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How Much Faster Is A Modern Road Bike & Kit? | Retro Vs Modern Wind Tunnel Tested

– Over the years, bikes have advanced. – A lot. – I love retro kit. – Yeah, and I love modern, aero bikes. So much so, that we’ve decided to combine our two passions and come to the Silver Stone
Sports Engineering Hub, a cycling specific wind tunnel to pit the latest, most high-tech cutting edge modern aero bike tech against John’s beautiful retro tech. To see just how much faster
an amazing bike like this is going to be over John’s. – Well, if it’s faster, mate. – It will be, but before we show you just how much faster mine is, you know the drill, subscribe if you haven’t already and also click the little bell icon. – Right, mate, let’s
go get you dressed up. – What? – Oh yeah, I haven’t told you about that. You’re going to love this. (bouncy music) (whooshing) – [Narrator] The testing
protocol is as follows. We have three set-ups; a retro bike with retro clothing, a retro bike with modern aero clothing, and a modern aero bike
with modern aero clothing. With these set-ups, we will be measuring
how aerodynamic they are at three different speeds; 25 kilometers per hour a speed that most of us ride at, 35 kilometers an hour a speed that most of us aspire to ride at, and 45 kilometers an hour a speed generally reserved
for pro-riders and descents. We’ll be measuring the
power required to ride each of those set-ups
at each of those speeds. In addition, we will also be testing the two bikes in isolation without riders. And we felt that that was
a good place to start. The data from the wind tunnel
is recorded as CDA values, which is the engineering
term for the drag coefficient of whatever you’re measuring. The lower the drag coefficient, the more aerodynamic an object is. The CDA value allows us to
calculate a wattage value, which we call aero-watts for simplicity. This is the data we are presenting. This is the power required
to overcome aerodynamic drag at the different speeds. – Well, Ollie, it is nice to be behind the desk again, isn’t it? – Yeah, it’s nice. Much warmer
in here than that tunnel. – Yeah, you were getting
pretty cold in there all day. – Blowing gale, yeah. (laughter) – Right, we should look
at the numbers then because while what looks aerodynamic, might not necessarily be aero. – Yeah, so compute the results here, and first up we’ll do the results for just the bikes on their own, with no riders on them.
– Yes. – Now, we’re going to present all the results in the same way. So first up, we’re going
to look at the CDA, which is the drag coefficient and then we’re going to
present that as aero-watts, which is the watts you
would need to produce in order to overcome aerodynamic
drag for given speeds. So we’re going to present
all three speeds we tested: 25, 35, 45. And these will appear on
screen if you want to pause it and have a look longer, you can. – [Ollie] So, first up was your bike. – [John] Yeah, that’s right,
yeah the Eddy Merckx sport. – We can see that the drag
coefficient increases slightly as speed increases, that’s fairly normal. And to overcome aerodynamic drag, your bike on it’s own to go 25k an hour, needs to create 27.6 watts. – [John] Yeah. – [Ollie] Not a huge amount.
– [John] No. – [Ollie] Just a bike on it’s own. Soon as you then go up to 45k an hour, that becomes 146.7 watts because, well, drag is not linear. – No.
– So that’s that. Now, so when we go on to the F12, that translates to aerowatts of 21, 56 and 115 at respective speeds. – [John] Yeah, considerably less. – [Ollie] So, considerable saving and a massive saving in particular, the faster you go. So, you’re getting a bigger aero saving at those higher, higher speeds. – [John] Yeah, and that’s
just the bike on it’s own. – Yeah.
– Yeah, I mean it’s slightly counterintuitive really to what we think in our minds, isn’t it? That skinny tubes are going to be faster. You know, cylindrical
shape and everything. – Yeah.
– But, we learn that anyway. Last year in the retro versus modern – Yeah, the looks video.
– The looks video, yeah, that I did with Sci. Yeah, if you open any
aerodynamics textbook pretty much the first page
will be a picture of a cylinder and it will say “Cylinders are bad news,” when it comes to aerodynamics. – Ollie’s never one to
exaggerate on things. Page one, first thing. – Yeah, but modern bikes of, you know, like the Pinarello F12, have got carefully tuned and honed aerodynamic shapes
designed to minimize drag. A lot of the time with modern bikes, these shapes it’s not marketing, although marketing is used to sell it. It is physics that is the basis behind it and this is why we don’t
see cylindrical shaped trains or spaceships. – Quantum physics? – Quantum physics is in everything, but this isn’t specifically
quantum physics. – Good. (chill upbeat music) – So next up, we tested with riders on both those bikes, me, but the reason why we
tested without a rider was because we could do
and it’s, the rider can be a source of error because it’s hard to maintain a constant position. – [John] Yeah, now the good thing actually about the Silverstone Sports
Engineering Hub tunnel is that you had that outlined, didn’t you, so you could look down and
you can actually see — – Yeah, the projection. – Exactly where you’re meant to be sitting during the initial runs and everything. And I had great pleasure actually, Ollie, in watching you sit there
and try to hold that position for hours on end. (deep music) – Ollie, I never thought I’d see the day I’d let you ride my pride and joy. And to be honest, you actually
look quite good on it, which is annoying me I
must say a little bit. But, how does it feel, first of all? Because it’s a bike probably that you’ve, have you ever ridden
anything as old as this? – I have, but I mean, it
feels beautifully smooth, you’ve taken good care of it.
