Aero Frame Or Aero Wheels | Which Makes You Faster?

14 feb. 2021
140 150 Weergaven

Lightweight vs Aero is a question the cycling industry can't seem to agree on when it comes to bike tech. Wheels and frames are two of the most important factors when it comes to these two specialisations, but which combination is best? We do some GCN Tech science, swapping aero and lightweight wheels between aero and lightweight frames, to see which combination is fastest and the results may surprise you.
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Which combination did you think would be fastest?
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Watch more on GCN Tech...
📹 Time Trial Super Bike VS Budget TT Bike | GCN Tech's Aero Showdown -
Music - licensed by Epidemic Sound:
ES_Spinning the Wheels - Dusty Decks
ES_Streetlight Jam - The New Fools
ES_This 808 Kills Fascists - Bonkers Beat Club.mp3
ES_Leaving No One Behind - Christian Andersen.mp3
ES_Outbreak - Fasion.mp3
Photos: © Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images & © Bettiniphoto /
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  • Which combination did you think would be fastest?

    GCN TechGCN Tech15 dagen geleden
    • Assuming 80 kg for bike and rider, an additional kilogram is just a 1,25% power penalty. No reason there to bet on light weight.

      Daniel TscharnuterDaniel Tscharnuter12 dagen geleden
    • @P FunkLife Not significantly - rather, the wheels with the 4 season tyres (slower compound) and heavy butyl tubes were slowest.

      NeilNeil13 dagen geleden
    • @Luuk Rutten Which means the wheels are really not that important???? I do think we need a true lightweight wheel. 40mm is still a deep section wheel....

      hjl jl hjgvguvovuhjl jl hjgvguvovu13 dagen geleden
    • Neither the bike nor the wheels are aero. Disc brakes are terrible for aero- such a joke they've been foisted on the public

      Mr. QuindazziMr. Quindazzi13 dagen geleden
    • No disrespect Ollie, Alex look so much smoother on the bike, it seemed to effortless... holding back @250watts 🤯

      Michael SinghMichael Singh13 dagen geleden
  • Don’t forget to factor how awesome deep section aero wheels sound on the road :)

    Neil PalmerNeil Palmer4 uur geleden
  • Great test idea, but need to run again, gents...

    Neil PalmerNeil Palmer4 uur geleden
  • What a bullshit test not to mention the results...

    Nik BračičNik BračičDag geleden
  • Regardless, the bike looks better with deep section wheels. Especially sexy if it's a steel bike with skinny tubes! My aero wheels that are 46mm tall but also 28mm wide pair up to my Conti-5000 TL's perfectly. Not as sexy as the 303s but I love them!

    Josh KJosh KDag geleden
  • 'On the descent, the aero bike is significantly quicker' - on the graphic, Alex's are shown as quicker on the lightweight bike?

    Max RevellMax Revell2 dagen geleden
  • neither - losing weight and becoming stronger and more flexible and slamming stem is what makes you faster ;)

    shredneckshredneck4 dagen geleden
  • Hey guys love your vids and love the bikes would love to ride one myself in the near future i hope.

    Xenon SenpaiXenon Senpai4 dagen geleden
  • Even at the start Ollie is a minute behind #dropped 😉

    Lee SLee S4 dagen geleden
  • For me, all road bikes do look cool with deep section wheels

    Jhamar L.B. [JAYHEART]Jhamar L.B. [JAYHEART]4 dagen geleden
  • Test a mid depth wheel of around 50mm vs a 23mm vs the 80mm

    Just MeJust Me5 dagen geleden
  • Well done on informing us of the entire test and the differences discovered later. There were some interesting findings wrt the tyre spec., width, compound etc. Which, when combined with the variables (road surface, weather, etc) helped me to appreciate the importance of the stuff that's in contact with the road. Great video. 👍

    Selwan Al-AminSelwan Al-Amin5 dagen geleden
  • I'm looking at getting aero wheels, and thinking about what depth to get. Would it be worth getting the dt swiss arc 1400 with 62mm rear wheel and a 50mm front wheel? I want something that can be used in the vast majority of situations, stable in typical wind levels but also want to have something aero. My bike is a BMC team machine 02 and I weight 75kg ish

