14/06/2024
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Apidura Aero Pack System: Packs that make you faster.

Packs that make you faster.

we’re excited to expose the world’s first aerodynamically optimised packing system.

Knoll’s Custom Ridley Conzo Fast featuring the Apidura Aero Pack System and Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Wheels

Self-supporting bikepacking races require an adequate kit, so carrying capacity and weight are usually ahead of aerodynamic concerns.  Lighter weight is in our DNA and we have launched some lightweight, technologically advanced packs.  Our first decks took the Trans Am Bike Race by storm, and we developed fully waterproof and race-specific packs along with packs to suit modern mountain bike geometries.

However, as one-day events, especially in the gravel world, have increased in popularity and riders have perfected the craft of shorter bikepacking events, the balance between carrying capacity and aerodynamics has changed and we wonder.  Bike packing packs can be designed to make the bike faster.

  

Noel van Loon riding in the wind tunnel at the Belgian Cycling Factory

Our friends at Ridley agreed.  As the world’s fastest gravel bike maker, he was keen to see if looking outside the rules of UCI could help make Conzo Fast even faster.

With Project Approval, Ridley has delivered an Aerodynamics Masterclass to our design team to help us understand which areas of the bike we should focus on and what we should consider when designing decks.  It is an eye-opening experience for the team to understand how aerodynamics is not straightforward or straightforward and how even small changes can have a significant impact on how the air interacts with the object.  Ridley’s expertise and ability to leverage in-house wind tunnel and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) testing means our team is well versed in boundary layers and laminar flow and we are able to begin a six-month development process to create a world.  The first aerodynamic gravel racing packs.

Baseline tests of typical gravel racing setups have shown us that aerodynamically optimised packs can cost riders up to 17.5 watts at speeds of 40km / h – not an insignificant amount.  A poor packing rider can literally take advantage of expensive aerodynamic wheels.  A food bag can also add four watts of drag at a speed of 40km / h

The team makes changes to the air tunnel packs

These baseline tests at the Bike Valley Wind Tunnel and the advice of Ridley’s aerodynamic experts have identified some key areas for aerodynamic benefits;  Top tube, front of main triangle, bottom of tube and back of seat tube.  These areas allow us to expand aerodynamic shapes to maintain clean air flow, without packing ‘clean’ air and causing aerodynamic fines.

Our focus is on designing packs that add to the bike’s aerodynamic performance, the only place where the handlebar is not severely limited.  Ridley was very clear;  Designing a handlebar bag that does not negatively impact aerodynamics is simply impracticalโ€ฆ though not to say they have no place beyond this project!

  

Development of a frame pack

Under Ridley’s guidance, we have developed a series of prototype packs for target areas, pulling some fresh ideas around direct mounting and opening to streamline packs and streamline airflow.  A full-day session on Wind Tunnel will tell us what our designs are working on and where to make potential tweaks.

The day started off painfully slow.  Full setup, our rider, Fat Pigeon’s Noel Van Loon, was adding drag at low yaw (head-on wind angles), even on the bike.  Something like the way the top tube, frame, seat tube, and down tube pack communicate, the designs we expected to be aerodynamic are not doing well.  With over 16 tests, adding and removing packs, tweaking positions and creating a new pack on the fly, the numbers have improved rapidly.

Development of the previous pack

Even with the aerodynamics expertise in the room, it is impossible to predict what changes will work.  The only option is to test relentlessly until we find a setup that offers a saving of 16.66 watts at 40km / h.  At race speed (32.04 km / h for unbound), the packs delivered 2.4-watt savings and increased our hydration to 7.67 watts by adding our hydration to Knoll’s setup.

At such low speeds, these savings are insignificant and roughly match the savings you would expect from deep-section carbon cycles or a suitable skinsuit.  In addition, these savings also add significant storage space to the bike, optimised for easy access in rough terrain.

  

A view of the wind tunnel computer reading during the test

  40km / h Aero Test Data

  

 The wind tunnel results from a 40km / h test showed a saving of 16.66 watts

  32km / h Aero Test Data

  

Wind tunnel results from 32km / h, race speed test showed 2.4 watts saving for the Aero Pack system, increased to 7.67 watts with the addition of Racing Hydration West

Coming away from the wind tunnel session, we had a clear view of what the final packs should look like and could work on fine-tuning the designs and improving the performance.  Working closely with Noel, we knew what he had to carry and how much space we had to provide.

As a result of the data-driven design process, packs are small and complex, and we do not use design and manufacturing challenges.  By breaking down the challenges and using advanced tools and techniques like 3D printing, we were able to design some complexity by attaching packs to smooth transitions and shaped tubes.  However, the top tube pack needs 8 tools, which is 5 more than our average pack.  We also need to create a whole new opening that does not rely on the zipper and has a completely flush finish. -Ras Pug / Apidura Design Team

Introducing the Apidura Aero Pack System

  

  Final development of aero pack system

The Top Tube Pack uses data-driven design instructions to hide in the steerer and trunk silhouette, providing gel storage space with easy access openings for easy filling and refilling at food stations.  This pack proves that the smallest top tube pack we’ve ever made, in the case of aerodynamics, is actually less than sometimes.

  

  Aero Pack System Top Tube Pack

The frame pack mounts using a custom 3D printed module that facilitates the transition from frame to pack, filling the space between the bike frame and the wider parts of the pack.  Straight bolting to the frame, the pack is extremely secure and completely hidden from the air at low tide.  New openings using TPU and magnets create a completely flush surface that is waterproof and dirty proof but extremely easy to access (and automatically closes).

  

  Aero Pack System Frame Pack

The rear pack mounts using a 3D printed module that bolts directly to the brake bridge mudguard mount and replaces the seat post dust cover for a rock-solid, low-profile mount.  Like other packs in the system, the rear pack has an internal chained structure to help maintain its shape but is more accessible on the go, with a more traditional roll top for flexible storage and maximising available space.

  

  Aero Pack System Rear Pack

Each of the packs has a new fabric design, and the test was found to be 5.7 watts faster than our standard hex alone at 40km / h.

The design of the packs pushed our technology-driven precision crafted approach as never before.  The complexity of shapes and the need for smooth transitions and flush mounts have pushed welding techniques to their limits and relies on advanced techniques, including 3D printing, to fully fit the bags to the frame.

The Apidura Aero Pack System is currently a one-off concept but, like all Innovation Lab projects, learners can apply it to future products and find their way into existing products, where they add significant value to existing processes.

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