– I have. – But it’s miles different
from my Pinarello. The handlebars for one, I mean they’re just all over the place. – I thought you’d like them. – And wider as well, but it’s modern bikes have increasingly
narrow bars, a bit more aero. Something else I can see when we look at the line
guide we’ve created, is that to adopt the same
relaxed position on the hoods, I mean I can’t really do that.
– No. – It feels like it’s much more
designed to be in the drops as a standard all-day position and I can see that’s already much lower than my standard all-day
position on the modern bike. – [John] It’s going to
be interesting I think as the results come out on
this because, you know, you’re on the drops so you’re a lot lower but it’s just how the overall
package is going to work. Because while we’ve got 32 whole standard box
section aluminum wheels. – So what I’m going to do is
to try to keep it consistent because we want to see what
the bike’s difference is. I’m actually going to try
to replicate the position using the line guide which
means I will be coming up a bit higher on to the hoods.
– Yeah. – But, it will make it
more consistent to see what the difference
between the actual bikes is rather than me.
– Yeah. – Which is what we want to find out. – I think we can do that a
little bit later on though, maybe we can throw something
else into the mix, I think. You know, just to see. I’ve got my dressing up box today. You’re all going to be
in for a treat, I think. – Right, let’s run that tunnel then. – Alright mate, just
go easy on her, please. – Yeah —
– Please. – I’ll take good care of her. – Please do. (calm upbeat music) – So, we’ve got the, first the modern, the retro bike but we did it with modern clothing to begin with. And you can see the CDA values
there and this translates to aerowatts of 87 watts to
overcome 25 kilometers an hour, and that’s the bike and the rider. To go 35, 212 watts coming out at, and 435 would be the number of
watts you do for 45k an hour. This is, I should stress
as well, just areo-watts, so there would be about roughly
10 percent additional watts required to overcome friction within the drive train and tires. (bouncy upbeat music) – Now, when we compare
that to the modern bike with modern clothing.
– Yeah, here we go. – You can see there’s a huge difference. So you can see there that instantly the drag coefficients are much, much lower with the modern clothing. And the wattage saving there, you’re looking at 79 watts for
25, 191, and then just 410. 410 for 45 k and hour versus the — – [John] 4-3-5.
– [Ollie] (mumbles) – [John] Retro with modern clothing. – [Ollie] Yeah, 25 watts. Significant. And something to point out here, while you can see that there is a trend, that there is a greater wattage saving at those higher speeds. It actually works out roughly the same at the lower speeds in
terms of the saving, because the person riding
at the lower speeds is out on the course longer. So although the saving is less, the overall time saved is roughly the same because they’re on the course longer. – Yeah, that’s something
which often is not spoken about that much,
is it? Slower speeds. Which is hence why we
wanted to do this video. – Yes.
– At realistic speeds. Because so many press
releases we get for example, 55 or 60 k an hour, no one
is riding at that speed. – Yeah.
– Really. – (mumbles) All the time.
– (mumbles) Obviously. – But, yeah. I mean there
are riders out there doing sport speeds that are
out there for 5, 6 hours. Riding at 25 k an hour. So that’s why this data, I
think, is a valuable tool. – Yes, even six watts at that speed can be hugely significant if
you are chasing a time. You might not be chasing a time, in which case you’re
probably not even bothered about watching this video. But, if you are, then that is significant over a massive course
that is 5, 6 hours long. – Yeah.
– So then we tested the retro bike with retro clothing. – Yeah, this is probably
my favorite part actually. Seeing you dressed up like that. – Thanks, man. – You wouldn’t wear
those old shorts though. I was a bit annoyed by that, but — – You haven’t washed ’em. – [John] Alright, Ollie, I see
you found my dressing up box. You’re looking all right.