    Buddy UpsonBuddy Upson5 dagen geleden
  • Was this test a hack or a bodge? 😜

    Pablo C. BrancoPablo C. Branco5 dagen geleden
  • When you take overall weight (body weight plus bike) there can't have been a very big percentage difference between frames, like 1.25% or summat. (My bike weighs more than both together and cost less than one of your wheels 🚲😐) Does having supension on the seat post save watts on rough roads, like softer tyres do, because most of the overall weight doesn't get moved as much?

    Stoaty StoatStoaty Stoat5 dagen geleden
  • 👨‍🔬🤔🤭

    Rohan McCoyRohan McCoy6 dagen geleden
  • Thank you for the transparency in what you felt could have been better for the testing. Still entertaining.

    King Of CrunkKing Of Crunk6 dagen geleden
  • Why not factor in power meter data for a much more complete picture? Sorta half-baked without considering relative power outputs.

    Art MillerArt Miller6 dagen geleden
  • So basically, what you found out was, that the largest effect is in right selection of tires, and in the knowledge of the user :) => it’s better to learn to use tools one has before upgrading.

    Marko OivoMarko Oivo7 dagen geleden
  • Rim brakes, 23mm tyres, 36cm bars, aero position as you can comfortably hold. Boom. Saved you 10k.

    Cameron DuffyCameron Duffy7 dagen geleden
  • So real world outdoor testing isn’t as accurate as indoor testing? And as for the tyres, the narrower tyre will always be more aerodynamic. Ask Hambini, he’s 5!

    B1gstar14B1gstar147 dagen geleden
  • Here is what your tests proved to me...even the most modest of equipment exceeds my skillset to a point that I needn't spend the money. 😂😂😂

    Corey BrassCorey Brass7 dagen geleden
  • Aero position trumps all is what i gather from these test results. The marginal gains from equipment don't beat the Position created by said equipment.

    Paul Fuller drum studyPaul Fuller drum study7 dagen geleden
  • So aero wheels are a scam for real world conditions 😉👍

    Paul Fuller drum studyPaul Fuller drum study7 dagen geleden
  • You missed one variable, time. On a hilly course (assuming you finish at or above the MSL altitude from where you started) you will always be climbing more time than descending. So, you are spending more time taking advantage of the lightweight bike attributes climbing, than the aero bike is taking advantage of the aerodynamics during descending.

    tomglistatomglista7 dagen geleden
  • Why bother putting this out once you'd realised the error.

    Stuart BirdStuart Bird7 dagen geleden
  • Why not both? Everything aero is the way to go :D

    Alexander ClasenAlexander Clasen8 dagen geleden
  • In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

    Kevin LewisKevin Lewis8 dagen geleden
  • I still ride mostly tubulars.

    ikingletikinglet8 dagen geleden
  • My recent purchase of a lightweight bike with 40mm wheels seems justified now, thanks guys. Not sure I'd consider 40mm to be shallow though!

    David HarperDavid Harper8 dagen geleden
  • Your experiment shows aero wheel marketing is bullshit fed to the masses. Lol

    Marek ZmazurMarek Zmazur8 dagen geleden
  • God damn- you have some good looking bikes!

    Oliver TOliver T8 dagen geleden
  • When you guys will make a video about the fabulousness canyon seat post ?

  • When I saw the results I knew something wasn’t right! The good news is that you can usually learn more in the long run from mistakes. Had you not messed anything up, people would have just accepted the macro result. Now we all get to think about the smaller variables involved. So here’s a series for you. Do this test again properly to find out the overall result. Then, follow it up with 4 other videos, with each video only focusing on one of these bike combinations at a time. But within that video have a handful of other things to try such as different tires, tire widths to rims, etc. In effect, like another 4 “options” per setup. Then compare all 16 results and I bet you’ll be able to make some decent conclusions about each setup and other small variables

    Aaron DavidAaron David9 dagen geleden
  • Just combine the both! Aero wheels in an aero frame. Problem solve!

