Developed as a prototype to collect real race & fit data from Kona, the upcoming AeroPod is an evolution of the instrumented bike Swiss Side developed to optimize their wheel aerodynamics. Now in a compact form that hangs under the handlebar, Swiss Side is turning the AeroPod into a consumer device so you too can measure your own real world aero drag out on the bike.

AeroPod compact aerodynamic drag measuring tool

courtesy Swiss Side

After announcing their new aero Hadron road wheels at the end of February, Swiss Side had more gadget news to share. Paired with bringing a new advanced aerodynamics specialist to the team from Formula 1 – Dr Seamus Mullarkey, Swiss Side has unveiled a new data collection tool that was developed both for their own aerodynamic projects and their professional racer support. The new AeroPod is the latest evolution of Swiss Side’s aerodynamics R&D. It takes the sensors and data collection tools Swiss Side has created over the last several years and packs it all into a small, sleek form factor that can be neatly integrated into an aero handlebar setup.

Swiss Side says that they “not only want to develop the fastest products for the road and triathlon cycling markets, but also wants to make aerodynamics understandable and most importantly, measurable, for everyone.”

Their new “wind tunnel for the road” began life as a project back in 2014 when they built their Instrumented Bike to collect real world aero data on the road to verify the wheel aerodynamics that they developed in CFD and refined in the wind tunnel.

The new AeroPod device is meant to measure the aerodynamic drag of the complete bike + rider equation in real wind & weather conditions on the road, and to do it at the highest level of accuracy to log useful data to help riders fine-tune their aero setup.

Swiss Side has already utilized a functional prototype of the device in the lead-up to 2017’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. That device was used by a few competitors, including the ultimate winner and now world champion Patrick Lange, to dial in his race day setup on the bike.

Tech details

photos by Ingo Kutsche

Details remain thin for the time being, but the production device will mount between the aero bar extensions with a simple display indicating real drag figures. What we have been shown is a then a secondary small device that will be hung on an adjustable mount to be directed forward into the wind. The two-part device will split the electronics between the two pods and will store data locally on removable media.

A commercial product delivery timeline is not set yet (nor is pricing), but Swiss Side is confident in the AeroPod’s development and expects a consumer-ready product in the very near future.

SwissSide.com

14 COMMENTS

  1. The Dr. name is Mullarkey? Is this fake news or a bunch of malarkey?
    If notn. this is too nuts to describe. The tri folks here cant even change their own tires or do simple maintenance.

    • Real time aero analysis is already being done with power and bike speed data, and it works very effectively and accurately in benign wind environments such as indoor velodromes. We already attain similar precision levels to good wind tunnels.

      We’ve been applying this method for many years (as have many pro teams and cycling institutes in Australia, Canada, US and the UK) and a methodology with real time analysis potential was described 15 years ago by Robert Chung, while the mathematical model was validated by research and published science in the 1990s (Martin et al) and first deployed via Alphamantis Technology 5 years ago. In essence it’s simply balancing the well established moment by moment energy equations.

      When outdoors however, wind begins to introduce various forms of bias and variability in the data, so depending on what level of precision you are after, the existing testing methodology may or may not be useful. Those of us that who have been doing this for a long time understand the practicalities and limitations.

      The missing piece to nail such testing outdoors is adding relative air speed and direction data to existing bike speed and power data (as well as other factors such as elevation, air density and so on). Once relative air velocity data can be reliably added to the well established and validated mathematical models of the physics, then real time aero analysis performed outdoors is a reality.

      The real question is not whether we can perform real time aerodynamics analysis (because that’s already a well established and verified practice) but rather how reliable is the outdoor wind vector data it produces given the sensor’s relatively close location to the bike and rider (i.e. inside the “bow wave”). Fortunately, validation via experimentation is not technically difficult, it just requires some investment.

      BTW – this SwissSide product is not the first such product to do this, there are others, e.g. the sensor developed some years ago by Alphamantis Technologies (now owned by Garmin). Indeed even the old iBike Newton when paired with a direct force power meter had similar capability, although the air pressure sensor was perhaps not as sophisticated as these later iterations by Alphamantis and SwissSide.

  2. So it’s an air pressure sensor that will give you a real time figure on your frontal pressure. Neat, but it won’t tell you jack about how much drag you or your bike are generating since it gathers no data on your position, direction of wind, direction of travel, humidity, temperature and so on. The phrase one born every minute springs to mind.

      • I know how to accurately measure the drag created by an object moving through a fluid. Spoiler alert, it takes more than a single two pronged sensor mounted at the front of said object, unless this is utilising secret Kryptonian technology.

        • But you assume that the none of the other variables you mentioned are tracked/collected and I think the collective “we” are wondering how you came to this conclusion.

        • Once you add in power, elevation, and “ground speed” data in addition to airspeed and apparent wind yaw, though, you can start to isolate rolling resistance from aerodynamic drag.

    • If I recall correctly, this thing is intended to measure the wind speed and direction, like a pitot tube. When combined with the other data riders are already gathering by GPS, power meter, etc…then it could be used to broaden the range of wind conditions in which you can use the “Chung” method and do A/B/A trials for equipment or position changes.

      I agree with you, though, that based on the info above, I don’t see how it is going to give you any real time usable figures on that little screen. They’d need an app that pulled in all of the different data you mention, and work backwards to figure out the total drag, but its not inconceivable that they could do it.

  3. How is this different to the Ibike Newton, or the Newton PowerPod? Why are companies inventing someone else’s old products and getting publicity for it without any challenge?

  4. Im intrigued at this device as Sport Technology Group is incorporating something similar into a design for other purposes (IP Protected) slightly more sophisticated although parameters such as drag is for development use only.
    However and this will lead to some derision the Tri-Bikes and the associated “Junk” sitting out in the slipstream does negate any design gains which has somewhat lost its way over the years, in terms of development the competition bicycle is a poor relation to F1 aerodynamic study.

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