Bicycles

Upper Wheel Fairings are designed to give bicycle wind resistance the slip

Upper Wheel Fairings are desig...
The fairings are made to fit most standard road bikes
The fairings are made to fit most standard road bikes
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An Upper Wheel Fairings-equipped bike gets put to the test
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An Upper Wheel Fairings-equipped bike gets put to the test
Upper Wheel Fairings attach to the fork in the front ...
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Upper Wheel Fairings attach to the fork in the front ...
... and the seatstays in the back
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... and the seatstays in the back
The fairings are made to fit most standard road bikes
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The fairings are made to fit most standard road bikes
The fairings do add 2 lb (907 g) to the weight of the bike, although Magee maintains that the improvement in aerodynamics is well worth it
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The fairings do add 2 lb (907 g) to the weight of the bike, although Magee maintains that the improvement in aerodynamics is well worth it
Magee claims that cyclists using his fairings can go up to 20 percent faster without any extra effort
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Magee claims that cyclists using his fairings can go up to 20 percent faster without any extra effort
An explanatory diagram of the physics behind the Upper Wheel Fairings
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An explanatory diagram of the physics behind the Upper Wheel Fairings
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If you were designing a vehicle to be as aerodynamic as possible, it would definitely be counterproductive if parts of that vehicle actually moved into the oncoming wind. According to Los Angeles-based engineer Garth Magee, however, that's just what the forward-turning top sections of bicycle wheels do. His solution? Upper Wheel Fairings, which shield the spokes from the breeze. He claims that cyclists using his fairings can go up to 20 percent faster without any extra effort.

The exact physics by which the fairings are claimed to work are perhaps a little difficult for the layperson to grasp, but Magee explains them thusly:

"Under null headwind conditions, the wind is null at the bottom where the wheel is in firm contact with the stationary ground; and near the top the wind rises to twice the vehicle speed. By shielding the upper surfaces, the effective wind on the wheel is greatly reduced. And if a headwind is also present, the wind is reduced significantly more."

An explanatory diagram of the physics behind the Upper Wheel Fairings
An explanatory diagram of the physics behind the Upper Wheel Fairings

In road tests, cyclists using the fairings reported speed gains of 3 to 20 percent, depending on how much of a headwind was present. The fairings do add 2 lb (907 g) to the weight of the bike, although Garth maintains that the improvement in aerodynamics is well worth it.

And yes, full wheel covers and disc wheels do already exist. These can reduce stability by catching crosswinds, however, plus covers add extra revolving weight.

An Upper Wheel Fairings-equipped bike gets put to the test
An Upper Wheel Fairings-equipped bike gets put to the test

Upper Wheel Fairings, by contrast, are attached to the top section of the fork and seatstays, then finely adjusted in order to get the aluminum fairings themselves as snug with the sides of the wheels as possible – without actually touching them. Nylon spacers keep the fairings from damaging the rims, should they make contact due to wind gusts or vibrations.

Magee is currently raising production funds for his Upper Wheel Fairings, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$199 will get you a full set, when and if they're ready to go. More information is available in the pitch video below.

Sources: Null Winds Technology, Kickstarter

View gallery - 7 images
13 comments
Gary Bonney
In the real world there is not a chance in hell of this giving a 20% speed increase "He claims that cyclists using his fairings can go up to 20 percent faster without any extra effort."
Leonard Foster Jr
2lbs on the kit they need to speak with me no reason this should weigh more than .5lbs complete
Arnold Stonehouse
I am NOT trying to "bash" this idea. But...I have VERY mildly "aero" rims on my bike and in crosswinds I can tell this. Now if my little rims tug on the bars in a crosswind.....what is THIS going to do in crosswinds? That's right Virginia, into the weeds at speed (if you are lucky, the other option does not bear thinking about!) As well a 20% increase in speed sounds a bit....wishful to me...
duh3000
I ride and have raced recumbents, including the fully faired varity. My eperience, which is consistant with the literature on cycling/hpv aerodynamics, shows about a one-third (30 - 33%) speed increase for same effort, terrain, wind speed/direction, etc. if measured at significant speeds (i.e. starting around 30 kph). Under this speed, the effect is negative due to negligable wind impact and added weight.
The claim that adding these small aero devices to an upright bicycle will increase your speed significantly is absurd. 1 % gain. Perhaps. With optimum rider speed, and conditions of wind speed and direction.
Before making such claims, engineer Magee should do some controlled testing (use some science, not reports from some friends !). The Dutch Quest designers, for comparison, use the TU Delft wind tunnel for their work. Maybe Magee could go back to school on this too?
Druid
I might build these for my recumbent front wheeles.
Don McKinnon
The true aero gains can be measured in the field with a power meter. Until such data is presented you can't help but call it BS. http://bikeblather.blogspot.com/2013/08/aero-field-testing-using-chung-method.html @Arnold, rim shape has everything to do with how crosswinds (yaw angles) affect handling. Go over to Zipps website and read about the V shape, Toroidal, Hybrid Toroidal and now Firecrest designs. Each made crosswind performance better. The new deep rims are the previous designs next size down in terms of the crosswind performance.
Gary Kaiser
wow,, they kind of invented 'fenders', and added some market hype. will help keep mud splatter down I guess
Edwin Austin
I'm also not trying to bash the idea but couldn't it be designed a bit cleaner? It's awfully clunky looking. Maybe if it was incorporated with a fender system it might be worth checking out.
waltinseattle
gary k, thats my first thought.take a fender and change its description... invention! but then thats our-historic post educational traditions world 4ya! oh, and the upwards, rearwards mud? well, no so much fending off is done by this fender...but thats an entirrly different issue: what to wear on my hip new wheels
Michael Crumpton
$200 for some long fenders? I almost did a spit take.