    Sil TVSil TV9 dagen geleden
  • Biggest aero difference in wheels is when you go from box section to 30mm deep section so basically your test only proved what was already known.

    Geoffrey McCannGeoffrey McCann9 dagen geleden
  • I think Felt's repeated championships are proof enough that aero trumps lightweight.

    Mark H HendricksMark H Hendricks9 dagen geleden
  • With the goop you slather inside the tire, tubeless is messy, isn't it?

    havadatequilahavadatequila9 dagen geleden
  • sorry but we need Project Farm to do this test.

    Scott BerryScott Berry10 dagen geleden
  • I'm staring at the road bike next to me with... Tubulars. Most people don't??? I do.

    madbikeboysinsmadbikeboysins10 dagen geleden
  • lightweight bike with aero wheels just look better, and we all know if the bike looks best it means it is the fastest.

    Kyle HaKyle Ha10 dagen geleden
  • I think you guys are great but this test should have been retitled “A ride with a couple different bike and wheelsets”. You guys had motos in front of you, waving your arms, not holding a consistent position etc. It was entertaining but useless from a data perspective :)

    Chris PippyChris Pippy10 dagen geleden
  • How can you even bother to make this video if the tires are different?

    outdated outdatedoutdated outdated10 dagen geleden
  • I still own tubulars...

    Nick GuestNick Guest10 dagen geleden
  • They should stick you two planks in charge of data interpretation at Imperial college. You're just the kind of visionaries they have been searching for.

  • Try to test again and properly. Real light wheels and same tyres...come on you can do it right

    Pedro ResendePedro Resende10 dagen geleden
  • I hope you kept the geometry of both bikes to be as similar as it can be. Otherwise, if the aero bike was set up to make the rider slightly more aero, then it kinda makes the test redundant. Since it is not a like for like comparison. Most aero gains are from the human rider than frame shapes etc. Can you redo the test but show that you measured the Stack, reach, setback, stem length and height etc .... all to be the same ?

    Ian RIan R10 dagen geleden
  • What was the weight difference of the set ups too? Very minor I suspect. The gap also would be bigger with increase of power?

  • Interesting video. In addition to getting the tires right on the next run would love to see you mix in a zipp 454 and a 303 front 808 rear combo. I would guess that in a windtunnel you would only see 2-4w difference between the 303 and 808 anyway at the speeds they are ridden in the video (i am predicting that you come out with fairly inconclusive results as the 303 is allegedly pretty aero already) but would love to hear more about how they handle vs the speed differences.

    Aisaku PradhanAisaku Pradhan11 dagen geleden
  • So these 808 are slower, heavier and more expensive... but at at least they look good!

    Simon RSimon R11 dagen geleden
  • The plot of this video is exactly like your average scientific paper. First, a lot of introductory blabla, then some methods and quickly over to the results. Subsequently in the discussion it is admitted that, although the results are interesting, the authors have no idea how to explain them, that the experiment was flawed and that more research is needed. Classic!

    Lars BorghoutsLars Borghouts11 dagen geleden
  • Really interesting stuff - can’t wait to see the experiment done properly 😂

    Tom BeecroftTom Beecroft11 dagen geleden
  • Is Ollie trying to find a build that will beat si' TT bike? If so that's commitment.

    sean blackhurstsean blackhurst11 dagen geleden
  • A simple 'drop test' might be a way to test aero efficiency? Namely At the top of the same hill, with the same rider adopting the same position, taking the same line, each bike is released from a standing start. Certainly seems to cut the variables to a minimum for 'real world' testing?

    Kenny WilsonKenny Wilson11 dagen geleden
  • entertaining but with n=2 statistically nonsensical. as the results clearly show.

    johannes djohannes d11 dagen geleden
  • Performing these kinds auf tests consistantly in the outdoors is definitely difficult. As you seem to use power meters, I suggest that you also measure and publish the average wattage of each ride/section and rider. I am interested to see, how wattage differences correlate to time i.e. speed differences and might thus give a hint to reconsider the obvious time based ranking.

