion may be an arm fairing that may be utilised for the purpose of diverting the air around the rider like a wind shield.”

All of this clothing may be stretchable and it could include sections for the lower body, but you get the gist, right?

Would the design work in terms of reducing drag? No wind tunnel statistics are provided in the patent application; there's no obligation to provide evidence that it would be successful.

We've seen loads of bizarre aero concepts over the years, from Graeme Obree's ski-tuck and Superman positions to Specialized's aero snood, and many of them have proved to be effective. This one could be the strangest of the lot, though. We're getting hazmat suit vibes with a hint of Minion thrown in.

The likelihood of this ever being available on the market? Okay, there are a few issues here. The UCI (cycle sport’s world governing body) throws its weight around on sock length so adjustable subframes and arm fairings? You've got to be kidding. The UCI is going to insist on an approved helmet too.

Triathlon? Same deal there, and no one is going to get out of the water and get all that clobber on in transition.

Recreational users, then? Well, would you go out for a ride dressed like that? It's not going to happen.

It's a 'no' from the road.cc jury. We have a feeling this will be the first and last time we see this extraordinary setup, but who are we to judge? What do you think?

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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17 comments

Avatar
Car Delenda Est | 11 months ago
0 likes

Want

Avatar
pasley69 | 11 months ago
1 like

It's not too aero until you need a spoiler on the back to keep the back wheel firml on the ground.

Avatar
NickJP | 11 months ago
4 likes

This idea isn't new. Here's friend's setup from about 30-35 years ago. A Zzipper fairing with home made additions, fairings on the DT and in front of and behind the derailleur, mudguard mounted backwards over the front wheel. Another friend (not a racing cyclist) rode this in an unofficial 40km TT - from memory his time was just over 50 minutes.

Avatar
Ride On replied to NickJP | 11 months ago
0 likes

For real? The guy is a legend!

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a1white | 11 months ago
1 like

Please, Road.cc you need to test this in a video  😂

 

Avatar
fenix | 11 months ago
5 likes

Zwift were there first.

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Basemetal | 12 months ago
3 likes

... and then there were sidewinds :o0

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Backladder | 12 months ago
7 likes

I think we had most of this back when I started cycling, it was called a cape and sou'wester.

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pasley69 replied to Backladder | 11 months ago
1 like

I used that when I was a teenager in the 1960s. Worked well in light rain, heavy rain or puddles and you not only got wet from underneath, there was no clean rain to wash off the dirt and road grime.

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pkaro | 12 months ago
4 likes

If you're ready to throw all dignity out the window, why not go with a faired recumbent?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to pkaro | 12 months ago
2 likes

Well the UCI certainly don’t stand for recumbents of any kind - since the 1930s!

https://bikeroute.com/NationalBicycleGreenwayNews/2013/06/30/best-histor...

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chrisonabike replied to pkaro | 12 months ago
4 likes

How much dignity? Asking for Graeme Obree.

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wycombewheeler replied to chrisonabike | 11 months ago
2 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

How much dignity? Asking for Graeme Obree.

isn't that just bagged to send on the plane?

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 11 months ago
0 likes

He looks more decent than this at least. Something about the legs sticking out looks wrong to me...

I presume yellow was the go-faster colour of the 90s - at least I had a Kingcycle and they seem to be banana themed.

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Griff500 replied to pkaro | 12 months ago
1 like

At least it gives extra stowage space.

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danhopgood replied to Griff500 | 11 months ago
1 like

If I copy this with an old broomstick, zip ties and my baggy tee shirt,am I at risk of patent infringement?

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pasley69 replied to danhopgood | 11 months ago
0 likes

Only when you sell it to someone.

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