Skinsuit Testing

Which is the fastest Skinsuit? A question that is regularly asked, but not one that is easy to answer without some form of aerodynamic testing.

Last week at SSEH we headed back into the Wind Tunnel to test 5 different Skinsuits from our Equipment Room in order to highlight the differences in power required (to ride at a certain speed) you can expect to see when testing in the Sports Performance Wind Tunnel.

Testing protocol

The tests were performed with 5 different Skinsuits, by two riders, to demonstrate how the rider’s physiology, or position on the bike may affect the results. For reference Rider 1 was 6ft, 0″ and weighs 80kg. Rider 2 was 5ft, 10″ and 71kg.

The speeds selected for the test were 40kph and 50kph, across two yaw angles of 0 and 5 degrees, representative of what a rider may typically encounter when riding or racing in a Time Trial, or Triathlon.

As with the Road Helmet Testing, to ensure the data was both accurate and repeatable, the riders’ edges were captured during the baseline test, which were then projected in front of them for each subsequent run as a reference point in order to maintain the same position on the bike. A pedalling tare was also completed prior to each run to account for any relative changes in mass of the riders set up.

Results

The full results of each test can be found in the graphs below; however, we have summarised some of the key points below:

Differential (watts required) between slowest and fastest Skinsuit:

  • Rider 1 at 40kph – 25w.
  • Rider 1 at 50kph – 22w.
  • Rider 2 at 40kph – 11w.
  • Rider 2 at 50kph – 21w.

Fastest Skinsuit:

  • Rider 1 at 40kph – Skinsuit 1.
  • Rider 1 at 50kph – Skinsuit 2.
  • Rider 2 at 40kph – Skinsuit 1.
  • Rider 2 at 50kph – Skinsuit 1.

Slowest Skinsuit:

  • Rider 1 at 40kph – Skinsuit 5.
  • Rider 1 at 50kph – Skinsuit 3.
  • Rider 2 at 40kph – Skinsuit 5.
  • Rider 2 at 50kph – Skinsuit 4.

*The graphs below have been presented in order of Rider 1’s results (from fastest to slowest)

Conclusion

The results show that whilst there were some trends between the two riders (both finding Skinsuits 1 and 2 to consistently perform well), the results vary across the remaining suits dependant on the speed at which they are travelling, the yaw angle and the rider’s physiology/ position on the bike.

The differential in power required between the slowest and fastest suit was quite substantial for both riders, particularly for Rider 1 with the potential to gain 25w at 40kph (at 5 degrees yaw) and 22w at the higher speed of 50kph (at 0 degrees yaw).

In conclusion, the results from the test clearly demonstrate that there are significant gains to be made from selecting the right skinsuit for an athlete. However, the results can be quite rider specific, dependant on how the suit performs at the typical speeds achieved when the athlete is racing/ riding and their physiology/ position on the bike.

The skinsuits used for this test, along with a wide variety of other equipment such as timetrial, triathlon and road helmets, skinsuits, aero shoe covers/ socks, handlebars and wheels are all available to try in our Equipment Room.

If you would be interested in arranging a session in the Sports Performance Wind Tunnel to optimise your own equipment choices, please refer to the Performance Consultants section of our website for further information – https://silverstonesportshub.co.uk/consultants/