When the margin of victory is measured in thousandths of a second, every inch, every gram, every angle matters. In the effort to move an object through air in the most efficient manner possible, Trek engineers dream, draw, build, test, and repeat. The countless hours of development and work are paid in the raised arms of thousands of athletes the world over grateful to have met their challenge. It is unspoken but in every age-group triathlon, every World Tour Time Trial, every coffee ride sprint finish, the work of Trek's Analysis Team plays a role.
Wind tunnel testing
Ideas you can argue. Data you cannot. So when the time comes for the hard maths of Trek's aerodynamic development efforts, the laboratory becomes a little more claustrophobic. The wind tunnel is the perfect laboratory for testing the aerodynamic performance of cycling equipment and Trek has been committed to its use for over two decades of development. Tested in the same tunnels used by aerospace engineers, equipment design breakthroughs such as the Kammtail Virtual Foil and Bontrager's Aeolus line of aero wheels have been tested in the wind tunnel and proven on cycling's biggest stages.
A key member, though typically unheralded, of Trek's Analysis Team is the aerodynamic mannequin the team has lovingly dubbed, "Manny". More the strong silent type, Manny is an inanimate surrogate capable of a pedalling motion that addresses the muscular limitations of human design by being able to hold a consistent aerodynamic position for however long the team requires. This allows the Analysis Team to work specifically on whatever they are trying to prove during their time in the tunnel. And at the end of the day, Manny conveniently folds into a custom-made case easily checked into all major airlines.
Though a wind tunnel will produce accurate data regarding a rider and their bike's aerodynamic potential, races are not contested in wind tunnels. A rider has to be able to hold a position for a given period of time for the lessons of aerodynamics to be applicable. Refining a rider's aerodynamic position in movement takes place on an indoor track where Trek's Analysis and Precision Fit teams can collaborate on finding a rider's optimal aerodynamic position.
Computational Fluid Dynamics
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a program that Trek engineers deploy throughout various development cycles to test early tube-shape concepts that only exist as three-dimensional drawings. CFD acts as a virtual wind tunnel to test the aerodynamic potential of the drawing to determine whether prototyping can continue, or if further refinement is required. It’s aided Trek in our most important contributions to aerodynamics, including the Kammtail Virtual Foil and Bontrager’s Aeolus wheel line. While CFD cannot completely replace the need for wind-tunnel testing, it can drastically reduce development time and turn ideas into reality much faster.