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  • Back to Blog  

    Guide To Aero Road Bikes

       Words by Harry Archer

       on 28/03/2018 16:13:51

    Aero road hero
    • Designed for - Racers, criterium riders, short course triathletes, weekend speed freaks
    • Pro peloton aero riders - Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan.
    • Look Out For - Aggressive geometry, aero tube profiles, deep section wheels.

    Over the last few years the Road bike market has become more competitive than ever. With constant innovation from manufacturers attempting to get an advantage over their competitors, The development of products to achieve greater performance is ongoing and seemingly never-ending. The ultra low weights of frames is something that the majority of major manufacturers appear to have mastered - so much so that many models are too light to meet UCI racing regulations. This led to the development of the Aero bike, with the focus shifting to focus not only on overall weight but also on the conquering of the cyclist's number one nemesis : The Wind – with up to 20% of total air resistance encountered on a ride attributed to the design profile of a particular frame.  Research and development teams at some of the largest cycling brands claim that an aero-specific frame can reduce the aforementioned 20% to almost nothing - with the trade off being the extra weight that decreases climbing ability (but only on 7% gradients and above).

    An Aero road bike is designed to feature enhanced aerodynamic features. The frames are often constructed with unique tubing that makes the bike appear stocky from the side but skinny from the front, whilst all parts of the bike are refined to keep the amount of wind resistance as low as possible. It's pretty much guaranteed to find an Aero style bike being offered by almost all major bike brands these days and the latest Aero models have benefitted from previous years of innovation and this year are likely to be faster than ever, whilst working to reduce the harshness of the ride experience, making the bikes as comfortable as possible in spite of their aggressive geometries and ultra stiff frames. Think of the Aero bike as the combination of the efficiency and speed of a Time Trial (TT) frame with the handling of a racing road frame, balancing weight and stiffness into a package that would appear, on paper at least, to be the ultimate choice for a speed-orientated road racer. Unlike a TT bike, aero bikes are safe to ride in a group - a big plus for those who ride with clubs or friends regularly.

    Envie Advanced Gallery 1

    Aero road bikes are at their best bombing along flat roads, going as fast as possible and supporting an aggressive, ‘tucked’ riding position. The extra material used in construction means that aero bikes are slightly heavier than pure race bikes, making climbing hills more challenging. However, the most recent aero road bikes on the market have adopted certain technologies from the endurance genre, making them less uncomfortable but maintaining the ultra fast and responsive ethos at the heart of aero-specific designs. Component Integration is paramount to the success of an aero frame, but this can make them fiddly to fix so make sure you're prepared for long repair times and have made good friends with the mechanics at your local bike shop!

    Guide To Endurance Road Bikes >What bike should I buy? >Road Bike Guide >

    Quick Links

    Geometry & Frame Material Groupsets Wheels & Tyres Brakes Clothing & Accessories Our Favourites

    Geometry & Frame Material

    When it comes to the frame material of your aero bike, quality carbon is by far the lightest and most compliant (comfortable) material. These qualities immediately put carbon at the top of the wish list for any aero riders as even the smallest of weight saving,efficiency-improving features can make all the difference to the performance on the road, especially on hills where heavier aero frames tend to come unstuck. Carbon can also be moulded into any shape – so it’s the most popular when it comes to aero bikes as often tubes will be tapered or adjusted in gradient and design in order to make the bike as quick and aerodynamic as possible. To achieve the ultimate results in aerodynamics, Specialized has built its own wind tunnel and the majority of manufacturers are carrying out similar tests at other facilities. Each company has slightly different approaches to creating the best possible frame and geometry for aerodynamics but almost all aero bike models will be kitted out with aerofoil-shaped tubes, integrated brakes,flex seat-posts, aggressive angles and internal cable routing. The tubing of the frame is specifically designed to allow air to pass over the frame with less resistance. This can be done in a variety of ways - with the most common methods being the construction of tubes with a teardrop profile or manipulating the airflow over high-resistance zones in order to provide an overall reduction in drag effecting the bike. When the unique tubing is combined with a larger diameter bottom bracket and oversized headtube, a stiff,aerodynamic frame  is created and forms the basis of this category of road bike.

    Specialized wind tunnel

    Aesthetically speaking ,aero road bikes have a design that immediately appeals to those who love to ride hard and ride fast. The tube shapes go a long way to countering resistance to offer more speed but in terms of overall velocity, specific aero-componentry is the solution. Componentry to improve air resistance is often focused on the seat post, which is made to have the same flat profile as the tubing and is usually integrated in the frame. Furthermore,seat-clamps and internal cable housing/routing are often provided to reduce drag. Additionally, an oversized head tube is frequently fitted to improve the steering qualities of the bike.