    Stefan LegnerStefan Legner11 dagen geleden
  • Let's take the test as it is, there won't be any tests that cannot be criticized. If one looks more carefully, a lot of the knows facts about cycling are proven again. I made 4 classifications. Olie is O, Alex is A, Lightweight with mid section wheels is Lm, Lightweight with aero wheels is La, Aero with midsection wheels is Am, Aero with aero wheels is Aa. 1, 2, 3, 4 is first place, second etc. etc. On flats: O 1 AM 2 Lm 3 Aa 4 La A 1 Aa 2 Am 3 Lm 4 La On climbs: O 1 Am 2 Lm 3 Aa 4 La A 1 Am 2 Lm 3 Aa 4 La On descents O 1 Am 2 Aa 3 La 4 Lm A 1 Lm 2 La 3 Aa 4 Am TOTAL TIME O 1 Lm 2 Am 3 Aa 4 La A 1 Aa 2 Am 3 Lm 4 La Conclusions: 1. The same order for both cyclists on climbs, this is the only one where they achieve same classification, contrary to what they say in the video. Known fact confirmed again. Midsection and not deep section wheels for climbing. 2. On climbs is better to have an aero bike than an lightweight bike. But if one choses a lightweight bike, that should never be with deep section wheels. 3 On flats lightweight bikes with aero wheels are not recommended, both had the worst time on them. 4 Aero bikes are best for flat terrain. For some cyclists and in certain conditions it will be better to combine aero with midsection than with deep section. Known fact already, in winter you do not go with deep section wheels, that's why there are training and winter wheels. 5 Descents are tricky since they rely more on skill than other things. That's why you can see such disparities between the two. It is the exact reverse order, the best for Ollie is last for Alex and vice versa. 1,2,3,4 for Ollie is 4,3,2,1 for Alex. That simply means that one of them is more comfortable on lightweight and the other on aero bike. 6 For descents midsection is better than deep section. This is something new and needs to be checked again in summer. 7 The lightweight with aero, so fashionable comes last in 6 of the 8 classifications. So not recommended. Again something rather known, you do not ride lightweight in winter. 8 The midsection wins in 6 of the 8 classifications, the same conclusion as above. 9 Aero bike wins 6 of the 8 classifications. We already know they are faster generally, so nothing new here again. The test should be repeated in summer to see if there are different results. Also a 1 minute descent is to small to be of full relevance. Why not go to a real mountain, in Scotland is they do not have the funds for Alpe D'Huez, Turmalet or other.

    Vladimir VladimiroviciVladimir Vladimirovici11 dagen geleden
  • I wonder how much the massive weight difference in wheels made as well? Around 500 grams is a lot. I just got some new 303S “aero” wheels (and 28c TL tires), and lost around 600 grams from the shallow heavyweights... perhaps there is a happy medium? A truly shallow (non aero) wheel (I think the Firecrest is still considered aero) vs a deep aero wheel with similar weights to more pronounce the “aero ness” difference? Good call on the tires as well, very keen to see same tire/size test as well!

    Erik JohnstonErik Johnston11 dagen geleden
  • The deeper wheels will demonstrate their superiority at higher speeds as the aero advantage becomes appreciably greater as you exceed 40kph. Testing it at 35kph will tend to level the aerodynamic efficiency in the favor of the shallower wheels. Include a run at 50 kph and you'll see a clear difference.

    Robert GrayRobert Gray11 dagen geleden
  • The only part that transfer power to the road is your tyre: so yeah standardise the test will help. If you do a separate test: 28mm v 25mm and pump to max (120 psi v 90 psi) you will find far less road vibrations with 28mm and better handling compared to 25mm, but with minimal drag & speed loss.

    GG11 dagen geleden
  • Olly’s pelvis is all over the place, saddle looks too high

    Kieran BiggarKieran Biggar11 dagen geleden
  • Even with all other discrepancies, this begs the question, are aero wheels faster in variable windy conditions? I’m starting to think, no.

