When is it best to "forget about aero"?

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by robeambro

Hi all,

I really wanted to create a thread here. :lol: The below is more something I am curious about rather than being a super important topic..

In an ideal world, one would be in an aero position 100% of the time, be it in the drops, aero hoods, or both. Now, enter a long race, or anyway something where you can't quite manage to be aero all the time, cause your upper body will need some rest.

The question then becomes, when is it best to rest your upper body (i.e. when will be "unaero" be the least important in terms of wasting energy), and can we quantify savings?

scenario 1: I am alone, on a climb, I save X% watts by being aero vs being more upright. (this can probably be easily estimated via an online calculator)

scenario 2: I am on a relatively flat road, sheltered by one or maybe a couple riders, I save X% watts by being aero vs being more upright. (On this I don't think I've seen much, everybody often says "aero doesn't matter when you're in the draft", but surely it does a little bit - how much though?).

scenario 3: I am fully sheltered by a relatively large group, I save X% watts by being aero vs being more upright. This will be the case where the savings will be the smallest, though if going relatively fast as one would in a big group, the actual watt savings could be more meaningful than the two cases above.

I know it's a nerdy question but it's more intellectual curiosity rather than anything else.

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by TobinHatesYou

Whenever the race is slow, more or less.

Having just rebuilt my 2018 Emonda SLR with shallow 25mm wheels, I’ll say it outright…even in large group draft, I can feel the additional drag. The non-aero bike ironically forces me to get in an extremely aero position more than my aero bike.

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by LouisN

Irrelevant contribution, sorry :oops:

Louis :)

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by Lelandjt

Your examples with riders in front of you will hinge on how big/tall those riders are versus you. I'm tall so short riders can sit up behind me while still getting a good draft. I need to stay in a lowish tuck when behind most riders to feel their draft. As for climbing, I try to stay aero until I get below 12ish mph. At that point I don't feel the aero effect much and focusing on making max power with minimum percieved effort is the goal, so a relaxed upper body and deep breathing.

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by Nereth

Regarding being aero in the peloton, I'm quite tall, and when I'm 1 or 2 wheels back from the front, the difference behind sitting up with my head and shoulders copping the blast, versus sitting at least as low as the guy in front of me, is really obvious. I imagine your mileage may vary depending on your height versus the guys you are drafting.

I reckon I'm on a continuum of aeroness. I don't worry about it particularly below 20kph or so, I'll sit up and stretch my back a bit maybe to let myself get more aero later. Elbows bent a little/probably look pretty normal between 20 and 30, 30 to 40 and I'm elbows quite bent with a more aggressive position than most of my mates, 40-45 I'm probably arms at 90 degrees or so, above that my wrists are probably resting on my bars, forearms are beyond 90 degrees - coming UP to my bars and are drawn in laterally so my elbows are in line with my legs, shoulders are hunched, and by 50-55 I'm probably also making sure my head dips down low enough so I can feel the air on my neck, and my back is rotated at the hips and stretched out rather than just hunched. 60 or more I'm probably not pedalling any more, unless it's a sprint and someone is passing me.

This all depends how long we're going at this speed though, and how much the power demands are at the same time. If it's a minute or so downhill part of a roller until the uphill half, and I'm on the front, I'm full aero trying to get the free speed without putting too much power in, to carry me up the other side. If it's 5-10 minutes drilling it with a tailwind, I'll be a lot more sustainable about it. Rolling turns I'll be more aero on the front than I am in the back, but I'll still be trying to keep my head below the guy in front of me.

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