    10 of Our Favourite Road Bikes Under £1000 >

    Aero seat tube

    The headtube on aero bikes is intentionally shortened to create a lower frontal profile and thus reduce the level of air resistance for the frame to overcome. The majority of aero bikes will feature headtubes below 140mm - when you can consider that endurance frames will normally feature 160mm plus headtubes it's clear to see the difference in terms of riding position. In addition to the shorter headtube, aero bikes tend to offer longer frame reach than endurance bikes, again promoting a tucked riding position to reduce drag. Approximately 85% of wind resistance encountered by a rider is due to their body, so by being lower and more compacted It means the rider’s centre of gravity is lower and they’ll have a much smaller head-on shape, making them more aerodynamic and allowing them to reach top speeds with less effort. The geometry of an aero bike will force the rider to push their weight low and forward, leading to less air resistance and more front wheel traction as the increased front-end mass puts more weight through the front tyre and directly increases cornering grip. For true comfort and maximum performance output there's really no substitute for a quality bike fit that will meticulously measure out your bike to your unique dimensions. It's critical to the point that even a budget aero bike that fits you perfectly is likely to give you far better comfort,performance and handling than a top of the range model that isn't fitted to you correctly.

    Discover Bike Fitting At Rutland Cycling >

    Aero road handlebar

    Groupset

    Aero road bikes normally have far larger than normal gear ratios. This makes sense : Aero bikes are predominantly designed to go fast and a large gear ratio will certainly aid this goal. In the past, the majority of road bikes came with a 53T large chain ring and a 39T small chain ring on the front crankset but over recent years there's been a definite shift towards 'mid-compact' cranksets, which offer a 52T large chain ring paired with a 36T small chain ring. There are also 'compact' set ups with a 50T large chain ring and a 34T small chain ring (Entry and intermediate bikes sold to the public will most likely come with a compact set-up as the riders of these bikes don't require the larger gears that the pros do to reach the highest echelons of speed on the road). Aero bikes weren't intended for slow speeds or climbing and therefore they're often fitted with 53/39 cranksets to cater for high speeds on flatter routes. The increased rear cassette ratio provides excellent performance at speed whilst an 11-25 cassette is typically used to give the bike smoother shifting and smaller increments between gears.

    Wheels & Tyres

    Responsible for 7% of the total drag that a rider encounters while in motion, wheels are a vital piece of the aerodynamic puzzle. The solution to reducing wheel resistance is found in deep section wheels and it's pretty much gospel that aero bikes will always be paired with deep section wheels as they greatly reduce drag and directly enhance aerodynamics. Typically, deep set wheels will be between 40mm and 80mm deep with the downside of running this type of wheel being the potential handling issues in windy conditions and the additional weight to add to the frame. That being said the pros certainly outweigh the cons and therefore expect to see deep set wheels on aero bikes for the foreseeable future! Tyres on aero bikes are generally smooth profiled and as skinny as possible for less air resistance and road friction.

    Aero road brake

    Brakes

    Integration is a key component of aero bikes and braking set-up is something that sets an aero bike apart from its race and TT bike brethren. A lot of aero bikes will have the rear brake hidden out of the wind underneath the bottom bracket area, or housed within special ‘cut-outs’ on the seat stays, seat tube or fork to seamlessly integrate the brake to the bike and reduce air resistance as the frame becomes sleeker and more refined. The shift to disc brakes has affected the aero bike market as much as other categories with a variety of large brands such as Scott and Specialized now providing disc options on their aero bike frames. It is claimed by these companies that the use of discs makes no difference to overall aerodynamics whilst directly improving the speed of the bike by allowing the rider to brake later and descend quicker.

    Clothing & Accessories

    There’s no argument - aero bikes offer you an definite advantage in terms of efficiency and aerodynamics. However, this alone won’t transform your performance. The aero frame will only really offer marginal gains (I.e the advantages are small and need to be accumulated across your entire riding experience before they make a significant difference.) The biggest contributors to aerodynamics apart from the frame include your helmet, clothing and, most importantly of all, you. Your body accounts for around 80 percent of the drag you generate and thus the optimisation of your kit and body shape is imperative in order to make an aero bike a realistic and worthwhile option for your next bike.

    Cycle Clothing Guide >Essential Cycling Accessories >Bike Helmet Guide >

    Our Favourite Aero Road Bikes This Year

    Giant Propel Advanced 2018

    Every aspect of the Propel's frame is engineered as a complete system to deliver unbeatable aero road performance. Extensive CFD analysis and dynamic wind-tunnel testing was used to optimize every frame tube and angle in a process called AeroSystem Shaping technology. The frame is then handcrafted using Advanced-grade composite material to produce a bike that’s both stiff and light, with a sharp, responsive ride quality. Purpose-built aero road technologies, including SpeedControl SL brakes and a Vector seatpost further enhance this well-rounded, wind-slicing performer.

    giant-road-bike-aero-road-bike-carbon_7A6F3ABD

    Giant Propel 2018 Range Overview >First Look: Giant Propel Disc Road Bike 2018 >

    Trek Madone 2018

    The Trek Madone is the ultimate fusion of power, aerodynamics, ride quality and integration. There are no two ways about it: the Madone is a marvel of road bike engineering. Every detail of Madone is engineered for unprecedented futuristic performance, ride quality and efficiency, putting every single watt you earn toward demolishing your competition.

