How we made Speed Concept the fastest bike we’ve ever tested
The culmination of years of intense development, Speed Concept demanded an immense amount of meticulous testing and modelling to find and optimise for every small gain possible. The result is an incredibly aerodynamic bike that’s the fastest bike we’ve ever tested, and one that saves riders roughly six minutes on an Ironman course – a huge amount of time when competing at that level.
By the numbers
Thousands of CFD simulations
16 watts saved
Faster at any yaw angle
This yaw chart compares the new Speed Concept with the previous Speed Concept, with the Y axis showing the amount of drag and the X axis showing the angle of the wind in degrees. As you can see, the new bike is faster than the old one – no matter where the wind is coming from. Each point on the chart represents how the bike performs at different wind angles. We weighted the data based on conditions you can expect in the real world – for example, it’s more meaningful if a bike is faster at 7 degrees than at zero degrees, since you’ll always encounter a bit of wind outside.
Kammtail Virtual Foil (KVF) tube shaping
KVF is a truncated tail aerodynamic shape that employs the advantages of airfoils in a cycling-specific platform that is light and stiff, and performs well in crosswinds. It also provides a more comfortable ride with additional vertical compliance.
From hidden cables to hidden storage, every bit of the Speed Concept is fully integrated for the most aero advantage. We tested lots of different configurations to find the best aero spot for both water bottles and nutrition.
We paid close attention to the optimisation of certain parts of the Speed Concept chassis. For example, we wanted to reduce the drag of the bike’s new disc brakes, so we performed dozens of fork shape simulations to find the most aero one.
Small gains add up to big speed
The Speed Concept was designed around a rider from the beginning. Sounds like common sense, right? But most companies engineer and test their bikes without using a full mannequin or a rider at any stage.
Take a quick glance at our key optimisation areas and you’ll notice a common theme – most are specifically intended to offset drag created by a rider. Of course, you can only see these small opportunities if you have a full rider on the bike during testing.
Why we use a full rider for development
The rider creates 70-80% of a bike’s drag. So, if there is an opportunity to make the rider even 1% faster, we’ll do it because it has an enormous impact on the bike’s overall speed. This is our fastest Speed Concept ever, and you can thank Manny the mannequin for that.
The Speed Concept now has two towers instead of one to channel air cleanly around the torso and help break up the turbulence between a rider’s moving legs. The shaping of the extensions and pads also turns the rider’s arms into a more efficient airfoil.
The other big drag area is between the rider’s legs and behind the saddle. The Speed Concept’s new head tube shaping and the shaping on the bottom of the between-the-arms bottle conditions the airflow in order to reduce the drag generated by the legs.
Careful fork design plus impressive new aero wheel tech delivers the stopping power of disc brakes without the drag. We accomplished this through HEEDS optimisation, running thousands of simulations to find the best fork shapes.
We fine-tuned the angle of Speed concept's seat stays to be more aerodynamic. These 'dropped' stays join with the seat tube in a lower position instead of at the top tube, presenting less frontal area to create dirty air flow.
A dialled process and very accurate wind tunnel are crucial for optimising small gains. We used the same aerospace-grade tunnel for all testing to ensure consistency, spending a few weeks inside the tunnel honing Speed Concept to fast perfection.
We used Manny, our full pedalling mannequin, for every wind tunnel test. For each run, we took a side silhouette photo of Manny's bike set-up. This ensured that he was in exactly the same spot so we could detect and optimise small changes in performance.
Once we were happy with the prototype, we enlisted riders of every gender and size to test each frame size and confirm that the gains we found translate in real life. We gathered data as riders buzzed down a quiet country road in Waterloo, Wisconsin.
The fastest bike we've ever tested
Our unwavering goal for this project was to make the Speed Concept as fast as possible – and we've done it. Six minutes faster in an Ironman, 16 watts of energy saved. Now it's time to put all your hard work on the line, knowing that you're piloting a triathlon bike that's proven to make you faster than ever, too.
Find out more about the Speed Concept