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The primary objective of this research is to measure aerodynamic drag of cyclist using a full scale experimental testing methodology. A full scale testing can provide detailed information about the cyclist along with all gears (bicycle, helmet, cycling suit, shoes, goggle and so on). This paper describes full scale measurements of aerodynamic forces of different bicycles and cyclist's body positions along with various gears under a range of wind speeds. The experimental findings indicate that the time trial bicycle has lower drag than road racing and mountain bicycles. Time trial bicycle has about 36% and road racing bicycle has about 21% less drag than the mountain bicycle. The results also show that the time trial position has the lowest C D value. About 30% and 45% drag reduction are possible in road racing and time trial positions respectively compared to the recreational position.
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International Journal of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (IJMME), Vol.6 (2011), No.2, 269-274
H. Chowdhury, F. Alam and I. Khan
School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Received 14 November 2010, Accepted 18 July 2011
The primary objective of this research is to measure
aerodynamic drag of cyclist using a full scale experimental
testing methodology. A full scale testing can provide
detailed information about the cyclist along with all gears
(bicycle, helmet, cycling suit, shoes, goggle and so on). This
paper describes full scale measurements of aerodynamic
forces of different bicycles and cyclist’s body positions
along with various gears under a range of wind speeds. The
experimental findings indicate that the time trial bicycle has
lower drag than road racing and mountain bicycles. Time
trial bicycle has about 36% and road racing bicycle has
about 21% less drag than the mountain bicycle. The results
also show that the time trial position has the lowest CD
value. About 30% and 45% drag reduction are possible in
road racing and time trial positions respectively compared to
the recreational position.
Keywords: Bicycle, Aerodynamic drag, Wind tunnel, Full
scale test, Cycling, Experimental measurement
Projected frontal area of the cyclist, bicycle
and associated gears
Drag coefficient
Coefficient of rolling resistance
Total resistance
Aerodynamic drag
Rolling resistance between wheels and road
Gravitational acceleration
Total mass
Cyclist speed
Air density
In cycling, aerodynamics plays a crucial role in the overall
performance of the cyclist. The aerodynamic gains in
bicycle racing are of great significance. It is clearly evident
from the images of the successful cyclists of Tour de France
and Olympic cycling events (regardless of race type, be it
road racing, time trial or track events), aerodynamics plays
an important role in all disciplines when the speed is over 20
km/h. Tour de France 2011 data indicates that the average
speed of the top cyclist is approximately 40 km/h, however,
the speed in the time trial stage is over 55 km/h. Although
the average speed in mountain stages is slightly below 40
km/h, the maximum speed in downhill stages can easily
exceed to 100 km/h. On a flat road, the total resistance
encountered by a cyclist is shown in Equation 1 and
illustrated in Figure 1. The total resistance (F) consists of
the sum of aerodynamic drag (FD) and rolling resistance
between wheels and road surface (FR).
The aerodynamic drag increases with the square of a
cyclist’s speed. Aerodynamic drag depends on the projected
frontal area of the cyclist and the bicycle, the drag
coefficient (CD) which is a measure of the flow quality
around the cyclist and the bicycle, density of air, and the
square of the road speed. Aerodynamic drag (FD) is
expressed as:
On the other hand, rolling resistance (FR) depends on the
total mass of the bicycle including the cyclist and the other
accessories. It can be expressed as:
On a flat road, the aerodynamic accounting for almost 50%
to 90% of the total resistance depending on the cyclist speed
and body position during cycling. Kyle and Burke (1984)
reported that the contributions of aerodynamics to the total
drag were 50% (at 3.6 m/s) and 90% (at 8.9 m/s). Luke,
Chin and Haake (2005) stated that the aerodynamic
contribution was 50% at 8.75 m/s for the mountain bicycle.
Apart from the cyclist, a bicycle is comprised of the frame,
forks, wheels, drive train, brakes, handlebars, water bottles,
etc. that interact with the oncoming airflow generating a
complicated and as yet still not fully understood series of
perturbations. There are mainly three types of bicycle: road
racing and time trial, mountain bicycle. The bicycle
accounts around 31% to 39% of the total aerodynamic
resistance depending on the bicycle type (Kyle and Burke,
1984; Luke at el., 2005). Out of total aerodynamic drag, the
rider position counts approximately 65 to 80% depending on
body position, helmet and clothing.
