One of the interesting things I saw during the Sea Otter Classic last weekend was this set of wheel fairings for bicycles created by aerospace industry veteran Garth Magee.
These look a whole lot like the skirt & coast guards used on some utility bikes. The prototypes Magee had on hand at Sea Otter were a little rough, but he told me he plans to offer up something a lot more attractive hopefully by this time next year.
In the meantime, these proofs of concept demonstrate dramatic speed gains. While testing this on a short hill at Sea Otter, there’s a 1.5 MPH difference in the the top speed (from 19 MPH to 20.5 MPH) after attaching these Null Winds Technology wheel fairings using the same bike and same rider.
Magee and his company hope to sell these to non-competing enthusiasts, knowing they can never be used in competition at the amateur or pro level. The UCI ban on wheel fairings, first implemented 100 years ago in 1913, continues to this day. The International Triathlon Union and Race Across America also ban the use of wheel fairings, which is why you see deep dish and disk wheels.
Magee believes his fairings over the top half of the wheel offer superior slipstreaming over disk wheels. I can picture a fender as part of the package as well, and perhaps even integrating a fairing into the design of the frame by stretching a membrane between each chainstay and the seat tube.
Everybody asked about crosswinds. While variable crosswinds do impact a faired bicycle’s stability, a steady crosswind is known to increase the speed of a bike. Although faired bikes can’t easily adjust their angle of travel relative to the wind, the benefit is similar to a sailboat reaching or running perpendicular to the wind. HPV records on oval tracks are broken on windy days due to this crosswind benefit.
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