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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 Gains
Slice through headwinds; Rising effectiveness in stronger headwinds.
• Enhance Steering Traction for Predictable Stability in Crosswinds
Reduce ground slip force, yielding more available cornering traction.
• Reduce Cyclic Pedaling Fatigue by Slicing through Headwinds
Reduce natural cyclic pedaling effort, yielding greater propulsive efficiency.
• Outperform ANY Aero Wheel Against Stronger Headwinds
Shift magnified upper wheel drag onto un-magnified vehicle frame.
• Enhanced AERO Enables Use of Wider Tires and Stronger Rims
Eliminate most of the substantially increased wheel drag from wider tires.

AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings disposed to minimally shield the uppermost wheel are the most effective means to actually minimizing overall drag on a vehicle, and have inspired numerous other inventions as well. For convenience, this invention has been first embodied and successfully demonstrated on a bicycle, where drag reduction has been a long-sought endeavor.

This non-obvious solution to reducing vehicle drag represents a breakthrough approach, teaching a new method for actually minimizing vehicle drag, by overturning previously held technical assumptions displayed in the patent art that by downwardly shielding much more of the wheel is instead required to further reduce vehicle drag.

While AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings make even the most expensive aero road bikes simply faster when facing even light-to-moderately strong ground headwinds, they become even more effective against headwinds when employed on less aero, and less expensive typical bicycles used for general commuting—being the vast majority of the bicycle market. For this reason alone, AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings represent the most cost-effective aero enhancement available for bicycles used in outdoors in at least somewhat windy conditions.

And since AERODEFENDER™ fairing technology can be simply integrated into existing frame designs with little additional cost, this IP should become a distinct marketing advantage to OEM bicycle brands, particularly as the highly sought aero benefits become more widely appreciated in the future. Null Winds Technology™ is now seeking a partnership with major bicycle brands, having now proven the benefits of this technology. Evaluation inquires are welcome.

MINIMIZES Vehicle Drag for Unmatched Speed Gains

Shielding only the faster-moving critical drag-inducing uppermost portion of the wheel using a minimally sized wheel fairing actually minimizes the overall drag on a vehicle. Our patented AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings slice through even moderately strong headwinds much faster than any aero bicycle wheel, while simultaneously increasing steering traction for more predictable control at high speed. All road tests conducted further demonstrate that speed gains only increase still further against stronger headwinds or at higher bicycle speeds, confirming the rather complex proper vehicle systems drag model inspired by this invention.

Enhances Steering Traction for Predictable Stability in Crosswinds

Shielding the uppermost portion of the wheel also increases the available lateral steering traction, thereby enhancing stability and control of the bicycle. Our patented AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings actually reduce the drag-induced counter-torque applied to the upper wheel, thereby reducing the natural ground slip reaction force, that in turn yields more available lateral cornering traction. And the gains in cornering traction and lateral control only increase still further against stronger headwinds or at higher bicycle speeds.

Reduces Cyclic Pedaling Fatigue by Slicing through Headwinds

Shielding the uppermost portion of the wheel also decreases the natural cyclic pedaling fatigue of the cyclist on longer rides at higher speeds. Critically, exposed uppermost wheel surfaces (including tire surfaces) move forward against oncoming winds at twice the vehicle speed. And the cyclist’s slightly varying effort exerted during the cyclic pedaling cadence is greatly exacerbated by the exposed upper wheel surfaces.

For example, for the cyclist in order to accelerate the bicycle an additional 1 mph, the upper wheel must be accelerated twice as much, or instead increased by 2 mph. This is why struggling against faster headwinds often feels like pushing against a wall. It is the exposed upper wheel that is causing much of the increased resistance, being accelerated at a much faster rate than the bicycle itself.

Our patented AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings minimize these cyclic variations in pedaling effort by permitting the bicycle to slice far more easily through punishing headwinds, since the critical drag-inducing uppermost portion of the wheel is effectively shielded from headwinds.   So accelerating the bicycle 1 mph does not expose the upper wheel to any additional wind speed. And the reduced fatigue from minimizing this natural cyclic pedaling effort becomes even more noticeable against stronger headwinds or at higher bicycle speeds, where more sustained pedaling effort is required.