Figure 1 Forces acting on cycling
The remaining drag is coming from bicycle frames, wheels
(mainly front wheels) and other components and adds on.
Prior studies by Faria, Parker and Faria (2005), Jekendup
and Martin (2001) and Lucia, Earnest and Arribas (2003)
reported that the cyclist body position along with a helmet
and suit can significantly minimize the aerodynamic drag
experienced by the cyclist at all stages of racing be it road
racing or time trial. Studies by Brownlie et al (2004) and
more recently by Chowdhury et al. (2008, 2009, 2010)
indicate that the sports apparel can make significant impact
on the aerodynamic drag reduction thus influence on the
outcomes of the events. Studies by Alam et al. (2010), Reid
and Wang (2000) looked at the aerodynamics and thermal
comfort of different bicycle helmets. The reports by Alam et
al. showed that the helmet can produce up to 8% of the total
aerodynamic drag depending on the shape and venting
features of the helmet.
The different body positions are commonly used by
professional cyclists depending on the type of racing and
profile of the terrain. Upright position characterized by the
hands on the upper part of the handlebars, is mainly used in
road racing event. Another cycling position is time trial
position, when the elbows are placed on the pads of the
aero-handlebars, is believed to be the best aerodynamic
position to overcome the aerodynamic drag. However, the
body position remains at almost upright position for the
recreational cyclist and believed to be the most non
aerodynamic cycling position.
In cycling, scant information on full scale testing
methodology and the aerodynamic drag on cyclist are
readily available in the public domain. The primary
objective of this research is to experimentally measure
aerodynamic drag of cyclist using RMIT developed full
scale testing methodology. Details about the methodology
can be found in Chowdhury, Alam and Mainwaring (2011).
2.1 Experimental Setup
Figure 2 shows a schematic of the RMIT developed test
setup. The setup consists of a flat wooden platform (1800
mm 850 mm 30 mm) and a stand to hold the bicycle and
rider with the wooden platform firmly. The gap between the
wooden platform and the tunnel floor is 20 mm in order to
avoid any interference between the floor and the wooden
platform. A plastic fairing (as shown in Figure 3) is used at
the front of the platform to minimize the flow separation
from the leading edge of the platform. The whole platform
is connected with a 6-component force sensor (type JR3) via
a 100 mm diameter strut (shown in Figure 2) to measure the
drag, lift and side forces and their corresponding moments
simultaneously. All three categories of bicycles
(recreational, road racing, time trial) along with the rider can
be experimentally evaluated using this setup. The crosswind
effects can also be evaluated using the arrangement. The
developed system minimises error in data recording due to
extraneous cyclist movement or variations in weight
The setup is robust enough for both static (cyclist with no
pedalling) and dynamic (cyclist with pedalling) testing. In
order to adjust the cyclist body positions, a video
positioning system has been developed. It consists of two
HD (high definition) digital video cameras detailed
description of this video positioning system can be found on
in Chowdhury et al. (2011). It can minimise any error
occurred due to the change of positions of the cyclist and
equipment as minor position variation can significantly
affect the aerodynamic data. This positioning system is
intended to ensure the reproducibility of the cyclist position
during the experimental procedure. The experimental setup
can be used in any wind tunnel that has appropriate test
section with a solid blockage ratio less than 10%. The
developed setup is well suited to the RMIT Industrial Wind
The tunnel is a closed return circuit wind tunnel with a
turntable to simulate the cross wind effects. The rectangular
test section dimensions are 3 meters wide, 2 meters high and
9 meters long, and the tunnel’s cross sectional area is 6
square meters. The tunnel is suitable for the full scale
bicycle (along with the cyclist) testing as the solid blockage
ratio of the tunnel is less than 10%. The maximum speed of
the tunnel is approximately 145 km/h. A plan view of the
tunnel is shown in Figure 4.