    Stephen ShepherdStephen Shepherd11 dagen geleden
  • The same rider must be the common denominator. And please, also use tubular at 200 psi, come on guys, live a little. Don't just slug-heavy 28mm clinchers. Conversely, however, it does make sense that slinging a fatter, heavier, clincher around the wheel at higher speeds would necessarily mean that the momentum of that weight would help the rider sling them even faster (once you get that momentum up to speed). So, lightweight wins on take-off, heavier wins once momentum is achieved -- yeah baby.

    CyclingmastersellerCyclingmasterseller12 dagen geleden
  • Question: Which thing makes you faster? Aero frame or aero wheels? Answer: Tubeless tyres

    TheLoneScullerTheLoneSculler12 dagen geleden
  • So basically...Given that tyres and tyre pressures seemed to have mattered more than anything else...just goes to show...don’t bother spending loads of money on aero frames/wheels in an effort to be faster (do it because you have the money and want to look good!!). Those that want to go faster - get good tyres...but mainly train harder!!!

    Ben ThompsonBen Thompson12 dagen geleden
  • Ok, without checking the results, and using the knowledge from Hambini, my bet is: aero wheels make all the difference, frame makes almost no difference.

    elorz007elorz00712 dagen geleden
    • Guess I was completely wrong.

      elorz007elorz00712 dagen geleden
  • the difference in rolling resistence between the tires is definitely bigger than the very minor difference between the 303 and the 808 wheels in everyday conditions and speeds. there is a big advantage when going from a box section, 32 spoke alumunium entry level trekking wheel thingy, to a mid depth 40-50mm aero wheel for everyday riding. both in wheight, feel and aerodynamics. but from that 40-50mm rim to an even deeper one, the aero gains are marginal. a different tire or just a small change in position on the bike can neglect that.

    Digi20Digi2012 dagen geleden
  • The climbing time difference would be very minimal, for example if Ollie and light bike is 80kg (probably more) and with aero bike is 81kg then only a 1.25% increase (more likely 1%) in power needed which would be in the margin of error.

    ShepdogMattShepdogMatt12 dagen geleden
  • I had a sneaking suspicion the lightweight wheel was going to be the winner, it seems that the tire to rim interface is more important from an aero perspective than deep vs shallow cross section. would be interesting to compare some of the quiver killer frames out there like the Pinarello F12 that do lightweight and aero in the same frame. Though Canyon says the new Aeroad is supposed to be a lightweight aero frame, then you get the new Giant TCR which is supposed to be a aero-ish lightweight frame.

    mrvwbug44mrvwbug4412 dagen geleden
  • It was just a few months back that you released a video in which a rep from a wheel company made the argument that heavier deep section wheels are faster than lightweight shallow section wheels. Back then I called BS and questioned some of the logic as weak sauce. Looks like you just found out what I and many others already know. Lighter, shallow section wheels are faster.

    Roto68Roto6812 dagen geleden
  • Rim brakes when they were an option on the Canyon Aerode save a lot of weight. The ultegra mechanical version with rim brakes was lighter than the Dura-ace mechanical version with disc brakes that cost over $2k less.

    Matt RothrockMatt Rothrock12 dagen geleden
  • And to think we probably would have learned less from this video if everything went as planned. Ain't science great?

    Jamie TecJamie Tec12 dagen geleden
  • Using the exact same tire (including size) between the two wheelsets may not actually be fair either. The 303 was designed around 28s. Use the tire size that the 808 was design with too.

    Nick NelsonNick Nelson12 dagen geleden
  • I am saying aero wheels and aero bike. Now I'll watch 😀

    David WardDavid Ward12 dagen geleden
    • I was wrong.....oh but it was the tyres! What were they thinking 🤦🏻‍

      David WardDavid Ward12 dagen geleden
  • A very embarrassing error by GCN to not control for the tyres used in the test.

    biker jkbiker jk12 dagen geleden
  • GCN please consider buying electric motorcycle for shooting, really hate the noise of gas engine instead of presenter’s voice.

