Swiss Side Aero Tip - Apparel Choice

posted by Fabienne Dirksen
March 22, 2020

Cycling apparel is a very individual thing – also and especially when it comes to aerodynamics. We have done a lot of wind tunnel testing with pro athletes and age groupers – and we see from it that you can’t say which is the fastest suit or jersey in the world. The reason for this is that cycling apparel has a strong dependency on the rider’s position, e.g. the shape of the back or the position of the head. But there are some things that we’ve seen that you can take with you when you are choosing the best suit or cycling jersey.
The most important thing to remember is that air doesn’t like skin, so you want to have a long sleeved suit or jersey that covers as much of the arm as possible and – in case of a one-piece or a cycling pants – similarly on the legs: you want to go as close to the knee as possible.
And you want to have the suit or a jersey that has the least number of wrinkles possible and that fits you really nicely. The areas to pay particular attention to are the outside around the shoulders and similarly the outside of the side of your body. The cloth covering these areas should be as flat as possible without any wrinkles. If you have some wrinkles on the inside, i.e. the chest area, it doesn’t make much of a difference.
Let’s put the aero advantage of a well-fitting suit or jersey in numbers: What we’ve seen is that you can save up to 15 watts at 35 km/h with a good suit. This means 1.5 to 2 minutes per hour on the bike. So, there is huge savings to be made with a good one-piece suit.
A tightly fitting jersey which is really hugging the body, also with longer sleeves, actually brings quite a significant aerodynamic advantage, too. In the wind tunnel at 35 km/h this saved 10 watts compared to a looser fitting jersey with shorter arms. This is a time equivalent of around 2 minutes and 45 seconds on a 100 km course with 1,500 height meters of climbing.
It is therefore obvious that in general it is very important that when you choose your jersey or one-piece suit that it is one that fits well, that it is one that has as little wrinkles as possible and that has longer sleeves – then you will get some speed for free.

Photo: Tino Pohlmann