The application of body scanning, numerical simulations and wind tunnel testing for the aerodynamic development of cyclists

Shian Chi, John Pitman, Tim Crouch, David Burton, Mark Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The aerodynamic efficiency of an elite cyclist is often evaluated and optimised using either one or a combination of field testing, wind-tunnel testing and numerical simulation. This study focuses on the processes and limitations involved in using a body scan to produce an accurate geometry for input to numerical simulation, with validation through drag comparisons from wind-tunnel tests and vortical wake-flow features reported in previous experimental studies. Transitional Shear Stress Transport Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes simulations based on the scanned geometry were undertaken for a 180 ° half crank cycle at 15 ° increments. The sectional drag force contributions of 23 body subparts are presented, documenting the contribution and variation of each body/cycle component over the cycle. These methods are evaluated and the limitations of the approaches are discussed. The results from the numerical simulation and the wind tunnel measured drag force were very similar, differing by approximately 1%–7% for various crank angles.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020


  • aerodynamics
  • body scan
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • Cycling
  • drag
  • performance
  • scanning
  • sports

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