Swiss Side Aero Tip - Position

posted by Fabienne Dirksen
July 01, 2020

With most athletes we work with we see: The lower you go, the faster you go. Put into numbers: per centimetre lower that you go we see a approx. a 2.5 watt saving at 35 km/h, which adds up to about 20 seconds per hour in time savings on the bike. We have also seen that going narrower with the arms can also bring a big saving. By going 5 cm narrower, e.g., you can save roundabout 3.5 watts at 35 km/h. That’s about 30 seconds faster per hour on the bike.

But going deeper and narrower is not the miracle weapon. What is very important when you are choosing your position is that it is a comfortable position that you can ride for the entire race. Because if all of a sudden you get too sore and too tired and you reach down to the base bar and ride half the time in an upright position you have around 20 watts higher drag at 35 km/h – and that is around 3 mins per hour of time penalty.

So, hold an aero position the lowest you can the longest you can for maximizing your power and you’ll be the fastest you can be.

You are not a time trial rider, but want to ride your road bike in a position as aerodynamically as possible? Well, there are various options oft holding on to the bars – and there are huge differences when it comes to aerodynamics. Let’s start on the so called café position with the hands central on the base bar and the arms straight ahead. Not a very aerodynamic position.

So, if you move from the café position to the hoods, arms still straight, you will save 17 watts at 35 km/h on a 100k course with 1,500 height meters of climbing, which equals 4 minutes and 45 seconds.

The next fastest position is the same straight arms, but on the lower bar. In this position the time savings are increasing to just over 7 minute over 100 km with a 25 watts power saving. Next fastest position is on the hoods again, but with bend arms (90 degrees).

In this position you are saving 37 watts over café position, that is just over 10 minutes over 100 km. And finally, when you get to the sprint, go to the lowest position, i.e. lower bar, bent arms. This position will save you 47 watts compared to café position and that is a stunning 13 minutes on 100 km. So, if you want to go faster, try to ride lower positions more often on your road bike and you get speed for free.