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Aerodynamic Bicycle Helmet Design Using a Truncated Airfoil With Trailing Edge Modifications

[+] Author Affiliations
Bradford W. Sims, Peter E. Jenkins

University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO

Paper No. IMECE2011-65411, pp. 453-462; 10 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 6: Fluids and Thermal Systems; Advances for Process Industries, Parts A and B
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, November 11–17, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5492-1
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Aerodynamic drag contributes the majority of the resistance experienced by a competitive cyclist. Low aerodynamic drag is a key quality of high performance equipment and many aerodynamic helmets have been developed. These helmets are designed with a teardrop shape that attempts to maintain attached air flow. This shape provides a drag reduction when the athlete has their head up and is looking forward but has adverse effects if the athlete rotates their head down. A helmet design that helps maintain attached airflow while presenting reduced frontal area when the athlete’s head is down could significantly improve performance. The aerodynamic improvements of applying a truncated airfoil shape with a trailing edge modification to a helmet design were investigated. SolidWorks Flow Simulation was used to evaluate the aerodynamic forces. A common production helmet design was progressively truncated to determine the optimal truncation length and the effects of multiple trailing edge modifications were tested. A specific truncation length with a trailing edge base cavity was found to provide similar head up performance but significantly better head down performance compared to the production design. Scale models of the final improved design and the production helmet were tested in the wind tunnel to verify the computational results.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
Topics: Design , Bicycles , Airfoils



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