Du It For You

Duathlon training and racing: stories, advice, and views from the top

Tag: aero equipment

Do you need a space alien aero helmet for duathlon?

Marvin Martian

If you want to shave 30 to 60 seconds per hour off your duathlon time, the aerodynamically obsessed say to invest in an aero helmet. An aero helmet smooths the airflow from the front of your head over your back, making you slice through the wind a little bit easier.

But to get those time savings, the helmet has to fit properly for your riding style and bike position. The long-tail helmets, like the Rudy Wingspan (which I have, purchased at a big discount on eBay), work great if you ride in a super-aero position with a flat back and your head positioned just so. (Which I don’t.)

Why? Because the tail has to effectively sit on your back for max aero benefits. If you look down at your Garmin every five minutes or ride with your head tilted to one side, you lose most of the aero benefits. Suddenly, the helmet’s tail becomes a sail. You don’t want a sail in your race.

Rudy Project Wingspan Aero Triathlon Time Trial Helmet Helmet – Black/White/Silver Matte – Unisize – Men’s & Women’s

Rudy Wingspan

 

 

 

 

 

Another downside: lack of breathability. In a hot race, you have little ventilation, sort of like riding in a car with the windows rolled up. And if you travel to races and plan to ride in the days pre- or post-race, you’ll have to either pack a road helmet or ride around wearing that silly helmet.

The new TT helmets

To mitigate many of the downsides to long-tailed space alien aero helmets, helmet manufacturers started issuing lids without a tail. Using computer technology to analyze airflow, helmet experts found ways to produce comparable aerodynamic benefits without a tail.

These newer helmets still smooth airflow over the head. They also help reduce drag in crosswinds caused by long tails. And they eliminate drag caused by neck fatigue or Garmin obsession. Bonus: they don’t look as silly when you’re on a sightseeing recovery ride the day after a race.

Here are a few new aero helmets that have gotten positive reviews. Since I haven’t worn them, or reviewed them, I’ll leave it to you to do your own research.

Giro Air Attack Aero Road Helmet – 2018 MEDIUM BLACK

Giro Air Attack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudy Project Boost 01 With Optical Shield Titanium Matte – Large

Rudy Project helmet

 

 

 

 

 

POC Cerebel, Cycling Helmet for Racing, Navy Blue, M

POC Helmet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant Rivet TT

Giant Rivet TT helmet

 

 

 

 

 

Lazer Wasp Air Tri

Lazer Wasp TT helmet

 

 

 

 

The poor man’s TT helmet

If you aren’t worried about a few extra seconds or don’t want to spend a bunch of money on another helmet, you *could* tape the vents in your road helmet. (I’ve done this.) The forums say you’ll get at least a fraction of the benefits of an aero helmet. Maybe you’ll get some funny looks, but so what?

What’s your favorite helmet? Give us your pick and why you like it in the comments below!

Free speed: ride faster with these aero tweaks

In a duathlon, a few seconds can mean the difference between a podium spot and a forgettable place in the age group ranks.

Smart, consistent training is really the only (legal) way to get faster on the bike. But with a few adjustments to your equipment, clothing, and position, you can shave several seconds or more off of your duathlon time and reclaim your spot on top.

Jonathan Lee, a professional cycling coach, bike fitter, and Cat 1 racer based in Santa Rosa, California, has few equipment suggestions to help you get more aero on the bike. Even better, you don’t have to spend a few thousand dollars on a new set of wheels to reap benefits. Even taking off your gloves can save precious time!

Do you have any aero tips or favorite gear? Share in the comments below!

In order of priority, here are a few highlights from his aerodynamic checklist.

  1. Aero helmet. Several companies make helmets that will help you cut through the wind like a jet. Louis Garneau and Giro are popular choices. I’m partial to my Rudy Project Wingspan. If a new helmet isn’t in the cards right now, you can tape over the vents on your regular helmet. Lee says it really does help! I’ve done it!
  1. Front wheel. A good set of wheels can save up to 50 watts, according to John Cobb of Cobb Cycling. And the front wheel takes all the wind, making it a more important aero swap than the rear. Zipp 1080, Hed Stinger 9, and Zipp 808 are a few of Lee’s top choices. Be sure to pair your wheels with good tires that offer low rolling resistance.
  1. Aero bars. Straight extension or S-bend aerobar extensions will allow your hands to lay flatter (and more aero) than the J-bends that are popular with triathletes.
  1. Aero fork. A more aero fork will reduce drag from the front wheel without much drag on your wallet. Jetstream, Aerus, and Easton are a few brands to consider.

Other easy tweaks

  • If you bike doesn’t have internal cable routing, secure cables to the frame with zip ties.
  • Mount your water bottle (aero of course) on the seat tube rather than the front tube.
  • Swap quick-release skewers for bolt-on skewers. Lee says this simple change will save a few seconds off of a 40K time trial.
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Me at a duathlon in Folsom, California. Am I aero enough?

Clothing

  1. Get the skinsuit. They really are faster. Find one that allows for minimal air flow without compressing you like a sausage. One side-by-side test showed almost a two-minute savings in a 40K time trial compared to a standard jersey and shorts.
  1. Ditch the gloves. Those Velcro straps hang out in the wind, costing you precious time. According to MIT wind tunnel tests, wearing regular cycling gloves in a time trial will slow you down more than riding without an aero front wheel. If you race in the cold, invest in a pair of aero gloves.

Body tweaks

  • Make yourself “small.”
  • Keep your arms and elbows as close together as possible without restricting your breathing.
  • Roll your shoulders forward like a turtle.
  • Keep your knees close to the bike.
  • Keep your head down low so that the tip of your aero helmet touches (or almost touches) your back.

The best time to rethink your aero equipment is in conjunction with a professional bike fit. Your body accounts for 70 to 75 percent of the aerodynamic drag created during forward movement. If you can get more efficient, aero, and comfortable on the bike, you can gain more power. Even modest power gains can lead to big results!

To find out more about Jonathan Lee’s coaching and bike-fitting services, email him at jonathan@leemail.com.

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