    • Advanced aerodynamics - Madone sets a new benchmark for aero performance, surpassing every other road bike on the tarmac and in the wind tunnel* (*according to Trek).
    • Madone IsoSpeed - The revolutionary Madone IsoSpeed decoupler is fully integrated, offering unparalleled aerodynamics, unmatched vertical compliance and ultimate ride quality.
    • Ride-tuned performance - Fully tested size-specific ride-tuned performance delivers the ultimate balance of speed, power and handling, no matter what size bike you ride.
    • Unprecedented integration - Every element of Madone serves the ultimate goal of unprecedented integration to enhance performance, making Madone the fastest, most advanced option on the road.

    View The Full Range Of Trek Madone 2018 >

    Specialized Venge Vias 2018

    The Venge was created and refined over many years of development and testing in our Specialized's own Wind Tunnel. The same wind tunnel testing was also used to develop the individual parts, ensuring that the componentry works together to provide the ultimate aerodynamic advantage. This has meant that frame, seatpost, brakes, and Aerofly handlebars are shaped to be faster than the sum of their parts.

    View The Full Range Of Specialized Venge 2018 >

    Scott 2018 Foil RC Carbon

    Scott foil rc

    New Scott Foil Disc 2018: 8 things you need to know >

    Born To Win. This Foil RC Road Bike has been redesigned by Scott for 2018 and brings new levels of aerodynamics to life on the road as you know it. Offering the perfect blend of speed, comfort, and stiffness, the Scott Foil RC is ready to win thanks to a light carbon frame, aero shaping, and Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain components. Its light and stiff carbon frame is made from HMX with Aero Carbon Tech to slice through the air with ease. Shimano's latest Dura-Ace groupset offers effortless shifting with a crisp and responsive feel while the powerful Dura-Ace SLR Dual Pivot offer confident braking and control.

    • Frame - FOIL HMX / IMP, F01 AERO Carbon tech
    • Fork - FOIL HMX
    • Drivetrain - Shimano Dura-Ace
    • Brakes - Shimano Dura Ace

    Bianchi 2018 Oltre XR4 Dura-Ace Di2 55T

    Bianchi_OltreXR4DuraAceDi217_thumb2

    An advanced carbon fibre frame and high-spec components come together to give the Bianchi Oltre XR4 Dura-Ace Di2 Race Bike its race-ready performance. Not all carbon is made equal, and there’s no other carbon fibre quite like Bianchi’s Countervail anti-vibration enhanced carbon. This technology is built in to the carbon fibre itself, and gives the bike impressive smoothness over harsh road surfaces. The result is a much smoother ride so you fatigue slower helping you to stay focused on even the longest stage races. These benefits are even more impressive when you factor in that the Oltre XR4 sacrifices no power transfer or stiffness for the increased comfort. The Shimano Dura Ace Di2 groupset needs no introduction, as it gives quick, precise and reliable gear shifts across the 2x11 speed drivetrain with every push of the levers. This version of the Oltre XR4 features a Fulcrum Racing Speed 55T carbon tubular wheelset. For a slightly for affordable Bianchi option check out the 2018 Aria range - details of which can be found here.

    • Frame - Oltre XR.4 carbon w/Countervail
    • Fork - Bianchi Full Carbon Aero w/Countervail, 1.1/8>1.1/4"
    • Drivetrain - Shimano Dura Ace Di2 2x11sp
    • Brakes - Shimano Dura Ace BR-R9110 direct mount

    Liv Envie Advanced 1 2018 Ladies

    Envie-Advanced-1-Color-A-Black

    Tested: Liv Envie or Liv Langma? >

    Featuring Advanced Composite technology with high performance Grade raw carbon material to give you a very high stiffness to weight ratio, the Liv Envie Adv 1 allows you to have a bike that is lighter than before whilst also being stronger. The Overdrive Steerer technology has been designed to provide precise front end steering performance by using oversized headset bearings,giving the rider much more comfort and control over the bike's steering. With 22 gears of a full Shimano Ultegra groupset you get smooth, quick shifting as well as all the power you need to climb hills with ease and really get your wheels turning when you put your foot down. Shimano Ultegra Caliper brakes provide you with all of the stopping power, and more, that you will ever need when descending a tough climb you've just flown up.

    • Frame - Advance-Grade Carbon Composite
    • Fork - Advanced-Grade Composite w/Hybrid OverDrive Steerer
    • Drivetrain - Shimano Ultegra 2x11 Speed
    • Brakes - Giant SpeedControl Calliper

    Browse The Full Range Of Aero Road Bikes >

    So there we have it - a comprehensive guide for you to use to find your brand new aero bike. For more details contact us online, in store or read through one of our many other guides on pretty much everything within the world of cycling! For a limited time only you could even save yourself some money on your new ride, Read about Rutland Cycling's new trade-in offer and learn how your old bike can help you to finally move on to a new, shiny model.

    The Big Rutland Trade In >Contact Us >View All Guides and Advice >

    Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store

    You can browse the entire Road Bike range online, or you can get your hands on it in your nearest Rutland Cycling store.

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