    Sum SummerSum Summer12 dagen geleden
  • lesson: science is hard

    Carl FordeCarl Forde12 dagen geleden
  • Just imagine how fast a rim brake bike would have been

    Simon CoxSimon Cox12 dagen geleden
  • Very interesting GCN this was a cracking project to demonstrate so many unanswered questions. I can'r wait for the part two.

    MrDazP1MrDazP112 dagen geleden
  • does this mean that the gains from going 40mm deep to 82mm are quite marginal?

    wdadwa wdadawdwdwawdadwa wdadawdwdwa12 dagen geleden
  • The lightweight wheels weren’t shallow enough. 40mm is classed as aero. Try some 23mm deep ones instead. I feel all this has proved is that lighter, 40mm wheels are better all round than heavier, super deep 80mm. Not really a shock when you think about it.

    kieran selfkieran self12 dagen geleden
  • Looking forward to the follow up.

    Victor BoyceVictor Boyce12 dagen geleden
  • Olie should get his PhD revoked for this much bad science packed into one video

    Rob WoolfsonRob Woolfson12 dagen geleden
  • These comparison videos make me feel like I have obsessive/compulsive disorder.

    letsifletsif12 dagen geleden
  • aero

    Ian RIan R12 dagen geleden
  • 1:50 got a heart attack when i saw the long valves destroying the aero gains :(

    Simon KirchwegerSimon Kirchweger12 dagen geleden
    • Yeah, he probably lost 0,00001 second dor thar

      Cesar BurbanoCesar Burbano5 dagen geleden
  • Good stuff. Glad you noticed the tyres but still an interesting test of aero vs light frame

    Dave LloydDave Lloyd12 dagen geleden
  • Interesting how the bike behind you guys changed from the Canyon at 13:xx to the Orbea at 15:XX. I like the Orbea better. =)

    STUNN312STUNN31212 dagen geleden
  • It scares me every time that you are always riding on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately everybody else there is doing it too!

    Daniel TscharnuterDaniel Tscharnuter12 dagen geleden
  • Another episode of GCN botches science.

    Roy DarnellRoy Darnell13 dagen geleden
  • Make an advert of why you shouldn’t buy zipp 808 and then backtrack.

    Paul JenningsPaul Jennings13 dagen geleden
  • well ... error! Just do it again!

    Ghostina1Ghostina113 dagen geleden
  • Aero bike with aero wheels

    SigmundSigmund13 dagen geleden
  • Maybe I am a cynic, but doesn't this show that the bike doesn't matter that much, it's 95% rider? These are both great bikes, but...

    hjl jl hjgvguvovuhjl jl hjgvguvovu13 dagen geleden
  • I'm going to take this as vindication for my Giant Propel with shallow wheels underperforming in the Bike Vault. "You might not like it, mate, but it's the fastest combo."

    ShellewellShellewell13 dagen geleden
  • Basically the differences are so small that they are within margin of error for the experiment. There are 2 major rules. 1. Lightweight bike helps a little bit on climbs so long as the rider can't possibly stand to lose any weight from their body. 2. Aero gains are all to be found in body position. Streamlining various bits and pieces of your bike which are subject to all kinds of turbulence in the real world is a waste of time

    nt2883nt288313 dagen geleden
  • So, we aren’t any wiser than at the start of the video. Come on lads get yourself back out side and do it properly this time 😂

    Tim HepworthTim Hepworth13 dagen geleden
  • after all that, different tyres on different pressures. waste of time

    Alan SmithAlan Smith13 dagen geleden
  • Guys, guys, guys, I am a massive fan, however, the above video is like presenting an engineering project built and tested without the use of calibrated tools and test equipment. If you worked for me, I would ask you to try harder. I hope that the discovery channel has the same view.

    Paul WebsterPaul Webster13 dagen geleden
  • @askgcntech please could you do something on replacing / rewrapping bar tape? After many months of being on the turbo I think a freshen up might be nice and there’s some cool looking stuff out there but my ocd is worried if I take it off I won’t get it back on again perfectly! Also no idea which type to choose. X

    K StethespokesK Stethespokes13 dagen geleden