Moreover, this effect of increasing cyclic resistance can be greatly exacerbated when also facing an external headwind. Facing an additional external headwind causes wind speeds on the exposed uppermost wheel surfaces to greatly exceed twice the vehicle speed, shifting the power dissipation thereon into a much higher range.

A 1 mph change in wind speed, then causes far more actual power to be dissipated in drag when the total wind speed on exposed upper wheel surfaces is substantially higher. For example, 1 mph change at an exposed upper wheel surface wind speed of 50 mph (likely more easily induced by adding an external headwind to the upper wheel speed) causes far more (almost four times more) total power (being a cubic relation to overall wind speed) to be dissipated in drag, than if the upper wheel surface wind speed were instead only 25 mph.

This is why the faster you go—or the greater the external headwind you face—the much more intense the wind resistance becomes. It is not so much that the bike frame and rider are increasing in wind resistance—although this is certainly a substantial factor—than that the overall vehicle drag is being shifted to be more and more heavily concentrated on the uppermost wheel surfaces as headwinds—and especially external headwinds—rise.

Thus, it becomes critically important to reduce drag on these critical uppermost wheel surfaces. And reducing drag on the upper wheel is most efficiently accomplished through minimally shielding only these most critical vehicle-drag-inducing uppermost wheel surfaces, using the most aerodynamic fairing available. Indeed, shielding the uppermost wheel surfaces causes the bicycle to slice far more easily into headwinds, rather than being subjected to this dramatically rising wheel resistance effect from exposed upper wheel surfaces. But shielding too much of the upper wheel tends then to increase vehicle drag unnecessarily by the additional drag on the expanded fairing itself.

Outperforms ANY Aero Wheel Against Stronger Headwinds

Shielding only the faster-moving critical drag-inducing uppermost portion of the wheel using a minimally sized wheel fairing to minimize overall vehicle drag becomes even more effective as external headwinds increase, as discussed in part above. Our patented AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings also divert the inherently magnified drag from the faster-moving upper wheel onto the un-magnified slower-moving vehicle frame.

The effect of reduced drag on the frame—over the otherwise magnified drag on the upper wheel—is even more pronounced as external headwinds increase, making AERODEFENDER™ fairings more efficient than ANY aero wheel as headwinds increase still further. After all, any aero wheel still has exposed uppermost tire and rim surfaces moving forward against headwinds at a minimum of twice the vehicle speed, greatly exacerbating the actual power being dissipated thereon—per the basic drag equation. And power dissipation in drag (a highly sensitive cubic function of wind speed)—rather than drag force, being only a square function of wind speed—is the key parameter that must be minimized in order to actually maximize vehicle propulsive efficiency.

Enhanced AERO Performance Enables Use of Wider Tires and Stronger Rims

Similar to the increasing effectiveness of upper wheel shielding in minimizing overall vehicle drag as external headwinds increase, this shielding effectiveness also increases for vehicles where more drag is more heavily concentrated on the otherwise exposed upper wheel. Thus, most bicycles with even wider tires stand to benefit even more than the most aero road bikes employing the most advanced aero wheels. And all our recent downhill coasting tests and pro cyclists road testing only further substantiate this claim.

Indeed, recent trends in road bike aero development include the preferred use of wider tires for traction and deeper rims for aero benefit. However, wider tires and rims expose greater surface area at the top of the wheel to winds of at least twice the vehicle speed, thereby actually substantially increasing vehicle drag. By substituting AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings over the use of aero wheels largely obviates the need to minimize tire width, and permits the use of even more shallow, lighter weight wheel rims with wider tires—while still providing superior vehicle drag reduction while facing even a modest ground headwind.

Thus, by using AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings instead of expensive aero wheels, cyclists can enjoy unmatched drag reduction when facing punishing ground headwinds, together with the softer, safer, more stable ride provided by wider tires used with lighter and much less expensive shallow rimmed wheels.

Indeed, for superior aerodynamic performance, the money otherwise spent on aero wheels is better spent on AERODEFENDER™ wheel fairings, being the more cost-effective solution. And with the recent industry trends toward using disc brake wheels with higher spoke counts, this superior aerodynamic solution to minimizing overall vehicle drag on a bicycle becomes even more appealing and technically significant.

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