An Aerodynamic Study of Bicycle Wheel Performance using CFD

Matthew N. Godo
JMSI dba Intelligent Light, RutherFord, NJ, 07070
David Corson
ACUSIM Software, Inc., Clifton Park, NY 12065
Steve M. Legensky
JMSI dba Intelligent Light, RutherFord, NJ, 07070


A methodology is presented to apply CFD to study air flow around a rotating bicycle wheel in contact with the ground. The bicycle wheel studied here is an accurate geometrical representation of a commercial racing wheel (Zipp 404). Reynolds-Averaged Navier Stokes(RANS) and Delayed Detached Eddy Simulation (DDES) results are computed at a range ofspeeds and yaw angles commonly encountered by cyclists. Drag and side (or lift) forces areresolved and compare favorably to experimental results obtained from wind tunnel tests.Vertical forces acting on a rotating bicycle wheel are presented for the first time. A unique transition from downward to upward acting force is observed as the yaw angle is increased. Flow structures are identified and compared for different yaw angles. It is expected that amore complete comprehension of these results will lead to improvements in the performanceand handling characteristics of bicycle racing wheels used by professional cyclists and triathletes.

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