I’ve always had non-aero road bikes, currently a Cervelo R5 however have always felt that an S5 or S3 would be worth the potential wattage gain. The issue is, my sustainable power for the duration of my chosen events, around 2 hours, is only around 200W (FTP currently 220W/4.1W per Kg)) resulting in an average speed of around 20mph. As the aerodynamic efficiency is only realised (to any real advantage) at higher speeds am I unlikely to take sufficient advantage of the reduced drag with an aero bike ?. My events are all against the clock with no drafting with a reasonable amount of climbing. I am small (5ft6, 52Kg) therefore already have a relatively “aero” frontal area however my low power output keeps my speed down hence the reason for considering any other methods for gaining an advantage. My FTP is never going to improve massively (I’m 52 and have been training for years) therefore “aero” is my next option. I don’t want to splash out on an S5 just to “look the part”, so is an aero bike only going to work for more powerful riders who can push through 23+ mph for several hours ?.
The S5 will still benefit you, even if the gains are marginal. The question really is, are you willing to “pay” for the watt savings, or can you earn more watts training?
I think that at my age and experience it’s unlikely that I can push my FTP much higher. I simply don’t have the physiology to produce big power. As you say, if I’m willing to spend the money that’s up to me, just wondered if I would actually see any benefit from the improved aerodynamic efficiency at the sort of speeds I’ll be riding at.
You are looking at very marginal gains changing the frame.
Aero front wheel
And the ‘best’ tires, whatever those are
IMO any aero bike wattage gain will be minimal. Your money would be best spent on a good bike fit (if you haven’t had one recently), then spend your time practicing maximising your power in a decent aero position.
Hey there @Roubaixsl3!
There is a lot of great information from others here but I wanted to give you a couple resources to check out as well:
- Aerodynamics are important in the large majority of bicycle racing and it can be fun to experiment with. That said, it doesn’t come at a low cost. Here is a recent podcast episode we did in the Specialized Win Tunnel where they drill into aerodynamics, what works, what doesn’t work, what you should and shouldn’t do, etc.
- On top of that, you can still get faster as an older athlete! We have a bunch of resources about this which you can check out here:
I hope this helps and gives you some stuff to consider!
I’ll check out this information further, it seems easy to spend money to gain watts however it’s never that simple as we all know.
I hesitate to post as I don’t have the data anymore so, file this under anecdotal at best…I spent a year going back and forth between identically built identically fit Felt AR and Felt F. I switched wheels/tires and even moved the Quarq back and forth to use the same PM. At 25mph the AR was approximately 0.2mph faster or roughly 6W less.
I ended up selling the AR because the F handled/felt/responded better to me. In the end even though the data is probably complete rubbish at least I was able to prove to myself that the “aero” in aero road frames is not the most important aspect of a road bike (for racing). And it should be mentioned this was the second generation AR (just around the time the S5 came on the scene). Perhaps the latest aero road frames are more noticeable…
Perhaps a TT frame would be a better solution, although I would prefer more of an all rounder however keeping the R5 would satisfy that requirement.