Testing the Arrow Speedsuit at the A2 Wind Tunnel

Testing in the A2 Wind Tunnel

Sometimes the margin of victory in a bicycle race is measured in fractions of a second. This is especially true in time trials, where aerodynamics is critical. That is precisely why we do everything we can to provide George Hincapie and his BMC Racing Team teammates with every possible advantage when it comes to their cycling apparel. The Hincapie Arrow TT Speedsuit is one garment that can provide a performance advantage, and we spent some research and development time in the A2 Wind Tunnel this week to make further improvements to our aerodynamic suit.

Once we get over the “WOW” factor of being at A2’s super cool, high tech facility, we got down to business testing 4 suits made out of 4 different fabrics. In order to make the testing as scientifically accurate as possible, we had to make sure that the only variable we changed was the suit material. This is where a world class professional like George Hincapie can assist. He rode the same BMC bicycle in the same position for every test. The only thing we changed for each test was the speedsuit fabric, and all the suits were identical except for the material. Speedsuit #1 was the 2010 Velocity Speedsuit used by the BMC Racing Team this season. The other 3 materials were new prototype low-drag fabrics. With the help of A2 Wind Tunnel’s bicycle aerodynamics guru, Mike Giraud we collected great data and determined what material provided the most significant advantage.

In the end, speedsuit prototype #2 proved to be slipperier than the fabric we used in 2010 by about 0.5%-1%. Since drag is a significant component in the speed equation, this means that prototype #2 is faster than the current suit. How much faster? At the speeds that Pro cyclists travel in an average time trial, the 0.5%-1% drag savings would amount to approximately a 5 second savings over a 40K TT! In a world where victories are measured in fractions of a second, that is a fairly significant time savings. (Just ask World Champion and BMC Racing Team member, Taylor Phinney how important seconds can be, as he won the USPro TT Championship by less than a second.)