Q: WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH EVERYTHING GOING AERO, EVEN GRAVEL BIKES?
A: It was a few years ago at a wheel launch that I was sitting eating ice cream with a few aerodynamic experts who spend nearly every day in the wind tunnel or studying computational fluid dynamics when I was told a shocking stat.
They were explaining that drafting at speed as low as 9 mph offered a slight advantage, and that around 11–12 mph offered a true advantage. This was a bit shocking to me and brought forth a flurry of questions. They explained this was in general terms, and there are things that can affect the stat, but overall, it was true for 98 percent of riders and their positions.
So, why is everything becoming aero? Because every little hint of wind-cheating shaping can help, even when speeds are low. As the industry evolves its aero designs, they are working on ways to balance compliance, stiffness, aero and reality. Still, the least aerodynamic part of the system is the rider, but if they can minimize the drag on the rest of the system, it will offer marginal gains.