While the decades of continuous industry effort to reduce drag on wheeled vehicles demonstrates this subject to be somewhat mysterious, vehicle aerodynamics does not have to be so confusing. In fact, for many open-wheeled vehicles, minimizing vehicle drag contributed by the wheels turns out to be a surprisingly simple mechanical systems problem, with a straightforward solution based on rather basic engineering principles. The simple application of the drag equation to various vehicle surfaces—to determine their relative effects on overall vehicle drag—has yielded more than several recent inventions that can actually minimize vehicle drag.
Our patented solutions to minimizing drag on open-wheeled vehicles include AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings and AEROCROSS™ wheels with SPOKE FINS™ for bicycles, as well as Upper Wheel Deflectors, Inner Wheel Skirts, Upper Wheel Skirts and Laterally Inset Trailer Skirts for industrial trucks.
Each invention for open wheels is designed to reduce drag specifically on the faster-moving, critical-drag-inducing, uppermost portion of the headwind exposed wheel. And each open-wheel invention also teaches that it is only the uppermost portion of the wheel which actually contributes the vast majority of wheel drag to an open-wheeled vehicle, and that lowermost wheel surfaces actually contribute almost no vehicle drag, and should therefore always remain exposed to headwinds.
Thus, the approaches embodied by each aforementioned open-wheel invention rely on a new recognition of the actual mechanical systems effect of various wheel drag forces upon the vehicle. Importantly, drag on a wheel surface imparts a torque on the wheel that must be calculated as applied about the ground contact point of the wheel, rather that about the axle. Mechanical models that do not include this magnified drag effect on the upper wheel will greatly underestimate the actual effect of upper wheel drag on the vehicle itself.
The following summary explanations are then presented to better inform industry insiders of the innovate nature of this new approach. Still for full appreciation, this revolutionary method for minimizing vehicle drag may still likely require considerable study by systems mechanical engineers, since it overturns long-held faulty modeling assumptions still prevalent in both industry and the racing community.
For example, shielding the lowermost wheel from headwinds actually substantially increases overall vehicle drag. Yet the racecar industry still employs this faulty technique of shielding the lower wheel and deflecting wind to instead increase drag on the upper wheel in Formula One, IndyCar, etc., while claiming that substantial vehicle drag to be otherwise imparted on the vehicle. (Note with the recent introduction of this technology to IndyCar in late 2014, lower front wings directly in front of the lower wheels are now beginning to grow smaller in size, at least.)
Thus, our aim herein is simply to further induce change in the current stagnant industry approaches to vehicle drag reduction. Please consider the implications of the summary bullet points presented below for each invention as a starting point. And for even more in-depth explanations, please refer to the expanded technical discussion further below, and finally to the individual patents referenced below and in our current patent list.
AERODEFENDER Wheel Fairings
Breakthrough Patent US 9,878,745
AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings simply shield only the uppermost portion of the wheel to effectively minimize overall vehicle drag, while simultaneously increasing steering traction for more predictable control at high speed.
• MINIMIZE Vehicle Drag for Unmatched Speed GainsSlice through headwinds; Rising effectiveness in stronger headwinds.• Enhance Steering Traction for Predictable Stability in CrosswindsReduce ground slip force, yielding more available cornering traction.• Reduce Cyclic Pedaling Fatigue by Slicing through HeadwindsReduce natural cyclic pedaling effort, yielding greater propulsive efficiency.• Outperform ANY Aero Wheel Against Stronger HeadwindsShift magnified upper wheel drag onto un-magnified vehicle frame.• Enhanced AERO Enables Use of Wider Tires and Stronger RimsEliminate most of the substantially increased wheel drag using wider tires.• Cost-Effective AERO Performance for Mid-Range Bicycles
Provides high-end aero performance to wider mid-range bicycle market.
AEROCROSS Wheels with SPOKE FINS
Patent US 9,290,041
AEROCROSS™ wheels with SPOKE FINS™ streamline the round spoke, substantially reducing drag on the bicycle wheel itself—even in the presence of substantial crosswinds—while providing unmatched crosswind stability and safety to the cyclist in gusty wind conditions.
• Laminar Flow MINIMIZES Spoke Drag in Windy ConditionsMaintains low-drag laminar flow across the spoke even in crosswinds.• Unmatched Crosswind Stability Enhances Pedaling EfficiencyEnables aerobar position far longer under gusty crosswind conditions.• Outperforms ANY Aero Wheel in Strong CrosswindsBecoming the most cost-effective aero wheel for use in windy conditions.• Essential Drag Reduction for High Spoke Count WheelsHigh spoke count wheels greatly benefit from reduced drag, comparable to advanced aero wheels.