Wind Tunnel Testing: Engineering For Structures and For Cycling

Lynne Kiesling

One of the ways to talk about using experimental economics to test-bed policy changes is to use the metaphor of the wind tunnel. Either as a metaphor or as an actual engineering tool, the wind tunnel can be extremely valuable.

It’s also true for cycling, as seen in this article from Bicycling magazine about MIT’s cycling team. They use the school wind tunnel to work on their performance, tweaking the margins between power and efficiency, depending on what type of race it is (time trials are a different beast from road races, for example).

A very cool article. My favorite sentence:

It’s not as much about proving that we’re strong cyclists as it is about proving that it’s not just being strong that makes you a good cyclist.

I also didn’t realize that having my bottle on the down bar was so much less aerodynamic than having it on the seat bar. Have to change that!

Hat tip to Steve Antler at EconoPundit. I hate to burst Steve’s preconception that the MIT crowd isn’t athletic, but in cycling, the intersection between geekiness and prowess is large. Whether it’s obsessing about your bike, your gear, your cyclocomputer, your body position, your cadence, technology is one of the cyclist’s best friends. So it doesn’t surprise me that Team MIT would win their regionals! Although Cornell’s got a lot of engineers too (and gorgeous cycling terrain), so what gives there?

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