Aero positions in a mountain bike race sound absurd, but are they?

With the Leadville Trail 100 just around the corner, Specialized decided to take a look and find out. Does grabbing your fork crown actually create any sort of aero advantage over a standard position? How about a simple tuck? Do aerodynamics matter at all off road?

With a rider positioned atop a Specialized Epic full suspension mountain bike, Specialized used the average speed of last year’s Leadville winner Howard Grotts at about 26Kph to set the wind speed.  Measuring the amount of drag in four different positions, the results were fairly interesting. First off, I was happy to see the ridiculous fork grab position wasn’t the fastest, as that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

If you could maintain an aero position for the entire 104 mile course, you could theoretically save up to 23 minutes. Obviously, no one will do that. But, by simply tucking through non-technical descents and flat sections it’s not far fetched to believe a 5-10 minute advantage is possible.

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