Bicycle Trainer
Wooden Platform
6-component load cell
Front Wheel Locker
Front Camera
Side Camera
Figure 2 Schematic of the experimental arrangement
Figure 3 Experimental setup in the wind tunnel
Heat Bench
Turning Vanes
Motor Room
Diffuser Contraction
Heat Bench Pipes
Figure 4 A plan view of RMIT Industrial Wind Tunnel
The tunnel air speed is measured with a modified National
Physical Laboratory (NPL) ellipsoidal head Pitot-static
tube (located at the entry of the test section) which is
connected through flexible tubing with the Baratron®
pressure sensor made by MKS Instruments, USA. Details
description of the tunnel can be found out in Alam at al.
(2009). The developed test setup was connected through a
mounting stud with the sensor (type JR3) as mentioned
previously. The sensor was used to measure all three
forces (drag, lift and side forces) and three moments (yaw,
pitch and roll moments) simultaneously. Each set of data
point was recorded for 30 seconds with a frequency of 20
Hz ensuring electrical interference is minimized. Multiple
data sets were collected at each speed tested and the
results were averaged for minimizing the further possible
errors in the experimentally acquired data.
In order to evaluate the experimental methodology and test
setup, a series of tests were undertaken using three
different types of bicycles with or without live cyclists
under a range of wind speeds (20 to 70 km/h with an
increment of 10 km/h). The selected speed range is
representative for all major cycling starting from
recreational to time trial.
2.2 Bicycles
Three different types of bicycle were tested at zero degree
yaw angle for the measurement of aerodynamic properties.
The bicycles were selected based on their applications in
cycling. These are: a) mountain bicycle (manufactured by
Kent, USA) used for recreational and mountain cycling, b)
road racing bicycle (manufactured by Orbea, Spain) used
specially in professional road racing, and c) time trial
bicycle (manufactured by Louis Garneau, Canada) used in
professional time trial racing. The aerodynamic forces
were measured and compared. Figure 5 shows the
experimental setup with all 3 bicycles inside the wind
tunnel test section.
(a) Mountain bicycle (Kent)
(b) Road racing bicycle (Orbea)
(c) Time trial bicycle (Louis Garneau)
Figure 5 Test bicycles inside the tunnel test section
2.2 Cycling Positions
The aerodynamic forces were measured by using a
recreational and a professional cyclist for three widely
used cycling positions. In wind tunnel testing, a mountain
bicycle (see Figure 6a) and two other racing bicycles
along with appropriate helmets, bicycle and other
accessories were used to replicate the real cycling as
(a) Recreational position
(b) Road racing position
(c) Time trial position
Figure 6 Cyclist’s body positions and projected frontal
The measured three positions were: a) recreational
position (generally upright body position), b) road racing
position, and c) Time trial position. For the time trial
position, a professional time trial bicycle (Louis Garneau
as shown in Figure 6c) and a Giro Advantage time trial
helmet were used. For other two positions, a professional
road racing bicycle (Orbea as shown in Figure 6b) and a
Giro Atmos road racing helmet were used. Figure 6 shows
all the configurations for the full scale wind tunnel testing
in 3 different cycling positions. In the figures, the shaded
area (in black colour) represents the projected frontal area
measured with the frontal area measurement system
described in Chowdhury at al. (2011).
As mentioned previously, aerodynamic tests were
conducted at speeds (20 km/h to 70 km/h with an
increment of 10 km/h. The net aerodynamic forces acting
on the bicycle or bicycle with cyclist were calculated by
subtracting the force measured with the experimental
setup from the total forces measured with the bicycle or
cyclist with the bicycle including the experimental setup.
Figure 7 shows the drag variation with speeds for a time
trial, a road racing and a mountain bicycle. The figure
indicates that the mountain bicycle has higher drag and the
time trial bicycle has lower drag. It is clearly seen from
Figure 6 that the mountain bicycle is less aerodynamic
than other two. Mountain bicycle has wide and rough tyre,
straight handlebar. On the other hand, other two bicycles
have aerodynamic handlebars, wheels and fork. Because
of the more streamlined features (e.g., fork, handlebar,
wheels) are integrated in the time trial bicycle, it has the
lowest aerodynamic drag among these bicycles tested.
Time trial bicycle has about 36% and road racing bicycle
has about 21% less drag than the mountain bicycle.
However, time trial bicycle has 18% less drag compared to
the road racing bicycle.
020 40 60 80
Drag Force (N)
Speed (km/h)
Time Trial Bicycle
Road Racing Bicycle
Mountain Bicycle
Figure 7. Drag force variation with speed for three
different types bicycles
The non dimensional drag coefficient (CD) was computed
using the following formula:
The projected frontal areas (A) were measured with the
method described in Chowdhury at al. (2011). The areas
were obtained as 0.54, 0.41 and 0.38 for recreational,
road racing and time trial positions respectively. Projected
frontal area is reduced by about 24% for road racing and
30% for time trial positions compared to recreation
cycling position. Drag coefficients were calculated using
these frontal areas. Figure 8 shows the CD variation with
speed for recreational, road racing and time trial positions.
Results indicate that at recreational position, the CD value
is more than that at other two positions (i.e., road racing
and time trial positions). On the other hand, the time trial
position exhibits the lowest CD value in the speed range
tested. It is clearly evident from Figure 6 that at time trial
position, the projected frontal area is smaller, the bicycle
drag is lower, and also the body position is more inclined
than other two positions. Hence, this position has the
lowest CD value. Results show that about 30% and 45%
drag reductions are possible in road racing and time trial
positions respectively compared to the recreational
position. However, about 21% variation in CD values
between time trial and road racing positions was noted
(see Figure 8).
010 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Speed (km/h)
Road Racing
Time Trial
Figure 8. Drag coefficient as a function of speeds for
three different cycling positions
The experimental data was closely monitored for the
repeatability and accuracy. As mentioned earlier, the
position of the cyclist and the experimental setup were
monitored during the data accusation with a video
monitoring system. A small position change of the
experimental setup can cause a large variation in the data
measurement. Therefore, to minimize the error in the
measurement, several measurements (at least 3 times)
were taken in each position. Data were checked for the
consistency with the video feedback. Re-tests were
performed for any large variations in the measurements.
Table 1 shows the average CD with standard deviation.
The results in the table indicate that the data variation is
minimal. Therefore, the measurement is repeatable and
reliable. Table 1 Error analysis
Speed (km/h)
1.1395 ± 0.0172
1.1411 ± 0.0077
1.1393 ± 0.0040
1.1340 ± 0.0026
1.1231 ± 0.0034
1.1045 ± 0.0013
Time trial bicycle has lower drag than road racing and
mountain bicycles. Time trial bicycle has about 36% and
road racing bicycle has about 21% less drag than the
mountain bicycle. Time trial position has the lowest CD
value. About 30% and 45% drag reduction are possible in
road racing and time trial positions respectively compared
to recreational position. The RMIT developed
experimental arrangement allows aerodynamic evaluation
not only for the cyclist but also the bicycle, helmet and
other accessories (wheels, handle bars, cycling suits, bells
and horns, lights, water bottle, etc) with high level
accuracy. The experimental measurement method is
simple and reliable. The repositioning system developed
here is simple, user friendly and accurate.
The authors express their sincere thanks to Mr Jordi
Beneyto-Ferre, School of Applied Sciences, RMIT
University for his assistance with the full scale testing in
the wind tunnel.
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... The cyclist's on-bicycle position during time-trials has been widely studied and represents about 65-80% of the total aerodynamic drag in which the 15% range is attributable to differences in helmet and clothing design; optimized positions, helmet and clothing designs therefore reduce wind resistance and improve performance (Grappe, 2009;Blocken et al., 2013;Defraeye et al., 2010Defraeye et al., , 2011. The residual drag is attributed to the wheels (mainly the front wheels), the bicycle frame and other components (Chowdhury et al., 2011). The use of aerodynamically efficient helmets (typically referred to as ''aero helmets") can provide a significant advantage during a time-trial when compared with standard protective helmets Abdullah et al., 2015b). ...
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The issue of air quality conditions has become a major indicator to the quality of life in many urban areas around the world. It was affected by the air pollution in urban street canyons mainly contributed by the vehicle emitted source. Different street canyon geometry and meteorological conditions may cause pollutant accumulation inside street canyon due to lack of ventilation leading to the air quality deterioration. In the last two decades, numerous researches have been conducted through various research approaches to understand the impact of street canyon configurations and wind flow condition on wind flow structure and pollutant dispersion inside street canyons. This paper intends to review state of the art findings of available research approaches with special intentions been given to the effects of street canyon geometry, wind speed and wind direction on wind flow structure as well as pollutant dispersion in symmetric street canyons.
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Aerodynamics is the study of moving air's properties and the interactions between moving air and solids. Rider gets slammed into air particles while riding that gets compressed once rider hit them and then become spaced out once they flow over the rider. The distinction in atmospheric pressure from your front to your back creates a retardant force. The force that's perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction is the lift force. It contrasts with the drag force. Aerodynamic shapes reduce this pressure drag and lift by minimizing that difference in pressure and allowing the air to flow more smoothly over your front, reducing the low-pressure wake behind the cyclist and reducing this drag, and increasing speed in this paper; fairings designed. NACA airfoil as a base, fairings are designed using CATIA.CFD analysis is carried out on the bicycle with a fairing to calculate drag and lift force. As the position of cyclists isn't modified and due to fairing, the air resistance reduces, which may increase the comfort level of cyclists. From this analysis, the economical fairing can be determined, facilitating additional drag and producing less lift.
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Gradually, Mobile Ad-hoc Networks (MANETs) play an important role in the construction of smart organization, resident, campus, search/rescue region and battlefield. MANETs are suitable for providing communication support where no fixed infrastructure exists due to conventional networks neither feasible nor economically profitable. These networks are essentially important in the case of a disaster or natural calamities situations for establishing urgent communication among rescue members. The MANET relies on routing protocols to adapt to the dynamic changes in its topology and maintain the supply of routing information to the nodes. This paper provides a comparative analysis to the most popular routing protocols in MANET environments namely, Destination-Sequenced Distance-Vector (DSDV), Ad-hoc On-demand Distance Vector (AODV) and Ad-hoc On-demand Multipath Distance Vector (AOMDV). The compression covers the single-path and multi-path mechanisms, and reactive and proactive behaviors of the protocols in time-critical events of search and rescue missions. The NS2 simulator is used to test and evaluate the performance of these protocols based on throughput (TP), packet delivery ratio (PDR) and packet loss ratios (PLR), and end-to-end delay (E2E delay). The results show that the most suitable MANET routing protocol for time-critical events of search and rescue missions is the AOMDV.
Conference Paper
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The material characteristics of textiles used in elite sports garments have been shown to exhibit a significant influence on both the sporting performance as well as their aesthetics, and particularly in those sports where aerodynamic resistance and its associated energy expenditure impact on winning times. This project examines standard cylindrical arrangements in wind tunnel environments that can provide precise data on aerodynamic drag and lift which can be correlated to fabric surface textures, material properties and air permeability.
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Aerodynamics play a significant role in high performance textiles across a wide range of sports including cycling, skiing, bobsleigh, sprint, and speed skating. Considerations in this aerodynamic performance include the textile surface morphology, fastener placement and air permeability. Elite competition usually involves very short winning time margins in events that often have much longer timescales, making aerodynamic resistance and its associated energy loss during the event significant in the outcome. This paper describes the impact of textile surface employing a standard cylindrical arrangement in wind tunnel studies to provide data on aerodynamic drag and lift as a function of athlete’s body positions together with textile surface morphology.
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The thermal comfort and aerodynamic efficiency are becoming important factors in bicycle helmet design and marketing. Currently most of the manufacturers primarily focus on safety features in helmet rather than aerodynamic efficiency and/or thermal comfort. The characteristics of the bicycle helmet (position, geometry and number of vents) are extremely important features for heat dissipation and aerodynamic drag. A comprehensive research is needed to improve the design of bicycle helmets. As part of a larger study, five commercially available helmets have been studied using RMIT Industrial Wind Tunnel under a range of wind speeds, yaw and pitch angles to determine their aerodynamic and thermal performance. In order to obtain the results as realistic as possible, an instrumented mannequin was used. Thermal comfort was measured based on heat dissipation properties of each helmet as a function of wind speeds. A relative ranking of each helmet was made based on their aerodynamic and thermal properties. Modification to one of the helmets indicates that there is scope for further improvements.
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Unlike projectiles, the shuttlecock generates significant aerodynamic drag and complex flight trajectory. Despite the popularity of the game, scant knowledge is available in the public domain about the aerodynamics of shuttlecocks. The primary objectives of this study were to experimentally measure the aerodynamic properties of a series of natural feather and synthetic shuttlecocks under a range of wind speeds and pitch angles. The drag coefficients for shuttlecocks were determined and compared. The natural feather shuttlecock indicated lower drag coefficient at low speeds and significantly high value at high speeds. On the other hand, the synthetic shuttlecocks have shown opposite trends. The average drag coefficient for shuttlecocks found in this study was between 0.5 and 0.6.