– Thanks, man. – Have you seen yourself, in a mirror? – No, I haven’t. I don’t think I want to. – Yeah, anyway, I see you
haven’t quite gone, you know, the whole hog basically,
cause you didn’t use those nasty old bib shorts
that I left laying around. You kept on your current ones. So, I can forgive you for that I suppose. And also you’ve kept the arm warmers on. Because you have been in
there quite some time now, a little bit cold. But you’ve got a couple of jerseys on. – Yeah, (mumbles). – You’ve also, but, back then mate, they used to have them undone, they used to have them
catching the wind a little bit, so there we go. So we got you authentic. And you’ve got the trusty helmet on too. They didn’t really do any good, did they? – These are period correct eyewear. – No.
– I have to stress, it’s for health and safety. I don’t want to get
particles of dust and stuff from the wind tunnel in my eye. – Yeah, but how do you feel? – Um, I feel like I want get changed. Let’s run the test. – Okay, right, here we go. 25, 35, 45 k an hour. – I’m going to maintain
the same body position using the template.
– Yeah. It’s not as easy, on this
old bike though is it? – No. But, you can do it. – Yeah. I’ve got my faith in you. – Cool. Let’s do it. – Go on mate, go for it. Come on retro. (bouncy music) – This is the real interesting one for me. When you combine the retro
bike with the retro clothing, you see a huge difference.
– Yep. – And what this clearly shows is that above and beyond
the biggest difference is not the bike, it’s
the clothing you wear. And probably the position you’re in, but that’s another story. But, the clothing makes
a ridiculous difference. So, 488 watts to go 45 k an hour versus with the retro
bike with modern clothing was 435. I could train for 100 years and never get that kind of improvement.
– No. – But through a different
bit of kit. Yeah. Easier as well than training. – People will happily
drop thousands of pounds on a brand new bike and
ignore the clothing. But, for considerably less expenditure, you can buy faster
clothing, faster helmet. And save much more, in
terms of, go much quicker. You know, we look at, So we look at the modern, the
modest speed so 25 k an hour, is 93 watts for retro
bike and retro clothing, and if we then compare
that. So that’s not, you know then you’re looking at — – 6 watts.
– About 3 watts on the, for the clothing at low speed. But considerably more on the faster bike. But, yeah, it’s going to make more, when you start to go up
to the faster speeds, the less aerodynamic clothing is clearly making a huge difference. – [John] It’s really
interesting to see this. – Yeah.
– And you think, you know, when you’re
riding you get a little hot, you undo your jersey a little bit, the difference that will start to make. But we could have spent
literally days in there, going through all these
different experiments and I wish we had the time. Because to be able to
relay that back to people, I find quite rewarding. The way that you can make
those marginal gains — – And the other, but the other thing is, is people who say “I never
ride at 45 k an hour,” well, I’m sure you do. It doesn’t mean you have
to be riding all the time. Because what you can see there, is the huge disparity in
drag between 45 k an hour with the retro clothing
and the modern clothing means that if there’s a part
in your event or sport team where you’re trying to drop your mate and you go down a hill where
you hit 55, 60 k an hour if one of you is wearing faster clothing, and one’s wearing not fast clothing, that’s the moment where you
will have a huge advantage. If you want to break away
from them at that point, or attack them or get a gap, that’s where you’ll get the gap and in cycling, it’s often
about who can get the gap. – [John] And you see that
actually in pro-racing as well. Years ago, top of climbs, riders nearly all the time, regardless of the weather, would put a cape on. These days they don’t because
the cape is flapping around and it means they can’t keep
up with their competitors if they’re not wearing a cape. – [Ollie] Or they have to
expend a lot more energy. – [John] Yeah and no one
wants to do that on a descent. – [Ollie] No.
– [John] And try to recover. But this has been really interesting, and there’s loads of different
tools out there as well for you to play around with, isn’t there? – Yeah.
– If you want to, you know, imagine if you were to
save a few watts here, and you could then try to
get a PB on your local climb. – Or your event, if you’ve
got an event coming up and you want to see what difference maybe 10 watts would make, then yeah there’s loads of
brilliant online calculators like Best Bikes, Blip, My Wind Stock. – Yeah, Bike Calculator. – Yeah, those sorts of things that are worth playing around with and you can see it gets pretty significant. – Yeah, it starts to tell you
how much time you save as well and that’s when you start
to get a little bit excited. – Yeah. All right, well, we
hope you’ve enjoyed this video and found it informative and useful. It’s been pretty fascinating testing an old bike versus a modern bike. – It was great to see it actually, in that kit you were, you
played the part really well. Right, remember as ever as well to like and share this video with your friends too and don’t forget to subscribe
to the GCN Tech Channel. – And if you’d like to watch
that retro versus modern look bike video, you can click down here. – Yeah, for another retro versus modern click just down here.

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