- Specialized’s wind tunnel is quite a sight to behold. Six fans at the rear of the facility suck air toward the bike at speeds up to 62 mph. The precision required to accurately measure this airflow is remarkable. Photo: Evan Rudd | VeloNews.com
- The lighter-colored grey circle surrounding the bike is separate from the rest of the platform and rotates to measure the effects of yaw angle on airflow. Photo: Evan Rudd | VeloNews.com
- The software in the tunnel was developed by Specialized’s Chris Yu, who is part of Specialized’s team of aerodynamicists. Photo: Evan Rudd | VeloNews.com
- A view from the back of the tunnel gives some perspective on the size of the six massive fans. Photo: Evan Rudd | VeloNews.com
- Specialized engineers (from left) Chris Yu, Mark Cote, Chuck Teixeira, and Chris D’Aluisio. Photo: Specialized
MORGAN HILL, Calif. (VN) — Specialized on Thursday night unveiled its new in-house wind tunnel just a few blocks away from its Morgan Hill, California, headquarters.
While most wind tunnels are built to cater to the automotive, aerospace, or architectural industries, Specialized dreamt this facility up to be the perfect testing ground for its bikes. But why invest in such a costly endeavor?
The short answer is full control. There are multiple drawbacks that come with using third-party wind tunnels, such as the need to plan every scheduled minute and the high cost of use. With Specialized’s own tunnel, it can test whatever it wants, whenever it wants. The move streamlines the process of bringing a product to life.
One of the main points Specialized’s aerodynamics staff hammered home during a presentation on Thursday was that this tunnel isn’t just for bikes. They plan on testing everything from commuter helmets to apparel and everything in between. The marketing tagline that sums up this ethos is aero is everything. Even mountain bikes and equipment will be tested and refined in this facility.
The tunnel will also aid in Specialized’s Body Geometry Fit philosophies. An athlete can be expertly fit on site, then have time in the wind tunnel to perfect his or her position and have that fit quantified with hard data. This new facility serves as a new piece of the testing strategies already employed by Specialized engineers. Computational Fluid Dynamics and on-bike data acquisition along with the wind tunnel form the trinity of information collection.
With the creation of this tunnel, Specialized is declaring that aerodynamics is as important as a bike’s stiffness or weight.
“This is a fundamental shift in how we think about air; every product and athlete will be faster,” said Mark Cote, manager of road and triathlon aerodynamic performance.