Energy cost and efficiency of riding aerodynamic bicycles

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1993;67(2):144-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00376658.


Traction resistance (Rt) was determined by towing two cyclists in fully dropped posture on bicycles with an aerodynamic frame with lenticular wheels (AL), an aerodynamic frame with traditional wheels (AT), or a traditional frame with lenticular wheels (TL) in calm air on a flat wooden track at constant speed (8.6-14.6 m.s-1). Under all experimental conditions, Rt increased linearly with the square of air velocity (v2a); r2 equal to greater than 0.89. The constant k = delta Rt/delta v2a was about 15% lower for AL and AT (0.157 and 0.155 N.s2 x m-2) than for TL bicycles (0.184 N.s2 x m-2). These data show firstly, that in terms of mechanical energy savings, the role of lenticular wheels is negligible and, secondly, that for TL bicycles, the value of k was essentially equal to that found by others for bicycles with a traditional frame and traditional wheels (TT). The energy cost of cycling per unit distance (Cc, J.m-1) was also measured for AT and TT bicycles from the ratio of the O2 consumption above resting to speed, in the speed range from 4.7 to 11.1 m.s-1. The Cc also increased linearly with v2a, as described by: Cc = 30.8 + 0.558 v2a and Cc = 29.6 + 0.606 v2a for AT and TT bicycles. Thus from our study it would seem that AT bicycles are only about 5% more economical than TT at 12.5 m.s-1 the economy tending to increase slightly with the speed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis / physiology
  • Bicycling*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology