So if you’ve done any races with hills (aka outside the midwest) you’ve probably noticed a lot of people doing their best Chris Froome impression:
The reason why I hate people using this position is actually a great example of system analysis. There are a lot of physics going into why this type 0f riding is both great….and awful. I will get into both.
This history of super tuck is pretty short, I think widespread is first spoted in Kwiakowski at the 2014 world championship.
Since then it’s been used by Sagan to great effect and a lot of dudes going for that ‘Local Strava KOM Descent’. Needless to say it’s permeated to the point that dudes are super-tucking mid-pack during races…..which is INCREDIBLY STUPID. I don’t care who you are, or what race you’re doing, it’s foolish.
The problem is that the ‘super-tuck’ really does work….IMHO.
Recently, Bert Blocken posted an article on Froome’s position. Blocken used to have a course on coursera.com on Sports and Building Aerodynamics which was pretty good. In the paper his main postulation is that just simply riding in the drops is only 1% less aero than a TT position while the “super-tuck” is 1.6% less than the TT position. So there’s really no point to ‘super-tuck’ since it’s worse than just riding downhill in your drops.
I’m REALLY skeptical of these results even though the modeling practice he uses are “wind tunnel verified”
NUMEROUS sources indicate that the differences between positions is MUCH greater than 1% as indicated by their CdA (the non-dimensionalized correlation to compare the ‘slipperiness’ of various aero shapes). CdA is a much more important metric than simple Cd. For instance, the reason why a TT position is necessarily more aerodynamic than a standard road position is that the ‘A’ in you ‘Cd * A’ term is reduced by tucking your arms in in-front of your body. Cd by itself is simply the slipperiness of a given shape irregardless of size.
If you want to see some comparison’s see the tables listed below, but the bottom line from these other tests is that the difference between your vanilla in-the-drops-road-position vs Full Aero position is REALLY around 13%-15%. Which, anecdotally seems right.
It has seemed to be successful for at least TWO world championships and for Froome’s daredevil descent in the TdF.
MORE anecdotal evidence can be found pretty much anywhere. Go descend with anyone, once they get into a super tuck, you’re really pedaling to keep up. The article feels very much like it’s safety driven, and wrong(despite the fact that I agree with the sentiment). I mean, it WAS written on LinkedIn.
I’ll break this post up into two parts since it’s getting a little long. So far I’ve established that the ONE cfd report done on the issue is definitely missing something, and that ANECDOTALLY the ‘super -tuck’ seems a whole Hell of a lot faster.
Other sources (from CyclingPowerLab.com):
|High Performance Cycling (Jeukendrup, 2002)||Wind Tunnel||Tops||.4080|
|“||“||Aerobars (Clip on)||.2914|
|Bikeradar Article “How Aero Is Aero” (2008)||Wind Tunnel||Road Bike, Road Helmet, Drops||.3019|
|“||“||Road Bike, Road Helmet, Aerobars||.2662|
|“||“||Road Bike, TT Helmet, Aerobars||.2547|
|“||“||TT Bike, Road helmet, Aerobars||.2427|
|“||“||TT Bike, TT Helmet, Aerobars||.2323|
|Scientific approach to the 1-h cycling world record: a case study (Padilla et
|Complex Estimation||Mercx 1972 (Road bike, Std. Helmet, Drops)||.2618|
|“||“||Moser 1984 (TT bike ex. Aero bars)||.2481|
|“||“||Obree 1994 (Obree position)||.1720|
|“||“||Indurain 1994 (TT Bike, TT Helmet, Aero bars)||.2441|
|“||“||Rominger 1994 (Superman position)||.1932|
|“||“||Boardman 1996 (Superman position)||.1838|