Wind Tunnel Testing

Wind Tunnel Testing

The goal of the testing was to make our riders faster on a TT-bike.

By: ALP Coach Patricia Schwager

While working at the team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank Pro Women's Cycling camp this spring, I had the chance to go to the FASTER AZ wind tunnel in Scottsdale Arizona. I spent a whole day at the wind tunnel with 3 of the TIBCO riders. I never had the chance to test my bike position/ equipment in a wind tunnel during my own racing career. So this day at the wind tunnel was a very interesting experience for me. It was impressive to see the results of each rider and understand how individual the most aero position really is.

Since this year, the team has a new wheel sponsor with EDCO wheels. Fun fact is that EDCO is a Swiss company/ brand and they name all their wheels after Swiss mountain passes or climbs :) The US headquarters of EDCO actually is at the FASTER wind tunnel so the partnership includes wind tunnel testing.

What did we test at the wind tunnel? The goal of the testing was to make our riders faster on a TT-bike. This means to find the best/ fastest wheel combination(s) but also to optimize and make the position on the TT-bike faster. EDCO offers a bunch of different wheel types/ sizes. We tested the following types: 65mm, 85mm, 105mm (rear) and disc wheel (rear). For each rider the test session in the tunnel took about 1h30. For the whole test session, the riders were wearing their full time trial racing outfit with: long sleeve TT-suit, TT-helmet and aero shoe-covers. The riders had to complete 7 to 11 blocks of 10mins at or slightly below threshold. For each 10min block, another wheel combo got tested and wind speeds and angles were accounted for. As you can imagine, this was a pretty hard WO for the riders!

Alp Cycles Coaching Wind Tunnel

Interesting facts that I learned from wind tunnel session include:

-using a disc wheel for the rear is not always the fastest solution. It depends on your body position, your equipment, wind conditions etc.

-going lower with the front end doesn't always make you more aero or faster!

-there are 2 general types of TT body positions: people with a flat back and people with a round shaped back

-Long hair or pony tails are not fast...try to hide all your hair in/under your TT-helmet.

-the best/ fastest/ most aero wheel combo it not the same for each rider! It depends on the rider, body position etc.

-relaxing your back between your shoulders and dropping your chin  close to your hands as they grip the aero bar extensions is a good way to make your front end more aero

This day at the wind tunnel taught me a lot and our riders will for sure faster on their TT-bikes!

Alp Cycles Coaching Wind Tunnel

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Patricia Schwager began cycling in 1998, racing as a junior. After racing on the domestic level and completing her Diploma as Pastry Chef, she got her first pro contract in 2006. 2015 will be here 10th year of professional racing. Patricia has a lot of experience racing in the European peloton. In 2013 she started working with Shawn Heidgen (Current ALP Cycles Coach) as her personal coach. In 2014 she changed her focus to racing in the US. Patricia is a 6 time national Swiss champion and has represented her home country, Switzerland, at the World Championships 12 times.

For 2015, Patricia will race for Team Tibco. Along with racing she’s looking to share and pass on her knowledge in her new role as an ALP Cycles Coach. Visit her online at