argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

Argon 18 won Eurobike for the most technologically advanced prototype with their FWD Alpha aero bike. Not only did the frame integrate electronic shifting buttons, but it completely integrated the hydraulic disc brakes and the circuits and sensors to measure your drag. It’s an impressive project from their FWD (Fusion Works Division), their in-house advanced projects department…

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

The FWD Alpha bike is an experiment in what can be different. Current handlebars are round because you need to mount a shifter and brake lever on it. But if they’re buttons, the bars can be whatever shape you want. At which point, maybe you don’t need bar tape, you can make custom grip pads. So goes the thinking inside FWD.

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

The needle protruding from the head tube measures wind speed, much like what you find on jets, but they’re using the data for different purposes. CDA, coefficient of drag area, is like the size of “the parachute” that’s holding you back -meaning you and your bike- and that’s the main thing it’s calculating. There are two options for increasing speed – make more power, or lower your CDA by getting more aerodynamic. It’s complicated math, but if you know wind speed, air density, power, and velocity (speed), then you can work out your CDA.

The electronics also collect shifting data from the electronic shifters, and they add pitch/roll/yaw sensors to the frame and steering, and accelerometers, too. These measure lean and inclination angles and acceleration. They also use a saddle pressure sensor, then you add your own cadence and power meters to capture your output. Your GPS cycling computer (or their system) then tacks on speed and location, all of which is used to help you optimize your entire portfolio of go-fast tricks (aero position, clothing, helmet, bike fit, wheel and tire selection, etc.).

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

Proximity sensors also help you optimize your drafting distance, or tell if you have a rider behind you.

Imagine rolling out for a ride and the bike telling you that not only are you in good shape for setting a PR or KOM, but that environmental conditions are also perfect. Winning Strava becomes much more scientific.

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

The concept bike uses a longer seat post that’s slotted through an elastomer at the top tube to let it flex fore/aft slightly, but not laterally, adding a bit more comfort than expected on a TT/aero bike.

argon-18-FWD-Alpha-concept-aero-bike-drag-measuring-tech17

Grips are made of the same elastomeric material and could be different densities to suit your preferences.

argon-18-FWD-Alpha-concept-aero-bike-drag-measuring-tech06

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

Flat mount’s nice and all, but this looks even better.

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

The rear brakes get a slotted vent on the chainstay to help pull cool air over the rotor and caliper.

argon 18 FWD Alpha concept aero bike with integrated CDA drag detector

The project’s been completely built out and tested in prototype form on their E119 Tri bike. Now that it’s proven, they say the FWD Alpha concept bike and electronics are closer to production than you’d think given the advanced concepts.

And the cost for the complete system? About the same as a power meter, the goal being well under $2,000. Theoretically it could be made to fit on any bike, but at first they’ll be integrating it into the frame, most likely on the FWD Alpha first, then moving to other models in their line.

Argon18bike.com

20 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe instead of jumping through hoops to design “aero” disc bike, stick to less draggy cantilevers?
    It’s going to be fun to remove the wheel from this bike haha 🙂

    • Fun? It’d be a bloody doddle. No difference to current disc brake set ups. Awesome idea and execution well done guys. This set up should usurp flat mount at it’s temporary position as the go to standard for road bikes. The electronics are good also. Genuine innovation love it.

  2. Nice concept, saw it on wednesday. By far better than the bikes from Colnago on the otherside of the booth. But i would like a 2nd chainring and frontderailleur on it.

  3. Yeah the tucked brake calipers stands out in this project. I question if that external tab would withstand the great forces applied to the piston, I can’t flex at all…other than that..very great idea.

  4. Ok so the “needle” is called a Pitot Tube. Its used for measuring true airspeed. a CDa vaalue can be calculated once this number is known yes but you’d really need to know riders front area as well and thats going to vary from person to person so I think they’re calcualting the CDa from the power need to move the bike+rider mass at a certain linear velocity using the true airspeed to provide the aerodynamic load.
    It should require a once off calibration that may entail the rider rolling down a gradient naked to get a base line figure……

  5. Made an aero bike but engineered out the single most aero position of holding the extra long computer out front mount come aerobar.

  6. Hmm, perhaps less spokes would make it more aero? Oh but wait that would mean rim brakes and they are out of fashion this month.

  7. Love the ‘Asymmetric Front Yaw Aero Steering Concept’ Is this biased left for a reason or can it be adjusted to the right depending on the aero data collected? Or even better automated to respond to misalign handle bars and front wheel according to the measured data!

  8. As a jaded couch engineer I am not often impressed but this thing is awesome.
    I hope they roll it out ASAP and these features sell well so the entire industry can follow the pursuit of uncluttered bike design.
    Exposed cabling annoys me.

    • Interestingly, you don’t have to buy a bike like this. You’re free to buy whatever bike fits your definition of and reasons for cycling. See how easy that is?

  9. This would be a sick new bike. Now, if only I had the legs and heart to push it to its limits. As is, I would have the coolest bike on the group ride or at the coffee shop. Does it come with an intergrated lock?

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