Testimonial by Lou Normadeau
September 14, 2014
Hi again Garth,
I hope you got my picture from the road on the first day of my trip.
I just made it home, after 7 days and 100km/day. Pulling the Bob trailer with a total gear load of 30 pounds.
The particular route I followed ended up being a lot more elevation work than I expected, a lot of brutal climbs and descents. However there were of course plenty of long flat stretches, and the Upper Wheel Fairings made up the difference for me.
Heading up the Columbia River valley from Cathlamet to Longview on the north shore was 10 miles of riverside flat riding with very strong constant headwinds. On that stretch I averaged 20mph. I find pulling the Bob trailer on flat stretches the trailer's weight almost 'disappears', once the mass is moving it's easy to keep the speed up... and so the weight becomes much less of a factor and the aerodynamics become relatively much more of a factor.
And in every similar situation, long flat stretches along the Puget Sound ocean front, or through farm valleys in central Washington, the improvement was noticeable and very very welcome. The hills hurt, but the improvement in the flat stretches made a big difference in making up the time.
On downhills, I tend to not let the bike go all out, as the rig with the trailer gets a shimmy above 29mph and so is uncomfortable and tricky to control when there is a narrow shoulder amd logging trucks roaring by a few inches from my left ear. So I can't say that I was able to benefit from the Upper Wheel Fairings on downhills. But on downhills I'm not producing any power anyway, so the effect on my 'engine' and fatigue level was no difference.
And as I had originally mentioned to you, it always seems at the end of the day when I was losing steam that I'd hit a headwind just as that last 5 miles or so was ahead. At those moments, the difference was very very welcome. The benefit I was hoping for, I have to say was exactly what I experienced.
The increase in susceptibility to side-winds was a factor, mostly predictable but in places like Deception Pass and some valleys where there was actually a side-wind warning posted, I found I did have to reduce speed to keep the gusts from being a problem for control. The increase in normal large-truck blow-by however was not enough to be a problem.
The fairings stayed solid and straight. I did have to tighten the front clamps a bit after a particularly rough section of road, but I had not tightened them very much originally since my front forks are carbon and I erred on the side of being careful for the mounting clamps not being too tight. They were fine after a bit of tightening. They rattled on the bumpy side roads, but that's the tradeoff for having them as close as possible to the rim and I didn't really mind the rattling.
So in summary, I would have to say that in my opinion the bicycle touring crowd is a very good group for you to target for marketing. The weight of the fairings is of course relatively less of a consideration when you're riding a loaded bike anyway... the touring crowd is always more eager than others to add pieces to the bike if it improves the riding experience, and if you direct the marketing as not so much 'more speed' but as 'less fatigue, more enjoyment of the experience' that is a big factor to us tourists. That's why we ride. To enjoy every moment of the ride, and the views and surroundings. Anything that allows us to worry less about the effort and more about the experience is welcome.
I am now even more a proponent of aerodynamics as a factor for cycling tourists. I'll be visiting my forums and commenting as such in the next while.
And of course I got questions about the fairings from others I met on the route, although this particular trip there were very few other cyclists on the route due to the time of year and also the fact that I followed the route ass-backwards to how 95% of cyclists prefer to ride it. I went south-to-north so most of the cyclists I saw were going by the other way on the other side of the road.
If there's anything I can do to be of assistance to your whole project, let me know. Happy to help.. because I do definitely believe in the product.
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