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Aerodynamically efficient sport equipment/accessories and athlete's body postures are considered to be the fundamental aspect to achieving better outcomes. Like any other speed sports, the aerodynamic optimization is essential in cycling. A standard full scale testing methodology for the aerodynamic optimization of a cyclist along with all accessories (bicycle, helmet, cycling suit, shoes, goggle, etc.) is not well developed and standardized. This paper describes a design and development of a full scale testing methodology for the measurement of aerodynamic properties as a function of cyclist's body positions along with various accessories under a range of wind speeds. The experimental findings indicate that the developed full scale testing methodology can be used for the aerodynamic optimization of all cycling events.
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In elite cycling the resistive force is dominated by aerodynamics. Be it on the roads or in the velodrome, the sport has many examples where aerodynamics has won and lost races. Since the invention of the bicycle, engineers have strived to improve performance, often by reducing aerodynamic drag. Over the last 50 years a number of authors have presented their efforts in journals, books and magazines. This review summarises the publications that show the continued development in the aerodynamics of cycling. The review concludes by examining the shortcomings of the current understanding and making suggestions for future research and development.
A bicycle racing system with improved aerodynamics to give the U. S. National Cycling Team a time advantage is studied. To shave seconds off, uniforms and helmets are streamlined, straps and toe clips are removed and the conventional pedal is replaced. The wheel base is reduced to permit cyclists to draft closer. Wind tunnel and coast-down tests are discussed.
This article describes the design and development of a system that is capable of quantifying the thermal comfort of bicycle helmets. The motivation for the development of the system stems from the desire both to increase helmet use and to provide the designer with a quantitative method of evaluating the thermal comfort of a helmet. The system consists of a heated mannequin head form, a heated reference sphere, a small wind tunnel, and a data acquisition system. Both the head form and the reference sphere were instrumented with thermocouples. The system is capable of simulating riding speeds ranging from 4.5-15.5 m/s. A cooling effectiveness, C1, that is independent of both ambient conditions and wind velocity is defined as a measure of how well the helmet ventilates as compared to the reference sphere. The system was validated by testing six commercially available bicycle helmets manufactured between approximately 1992 and 1998.
Cycling performance is dependent on physiological factors which influence mechanical power production and mechanical and environmental factors that affect power demand. The purpose of this review was to summarize these factors and to rank them in order of importance. We used a model by Martin et al. to express all performance changes as changes in 40 km time trial performance. We modelled the performance of riders with different ability ranging from novice to elite cyclists. Training is a first and most obvious way to improve power production and was predicted to have the potential to improve 40 km time trial performance by 1 to 10% (1 to 7 minutes). The model also predicts that altitude training per se can cause a further improvement of 23 to 34 seconds. Carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks may decrease 40 km time by 32 to 42 seconds. Relatively low doses of caffeine may improve 40 km time trial performance by 55 to 84 seconds. Another way of improving time trial performance is by reducing the power demand of riding at a certain velocity. Riding with hands on the brake hoods would improve aerodynamics and increase performance time by approximately 5 to 7 minutes and riding with hands on the handlebar drops would increase performance time by 2 to 3 minutes compared with a baseline position (elbows on time trail handle bars). Conversely, riding with a carefully optimised position could decrease performance time by 2 to 2.5 minutes. An aerodynamic frame saved the modelled riders 1:17 to 1:44 min:sec. Furthermore, compared with a conventional wheel set, an aerodynamic wheel set may improve time trial performance time by 60 to 82 seconds. From the analysis in this article it becomes clear that novice cyclists can benefit more from the suggested alterations in position, equipment, nutrition and training compared with elite cyclists. Training seems to be the most important factor, but sometimes large improvements can be made by relatively small changes in body position. More expensive options of performance improvement include altitude training and modifications of equipment (light and aerodynamic bicycle and wheels). Depending on the availability of time and financial resources cyclists have to make decisions about how to achieve their performance improvements. The data presented here may provide a guideline to help make such decisions.