As we were reading up on the specs and reviews on the Giant TCR, we came across a few reviewers mentioning that the TCR isn’t a full-on aero bike. This might sound like a not-so-smart comment, seeing as to how the Giant Propel is Giant’s full-on aero offering. However, it is worth noting that the context behind that comment is that a lot of companies have included aero elements into their race/climb/lightweight ‘non-aero’ offerings. The lines between the Venge, Tarmac, Aethos and Roubaix have been blurred, even though they still hold their fundamental principles. Another example would be Trek’s line-up. Look at the new Emondas! Five years ago that frame design would be considered an aero frame. Personally, we’ve seen the blurring of lines as well – with the Wilier Filante SLR released, Wilier’s previous Aero (though we’ve always thought it was a great all-rounder) offering, the Zero SLR, is now the all-round/lightweight bike. The thing is, the weight difference isn’t even that much, at around 90g.
This brings us then to the topic of today’s discussion. Is aero everything?
If you’re racing, of course! There is no doubt at all. If you’re obsessed with speed and the goal for you cycling is getting from point A to point B as fast as possible, or you’re obsessed with the numbers, then perhaps!
But chances are, you’re a regular guy/girl. Of course going fast is fun for you – it’s fun for everyone! But you want to enjoy the ride as well. You want to go relatively fast, but you want to be comfortable. You want to be able to climb easily. You want to feel connected to the road and you want your bike to feel responsive, but you want to be isolated from the harsh roads.
The thing about most aero bikes (aside from the top of the line flagship machines the pros race on) is that there is bound to be a compromise somewhere, whether it’s weight, comfort/compliance/stiffness, components or price!
The other thing about aerodynamics is that it is essentially difficult to measure (or feel) for the average joe. Anyone can tell the difference between the weight of two bikes, or the components, or comfort or price(haha). But it is difficult to measure aerodynamics in the real world under real time real life road and weather conditions.
On top of that, if you’re not particularly obsessed with the numbers, then the marginal gains from an aero bike wouldn’t matter much to you.
We won’t lie - if all things stay equal, an aero bike is certainly more fun to ride than a non-aero bike. Just try sitting up while cycling – you’ll feel the drag and you’ll see a huge change in the numbers. In fact, most of us at the store ride aero bikes. Or have ridden aero bikes. Or have bikes that have plenty of aero elements.
However, we must admit. Some of us race (or used to race) and some of us fall into the ‘crazy guy who wants to push numbers’ category. Which is fine. But the rest of us at the shop aren’t too crazy about it as well, and we ride whichever bike we like, without much consideration about how aero it is.
As cyclists, we’re all both perpetrators and victims of the same thing – we want the ‘most’ of everything our money can buy. Lightest, most aero, most complex, most simple, most comfortable, stiffest. In an ideal world, we’d be able to get the lightest, stiffest and most aero bike all in one package tagged with a nice little affordable price tag. And we really might in the future, seeing how the trend is amalgamating different types of bikes (Looking at you, Zero SLR). But as for now, if you’re the average joe looking to enjoy your cycle and take your time, or if you’re buying your first bike, maybe aero shouldn’t be the first most important thing you look for.