Triathlon Magazine Canada - - GEAR - BY CLAIRE DUN­CAN

HAERO PER­FOR­MANCE ave you ever en­vied a pro­fes­sional triath­lete’s re­sources to per­fect their aero­dy­nam­ics? Most of us can’t af­ford to rent out wind tun­nels to dial in our bike po­si­tion. En­ter Kitch­ener, Ont.- based STAC Per­for­mance, the cre­ators of the mag­netic Zero trainer. Their lat­est tech­nol­ogy is a vir­tual wind tun­nel sys­tem that can help any triath­lete reach their true aero po­ten­tial on the bike with­out break­ing the bank. The vir­tual wind tun­nel (VWT) “al­lows you to re­al­ize the per­for­mance ben­e­fits of rent­ing a full scale wind tun­nel at only a frac­tion of the cost.” They take scans of a rider’s po­si­tion and process them in a sys­tem that an­a­lyzes air flow around the rider and, there­fore, the drag they’re cre­at­ing. So far, the guys at STAC have put pros Cody Beals and Alex Van­der­lin­den through the sys­tem and helped each of them make sub­stan­tial im­prove­ments in their po­si­tion. The next step is to mar­ket it across Canada and make it ac­ces­si­ble to all triath­letes.

“As one of the first test sub­jects, I im­me­di­ately rec­og­nized the tremen­dous po­ten­tial of this tech­nol­ogy,” Beals told TMC, “Over the past year, I’ve been us­ing the VWT to op­ti­mize my po­si­tion and in­form my equip­ment choices for rac­ing. My re­sults were in close agree­ment with my data from a con­ven­tional wind tun­nel, which val­i­dates this ap­proach. Test­ing with the VWT is far more con­ve­nient, quick and af­ford­able than a trip to the wind tun­nel or

velo­drome, mak­ing aero­dy­namic test­ing more ac­ces­si­ble for ath­letes, coaches, bike fit­ters and prod­uct de­vel­op­ers. It’s a rev­o­lu­tion­ary step for­ward.”

How it works

Thanks to the VWT’S sim­ple setup, the ser­vice can be per­formed al­most any­where. I tested out the sys­tem in De­cem­ber at a bike stu­dio in Toronto. STAC’S An­drew Buck­rell had me set up my TT bike on a trainer. Us­ing the hard­ware for the sys­tem – an off-theshelf 3D scan­ner – Buck­rell moved around me and scanned me and my bike as I held my po­si­tion for a minute or so. The de­vice gath­ers a high-res­o­lu­tion im­age of the rider, which STAC then takes in for pro­cess­ing and anal­y­sis.

“The anal­y­sis we do is called com­pu­ta­tional fluid dy­nam­ics,” ex­plains Buck­rell. “We per­form cal­cu­la­tions that de­liver the aero­dy­namic data – how the flow moves around the rider and how much drag they’re cre­at­ing – which helps us bet­ter fit them on the bike and im­prove their over­all per­for­mance at their next race.”

Fa­cil­i­ties that of­fer the ser­vice will take the scans them­selves and then send them to STAC for pro­cess­ing. While the scan it­self is a fairly quick process, the data pro­cess­ing takes about 24 hours. STAC did three scans of my po­si­tion, mov­ing around hy­dra­tion sys­tems and mak­ing ad­just­ments to my head po­si­tion. I also had a bike fit­ter make ad­just­ments to my bike for the scans to help dial in the best po­si­tion. When cou­pled with the ex­per­tise of a good triathlon bike fit­ter, the VWT will truly give triath­letes a com­pet­i­tive edge. “With the bike fit you’re able to cap­ture im­por­tant biome­chan­ics,” Buck­rell says. “Com­bin­ing that with aero­dy­nam­ics helps us find out an in­di­vid­ual’s op­ti­mal po­si­tion.” We ul­ti­mately were able to find a po­si­tion that will save me valu­able time on the bike leg of my full-dis­tance race this sum­mer. Buck­rell says most triath­letes can ex­pect to take a few min­utes off their short dis­tance race and, in some ex­treme cases, the sys­tem can help save 10 min­utes over the course of a full-dis­tance bike leg.

Worth it for the av­er­age triath­lete?

The price point for the ser­vice right now is be­tween $150 and $300, de­pend­ing on the num­ber of scans per­formed. When you take into ac­count the costs of var­i­ous aero equip­ment on the mar­ket, this is a mod­est price to pay for easy speed on the bike and, ul­ti­mately, faster race times. “I’ll be do­ing a few sep­a­rate tests with STAC this sea­son, to find out the fastest setup for me,” says B.c.-based pro Nathan Kil­lam. “I think this is one of the best val­ues a rider can get for get­ting those last few watts of ef­fi­ciency.” Cur­rently the ser­vice is only of­fered at the X3 Train­ing Lab in Toronto, but there are plans to take it out west and ex­pand it within triathlon hubs across the coun­try.

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