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Cycling Aerodynamics

This story looks at cycling aerodynamics, drag and rolling resistance. It shows how wind tunnel tests are helping New Zealand cyclists reduce drag to reach faster speeds.

Elite cyclists use wind tunnel testing to reduce their aerodynamic drag. Reduced drag combined with powerful pedalling gives the speed needed to win races.

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New Zealand Research

People Profile

Wind tunnel testing of cyclists

Lindsey Underwood

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Canterbury

Dr. Mark Jermy

Science Ideas & Concepts

Teaching & Learning Approaches

Forces and speed

On your bikes

Causes of aerodynamic drag

Individual pursuit graphs

Rolling resistance

Investigating airflow over shapes

Looking Closer

Sci Media Videos

Faster bikes

Aerodynamics and drag

Pedal Power

Testing aerodynamics of elite cyclists


Testing bike frames


The wind tunnel


What is rolling resistance?

New Zealand has many elite cyclists who use the wind tunnel at Canterbury University to improve their racing performance. Lindsey Underwood and Dr Mark Jermy work with cyclists and coaches to help find the body position and equipment that works best for each individual.

This science story looks at how forces affect speed and some of the causes of aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance in cycling. It shows how wind tunnel testing can be used to help cyclists reduce aerodynamic drag to maximise their cycling speed.

The science ideas related to aerodynamics and speed in this science story will lead to a better understanding of cycling aerodynamics and how forces affect motion.

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