Boardman Performance Centre: The Wind Tunnel

On the 1st Feb I had the opportunity to get myself into the wind tunnel. It is the new facility at the Boardman Performance Centre which has revolutionised cycling in Britain, especially Time Trialling and Track Racing.

As I was driving there, I felt nervous and both knew what to expect and didn’t know what to expect. On arrival we walked up to see where it was and what kit I would need, travelled back to the car and then took everything up that I needed and wanted to test.

Then, taking a coffee from the shop, we walked upstairs to the test centre. A brief chat followed about my background and where I wanted to go, what I was there for and how I thought the wind tunnel might benefit me.

We then ran through all my clothing and started the first run with what set up I had used in 2018. We then built on improving what I had and looking to get into a better place for 2019.

Burke-20190201-160301930 Run 1_Front
One of the first runs

At this point most of this was about myself and my position. The only emphasis on the bike was around the handle bars and the stem. In total I ran through various positions, and tested 5 different skin suits, my helmet and another 2 helmets (from the centre) to compare my own to. Shoes and socks were kept the same through out.

So what we found out:

  • There was a faster position for me which has included me making some changes to the bike with a few more changes to come. On the clothing it was a different story!!
  • The fastest option for me was a skin suit designed for road riding that I had recently purchased. The Evoline Race Suit is from Vanelli and at a surprisingly low cost of £86.00. This is a long sleeve suit and was compared to the short sleeve version of the Evoline Race Suit, a short sleeve Bio Racer road race suit and a long Sleeve Bio Racer skin suit with a No Pinz number cut out in the back.
  • We also compared my fastest skin suit (the long sleeve Evoline Race Suit) and a skin suit supplied by the wind tunnel to see how my kit compared to the current market.
  • Reducing the Bars from 400mm to 380mm would be more aerodynamic for me as is lowering the stem by 5mm from last years set up.

The Numbers when set at 30 mph with the tunnel set in a straight line:

  • The Vanelli long sleeve suit was 1 watt quicker than the Bio Racer Long Sleeve Skin Suit purchased in 2015 (this is a piece of clothing I have only used in Time Trialling in the past).
  • It was a large 10 Watts quicker than the Short Sleeve version which retails at £81.00
  • It was a massive 11 watts quicker than than the Short Sleeve Bio Racer Road Suit I had been using in previous years purchased in 2015 (Both Bio Racer suits at the time cost between £100-£250 depending on the suit).
  • Testing against a modern skin suit given to me to try out, the Vanelli long sleeve suit still faired better. The modern skin suit is currently on the market for around £200-£250!!! This proves that expensive does not always mean fast when it comes down to individuality. Something you would only really find out in a test like this.
Burke-20190201-173121681 Run 18_Front
The final and fastest suit we ended up with for me was the Vanilla Evoline Long Sleeve Race Suit
Burke-20190201-173121681 Run 18_Side
One of the faster set ups

Amongst other changes this meant I was leaving with the potential to gain another 10-20 watts in straight line speed. Money worth spending. We did have time at the end to test my Rovals in one run which was interesting. Having 63mm on during most of the test I put in a 32mm. Incredibly only 1 watt of difference in straight line speed. Very interesting as shallow rims feel to accelerate much better out of corners. Although we did not have time to test in a cross wind which is, I am sure where there are many differences between the two.

Overall a very interesting insight worth having. Its important to stress that this was very much a scientific test, and my numbers may change in varying conditions. However it gives me a great insight into what is faster than other things and how I can go about making myself better. Hopefully this season will be something to look forward to.

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All pictures courtesy of the Boardman Performance Centre.

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